Indigenous anti-capitalist resistance and the Zapatista journey

Zapatista Air Force

By: Magdalena Gomez

Today, wherever we look at indigenous peoples, we will find the diversity of their resistance. Some, daily and punctual; others, strategic and long-range. At the same time, we will observe a similar pattern in the ongoing responses by the State that, in general, ignores the implication of respecting the collective rights of said peoples, especially in megaprojects that have already been declared to be of public interest and national security.

Locating the far-reaching resistance, I refer to the one initiated this year by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), inviting the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the People’s Front in Defense of Water and Land of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala. Let us remember the announcement in October 2020 of another of the Zapatista political initiatives, in this case to travel the world to listen and share ongoing struggles with their peers, according to their circumstances, against the common enemy that is capitalism, beyond the governments in turn. And they asked: “To whom does it matter that a small, tiny group of natives, of indigenous people, lives, that is, fights? Because it turns out that we live. That despite paramilitaries, pandemics, ‘megaprojects’, lies, slander and oblivions, we live. That is, we fight. And this is what we think about: that we continue to fight. In other words, we continue to live… we will walk or sail to remote soils, seas and skies, seeking not difference, not superiority, not affront, much less forgiveness and pity. We will go find what makes us equal…” (5/10/20).

That declaration was concretized and first Squadron 421crossed the Atlantic, from Isla Mujeres, in the ship called La Montaña and then, three months later, about 200 delegates arrived and toured Europe renamed as “unsubmissive,” not without stumbles and racisms that at the time were denounced around the apparent impossibility of obtaining a passport to start the journey because they were “extemporaneous” in their birth registration.

On December 14, Subcomandante Moisés gave an account of the safe return to the Zapatista communities in Chiapas and other states and above all they gave THANKS, yes, with capital letters, to the numerous European collectives that received, shared, fed, hosted and sheltered them, and pointed out that “now it’s time to review our notes to inform our peoples and communities of everything we learned and received from you:  your stories, your struggles and your ‘unsubmissive’ existence. And, above all, the embrace of humanity that we receive from your hearts. Everything we brought you was from our villages. Everything we receive from you is for our communities.” The Zapatistas will already publicly share what they consider of this important and unprecedented experience, we can imagine what the stories will be in the communities. I am reminded of the testimony of our dear Ronco, Ricardo Robles (†), on the return to the Sierra Tarahumara of the Rarámuri delegation that accompanied the closing of the March of the Color of the Earth in the Zócalo of Mexico City, on March 11, 2001. With great surprise they reported that “we are many”; they were referring to people across the country and proudly added and “he mentioned us.” Whoever knows that people and that region will understand the dimension of that news. And two months later they met again in the mountains to analyze the indigenous counter-reform; El Ronco clarified that only among them and they concluded with one word: hope. Which can only emanate from the awareness that the road is long and they trust in their decision to fight, in their strength and resistance in the face of the adversities that they have suffered throughout history.

It is very clear that indigenous peoples do not use the same unit of measuring time as the political class does, they are not concerned about whether or not they are halfway there; on the other hand, we find that society in general and regrettably, does not care what happens to the peoples if they manage to co-opt or demobilize them in the name of the so-called development that they translate very well as dispossession. Their narrative is very different and they can agree that the current government is not identifiable with Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and, however, they do not forget that it has a thorn in its side with the unpunished murder of Samir Flores Soberanes, which still lacks clarification and is not from the past.

Thus, we have in view evidence that the problems of the peoples and of everyone are global, because capital has no nationality, if even a domicile, and they have already visited some European companies to learn that they must be held accountable for their participation in megaprojects in Mexican lands. This strategy is one more link in the resistance that in its soon to be 28 years of public presence, the EZLN has promoted under the anti-capitalist horizon.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada on Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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