By: Magdalena Gómez
Two recent events contain a marked contrast. We’re talking about the interview that the President of the Republic conceded to the executives and reporters of La Jornada on the occasion of the first anniversary of his electoral victory and the speech that the same Andrés Manuel López Obrador gave last July 6 in Guadalupe Tepeyac, Chiapas, a symbolic space in the Zapatista beginnings. I will in the first place locate the positions expressed in the interview, in order to then place the possible meaning of a pronouncement that obviously the EZLN will decide if it responds to and how, because one way of doing it would also be omitting all reference to it.
To a question about the Army, the President repeated that: “the armed forces receive orders and now they have not received nor are they going to receive an order that means massacring, torturing, disappearing or repressing people.” Later we observe in the video of the interview the questions whose answers would seem to have nuances today: “In the Zapatista communities of Chiapas the situation is very tense. There are military flyovers, at a low level,” to which AMLO said: “That is a fantasy. It’s as if I am here in a vase, and I am not a decoration. No, the theme is very ideological. The Zapatistas, who I respect, do not believe or didn’t believe that I would be able to carry out the transformation through peaceful and electoral means.” The journalists pointed out to him what the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center documented and he replied: “Well they are lying.” To which he added: “They don’t usually do that.” Immediately, the issue of the paramilitaries was brought up, which the President also rejected. Then came the questioning about the Maya Train: Wouldn’t we have to consult with the indigenous peoples through whom that project will pass? And the answer also repeated: “It’s already being done.” But not in accordance with the terms of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, they specified to him. “Yes, it’s being done,” he said; but there is great disagreement, someone pointed out. AMLO responded: “I don’t agree with you. I have been there. I have listened to their voice. That’s why I talked about two different worlds, because I have submitted to consultation, the conservatives say by raised hand. I would tell you that there is no rejection, there isn’t, well minority.” He insisted: “It reminds them of the Plan Puebla-Panama.”
AMLO: “Yes, because many believe that we are equal; this happened with Zapatismo. [Subcomandante] Marcos came to say that we were the serpent’s egg and that it was better not to vote.” These opinions are well known. The question now is why he brought up the Zapatista issue in Guadalupe Tepeyac without centering it, as he used to do, on the subcomandante that is now Galeano, and recognizing: “When the Zapatista Uprising took place many turned to look at the communities and that helped them to know about a reality of abandonment, of oppression, of injustices, of marginalization” and he recalled that in those years he visited Zapatista territory to later emphasize that in his case he decided to struggle through the peaceful and electoral path, and pointed out that there is also the view that one can transform a reality of oppression through the armed path, as was done in the Independence, the Reform and the Revolution. He finished with the call: “that we don’t fight with each other, that enough now of divisions, that we all need to unite. All together, united as brothers.”
Questions emerge at this point: why and for what [reason] did the President decide to go to that area and in front of military men and the governor of Chiapas vindicate respect for the struggle and path of the EZLN, when days before he rejected and accused the Zapatistas of lying about harassment? Did he collect information that led him to decide that should get off the polarization with the EZLN because very probably it is being taken advantage of to consider that they are good with the top boss by harassing those they consider their enemy? My impression is that the message of conciliation to the EZLN is in reality an order to his subordinates. If so, the tone and content of the speech makes sense. Without a doubt his evaluation about Zapatismo is incomplete. Nevertheless, his presence and message in Guadalupe Tepeyac is relevant. That it is the President and not the self-appointed messenger of the days after the electoral victory has significance. Let’s review: Carlos Salinas declared the unilateral ceasefire because of pressure from civil society; Ernesto Zedillo practiced war in every sense; Vicente Fox said that he would resolve the conflict in 15 minutes and promulgated the constitutional counter-reform without attempting to reopen the process of dialogue; Felipe Calderón and Peña Nieto applied the Salinas maxim of I don’t see them I don’t hear them. López Obrador, in order to transcend his message of unity, should correct the direction of his government without simulations versus the EZLN and the indigenous peoples who are threatened by his megaprojects that violate their rights.
See also: AMLO in Guadalupe Tepeyac
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee