Chiapas Support Committee

Words of the Zapatista Women at the Opening of the Second International Women’s Gathering

[Save the Date: The Chiapas Support Committee is hosting a Dinner and Report Back from the Women’s Gathering on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the Omni Commons. 5-7pm]



Welcome to the Second International Gathering of Women who Struggle!

December 27, 2019

Compañeras and sisters:

Welcome to these Zapatista lands.

Welcome sisters and compañeras from geographies across the five continents.

Welcome compañeras and sisters from Mexico and the world.

Welcome sisters and compañeras from the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion.

Welcome compañeras from the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council.

Welcome compañeras from the National and International Sixth.

Welcome compañeras from the Zapatista Bases of Support.

Welcome compañeras who are milicianas and insurgentas in the EZLN.

Sister and compañera:

We want to report that as of yesterday, December 26, 2019, registration for this second gathering came to:

3, 259 women
, 95 little girls and 
26 men

From the following 49 countries:

1. Germany

2. Algeria

3. Argentina

4. Australia

5. Austria

6. Bangladesh

7. Belgium

8. Bolivia

9. Brazil

10. Canada

11. Cataluña

12. Chile

13. Colombia

14. Costa Rica

15. Denmark

16. Ecuador

17. El Salvador

18. Spain

19. United States

20. Finland

21. France

22. Greece

23. Guatemala

24. Honduras

25. India

26. England

27. Ireland

28. Italy

29. Japan

30. Kurdistan

31. Macedonia

32. Norway

33. New Zealand

34. Basque Country

35. Paraguay

36. Peru

37. Poland

38. Puerto Rico

39. United Kingdom

40. Dominican Republic

41. Russia

42. Siberia

43. Sri Lanka

44. Sweden

45. Switzerland

46. Turkey

47. Uruguay

48. Venezuela

49. Mexico

Sister and compañera:

We are very happy you were able to come all the way here to our mountains.

And for those who were not able to come, we also greet you because you are watching what is happening here in the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.

We know very well what you had to do to get here: we know you had to leave your family and friends; we know the effort and work you had to put in to come up with the money to travel from your geography to ours.

But we also know that your heart is a little bit happy because here you will meet other women who struggle. Maybe something you hear or learn here about other struggles will even help you in yours. Whether or not we agree with these other struggles and their forms and geographies, all of us benefit from listening and learning. This isn’t about competing over which struggle is best, but about sharing our struggles and ourselves.

So we ask you to always be respectful of different ways of thinking and doing. All of us here, and many more who aren’t here, are women who struggle. It’s true that we all have different ways of struggling, but as you can see, as Zapatistas we don’t think that it makes sense for everyone to think and act the same way. We think difference isn’t a weakness, but rather that it is a powerful force when we respect each other and agree to struggle together but not on top of each other.

So we ask you to share your pain, your rage, and your struggle with dignity, and to respect other pains, rages, and dignified struggles.

Compañera and sister:

We have done everything possible so that you can be happy and safe here. It may seem easy to say that, but we all know all too well that there are very few places in the world where we can be happy and safe. That’s why we’re here: because of our pain and our rage at the violence we suffer as women, for the crime of being women.

As you will see over the next few days, men will not be allowed in this space. It doesn’t matter if they are good men, or more or less normal men, or just whatever kind of men, they will not be allowed here for the next couple days. This place and these days are only for women who struggle—that is, not just for any woman.

The compañeras who are insurgentas and milicianas are in charge of taking care of us and protecting us here over the next few days. We have also made sure that you will have a place to sleep, eat, and clean up. In this respect, in terms of rest, food, and bathing, we ask you to treat the “wise” women among us, that is, the older women, with respect. It’s important to respect them because they are not new to this struggle. They didn’t get their gray hair, their illnesses, or their wrinkles from selling out to the patriarchal system or by giving in to machismo. They didn’t get any of those things because they gave up their way of thinking about struggle for our rights as women. They are who they are because they haven’t given up, given in, or sold out.

To the older women—wise women as we call you—we ask that you also respect and greet the younger women, whether they are adults or children, because they have also dedicated themselves to this struggle with determination and commitment. If we haven’t let our geographies divide us, then we certainly won’t let our calendars do so. All of us, no matter the calendars we have marked or the geography in which we live, are on the same path: the struggle for our rights as the women that we are.

For example, our right to live. This point makes us sad because now, a year after our first gathering, the report is not good. All over the world women are still being murdered, disappeared, abused, and disrespected. This year the number of women raped, disappeared, and murdered keeps rising. We as Zapatistas see this situation as very serious, and that is why we organized this second gathering around one theme only: violence against women.

Sister and compañera, you who are here and you who couldn’t come:

We want to hear you and see you, because we have questions:

How did you get organized? What did you do? What happened?

Remember that at our first gathering, we all committed ourselves to get organized in our respective geographies, to organize against the murders, disappearances, humiliations, and disrespect. But we see that the situation is actually worse now.

They say there is now gender equality because within the bad governments there are an equal number of bossmen and bosswomen.

But we are still being murdered.

They say that now there is greater pay equity for women.

But we are still being murdered.

They say feminist struggles have made great steps forward.

But we are still being murdered.

They say now women have more voice.

But we are still being murdered.

They say women are now taken into account.

But we are still being murdered.

They say that now there are more laws that protect women.

But we are still being murdered.

They say that now it’s quite fashionable to speak well of women and their struggle.

But we are still being murdered.

They say there are men who understand our struggle as women, and even that those men are feminists.

But we are still being murdered.

They say that women occupy more spaces now.

But we are still being murdered.

They say there are even super-heroines in the movies now.

But we are still being murdered.

They say that now there is more awareness about respecting women.

But we are still being murdered. More and more murdered women. Murdered more and more brutally. With more and more cruelty, fury, envy, and hate. And with more and more impunity. With more and more macho men who get away with it, without punishment, as if nothing had happened, as if murdering, disappearing, exploiting, using, assaulting, or disrespecting a woman was no big deal.

We are still being murdered and they still ask us, demand of us, order us to behave ourselves.

Think of the unbelievable scandal created by a group of workers blocking a highway, or going on strike, or protesting, as if they’ve violated the rights of commodities, cars, and things, and the press is immediately filled with photos, videos, reports, analysis, and commentary criticizing their protest.

But if a woman is raped, it’s just another statistic. And if women protest, if they graffiti the monuments important to those above, break windows important to those above, shout their truths to those above, then that is scandalous.

But if we are disappeared or murdered, it’s just another statistic: one more victim, one less woman. It’s as if the powerful wanted it to be crystal clear that what matters is profit, not life. Cars matter; so do monuments, windows, and commodities. But life doesn’t, especially if it’s a woman’s life.

That’s why we as the Zapatista women that we are, anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal, think about why the system works like that. It seems that our violent deaths, our disappearances, and our pain come out as profit for the capitalist system, because the system only allows what benefits it, what produces profit for it.

That’s why we say that the capitalist system is patriarchal. Patriarchy rules, even if the overseer is a woman. So we think that in order to fight for our rights—the right to live, for example—it’s not enough to fight against machismo or patriarchy or whatever you want to call it. We have to fight against the capitalist system. They go together as we Zapatista women say.

But we also know there are other ways of thinking and other forms of women’s struggle. Perhaps there is something we can learn and understand. That’s why we have invited all women who struggle to this gathering, no matter what their thinking or form of struggle.

What matters is that we fight for our lives, which now more than ever are at risk everywhere and all the time. Despite the fact that they declare and predict that women have made great strides, the truth is that never in human history has the fact of being a woman been so fatal.

You see, compañera and sister, they’re going to want to tell us which job or profession is the most dangerous—if it’s being a journalist, or forming part of the repressive security forces, or being a judge, or occupying a position in the bad government. But you and we know that the most dangerous thing in the world to be right now is a woman.

It doesn’t matter if she’s a little girl, or a young woman, or an adult woman, or an older woman. It doesn’t matter if she’s white, yellow, red, or the color of the earth. It doesn’t matter if she’s fat, thin, tall, short, pretty, or ugly. It doesn’t matter if she’s from the lower class, middle class, or upper class. It doesn’t matter what language she speaks, or what her culture, religion, or affiliation is. When the violence comes, the only thing that matters is that she’s a woman.

Sister and compañera:

As the Zapatistas that we are, we know that they will give us many examples of women who have advanced, triumphed, won prizes and high salaries—who have been successful, as they put it. We respond by talking about the women whom have been raped, disappeared, murdered. We point out that the rights they talk about above are won by a precious few women above. And we respond, we explain, we shout that what is lacking is the most basic and most important of rights for all women: the right to live. We’ve said it many times, compañera and sister, but we’ll repeat it again now:

Nobody is going to grant us our right to live and all the other rights we need and deserve. No man—good, bad, normal, or whatever—is going to grant these to us.

The capitalist system is not going to give them to us, regardless of the laws it passes and the promises it makes.

We will have to win our right to live, as well as all our other rights, always and everywhere. In other words, for women who struggle, there will be no rest.

Sister and compañera:

We have to defend ourselves, to take charge of our self-defense as individuals and as women. Above all, we have to be organized to defend ourselves, to support ourselves, to protect ourselves, and we have to start now.

My fellow compañera coordinators of this gathering have delegated me to communicate this to you because I’m the mother of a little girl, who is here with me. Our duty as women who struggle is to protect and defend ourselves, especially if the woman in question is just a little girl. We have to protect and defend ourselves with everything we have. And if we have nothing, then with sticks and rocks. And if we don’t have sticks or rocks, then with our bodies, with teeth and fingernails. We have to teach our little girls to protect and defend themselves when they grow up and have their own strength.

That’s how things are today, sister and compañera, we have to live on the defensive, and to teach our daughters to grow up on the defensive, and we have to maintain that practice until they girls can be born and grow and mature without fear.

We Zapatistas think that the best way to do this is to be organized. We know that there are those who think this can be done individually. We as Zapatistas do it through organization, because we are women who struggle, yes, but we are Zapatista women.

That is why, compañera and sister, our report back to all of you this year is that among us, there has not been a single murder or disappearance of any of our compañeras. We do have some cases, according to our last meeting, of violence against women, and we are in the process of deciding how to punish those responsible, all of whom are men. That punishment is partly the responsibility of the autonomous authorities, but also ours as Zapatista women.

We also want to be totally honest and say that at times we fight among ourselves, compañera and sister, and about stupid things. Maybe these dumb fights are a waste of time because we are all alive and safe. But there was a time in which we only lived death. And truthfully, looking at the way things are in your world—and please don’t be offended sister and compañera—but we hope that someday you all also fight over who is prettiest, youngest, smartest, best-dressed, who as more boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives, or why you’re wearing the same thing, or whose kids are better or worse, or any of these things that happen in life.

Because when that day comes, compañera and sister, it will mean that just staying alive is no longer a problem. And maybe then we can all be equally idiotic about men and gossip and stupid stuff.

Or perhaps not, perhaps once you all are alive and free, your problems will be different, with different arguments and fights. But until that day comes, sister and compañera, we have to take care of each other, protect each other and defend each other.

As you know well, compañera and sister, this is a war. They are trying to kill us, and we are trying to stay alive, but alive without fear—alive and free, that is.

We want to shout to the world our pain and this rage at the fact that we cannot live freely. And we also want to shout our encouragement to struggle to each and every woman who is abused, either physically or however else. As Zapatista women, we want to send a special embrace to the families and friends of disappeared and murdered women—an embrace that lets them know that they are not alone, that in our own way and from our own place, we accompany their demand for truth and justice.

That’s why we’re gathered here, sister and compañera: to shout our pain and rage, to accompany and encourage each other, to embrace each other, to know that we are not alone, to look for paths of help and support.

These are our words for you today, sister and compañera. The insurgentas and milicianas have prepared a talk to present also, and in that one we will remind you of the little light that we gave you in the first gathering. Later we will begin the work of this gathering, dedicating the entire day today to denunciations—an entire day for denouncing the violence that we suffer, all of us together, with an open microphone. We’re going to take turns speaking and venting our rage and our fury about everything they do to us. And we are going to listen to each other with attention and respect. Nobody else is going to listen to what we have to say—only we as women who struggle and who are here present. So do not be ashamed, sister and compañera, express clearly your pain and your anger, scream your rage. And be assured that we, at least we the Zapatista women, will make a place in our collective heart for you, and through those of us present here, thousands of Zapatista indigenous women will accompany you.

Tomorrow we will share the ideas, experiences, and work that all of you bring in order to seek paths that we can take to end this nightmare of pain and death. The last day of the gathering will be dedicated to culture, art, and fiesta. So one day we will shout our pain and rage; the next day we will share ideas and experiences; and the third day we will shout our strength and joy.

Because we are women who suffer, but we are also women who think and who organize ourselves and above all, we are women who struggle.

That’s how the gathering will play out, and as you already know, you are welcome here, compañera and sister, you who could come and you who couldn’t but are here in your heart.


In the name of all of the Zapatista women of all ages, on December 27, 2019, at 1:57pm Zapatista time, we officially open this Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle here in the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

From the semillero “Footprints of Comandanta Ramona,” Caracol Whirlwind of Our Word, Zapatista Mountains in Resistance and Rebellion,

Comandanta Amada

Mexico, December 2019

En español:


Zapatista women’s gathering begins

Hundreds of Zapatista milicianas paraded in the inauguration of the worldwide feminist gathering. Photo: Cuartoscuro


From the correspondents

Ejido Morelia, Altamirano, Chiapas

“The right to life and all the rights we deserve and need, will not be given to us by anyone, nor by the capitalist system through the many laws and promises that it makes, but rather we must conquer them all the time and in all places,” the women members of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) affirmed this Friday upon inaugurating the second international gathering of women who struggle, called against gender violence, “because throughout the world they continue murdering them, disappearing them, doing violence to them and despising them.”

“To struggle for our rights, like the right to life, it’s not enough to struggle against sexism or patriarchy, we must also struggle against the capitalist system,” they stated before more than 5,000 women from Mexico and 48 other countries gathered in the Caracol called “footprints of walking with Comandanta Ramona.”

They pointed out that: “what matters is that we fight for our lives, that now more than ever they are in danger everywhere and all the time, and although they may say and may preach that there are many there are many advances for women, the truth is that never before in the history of humanity has it been so deadly to be a woman.”

“This year, the number of violated, disappeared and murdered women has not stopped, it has increased, and we as Zapatistas see this as very serious,” Comandanta Amada emphasized upon making a call to women that it doesn’t matter what your thinking or your way is.

She asked the attendees to always have respect for different thoughts and ways. “Those who are here, and many more who are not present, are women who struggle. We have different ways, for sure. But now you see that our thinking, as the Zapatistas that we are, is that it isn’t useful that we are all equal. We think that difference is not weakness.”

Prior to the inauguration of the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle, they carried out the performance called A rapist in your path and sang feminist songs to the rhythm of the batucada. [1]

Feminine collectives arrived in Zapatista territory with diverse currents of thinking or social struggles that have made use of color to self-identify in the global context, making their ideologies public: those who wear a green scarf; promoters of the campaign for the right to abortion; those with the color violet insignia who combat gender violence, wage inequality, femicides; lesbian feminist collectives, among others.

When reading the communiqué from the EZLN women, Comandanta Amada urged attendees to “self-defend as individuals and as women, and above all we must defend ourselves organized, support and protect each other.”

There was a parade of several hundred indigenous milicianas [2] who carried clubs and bows; all of them in charge of the security of the gathering, to which not a single man was permitted entry.

“They keep killing us and they still ask us, demand from us, order us to be well-behaved, and you can’t believe it, but if a group of workers cover a road, or go on strike, or protest, there’s a big scandal; they say that the rights of the merchandise, of cars, of things are violated, and in the communications media there are photos, videos, reports, analysis and commentary against those protests,” Amada reproached from a stage.

But if they rape a woman, “they just put one more number or one less number in their statistics. And if women protest and scratch their stones up above, break their windows up above, shout their truths to those above, then yes (there is) big noise.” “But if they disappear us, if they murder us, then they just put another number: one more victim, one less woman.”

After the inauguration, the Zapatista commanders installed a table for listening to the stories of some of the participants. Testimonies were given of women violated to those to whom the government has not done justice, and who live in fear of being murdered because of denouncing sexist aggression.

Students from the School of Philosophy and Letters described the violence that is experienced inside the UNAM. The former independent presidential candidate María de Jesús Patricio, Marichuy, attended the gathering, as well as mothers of young victims of femicides like Lesvy Rivera Osorio, found dead in University City in 2017.

[1] Batucada is a sub-style of samba, performed with percussion instruments.

[2] A Zapatista miliciana is a Zapatista woman who is a member of a military body similar to the National Guard.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Report from EZLN-CNI Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth


Forum in defense of territory and Mother Earth Photo: Angeles Mariscal

By: Angeles Mariscal

The global economic model based on the exploitation of nature and the accumulation of wealth, the capitalist economic model, in the last 200 years has provoked climate change and now seeks to do it to land where natural resources still remain, indigenous peoples from different regions of the country and mestizos from Mexico City and Monterrey concluded during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth. They agreed to combine to defend their territory and to be self-sustainable.

They met for 2 days in a gathering headed by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI), to analyze the impacts that the mining, hydraulic, hydrocarbon, wind, tourism and real estate industries have on their territory. They explained in this radiography of the country, not only the histories of dispossession, but also the actions of resistance, the strategies that the communities have implemented to prevent these sectors from appropriating land that they inhabit and from extracting the natural resources. At the end of the gathering, they agreed to combine to defend their territory, to be self-sustainable and to strengthen a system of life in an economic model different from the capitalist system.

From the Yaqui tribe of Bácum pueblo in Sonora, to the Binnizá of Oaxaca, passing through inhabitants of the America colonias of Monterrey, and Coyoacán of Mexico City, indigenous and mestizos from 24 states, drew how big companies corrupt governments in order to appropriate the land and its natural resources.

On Aztecas Street marked with the number 215, in the Coyoacán District of Mexico City, every second, 60 liters of pure water coming from an underground aquifer is removed with hoses, to then be spilled into the nearest drainage.

In what until a few years ago was considered the world’s largest city, one of its main problems is the lack of water to supply 21.5 million inhabitants. The water that is spilled every day into Aztecas Street, would be enough for the consumption of 15,000 people; however, that doesn’t matter to the “I want a house” company, which seeks at all costs to dry that spring in order to build apartment buildings on it. The Coyoacán District is one of the most valuable in that city.

At the beginning of the denunciation, capital authorities argued that what was being extracted was water contaminated by the drainage, but with the help of specialists residents of the zone were able to document that it was clean underground water.

In Monterrey, the city with the country’s most thriving economy, the Barrio San Luicito, founded by migrants more than 50 years ago, “defaces the view” of the project to build plazas, shopping centers, luxury homes and tourist attractions amid “first world” roads.

“When we came to Monterrey many years ago, roped us to the hill where there was nothing more than stony terrain. Now that there is no longer room for their projects, they want to displace us because we hinder what entrepreneurs call ´economic growth´, because our houses seem ugly and poor to them, because we obstruct them.”

What happens at Aztecas 215 and in the San Luicito Barrio, are the new stories of dispossession that are reaching the cities, as those affected by these projects referred to them during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth. Until a few years ago, those who got together at the gatherings called by the EZLN were mostly inhabitants of rural and indigenous areas, now city residents come.

Indigenous Huicholes of San Lorenzo, Jalisco, explained that they struggle so that they won’t dispossess them of 94,000 hectares of land that they have possessed since Colonial times, territory to which the mining, hydraulic and hydrocarbon industries have now been granted concessions, like the Yaquis of Sonora, the inhabitants of El Mezquital in Nayarit, and the Zoques of Chiapas.

The scope of the economic model in this logic also contemplates the emptying of land for projects like the Inter-oceanic Corridor and the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, designed to transport natural resources, merchandise and products to Asian markets.

“In order to impose [these projects] the government resorts to rigged consultations and community division to obtain the permits to open the paths of connection. They have never told us exactly what the contours are. We have not been informed of the ecological impact, much less who the big investment companies are,” denounced members of the Assembly of Peoples of Juchitán, Oaxaca.

Zapatistas shared their experience in the formation of an alternative development model to the capitalist one. Photo: Ángeles Mariscal

Informing and organizing

However, along with the denunciations, for two days those affected by the extractive projects were detailing the strategies they have used to stop the advance of these actions.

“We have gone from town to town informing, making alternative information campaigns, and articulating actions to stop the works,” several of the speakers pointed out during the Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth.

“We have made agreements and we are walking little by little, strengthening ourselves as peoples, designing regulations that contemplate autonomy over our land and our resources, raising awareness about the right to decide what we have on our territory,” explained residents from the Indigenous Regional Council of Ixmujil, Campeche.

Others, like the inhabitants of the La Parota zone of Guerrero, explained how for five years they have maintained an occupation and blocked roads that lead to the area where intend to build a hydroelectric dam, or the Wixárika, who have taken their fight to the Agrarian Court and the Tzeltals and Zoques of Chiapas, who formed an alliance with different groups and organizations that seek to conserve the environment.

“We, the daughters and sons of these lands have the need to organize to defend, we have the obligation to defend it and take care of it because territory and Mother Earth cannot defend themselves. We have to think about how to defend our territory and Mother Earth,” the EZLN’s Subcomandante Moisés said when he spoke.

“The enemy of everyone is what we listen to here: capitalism. We have no doubt. Capitalism is already coming to its end because its base of sustenance, which is nature, is already ending, even its reserves. It only took them approximately 200 years to finish it off. It took millions of years for nature to accumulate, and it won’t be able to recuperate in a few years. What we are seeing is pollution of the rivers, waters, seas, soil and subsoil of Mother Earth. Climate change occurs due to this problem. The experience of our grandparents no loner works because the rain is already very irregular,” maintained a Zapatista from the Highlands zone of Chiapas.

He said that given that context, “Capitalism would seek refuge in the mountainous lands and hills where they sent us. Now those are the good lands and capitalism will come to evict us, because more natural riches accumulate there. They need coal, oil and mines.”

Each participant was outlining paths that the original peoples have followed. “We have to prepare ourselves, this situation obliges us to rescue our culture, to return to traditional medicine, to return to making our own clothes, to cultivating our food, and not to depend on capitalism and its governments to live.”

After detailing how some Zapatista communities have formed cooperatives that produce and trade their products between, the attendees at the forum agreed to increase the articulation among the peoples, and to strengthen a life and economic system parallel to the capitalist model.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



An Invitation to Build Community-to-Community Solidarity & Justice

An Invitation from the Chiapas Support Committee

“We would like to take this opportunity to invite The Sixth, The Networks, the CNI, and all honest people to come and participate, together with the Zapatista peoples, in building these CRAREZ [Zapatista Centers of Resistance and Rebellion]. You might contribute to this effort by collecting the necessary construction materials, by making an economic contribution, by hammering, cutting, carrying, and guiding others, and by sharing these moments with us—whichever might be the most convenient way for you.”

Words of Subcomandante Moisés in the August 17, 2019 CCRI-CG Zapatista communiqué “And We Broke the Siege.”

Dear Friends:

The Chiapas Support Committee invites you to close 2019 by giving generously to express support and to envision a new sisterhood/brotherhood with the Zapatista communities in Mexico who are building autonomy and self-determination. We believe that this is an urgent challenge and responsibility facing all activists and organizers working for a more just and peaceful world. (You can donate safely online through PayPal, Venmo: @Enapoyo1994, or create a fundraising campaign for the CSC on your Facebook page.)

In 2019, the Zapatistas marked the 25th year of their uprising by continuing to grow the movements in Indigenous and non-indigenous communities for a new relationship based on autonomy and self-determination.

And what a year 2019 turned out to be!

Seven + Four: Zapatista Centers of Resistance and Rebellion

In August, Subcomandante Moisés issued the Zapatistas’ surprise announcement that they had organized and opened seven new Caracoles and four new autonomous municipalities in Chiapas, some of them in parts of the state not previously thought of as having Zapatista influence. The Zapatistas’ announcement represents an important growth in the practice of radical democracy, which the Zapatistas call autonomy.

And Subcomandante Moisés is inviting us to support these new Zapatista Centers of Resistance and Rebellion construct what their people need: schools, clinics, and sustainable economic production.

We are sharing Subcomandante Moisés’ invitation and extending it to you to make a generous contribution to the Chiapas Support Committee for the construction of radical Zapatista democracy. All of your contributions go to the Zapatista communities.

The creation of the new Zapatista Centers of Resistance and Rebellion (CRAREZ) were in sharp contrast to the EZLN’s ominous New Year’s message on the 25th anniversary of their 1994 Uprising saying that they were alone, fighting off paramilitaries, surrounded by thousands of soldiers and threatened with the Maya Train project and PROARBOL (commercial tree farms).

Then the Zapatistas postponed the 2nd International Gathering of Women Who Struggle. In a February 11 message, the Zapatista women said they could not hold the 2nd Women’s Gathering in March 2019 because it wasn’t safe. The women denounced the threat of paramilitary groups connected to political parties and megaprojects: the Maya Train, commercial tree farms, mining and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec project.

Both messages said the Mexican government was “coming for” them. Both messages caused great concern among Zapatista supporters and an outpouring of international solidarity in the form of letters published in various media around the world.

¡Samir vive!

Less than two weeks later, on February 20, we learned of the murder of Samir Flores Soberanes, a long-time delegate to the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) and an outspoken opponent of the thermoelectric plant in Huexca, Morelos.

In May, four members of the CIPOG-EZ, a campesino organization belonging to the CNI, were murdered in Guerrero. These murders revealed that criminal gangs allegedly connected to organized crime had surrounded several CIPOG communities and were murdering anyone who left those communities to obtain supplies. This prompted an international solidarity campaign to donate and deliver supplies to the surrounded communities via back roads and mountain trails.

Meanwhile, paramilitary violence continued in the Chiapas Highlands (Chenalhó, Chalchihuitán, Aldama, as well as other parts of Chiapas). At least 25 were reported killed and several thousand were displaced from their homes and communities. A recent report indicates that some are fleeing violence and displacement, and are currently in an encampment near the US border waiting to be called for an asylum interview.

Yet, in the midst of military and paramilitary violence, as well as megaprojects, the Zapatistas have been able to convince and organize thousands of previously non-Zapatistas to give up Mexican government handouts and enrich the culture of indigenous resistance and rebellion to practice radical democracy (autonomy), according to the organizing principles of Zapatismo. They have done so with their dignity, patient love of neighbor and consistent example.

An invitation to grow justice & autonomy

All our communities are invited—as a small committee, as members of an emerging network and as members of diverse social and economic justice movements—by Subcomandante Moisés to build our struggles for autonomy and justice where we live, work, study, worship and play.

And the Chiapas Support Committee invites you to help us support the Zapatistas’ CRAREZ by giving a generous donation before 2019 ends to support Zapatista community autonomy projects in Chiapas.

Please join us in making a generous contribution to the anti-capitalist and autonomous development of the new Zapatista Centers of Resistance and Rebellion (CRAREZ)!

You can donate on-line, create a birthday fundraiser on your Facebook page for CSC and/or with a check or money order payable to: CHIAPAS SUPPORT COMMITTEE and mail to:

Chiapas Support Committee

P O Box 3421

Oakland, CA 94609

To donate online, you can use:

The work of constructing autonomy in the new CRAREZ is of critical importance to the Zapatistas. Your contributions will reflect the urgent work of creating and strengthening relationships rooted in solidarity and justice across borders and movements.

Members of the Chiapas Support Committee and the folks we work with in Chiapas will thank you from the bottom of our collective heart for your contribution.

In resistance & solidarity,

Jose Plascencia, for the Chiapas Support Committee

Carolina Dutton

Arnoldo García

Roberto Martínez

Amanda Stephenson

Mary Ann Tenuto Sánchez


The Whale Dances

Sixth Commission of the EZLN

Mexico | 
December 2019

To the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing

To the individuals, groups, collectives and organizations of the national and international Sixth:

To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion:

To those who enjoy dance:

 First and only

A Whale Dances

The illuminated mountain. The echo of cinema, not of a movie, but of cinema itself as a community still lives on in recently lit ocotes, in the nostalgic blue of that horse–Tulan Kaw–, in a glimmer that reads «Welcome,» and finally in that defiant light that spells, «ZAPATISTAS.»

You’ve tried to leave this place but for some reason that you’re unable to explain, you can’t… or you don’t want to. Night has fallen, cold as always. You stroll through the flat open area where, hours earlier, the serpentine path between the stations reminded you of small-town fairs in distant calendars and geographies.

The smorgasbord of posters catches your eye: “Second International Encounter of Women in Struggle,” “Gathering in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth,” “26th Anniversary,” “Second ‘Puy Ta Cuxlejaltic’ Film Festival,” “First ‘Dance Another World’ Dance Festival.”

Is it possible to dance the air?

Could a dance, seemingly so distant from everything, trace the outlines of a dream through movement alone?

Yes, perhaps you’re delirious; it could be due to the cold or to that irreverent red star glittering at the top of the mountain.

You’re in the middle of analyzing this when the little girl and her gang arrive and surround you with their enthusiastic chatter: “There’s going to be a dance!” they shout, jumping up and down. Well, the girl called “Calamity” barely gets her heels off the ground, but her joy is just the same as the others’. The prospect of a dance does not excite Pedrito, the skeptic of the group, who declares: “There’s a dance every now and then anyway, I don’t see what the fuss is about.” Defensa Zapatista begins her pedagogical approach with a slap upside the head and continues, “There’s going to be a dance hanging from a cloud, not just any old dance,” as she performs an impeccable ron de jambe par terre en dehors.[1] Not to be shown up, the Cat-Dog follows with a pas de chat.[2]

“There’s going to be a dance!” repeat the girls in a jumbled chorus.

An insurgenta (you identify her by her uniform) comes running and says, “Calamity, come here, they’re going to dance the whale!” Calamity runs as fast as she can – which isn’t very fast – up the gentle slope that leads to the belly of the wooden whale still resting… or recuperating from injuries from harpoons, lies, and forgetting. Defensa Zapatista follows with the Cat-Dog in her arms.

Esperanza Zapatista is still arguing with Pedrito, who is pointing out that not only is it impossible to ‘dance a whale’, but also that it’s impossible for a cetacean (that’s what he calls it) to have ended up in the middle of the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. You don’t get to hear the end of the argument but you can guess how it played out: Esperanza Zapatista, even though she only comes up to Pedrito’s waist, usually ends every argument with: “Men can’t see past their own noses… and they’re snub-nosed!”

You decide to follow Defensa Zapatista, the Cat-Dog and Calamity. Esperanza Zapatista and Pedrito follow behind, complaining that they’re hungry.

You enter into the belly of the enormous animal, which by now is nearly empty. A group of dancers practice their movements. They (ellas, elloas, ellos) bound across the stage that, despite its name, is not higher than the bleachers, but lower.

You sit down and, instead of watching the dancers’ exercises and rehearsal, you watch the reaction of the little gang. Calamity, very excited, has climbed up onto one of the wood bleachers and attempts to execute an echappe simple,[3] and, as she falls onto the wooden bench, it breaks. “Calamity!”, Defensa Zapatista shouts – but Calamity has already climbed onto another bleacher and repeated the move… and another bench is broken. By the time the fifth bench has broken, a cluster of milicianas is trying in vain to restrain her still despite her insistence on challenging the laws of gravity… and logic.

The scene that follows – with Calamity jumping from one bleacher to another with an agility that defies the limits of her body, the milicianas trying to surround and grab her, the cat-dog biting the milicianas, Defensa Zapatista trying to stop the Cat-Dog, Esperanza Zapatista trying to get her phone out to video-record the chaos, Pedrito reminding everyone that perhaps it would be best to have something to eat – doesn’t appear to bother the dancers who seem to hang on a wind that, in the absence of music, blows only in their hearts.

Is it possible to dance an injured whale?

“Oh, the Zapatistas: as usual it’s like they’re watching a movie of their own,” you think to yourself. It’s as if when they talk about the world, they’re referring to a world besides the one we’re all suffering through; as if, traveling in a spaceship, they decided to look not at the world they’re leaving behind but the world that is hiding someplace in the universe… or in their imagination.

Can you imagine the soundtrack to a new, rebellious world rising from the ashes of the old as the latter crumbles imperceptibly?

Then you understand… or you think you do. With “Dance Another World,” Zapatismo is not issuing a challenge, but rather an invitation.

Meanwhile, cornered at the far end of the auditorium, Calamity has stopped the milicianas’ attack – they are listening attentively to the girl’s explanation of the “popcorn game” and her “history of popcorn, Calamity’s version.”

Just then you feel a rumbling under your feet. No – could it be? Yes: it seems that the whale has finally gotten desperate and is trying to restart its journey up the mountainside.

As if dance, the art of dancing another world, had healed its wounds and its heart and had encouraged it to continue its absurd effort.

But that’s impossible. Isn’t it?


Given the above, the Sixth Commission of the EZLN invites the men, women, others (otroas), children and elders of the Sixth, the CNI and the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion throughout the whole world, as well as anyone who can and wants to, to attend the First Festival of Dance…

“To Dance Another World”

The festival’s first (!) edition will take place in the Zapatista caracoles of Tulan Kaw and Jacinto Canek, in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, December 16-20, 2019.

There will be exhibitions of contemporary, classical, and neoclassical dance; folk, aerial, and African dance; bellydancing, butoh, acrobatics, circus performance, participative dance, dark belly dance hip hop fusion, modern dance, hula hoop and fire dance.

The activities will take place in:

  • The Caracol of Tulan Kaw, December 16, 17 and 18, 2019, beginning at 10:00AM.
  • The Caracol of Jacinto Canek (in the facilities of CIDECI in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas), December 19 and 20, 2019.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


With his beautiful and well-formed body (Ha!) injured from having tried a Temps Levé Coupe.[4] Don’t laugh, I nailed it! … Well, sort of… Okay, okay, I couldn’t do it.

Mexico, December 2019

[1] Basic ballet exercise involving circling the leg on the ground. Depicted here:

[2] French for “a cat’s step.” In ballet, a sideways jump with both feet brought as high in the air as possible. Shown here:

[3] Ballet move in which the dancer jumps from standing into a wide-footed pose, shown here:

[4] Temps Levé: a small jump. Coupé: A small intermediary step done as preparation for another step. Shown here:

En español:






The Maya Train: the consultation and the dispossession

Maya Train | Tren Maya

By: Carlos Fazio

Preceded with a big campaign of media propaganda and “field work” of officials from the National Fund for Tourism Promotion and the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, yesterday, December 15, the “participatory consultation” on the Maya Train Development Project was held in municipios of Yucatán, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo, where Maya, Ch’ol, Tzeltal and Tzotzil communities exist. [1]

Under the premise that: “participation is inclusion, co-responsibility and democracy” and the slogan “Let’s decide together!” the formula for the manufacture of consent (Chomsky dixit) concealed that the decision was made before the consultation; President Andrés Manuel López Obrador adopted it when he became president, independently of the free determination of the Maya people. As AMLO himself has said: “rain, thunder or lightning the Maya Train will be built. Like it or not.”

Critical researchers have argued that the Maya Train is not new, nor is it just a train, nor is it Maya. And that it will not remove Mexico from the slope of neoliberalism nor return to the State its guiding role as the motor of national development: it includes two infrastructure megaprojects on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Yucatan Peninsula of geopolitical and private scope, whose central objective is the territorial transformation of the south-southeast region of Mexico at the service of US corporate economic and security interests. And as such, it could lead to a new process of dispossession of lands under ejido property in the areas concerned (via induced or frankly coercive expropriation) and the consequent spatial segregation of the Maya population.

To do this, as Josué G. Veiga points out (“The Fourth Transformation travels by train”), together with the “imposition of certain development” and apart from Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on prior and informed consultation, the Maya Train project has appropriated “meanings and imaginaries of the Maya culture to alter them and sell them as the trademark of a nationalist project.”

According to Ana Esther Ceceña, the geopolitical scope and the strategic effects of the transformation of the southeast region place the project as a nodal point of the “world market’s traffic” and, therefore, of the “war” for global control. For the US, but also for its competitors (China, Japan and other emerging economies), control of that region “can make the difference in the hierarchy of powers at the global level.”

In particular −and more after the agreements reached around the Protocol of Amendments of the Trade Agreement between Mexico, the US and Canada (T-MEC), which ratify the maquiladora vocation of the Fourth Transformation nation project−, Washington seeks to maintain the Greater Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico (of which the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Yucatan Peninsula are strategic areas) a part of its jurisdictional territory (or homeland) that, among other resources, shelters an immense oil wealth that encompasses from Venezuela to Texas.

Said objective was already established in Plan Colombia and Plan Puebla Panamá of Bill Clinton (1999-2000), renamed the Mesoamerican Initiative by Felipe Calderón and Álvaro Uribe in 2008, and in which the Mexican Isthmus area (today the Maya-Tehuantepec route of AMLO) appeared as the best alternative “hinge” to the Panama Canal (given its saturation faced with the volume of merchandise and raw materials traffic), for the mobility of US capitalism in its protected ambit of North America and in inter-imperialist competition with the two other mega-blocks integrated by the Asian powers of the Pacific Basin and the European Union.

With the carrot of “development,” “progress” and “modernization” of the marginalized peoples of the Mexican south-southeast, then as now the transnational capitalist class is offered the installation of sweatshop corridors with [government] subsidies and low salaries, in an area that besides the Maya Train includes the Trans-Isthmus Corridor with its multimodal infrastructure of interoceanic connection (highway network, railroads, ports, fiber optic) for the transport of merchandise and natural goods and their “development poles” at the service of real estate and tourist corporations (hotels, housing, shopping centers, industrial ships and manufacturing); for the energy branch (new gas pipelines in Yucatan, the Dos Bocas refinery) and for the agro-industrial sector (palm oil, sorghum, sugar cane, soy, Sembrando Vida program). In its geopolitical dimension it also includes the urgency of putting up “containment curtains” given the migratory flows of Mexicans and Central Americans to the US.

With another concealed objective of the “participatory consultation” about the Maya Train: given that the financing mechanism for land availability will be through Infrastructure and Real Estate Trusts, a massive process of dispossession can be foreseen that will convert property owners into dispossessed, because although the land will not change ownership, it will be delivered as material support of the trust to partners o shareholders like BlackRock, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Grupo Carso, CreditSuisse, Grupo Barceló, ICA, Grupo Salinas, Bombardier, Grupo Meliá, Bachoco and Hilton Resort.

[1] The government reports that the result of the consultation was resounding approval of the Maya Train.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, December 16, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


190 people flee after armed attack in Chilón, Chiapas

Residents of Chilón, Chiapas demonstrate for safe drinking water.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

Around 40 families (190 people) were forcibly displaced from the San Antonio Patbaxil community, municipality of Chilón, because they were “attacked by armed subjects,” the Indigenous Rights Center (Cediac) and Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) denounced. All are scattered without food or shelter.

