By: Angeles Mariscal
The EZLN reiterated its position versus government policies that imply extractive projects and warned that they will defend their territory. It called for strengthening models based on self-determination and the knowledge of the original peoples.
One year was enough for support bases, collectives and organizations that at their moment supported the political project and government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to return to the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN).
From the bleak December 2018 speeches of “we are alone,” this December 2019 they went to the celebration of five massive events with diverse social sectors; and to the challenge: they will defend the land against government economic projects, “until death if necessary.”
Thousands of people from different regions of Mexico and the world congregated the last month of the year with the Zapatistas. They attended events with agrarian, defense of territory, women, film and art themes. The theme of the economic project of the president of Mexico, based on what are known as “megaprojects,” ran through all the discussions.
We’re talking about projects like the Maya Train, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor; and the alliance that has been made with entrepreneurs like Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Alberto Bailléres and Carlos Slim, linked to de extractive mining, energy, hydraulic and real estate projects.
One of the most significant gatherings, the “Forum in defense of territory and Mother Earth” was celebrated in San Cristóbal de las Casas on December 21 and 22. Rural and urban organizations from 24 states of the country in alliance with the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) responded to the call.
Groups were reunited there that within the framework of the 2018 electoral process de 2018 decided to bet on the government of López Obrador, and that now, disappointed by the economic model, returned to meet again with their allies.
At that meeting they accused the federal government of supplanting their will through “deceptive consultations,” to “forcibly impose the misnamed Maya Train, which delivers indigenous territories to big industrial and tourist capital.” They agreed to articulate to defend their territory, to be self-sustainable and to strengthen a system of life in an economic model different from the capitalist model.
At the “Women who Struggle” gathering, which was held from the 26- 29 of December, almost 4,000 attendees from 49 countries questioned the impact that the economic model and the projects based on extraction of natural resources have on this sector of society.
At the EZLN’s 26th anniversary celebration, the leadership of the insurgent group vindicated the sense of their struggle to create better living conditions.
In the voice of Subcomandante Moisés, the insurgent group rejected the capitalist economic system and called for the construction of new development models, based on self-development and autonomies that recuperate the knowledge of the Native peoples.
Before an audience made up principally by Zapatista milicianos –who have military training- Moisés admitted to mistakes but emphasized the advances of the organization.
“We have remained firm in constructing something new. It’s true that we have made mistakes and errors. We will surely make more on our long path, but we have never given up, we have never sold out and we have never given up (…) and we are more each time. We have a project of life; schools and health clinics flourish in our communities, and the land is worked collectively. And we support each other collectively. We are thus a community, a community of communities. And we remain firm in the fulfillment of our duty as guardian peoples of Mother Earth.”
In this region of Chiapas, in the canyon of Altamirano, one of the entrances to the Lacandón Jungle, where one of their 11 headquarters are found, the EZLN’s spokesperson questioned the “megaprojects,” and the government decision to carry them out.
“The Zapatista peoples take it as if it is challenging, as if it is saying that it has the strength and money to see who is opposed to their mandate. It’s saying that it’s going to do what it says not what the peoples say and that the reasons don’t matter. Then we the Zapatista peoples take the position that that challenge is ours.”
Moisés questioned what they were willing to lose in order to defend the land and he reiterated the organization’s position in front of the people gathered together.
“We are willing to die as an alternative for society, as an organization, as Native peoples with Mayan roots, as guardians of Mother Earth, as individual Zapatistas. Then we Zapatista peoples continue our ways and our calendar, we made the offering only to advise Mother Earth that we will defend her, and defender her up to death if necessary.
“We looked for a person that is Zapatista and is willing to do everything, everything. And we found not one, not two, not a hundred, not a thousand, not ten thousand, not a hundred thousand. We found everyone who calls themselves EZLN willing to do everything in order to defend the land.”
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo
Thursday, January 2, 2020
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee