By: Gilberto López y Rivas / II
The texts of the Zapatista women included in Chapter 1 of the book Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra, which students of the second level of the Zapatista Escuelita must analyze, are frightening, especially Comandanta Miriam’s narrative about women’s situation before 1994: Since the arrival of the conquistadors we suffered the sad situation of women. They stole our land and took away our language, our culture. That’s where the domination of caciquismo  and the landowners came into being, along with triple exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, marginalization, mistreatment and inequality. Because the fucking bosses had us as if they were our owners.” Her extraordinary description of being housed (on the haciendas) touches on the different types of the women’s humiliation and forced work at the hands of the finqueros , to the degree that some decided to take refuge in the hills. “They got together, talked and formed a community where they were able to live. That’s how they formed a community. But again, once they are living in the communities, those ideas that came from the boss (or the acasillado) are brought in. It’s as if the men dragged these bad ideas with them and applied them inside the house, like the little boss of the house… It’s not true that the women were liberated. Now it’s the men that are the little boss of the house. And once again the woman stayed at home as if it were a prison. Once again, the women didn’t leave the house, the were shut in their houses again…”
Comandanta Rosalinda tells the story of the recruitment of the first women in the clandestine years, town by town, of the necessity of organizing and that are both milicianas  and insurgents, “until ’94 arrives when we appeared in public, when we no longer endured the mistreatment that the fucking capitalists did to us. There we saw that it’s really true that we have courage and strength equal to men, because they were able to confront the enemy, without fear of anyone… Later we realized (that) making a revolution required both women and men.”
Comandanta Dalia continues the narration of women’s work with the EZLN, of the talks in each town, of the problems that they confront when even today some become assholes, of how they passed through all of the jobs with responsibility until they attain being on the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee. She asserts that they are going to continue organizing themselves “because there is still sadness, pain, incarceration and rape, as well as the mothers of the 43 disappeared… Men and women must struggle at 100 percent. Having a new society in which the people are the ones that command.”
The young support base Lizbeth and the listener Selena maintain that they didn’t know the life of the haciendas and now they have the freedom and the right as women to express their opinion, discuss, participate in the multiple tasks of the resistance and autonomy, resisting the counterinsurgency and the mirages of capitalism that they show on television, trying to use cell phones and the very same television for their struggle. They distinguish the poor-poor, the party members, materially poor and poor of thought, from the Zapatistas, who are also poor but rich because of their work for the good of the people and so that there are no dominators or exploiters.
For his part, Sub Galeano, in his “Vision of the conquered,” points out how those generations of Indigenous women now say their word in the genealogy of their struggle. “Three generations of rebel Zapatistas –he emphasizes–, not only against the system, also against us… male Zapatistas.” He declares defeat because of that struggle, although like the capitalist hydra he maintains that the males always try to regain lost privileges. He again takes up the origin of that struggle and describes that everything started with the insurgents. He reiterates that non-indigenous women also participate in the EZLN, and in the better part of his singular narrative-testimony the various opinions of these compañeras are transcribed, which refer to the very intimate man-woman relationship and to the characterization of the dominant and violent male, a schizophrenic hunter that as sensitive and receptive as he may consider himself, he cannot be a feminist, because he represents the same system against which he supposedly struggles.
The three parts of the notes on resistances and rebellions, expounded by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, constitute key texts for comprehending the Zapatista struggle. He begins by remembering that the Zapatistas make up an armed organization, but contrary to the militarist tradition of some Latin American guerrillas, in this case the arm doesn’t become a fetish, it is seen as one more instrument, like the machete, the axe, the shovel, although one is conscious that each tool has its function, and the function of the arm is to kill.
After the ’94 withdrawal, it was understood that the struggle could involve many forms and that resistance and rebellion could be in various senses. “Resistance is becoming strong, tough, responding to everything, to any attacks from the enemy, from the system; and rebellion is being brave to take actions, or whatever we must do… One must resist the provocations of the Army and the police, the media reports and the psychological bombardments.” They discovered that with resistance and rebellion it’s possible to govern and develop initiatives. In fact, the Zapatistas have not carried out a single armed attack since January 1994. “It doesn’t mean, compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, it doesn’t mean that we are renouncing our arms, but rather that it’s that political, ideological, rebel understanding, which gives us the way to see how one must really convert this resistance into an arm of struggle.” Political work and explanation are required for all this, and that governing is not conducted with orders, but rather agreements.
- Caciquismo – Local despotism
- Finqueros – Ranch or estate owners
- Milicianas – Female political organizers with military training that can be called up in an emergency, somewhat like a national guard.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Friday, October 23, 2015