They detailed that those affected “are in neighboring communities, in the municipal capital and scattered in the mountains, most of them without food or shelter, surrounded by the armed group that prevents returning safely.”

They said that on December 6, around 6 o’clock in the morning, a group of 20 people, coming from the community of Pechtón Icotsilh’, attacked the population of San Antonio Patbaxil with firearms. They said that the aggressor group: “is the same one that displaced the population of Carmen San José community, between June 20 and 25, 2018.”

They pointed out that the residents of Juan Sabines Verapaz, Tzubute’el Santa Rosa, in Chilón municipality and Santa Cruz, in Sitalá municipality, are at risk.

They mentioned that the Frayba recorded the attack on nine people who returned to Carmen San José last October 9 to see their properties; the gunfire from high-caliber weapons lasted 30 minutes, and continued the following day.

Although the Frayba informed the state and federal authorities about the violence in the Chilón region, “the Mexican State has not carried out humanitarian aid or protection and prevention actions to prevent that the human rights crisis in the state continues escalating,” and because of the unpunished behavior, they said, links to state and municipal police are presumed.

Both organisms demanded: “guarantying the life, security and integrity of the 125 people displaced from Carmen San José and the 65 people displaced from San Antonio Patbaxil, as well as preventing the forced displacement of Juan Sabines Verapaz, Tzubute’el Santa Rosa, municipality of Chilon and Santa Cruz, Sitalá.

Government sources said that Jorge Daniel and Eleazar Álvaro Guillén, those allegedly responsible for the armed acts, were arrested on December 10. Two other participants, Bernabé Álvaro Álvaro and Jeremías Álvaro Álvaro, were captured on December 3. These four individuals, together with Manuel López Gómez, are accused of participating in the kidnapping of five municipal officials in October of last year.

All alleged members of an armed group from the community of Pechtón –which seeks to stay on the lands of their neighbors– are now secluded in the Ocosingo prison.

Translator’s Note

Chiapas Paralelo reports that the communities attacked are in the process of forming “community government,” meaning they are probably members of MODEVITE.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



The 4T and the yes or yes for the Train they call Maya

This map shows Tren Maya’s stations in Chiapas, Tabasco and on the Yucatan Peninsula.

By: Magdalena Gómez

The final phase of the meteoric consultation organized by the federal government around the Train that they call Maya will take place on December 14 and 15. There are several substantive considerations that supporting the irregularities of said process. In the first place, an alleged consultation will be held only about a train project, despite multiple evidence that it’s about a plan that entails more than a train and that will imply the construction of real estate and tourist development poles around the stations that are planned on the route through five states: Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

Throughout a year mainly Fonatur, with help from the Agrarian Prosecutor’s office, has made efforts and pressures against the ejidos that they should contribute lands for said poles, and both agencies have even stated that more than 90 percent of the ejidos involved have already accepted. They have also peddled the proposal that they be part of the trusts that will be formed and thus be investors instead of selling their land. In the logic of half truths they have enunciated in the call to the so-called consultation that: “the project seeks the integral development of southeastern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula starting with territorial planning, preservation of the environment, inclusive economic development, social wellbeing and the protection of tangible, intangible heritage and the historic identity of the peoples of the region.” There is no evidence of such paths.

Thus we have that in the first phase, called informative, they have carried out their formula of regional meetings, at the end of November, in which they have explained to attendees, who they name generically authorities, the goodness of the train. Without conditions for dialogues and agreements, as they point out, for defining distribution of benefits. No environmental impact studies or opinions around the area’s archaeological sites have been distributed. Supposedly, during the next two weeks said authorities would deliberate with their communities to express their posture on December 14 and 15.

A central element of the governmental strategy to ensure the yes or yes to the train, is the definition of the subject of right of the indigenous consultation, it summoned them and added: “As well as the general citizenry of said states, to participate in the indigenous consultation process and day of participative citizen exercise [vote].”

Consequently, “the indigenous communities will be able to participate in both consultations, as ethnicities and as citizens, the head of Fonatur said ( Reforma, 29/11). For his part, Arturo Abreu Marin, the federal delegate in Quintana Roo, pointed out: “Those who attend the public consultation that the National Institute of the Indigenous Peoples will carry out for the Maya Train will have to have roots in the community to consult, regardless of whether they are indigenous or people with blue eyes.”

It’s important to linger on the implication of this criterion. It cost many years of struggle of the world’s indigenous peoples to achieve the recognition of collective rights as peoples, independently of the paradigm of the rights of individuals. They are embodied in international instruments. For that matter, the Maya people have their territory in the five states of the train’s route; it is in that zone where the ancestral foundations of their culture, the archaeological vestiges and the ecosystems that have sustained their relationship with nature are established. It is the indigenous authorities, not the ejido authorities and the citizenry in general, who should be consulted centrally and with whom the project’s terms and implications should really have prior agreement.

The “citizen strategy” is underway, members of Morena and the governors promote participation in favor of the yes vote because they say that their President promotes the train and it will bring jobs and progress to the southeast.

Evidently the computation criteria will be quantitative. Is one community one vote and one person another? Some collectives, organizations like the National Indigenous Congress and Maya communities are defining the rejection of the project. They consider it a joke and gave solid arguments; we are not facing a prior, free, informed or culturally appropriate consultation and they will surely deploy the legal resources and resistance within their reach, but they face a government that like the federal exerts a disproportionate use of its political strength with the support of the governors. For both cases there will be only one question: Does the Maya Train go, yes or no? Those who have considered genuine the will of listening to the indigenous peoples didn’t imagine that yes or yes strategy was being prepared for the Maya Train. Or with their epochal translations: It goes because it goes and I get tired. Hey, the peoples also get tired.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee








Sixth Commission of the EZLN


December 2019

To the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Government Council:

To the people, groups, collectives and organizations of the national and international Sixth:

To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion:

To film-lovers everywhere:

Considering, first and only, that:


(Creatures and their Creators)

You have no idea how you ended up here in this place, though it seems it’s becoming something of a habit… “The traditions and customs of city folk,” you remember the late Sup Marcos saying. You also remember how annoying he found those sarcastic comments…well, not just those comments. The afternoon has given way to evening. You stop, noticing in the distance a red, five-pointed star at the top of a mountain, with an enormous sign with so many letters that you can’t make out its message. Even more distant, you can make out the blue-gray silhouette of a braying horse with huge, illuminated letters that state, laconically: “TULAN KAW ZAPATISTA.”

At the entrance, the girl who guided you through that first impossible movie theater and her gang of kids approach you. You’re not sure whether to run, pretend not to know them, or freeze and see what happens. Any semblance of a strategy collapses because the girl takes you by the hand and chastises you: “Late again.”

You all cross through a wide flat space that appears to be set up like a county fair. You take a winding route through dozens of different “stations,” each booth with its own light-and-sound show, people dressed up as monsters, circus performers, and trapeze artists; over here there’s someone teaching art, and over there you can hear music, singing and dancing. People crowd together at their favorite “station”, laughing and shouting with delight and surprise, and, of course, taking selfies. At the edge of the path through the stations there’s a huge screen. You’re about to say, “Looks like a drive-in theater,” but a nearby sign reads: “Walk-In Theater. Tonight: Cantinflas and Manuel Medel in Águila o Sol[i]. Tomorrow: Piporro and Pedro Infante in Ahí viene Martín Corona[ii].

The girl leads you through the zigzagging path. Up ahead, a strange being like a cat or a dog is flanked on both sides by other girls and boys all talking at the same time.

You try to make out what they’re saying, but just then you see a huge banner with the face of…Boris Karloff?[iii] made up like the monster from Frankenstein, with a coffee cup in one hand and a half-eaten sweet bun in the other. The banner’s text repeats an ancient truism: “Nothing like coffee and a snack to bring you back to life.” Farther on another sign reads: “Maxillofacial Surgery. Get your best face and an irresistible smile!” with images of the monster from Alien from the series’ various prequels and sequels. You instinctively evaluate the cheeks from each version and shudder.

Amidst lots of brightly colored lights there is a long mess hall (you can make out signs reading “ZAPATISTAS” and “WELCOME”). You’re about to say that it’s a bit chilly and that a hot coffee and a snack wouldn’t hurt when you see on one of the walls another banner with Edward James Olmos’ face announcing, “Soft-boiled sushi. Origami classes. Pest control. Bow ties. Gaff & Company.” Higher up, as if suspended from the ceiling, there’s an animated image of the geisha from Blade Runner. You pause for a moment trying to guess how such a novelty is possible, but the crowd behind you pushes you forward.

Almost at the end of the winding route of “stations,” there’s a table with a large model of what appears to be a future construction and a sign reading “Theater Project” with a collection box labeled “Anonymous Donations.” Behind an artisan shop nearby you see an image of a Facehugger advertising scarves and sleep eye-masks for sale.

Before you lies a path studded with lights and the silhouette of a large red star, and amidst some rubble, apparently placed there on purpose, flash images of a dystopian backdrop. The flickering lights barely illuminate the forest around you and the mountain above. Instead of individual trees, it’s as if the Zapatistas had strung the entire mountaintop with lights and the trees were merely branches on that great, hulking pine.

You decide that it would be best to turn around; nothing normal happens in Zapatista territory… at least, not to you. Every time you’ve come you’re left feeling somewhat discontent with and skeptical of yourself, and it takes you several days of your regular routine in the city to feel normal again. So you take a few steps back, looking for an opportunity to turn around without the boys and girls seeing you…

But then you see it, and stop dead in your tracks.

You tell yourself you’ve seen everything – that’s what the internet and its bandwidth are for – but what you’re seeing now is so illogical that… Well, you grab your cell phone and try to take a panoramic photo but you realize immediately that it’s impossible. You would need a satellite to capture the whole scene, because it’s clear that all of it is part of a puzzle and that to put it together you’d have to walk… and close your eyes.

But when you open your eyes, it’s still there, an enormous structure. A sort of huge hangar that, in seeming defiance of the laws of physics, extends back until it gets lost in the trees and the moist mountain surface. It’s like a galley whose figurehead is a red, five-pointed star. You wouldn’t be surprised if, in your peripheral vision, tons of small windows opened and dozens, hundreds, thousands of oars came out… and if inside, “writing in the sea [iv],” was the one-armed man of Lepanto.[v] It looks like a galleon, or a whaling ship… No, more like a lost whale who, trying to swim against the current, up the mountainside, has taken a rest among the trees and people—a lot of people, of all sizes and all colors. Even though most of them have their faces covered, their clothes are like a kaleidoscope moving around the great whale, absurd here in its stopover halfway up the mountain, just as everything that happens here is absurd.

No, it didn’t occur to you that this might be the “Pequod,[vi] but rather the legendary whale from Moby Dick with which Gregory Peck[vii] and Herman Melville were obsessed.

You’ve seen several signs that say “Film Festival,” but you haven’t seen any references to John Huston’s film or Melville’s novel. Then you remember something the Zapatistas once said: “We are speaking for another time. Our words will be understood in other calendars and geographies.” Even so, you are willing to respond with “Call me Ishmael[viii] if anyone asks your name, but then you notice three large banners covering one side of the structure. On the middle banner, embroidered with images of rope and spears, you read:


That’s the Mapuche language, Mapudungun,” you hear someone explain to someone else. A little above that line the banner reads “MARICHEWEU! Ten, one hundred, one thousand times we will win.” As if to ratify that statement, ten, one hundred, one thousand masked people swarm around you, Zapatista young people, men, women, and otroas—the rowers on this paradoxical and good-spirited old galley—whose very existence, whose lives, seem to point to a triumph over a past that promised them nothing but death and oblivion.

You encounter this Mapuche cry of resistance and rebellion here in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Why does Zapatismo greet that original people in this manner in these lands? Why the effort to take an ancestral history of resistance and rebellion from the continent’s southern tip and plant it here in these mountains—a place called “Tulan Kaw” (“strong horse” in Tojolabal and Tzeltal)—creating an irrational and anachronistic link between two resistances and rebellions with the same objective, the defense of mother earth?

You’re trying to decipher that puzzle when the kid gang pushes you into the belly of the whale…okay, fine, the auditorium. Inside there are lots of wood benches arranged in tiers following the slope of the mountain, and a stage with tables, three screens (the Zapatista version of 3D), speakers, and a bunch of cables spilling out like entrails.

Wait for us here. We’re going to go get some popcorn,” the little girl tells you. You start to say that you didn’t see any popcorn vendors but the kid gang has disappeared, exiting the belly of the whale…okay, okay, the auditorium. While you wait you look around the inside of the building. There are beings of all sorts on the benches, and on stage are people who, you assume, make films. They are talking about film as if responding to questions that, as far as you can tell, nobody has asked… at least, nobody you can see. Or maybe they’re just talking to themselves.

The little girl and her gang come running back in, all carrying bags of popcorn. The little girl gives you a bag and explains, “I only put a little bit of salsa on them so you wouldn’t get a stomach ache.” The entrance of the kid gang serves like a signal and the rest of the crowd leaves en masse. The people on stage heave a sigh of relief. One confesses, “Phew! Now I remember why I chose to work in film!” Another says, “This is like a horror film mixed with a thriller and a science fiction flick. I fear the screenplay holds nothing good in store for me.” And another adds, “To be honest, I didn’t know how to answer her, she just had too many questions.” “True,” says still another, “it’s like being on trial but without a defense attorney… and knowing you’re guilty.”

The little girl whispers in your ear, “If SupGaleano comes looking for us, you tell him that we’ve been here the whole time, that you brought the popcorn yourself from the city and shared it with us. Even if he’s angry, don’t give in, stay firm! Resistance and rebellion, you know.” Just then you hear over the loudspeaker: “Please report any information or tips on the location of one cat-dog, wanted for theft of strategic material from the office of the General Command. The suspect tends to travel in the company of a gang of kids who… okay fine, forget the kids, but the cat-dog is unmistakable.” The aforementioned, with what you could swear is a mischievous smile, burrows into the little girl’s lap.

You are weighing the wisdom of lying to a Subcomandante when everyone comes back in with fragrant bags of popcorn and takes their seats. From the stage, someone says, “Nobody has any frivolous questions? I mean, to get back to normalcy and make everyone believe that this is a film festival like any other.”

Would you look at that,” you say to yourself, “a film festival where explanations, reason, and reflection are expected. As if a great big question mark had appeared on the screen and everyone (todas, todos, todoas) was expecting…what are they expecting? The little girl responds with a confession, “See, the thing is, we’re all kind of happy that these people who make film came here, because what if they are sad or their hearts anxious because they don’t know where these things they created ended up? It’s a good point, right? So we invited them to come and tell us if they are okay, or not okay, or depends. Maybe they’ll even start to dance and eat popcorn and their hearts will be glad,” the little girl says with her mouth full and her cheeks stained bright with salsa.

It seems like there’s an intermission, so everyone, including you, leaves the building. To your surprise, there is now a mobile popcorn vendor outside, followed by a long curving line of kids waiting their turn, like a comet with a trail of lights. It looks like there’s another vendor a little ways off, and you can make out another still further away. You get in line and once you have your bag of popcorn you stare in wonder at the absurd movie theater with its rebellious inclinations, challenging all logic and the law of gravity itself…

The mythical Mapuche whale, Mocha Dick, swimming up the mountain, with all these people in its wake… “and mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air,” (Moby Dick. Herman Melville, 1851).

The irreverent cetacean as part of the jigsaw puzzle.

Film as something more, much more, than a movie.

