–The Storm, the Sentinel and the Lookout Syndrome, Subcomandante Galeano, April 1, 2015.
Dear friends and supporters of the Chiapas Support Committee:
We believe that supporting the Zapatista indigenous communities, who are building autonomy and self-determination in Chiapas, is critical to strengthening and deepening our movements for peace and justice in the U.S. Every year since 1998, when the Chiapas Support Committee (CSC) was formed, we reach out to you who are active in these movements and to community-based organizers working for deep, social justice in our neighborhoods, cities and communities to express solidarity by giving a donation to support the Zapatista communities.
Join us in supporting the Zapatista communities! Give a generous donation to support the Zapatista autonomous education project for indigenous self-determination. Click here to give securely on-line. Or you can also mail your check or money order to: CSC * P.O. Box 3421 * Oakland, CA 94609
The Perfect Storm: Zapatistas of the World, Unite!
When the Zapatistas announced their calendar for 2015, two activities stood out:
- The Seminar on Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra, held May 3-9 in San Cristóbal. The Seminar was preceded by a day of “Homage to Compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo” and “Homage to Compañero Galeano” on May 2, in Oventik. The Seminar was followed by a “Worldwide Seminar,” held from July to December in different places and through various media; and
- The Second Grade of the Escuelita Zapatista, or Little Zapatista School, from July 31 to August second.
The six-month Worldwide Seminar both piqued our interest and puzzled us. A month later, we also wondered out loud what Sup Galeano meant by “a perfect storm.” We had to wait a few months for the answers to our questions, but those answers turned out to be important.
The storm is coming to all of us, not just to Mexico, Chiapas or the Zapatistas. The storm stems from the complete domination of the world by international capitalist banking, but also from the loss of legitimacy of “traditional” institutions (political parties, government, judicial system, church, army, police, media, family).
We believe that many people in the U.S. can relate to that.
We see our young people unable to find living wage jobs, while student loans saddle them with a lifetime of debt to the banks. The mortgage meltdown, the cost of housing, real estate speculation, gentrification and displacement, global warming, the GOP control of Congress, the epidemic of police killings of people of color, a racially biased judicial system, the perpetual war and a communications media that doesn’t tell the whole story. Those are some of the issues confronting us. And the Zapatistas think this situation is going to get worse…
The Perfect Response: ¡Organize!
The Zapatistas are not just forecasting doom and gloom.
They’re urging everyone to ORGANIZE!
Hold meetings, talk to each other, share your dreams, your struggles AND organize, they tell us.
Many of us are already doing this. And the Zapatistas are urging that we dialogue across dreams and strategies, across colors and issues, and together build a more powerful movement whose voices can break down the barriers that keep us separated. Part of building this movement is being internationalists and for us that means supporting the Zapatistas.
While many of us can imagine how the Zapatistas organized their revolution, the Zapatistas decided to begin sharing their experiences and work of community organizing this year.
How did they share?
Through the Second grade, or level, of the Little Zapatista School, held via a secure video link with the password going to those who “passed” Level 1. The Zapatistas suggested that those who would receive it share the video with others. Three CSC members received the video and shared it with the rest of our collective.
Level Two of the Escuelita also included background reading from the Seminar on Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra, which has now been published as Volume I of a book with the same title as the Seminar. And, it turned out that the six-month Worldwide Seminar was for watching and analyzing the video, as well as the background materials, and preparing to share the ideas and experiences in as many ways as possible.
The theme of the storm that is coming ran through the many Zapatista “words” spoken at the Seminar and is now a theme in the writings of Zapatista inspired journalists.
The theme of organizing to prepare for and resist the storm also ran through the words of Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano during the Seminar.
In the Level Two video, Zapatistas from all five Caracoles talked about how they formed their organization in the 10 years of clandestine organizing prior to the January 1, 1994 uprising.
They specifically say that they are giving us this information in case it would be helpful in our own organizing. The combination of the Seminar and Level Two of the Escuelitas was a seedbed of ideas for learning, sharing and for organizing.
Organizing at home and abroad
The Chiapas Support Committee offered three workshops on Community and Autonomy, which provided an opportunity to discuss these and other ideas.
The first workshop featured presentations by members of Can Batlló, a large collective based in Barcelona, which has occupied vacant commercial buildings and converted them into housing units. In an Oakland forum held by CSC, members of Can Batlló shared their experiences of taking over entire city blocks and buildings to construct autonomous community.
The second forum featured a presentation by Los Panchos (the Pancho Villa Popular Organization) from Mexico City that has constructed large and thriving autonomous communities there.
Finally, on November 17, to celebrate the 32nd Anniversary of the EZLN’s founding, CSC members shared their reflections on Level Two of the Escuelitas in a third workshop at Oakland’s Omni Commons. We talked about both the video and readings from the book Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra I. The video consisted of Zapatistas from the five Caracoles talking about how they organized the work of forming their organization in the ten years of clandestine organizing prior to the January 1, 1994 uprising.
The experience of sharing our thoughts and ideas about Level Two was special for all of us. The evening ended with everyone singing the Zapatista Hymn, amazed at how the Zapatistas have evolved and endured during the past 32 years.
¡Support the Zapatistas!
Like the Zapatistas, we are evolving too. We are revising our on-line work, focusing more on the blog and our Facebook page. We are looking into the possibility of finding a workspace where we can hold meetings, classes and films, while working in solidarity with other movements. We will continue holding educational forums and workshops to better understand and support our own movements for autonomy and justice.
The Chiapas Support Committee continues deepening its commitment to support the Zapatista Education System in the Caracol of La Garrucha. We believe, like the Zapatistas, that all children should have an anti-capitalist education in which their own history, language and culture are taught. The education coordinators and promoters (teachers), the Good Government Junta and the regional assembly of La Garrucha are planning to build one or more secondary schools, possibly one in each of the four autonomous municipios (counties). Currently, there is no secondary school (middle school) in the region. It’s still in the planning stages. The CSC is waiting to find out how we can support this new effort. We are told it will happen before Christmas and are therefore starting to raise funds to support that project.
We’re asking you join us in supporting La Garrucha, as well as all other efforts in solidarity with the Zapatistas here and in Chiapas, with a generous contribution.
Your donation will go directly to support the Zapatista communities’ education work. Please click here: www.chiapas-support.org and click on the Donate button to contribute via Paypal.
Every contribution, big or small, is important.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for standing with us in solidarity with the Zapatistas and the indigenous-led movements for justice in Mexico.
In solidarity with peace & justice,
José Plascencia, Chair
For members of the Chiapas Support Committee
Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez