Did they listen?

Art from the Zapatista communities, part of the art on display at CompArte: the Emiliano Zapata Community Festival, August 11 at the Omni Commons in Oakland.

By: Raúl Romero*

It was 1995 and Ernesto Zedillo was president of Mexico. Violence and the economic crisis created a difficult atmosphere for his mandate. In order to gain legitimacy, Zedillo proposed resolving the conflict that had exploded one year before in the country’s southeast, where the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) rose up in arms as a response to the genocide against the indigenous peoples and in demand of jobs, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, liberty, democracy, justice and peace for all Mexicans; demands to which they would later add autonomy and information. The causes of the uprising remain in effect.

Zedillo’s strategy consisted in publicly simulating peace and dialogue, at the same time that he prepared the military operation with which it sought to arrest the Zapatista comandancia. Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, then Secretary of Governance, was a key piece in the operation: while he simulated dialogue, Zedillo ordered the revelation of the alleged identity of Zapatista leaders and unleashed orders of capture against them.

On February 9, 1995, the Mexican Army took several Chiapas villages. There were illegal arrests, searches, bombings, young children murdered and women raped. “The February betrayal,” as this event was known, failed in its final objective: arresting the Zapatista commanders.

Recently, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) ratified that Esteban Moctezuma will be the Secretary of Public Education in his administration. He also named Alfonso Romo as one of those currently responsible for the transition in economic matters and his future cabinet chief. Romo has been an impresario spoiled by the system. AMLO himself denounced Romo several times.

Romo, just like Víctor Villalobos –proposed by AMLO to head the Secretariat of de Agriculture and who Víctor M. Toledo in these same pages classified as a “soldier of the transnationals” (https://bit.ly/2JtzIAZ)– openly promotes the use of genetically modified organisms and improved seeds, a measure that is rejected by campesinos in Mexico.

Likewise, to the express question of whether they will support the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Romo stated last July 1 that they would make them bigger and that all of Mexico would have to be an “investment paradise.” The SEZs are true colonial enclaves, “new links to dispossession,” as Magdalena Gómez pointed out (https://bit.ly/2JwcJFA ). [1]

We could mention other names that represent the system of privileges, impunity and corruption and that will occupy key charges in the next cabinet. These examples are enough to point out that the doubts about a 180 degree change of the next government are legitimate, doubts that are fed by the rambling speeches typical of Salinismo, but now enunciated by mediators of the future government, like Alejandro Solalinde, who referred to the EZLN as “extremists,” “indigenous people influenced by mestizos” and a “radical minority.”

But the doubts about what will happen above do not underestimate what moved in those below last July 1. Of the more than 30 million people that voted for AMLO, many also or above all, voted against the war, against the impunity and against the femicides. They voted for the presentation of disappeared persons, for memory, for truth and for justice. They voted against the hikes in gas prices (gasolinazos), against the education reform and for dignified employment. The discontent accumulated over many years decided to manifest that day. The organizational experience of the victims movement, of the teaching profession, of youth, of the social-environmental resistances, of women, of sexual diversity, of journalists and of many others conquered fraud.

All those voices must be heard. And for that to be the case, social, critical and independent movements are necessary. Movements that will break the neoliberal consensus that the ruling classes seek to expand. The worst thing that could happen to us now is that we derive into a neoliberalism legitimized with the false argument of unity from the 30 million voters. You must listen well: many people voted against neoliberalism, voted against the system of death, dispossession and corruption that is called capitalism. A non-corrupt capitalism does not exist, nor does dispossession equal the wellbeing of the peoples.

In Mexico we know what happens when organizations of our peoples become an extension of the State. We don’t want to relive that history. Even worse, if democratic organizations of the left do not occupy that place soon, right-wingers from the hand of Claudio X. González will fill the vacuum.

They have to listen carefully to what those below said and will say these days. Now that the tsunami is over, the islands of the new world will continue being the horizon that guides the walking.


[1] For more on the Special Economic Zones, see also: https://chiapas-support.org/2015/10/02/special-economic-zones-for-southern-mexico/


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



2 Comments on “Did they listen?

  1. Pingback: Dinlediler mi? – Raul Romero - Apsny News

  2. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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