As if all this were just part of a bigger jigsaw puzzle, you see a giant poster announcing a dance festival, another about the defense of territory and mother earth, another about an international gathering of women who struggle, another about a birthday, and signs, lots of them, signaling bathrooms, showers, internet, supplies, “a world where many worlds fit,” the Junta de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Council), the Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion, the Information and Vigilance Commission… at this point you wouldn’t be surprised to run into Elías Contreras, sitting and smoking outside a hut with “Investigation Commission” inscribed over the doorway.

You detect a lot of loose pieces. There are some people who can only be differentiated from the locals because they have a nametag that reads “National Indigenous Congress” and, of course, they don’t have their faces covered. There are also “citizens” or “city folk,” which is what Zapatismo calls those who live or at least survive in the city. You’re exasperated to realize there are and will be many more pieces. It’s as if Zapatismo has set out to challenge humanity with enigmas…or with the silhouette of a world, another world.

It’s as if your life mattered to someone you don’t even know. Someone for whom you may have done much, or a little, or nothing, but who takes you into account in any case. It’s as if only now do you realize that this “Caracol of Our Lives” includes you and yours…ten, one hundred, one thousand times over.

This piece of the puzzle, film, like life, takes place inside a whale injured on both sides, swimming upstream in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast…

But that’s impossible… isn’t it?


Given the above, the EZLN’s Sixth Commission invites the men, women, otroas, children, and elders of the Sexta, the CNI, and the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion around the world, as well as those film fanatics who can and want to come, to the Film Festival:

“PUY TA CUXLEJALTIC  (“Caracol of Our Lives”)

The second edition of which will be held in the Zapatista Caracol of Tulan Kaw, in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, December 7-15, 2019.

The film schedule and festival activities will be posted at the Festival.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

 Chasing after the most terrible mutation of Xenomorph: the Cat-Dog.
What? Well, because he stole my popcorn. And film without popcorn is like… how can I explain it? 
Like tacos without salsa, like Messi without a ball, like a donkey without a rope, like a penguin without a tux, like Sherlock without Watson, like Donald Trump without Twitter (or vice versa)…
what? Okay, that was another bad example.

Mexico, December 2019

[i]   Águila o Sol (1937): One of the first films starring Mexican comic Cantinflas.

[ii] Here Comes Martin Corona (1952): Mexican comedy Western starring Pedro Infante.

[iii] Stage name for William Henry Pratt [1887-1969], a British actor who played Frankenstein’s monster in the original 1931 film.

[iv] To row.
[v] Miguel de Cervantes, whose lost use of his left arm after a suffering a gunshot wound in the naval Battle of Lepanto against the Ottoman fleet.

[v] Miguel de Cervantes lost an arm in the Battle of Lepanto and thus became known as the one-armed man of Lepanto.

[vi] The fictional 19th-century whaling ship that appears in the 1851 novel, Moby Dick.

[vii] Peck starred in John Huston’s 1956 film Moby Dick as Captain Ahab.

[viii] Chapter One of Moby Dick begins with the words «Call me Ishmael,» as narrated by the only surviving crew member of the Pequod.




What is the gringos’ interest in Sonora: drugs or lithium?

Bacadéhuachi, Sonora. Photo: Silvia Martínez

By: Zosimo Camacho

Will the United States soon stay on the sidelines of the world’s largest exploitation of lithium? Even when this deposit is a few kilometers beyond its southern border? Today, the largest lithium deposit on the planet in the process of being exploited is found in Sonora, Mexico, coincidentally in the direction where women and children of the LeBaron family were massacred.

The unspeakable crime, which occurred last November 4, generated a worldwide scandal and a motive for tension between the Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the US government of Donald Trump. Hurriedly, the latter proposed initiating a war of extermination against the Mexican cartels. The government of Mexico did not accept such a proposal, although it had to admit, “in a sovereign sense,” the participation of the United States in the investigation of the facts. It’ necessary to remembers that members of the Mormon community to which the Le Barons belong have dual nationality: Mexican and US.

So, on Monday November 11, a caravan of 50 FBI suburban vehicles entered Sonora, with an undetermined number of agents, to carry out investigations of the bloody attack. The Mexican government has warned that all the investigative work is done in the presence and with the consent of Mexican authorities. It has also pointed out that members of the FBI cannot carry weapons in Mexico.

Members of the LeBaron family have traveled to Washington to speak with the president of the United States. By means of a letter they have asked that the United States consider the Mexican drug cartels as “terrorists.” Already in the US Congress the Republicans are lobbying for an initiative to approve such a proposal and Trump has announced that he will send another similar initiative.

It’s worth emphasizing that the US legislation justifies the action of troops and agents, both open and covert, wherever there may be terrorist organizations. And it doesn’t even consider it necessary to have the agreement of the governments of those countries.

On the other hand, lithium has become one of the world’s most coveted minerals. It is already the cause of one of the biggest disputes between the economic (and military) powers. As is known, lithium is the main element for the manufacture of batteries and other cell phone accessories, computers, automobiles, electric cars, spaceships, submarines… It is linked to scientific-technological and military development.

Whoever ensures the supply of this mineral will also ensure victory in the arms, economic, scientific and technological race that today has five pointers: the United States and China at the top and Russia, Israel and the United Kingdom in a close second block.

The State coup in Bolivia, where probably the world’s largest untapped reserves are found, may be the result of this dispute, as Bolivia’s deposed president, Evo Morales, has already said.

Last August 30, the powerful Mining Technology group revealed which are the 10 largest lithium mines in the world. In the list, titled the “Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world,” appears the Sonora Lithium Project in unquestionable first place, with proven and probable reserves of 243.8 million tons.

It reports: “The Sonora Lithium Project, located in Sonora, Mexico, is the largest lithium deposit in development.” and it adds: “it is proposed that Sonora be an open pit operation that is developed in two stages with a first production capacity of 17,500 tons per year of lithium carbonate. The second stage would double the production capacity to 35,000 tons per year.” Thus, it’s estimated that they will be able to extract all the mineral wealth in 19 years.

The other nine lithium deposits in the process of exploitation are in Thacker Pass (Humboldt, Nevada, United States), with proven and probable reserves of 179.4 million tons; Wodgina (Port Hedland, Western Australia), with 151.94; Pilgangoora (Pilbara, Western Australia), with 108.2; Earl Grey (Greenstone, Forestania, Holland, Western Australia), with 94.5; Greenbushes (Western Australia), with 86.4; Whabouchi (James Bay, Quebec, Canada), with 36.6 tons; Pilgangoora (Pilbara, Western Australia), with 34.2; Goulamina (Bougouni, Mali), with 31.2 tons, and Arcadia (Harare, Zimbabwe), with 29.8 million tons.

The project in Mexican territory is already very advanced. The concession was granted during the six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto and exploitation will begin in 2020. But who will exploit it? As we said, Sonora Lithium is located in the municipality of Bacadéhuachi, in Sonora’s High Sierra, in the same region where the LeBarons were attacked and where the presence of drug trafficking has been for decades. Who controls this region is the armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel: Gente Nueva, Los Salalzar faction.

The company that will exploit it is named Bacanora Minerals. Its headquarters is in Canada; it is listed on the London Stock Exchange but has capital from the governments of… Oman and China. This company has no other businesses or presence in any other part of the world.

Last October 15, the investment of the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium in Bacanora Lithium was completed. It bought 29.99 percent of the company’s shares and Wang Xiaoshen, Vice President of Ganfeng, was immediately named director of Bacanora Minerals.

It is estimated that the Sonora Lithium Project, with 100,000 hectares, has a value of 1 billion 253 million dollars.

In quiet and under the noses of Uncle Sam, the Chinese are preparing to exploit the most important open pit lithium deposit. The massacre gave a pretext for Donald Trump to put a foot in Sonoran territory. By declaring the cartels “terrorists,” he could put both feet.

Perhaps they are not the oil deposits that the devil wrote for us. With apologies to Ramón López Velarde, the lithium deposits are now revealed as the ones that could attract more demons.

Author: Zósimo Camacho @zosimo_contra


Originally Published in Spanish by Contralinea

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee