By: Isaín Mandujano
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
The indigenous Zapatista bases of support of the Zapatista National liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) and of Mexico warned today that they will continue resisting in the new era that’s coming, the era of the “Fourth Annihilation,” but this will only be possible if the autonomies are strengthened in all the original peoples as they have been practicing in their rebel territories.
After their speech at the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth, held on Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22 in this Zapatista Caracol Jacinto Canek, located in the CIDECI-Unitierra of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, one by one masked men and women members of the Good Government Juntas from all the rebel caracoles gave their word to share with those present how they have lived their autonomy for more than 15 years.
The Zapatistas pointed out that it took them 26 long years to being constructing the autonomy that they are now living and exercising in their towns and communities, in the creation of their forms of self-government, and that they didn’t have to ask the bad government’s permission for that, because with or without the law, they started their process.
A member of the Caracol of La Garrucha said in the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth that being an autonomous authority is to serve the people and not use the people: And that drug addiction, murder and rape are not permitted in their territories. All of that is punished; it’s all sanctioned.
A young masked woman said that in the capitalist system the governed are told that the key to democracy is the electoral credential. However, the Zapatistas do not use money or credentials now to elect their autonomous governments.
And, that within their autonomous systems they saw the need to create their own education systems, health systems and systems of buying and selling among people and communities.
They highlighted the education system that now educates with a view to a nature to struggle, one of rebellion and they have left behind education that required them to renounce their maternal language, an education system imposed from the Mexican government, a masked indigenous woman said.
They pointed out that now in the new autonomous Zapatista system, women have a relevant role, and no longer secondary, now the women are no longer relegated only to the kitchen or to cutting firewood, they now have an active role in making decisions about their communities and they can occupy seats on the Good Government Juntas.
“First we started participating in the villages, then on the municipalities and now we make up part of the Good Government Juntas. We are participating in the different areas of autonomy,” said a young woman from the Jacinto Canek Caracol.
The challenge now, said a rebel Zapatista, is to invest every effort to prepare the new generation of Zapatistas, “because we know that the grandchildren or great grandchildren of the finqueros (estate owners) who violated, raped, dispossessed our grandparents could return.”
“It’s a mistake what the capitalist system thinks in saying that we the peoples are behind. That’s why it’s important to work with young people,” a young Zapatista woman said.
“We saw the need to prepare our young men and women in all areas of work and government bodies. We must prepare our youth so that they are not deceived by ‘Youth building the future’ or waiting for any other program,” she said.
Andrea from the Caracol of Morelia said that the bad government has tried in many ways to finish off the organization that the Zapatistas have, “but here we continue resisting.”
Allison, also from the Caracol of Morelia said that resistance is resisting crumbs from the bad government. “That’s why we resist the economic, psychological and ideological policies, we resist criticisms and mockery from partisan brothers,” Allison said.
“Not only do we resist, but we also make resistance against political and ideological warfare. We resist internally within our families, we resist the bad government externally, a Zapatista from the Caracol of Morelia said.
And, knowing how to organize the resistance is the powerful weapon that they now have.
The Zapatistas say they are clear that the enemy is not going to like it and that it is going to persecute, harass or kill them, and that’s why all the original peoples of Chiapas and Mexico, Zapatistas or non-Zapatistas, have to “think about a real organization where they will fight for the life of our peoples.”
Alejandro said that organization is not easy, but that it IS possible when we want: “Not everything is rosy and less when it’s about organizing a lot of compañeros. We have collective work in the family, collective municipal work, both by zone and by region.”
A Zapatista from the Caracol of La Realidad said that since the breakdown of the dialogues with the bad government in February 1996, they made it clear that with or without the law they were going to exercise autonomy and so far they have achieved it. But in order to do it two things are needed: economy and organization, understanding that everything has to work collectively, something that had been lost because of the bad government that was instituted as the paternalistic State giver of everything.
“The little we have in the organization is to sustain the work of the struggle from our families, we have to work collectively as compañeras. You can’t say I don’t know how or I can’t, because everyone should be able when work is done collectively,” a masked woman said.
“We have organized collectively because we see the need, collective work is the only path that we see for living in our resistance,” said the Zapatista woman from the Caracol of La Realidad.
A Zapatista from the Caracol of Roberto Barrios recognized that in many places “the peoples are very divided, the supervisors and overseers have divided them, our political work is to go and talk to our family about the problems that we see and explain what is causing it, which is capitalism.”
“Capitalism is about to disappear, but our Mother Nature won’t be able to recuperate from the pollution of rivers, waters and seas, the pollution of land provokes that the earth doesn’t produce,” a young masked woman said.
“The Fourth Annihilation is going to destroy everyone, it’s going to see much sadness, but it gives us courage and rage to see how they continue deceiving our brothers, the situation that comes with the new government that is one of dispossession. Therefore given this, we can only resist and confront the war of the Fourth Annihilation,” a masked Zapatista said.
She reminded all those present that: “you don’t need to be Zapatista to struggle or to organize, what’s important is to struggle and confront the bad system, let’s take a big task and let’s get to work with other compañeros, that is the only way to defend what we have.”
“The problem is not whether we accelerate the struggle or not, we must start to think about what’s next, or are we prepared for what’s next? We need to reinforce our resistance and our rebellion,” they concluded.
Representatives of the Afro-Mexican, Binizaa’, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal, Comca’ac, hñahñu, Kumiai, Mam, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Me’phaa, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Náyeri, Purépecha, Quiché, Rarámuri, Teenek, Tepehuano, Tohono o’odham, Tojolabal, Totonaca, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chixil, Cañari and Castellano peoples, coming from 24 states of the Republic, as well as invitees from Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador and the United States participated in this Forum.
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo
Monday, December 23, 2019
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee