AMLO ‘reaches out’ to the Zapatistas
Guess how well that’s gonna work out…given who AMLO turned out to be. This is longish, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading about actual revolutionary socialists who dared to declare themselves independent of the official government. Most have managed to survive, and their example has spurred the formation of other indigenous autonomous zones in Mexico. They are now under attack by AMLO’s government, and are ready to defend themselves.
‘AMLO reaches out to Zapatistas, but the relationship is not a warm one; They did not support him in his bids for election yet both are on the left of the political spectrum’, Monday, July 8, 2019, mexiconewsdaily.com
President [Andrés Manuel] López Obrador expressed his respect for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) during a visit to Chiapas over the weekend but the possibility of its indigenous Mayan members heeding his call for unity would appear unlikely judging by the two parties’ fractious past.
López Obrador said on Saturday that the government “very much respects the Zapatista movement,” adding that his “fraternal and respectful recommendation is for us not to fight.”
“Enough division already, all of us need to unite,” he said before reciting lyrics from the Chiapas state anthem that call for an end to “hateful vengeance” and for everyone to come together as brothers.
The president yesterday posted a 1994 photo to his social media accounts which shows him posing alongside former EZLN leader Subcomandante Marcos, other members of the rebel army and former presidential hopefuls Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and Rosario Ibarra de Piedra.
“. . . On that occasion, the issue was to achieve peace. I only remember that a picture is worth a thousand words,” López Obrador wrote above the photo, which was published on his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
On January 1, 1994 – the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, took effect – the EZLN launched a military offensive in Chiapas after issuing a declaration stating that the Mexican government was illegitimate.
The rebel force seized several towns in the southern state but the Mexican army retaliated on January 2 and inflicted heavy casualties on the guerrillas, forcing them to retreat.”
[a very dodgy narrative, including the fact that the IDF trained the Mexican army, and they bombed and strafed the Zapatista encampments in which hundreds died; nor did AMLO turn out to be ‘a leftist’, except in the way Obomba is/was.)
“Fast forward a quarter of a century and the EZLN remains opposed to the federal government, most notably speaking out against its plan to build the Maya Train on the Yucatán peninsula.
From the ‘speaking out against’ link above:
President López Obrador said the Zapatistas have the right to protest and dissent and he was open to dialogue with them.
Yesterday, EZLN chief Subcomandante Moisés confirmed that his organization would oppose projects planned by the new government, including the Maya Train and the National Guard.
“We are not going to confront any group. We want peace and reconciliation,” the president told reporters.
“We are open to dialogue and love and peace.”
The president has campaigned on defending the rights of indigenous citizens and his presidency has been welcomed by many, but the Zapatistas remain unconvinced.
“On January 1, army chief Subcomandante Moises said that the EZLN would oppose projects proposed by the López Obrador administration including the ambitious rail project and the National Guard.
“We are going to fight. We are going to confront [them]; we are not going to allow [López Obrador] to come through here with his destructive projects,” he said just before midnight on New Year’s Eve at a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the 1994 uprising.” (the rest, again, is here)
As for the Zapatista’s opposition to ‘the National Guard’, wsws.org had it this way back n the day; after a lengthy explanation of the abysmal failure of Mexico’s war on drug trafficking, including 200,000 dead and more than 35,000 disappeared since 2006:
‘Mexico’s Lopez Obrador embraces military on eve of presidential inauguration’, Don Knowland, 1 December 2018
“During his campaign, and shortly after his victory in July, López Obrador announced his intention to gradually withdraw the Army from the streets. But the week before last he performed an about-face, proposing an even greater role for the military, through the creation of a National Guard composed of military and naval units, which would subsume the current functions of the federal police.
Far from any return to the barracks, this measure will result in a significant increase in military deployment. By 2021, AMLO said, the National Guard should have between 120,000 and 150,000 troops in action.
López Obrador in effect seeks a military “Special Command” over federal, state and police functions. This apparently would even extend to their role in investigating crimes, which under the current, longstanding, constitutional framework falls under the control of public prosecution ministries. When he ran this conception by the current Secretary of Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos, the general told him it could not be done because it would violate the Constitution. AMLO responded, “let’s change the Constitution.”
The response of López Obrador and Morena to this ruling was to introduce, the very next day, a congressional proposal to amend 13 articles of the Constitution in order to allow a military body to lead “the prevention of crime and the preservation of public safety.”
Who knows how many more National Guardsmen there are at present after bowing to Trump’s immigration schemes? His administration has been busting workers’ strikes to beat the band, has created a ‘free trade zone’ of maquiladoras at the border, an austerity budget; so much for AMLO’s Hope and Change.
The following is most of transcript from radiozapatista.org, Jérôme Baschet translator, marked Creative Commons:
‘Zapatistas take on President AMLO at 25th anniversary’, February 26, 2019, roarmag.org, At their annual celebration, the Zapatistas took aim at the Maya Train and tree farm megaprojects that trample the rights of Indigenous people.
“Normally, these yearly celebrations are festive activities marked by speeches and dances commemorating the historic moment the Zapatistas said “Enough!” (¡Ya basta!) to five centuries of colonial rule that left Indigenous communities devastated; to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional’s decades of “perfect dictatorship”; and to the neoliberal policies that brought about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
This year, the anniversary was anything but a happy event. Subcomandante Moisés stated it clearly: “Our hour as Zapatista peoples has come, and we see that we are alone. I want to tell you clearly that this is what we see, compañeros and compañeras of the support bases, compañeros and compañeras of the militias: we are alone, just as we were 25 years ago.”
But even more so than the words spoken by the Subcomandante, it was the rare display of military strength by the EZLN, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation that clearly set the tone for this year’s celebration. To the powerful clamor of their canes striking in rhythm with their steps, thousands of EZLN militia marched into the central square of the caracol , they believe resembles a human heart] of The Mother of Caracoles [or ‘snails’, which they reckon are shaped like human hearts]— Sea of Dreams, formerly known as La Realidad.
The roughly 3,000 combatants were drawn from all five of the Zapatista autonomous zones and belonged to the 21st Zapatista Infantry Division, the same unit that first occupied seven municipal centers in Chiapas at the beginning of the insurrection.
The entire event indicated a return to the early days of Zapatismo. Moisés outlined the position of the EZLN in regards to the new Mexican government headed by President A.M. López Obrador (or AMLO, as he is popularly known):
‘That trickster in power now, what is his game? That he pretends to be with the people of Mexico, trying to deceive the Indigenous peoples by kneeling upon the earth to ask permission for his projects. He thinks all the Indigenous peoples are going to believe that charade. Here we say no, to the contrary, we don’t buy it.’
The Zapatistas already explained their view of AMLO’s politics after his election to the presidency in July 2018, but this time the message was addressed directly to the newly inaugurated president who took up his post on December 1, 2018. Contrary to the views of some 30 million voters, the Zapatistas do not view AMLO as a bearer of hope, but rather as a foreman in the great estate of global capitalism.
The challenges ahead
Over their 25 years of struggle, the Zapatistas have shaped and defended a unique experiment in political autonomy: first with the declaration of 30 autonomous municipalities in December 1994 and then with the creation of the five Good Government Councils in August 2003.
The Zapatistas have built their own grassroots democracy and justice, health and education systems. They have revitalized production based on collective ownership of the land and introduced new ways of working communally to strengthen and support their autonomy.
For them, autonomy is an affirmation of their own ways of life, firmly rooted in the local communities and in the rejection of the practice and ideology of capitalism that seeks to destroy them. At the same time, theirs is an experiment in popular self-government outside of the institutions of the Mexican state. And not only have they persisted for a quarter century, they continue to work on their own transformation.
Permission for destruction
In his speech, Subcomandante Moisés excoriated AMLO’s energetic pursuit of mega-projects in the name of progress, employment and the fight against poverty. AMLO relies on a long-established rhetoric cataloguing and condemning all those who oppose such projects as retrograde conservatives and enemies of collective welfare, if not simply anachronistic primitivists.
But, for Indigenous peoples, these mega-projects mean above all the dispossession of their territories and the accelerated destruction of their ways of life. As Subcomandante Moisés sums it up: “Now we are seeing that they are coming for us, the Native people.”
The mega-projects include the expansion of a wind turbine farm in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; the creation of a special economic zone; and a Panama Canal-sized corridor of multi-modal inter-oceanic communication — an old project that various neoliberal governments never managed to realize.
Another plan, one that has been fueling suspicions of conflict of interest, concerns the planting of timber-yielding and fruit trees on one million hectares of land in the southeastern states of the county. The controversy here is that Alfonso Romo, a big player in Mexican agro-business and AMLO’s chief of staff, is also the owner of Agromod, the biggest papaya producer in the world. The company is growing crops on hundreds of acres of land on the Chiapas coast and in Yucatán, and if selected by the president to provide the millions of seedlings required for the tree-planting project, this would raise major concerns regarding a potential conflict of interests.
AMLO’s style of announcing the railway project was itself an unacceptable provocation of the Zapatistas. On December 16, 2018, AMLO visited Palenque to officially start the construction of the railway where he took part in a pseudo-ritual of honoring Mother Earth. Subcomandante Moisés explained that in pretending to take up Indigenous customs and ways — asking permission of Mother Earth to act — he was asking for permission to destroy the Indigenous peoples. “Some of our brothers and sisters of the Indigenous peoples have been fooled,” said Moisés. “We don’t buy it. Mother Earth doesn’t speak, but if she did, she’d say clearly, “No! Go fuck yourself.”
The parody of the Mayan ritual was a “mockery” and a “humiliation.” AMLO bypassed the people of the region to address Mother Earth for permission for a project that invokes the name of their ancestors.
It must be remembered that free, prior, and informed consent is required when the states that have signed the International Labor Organization Convention 169 (C169) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples plan to develop or access resources on Indigenous land. Mexico is a signatory to both documents. But AMLO leans on his interpretation of the authority of Mother Earth to destroy her and to authorize his violations of international agreements.
AMLO is not a climate denier, but in regards to his indifference towards global warning and lack of interest in ecological issues he is not very different from US President Trump, with whom in fact, he has very cordial relations. It was announced that the Mayan Train would rely on a large Central American workforce and create other investments in the southern part of the country. This means that the mega-projects of the current government clearly function to contain the flow of migrants to the US. In a way, Trump is right to insist that Mexicans will end up paying for the wall, especially since most of the funds the US have promised to contribute to regional development projects are in fact private-sector loans that will have to be paid back.
“We are alone”
Faced with the creeping, brutal threat of the capitalist Hydra disguised as progress, the Zapatistas firmly and thoroughly expressed their position: “We are not going to give up.”
“No matter how small the provocation, we will defend ourselves,” Zapatistas say. “We will not allow this project of destruction to pass through our territory.”
The warning could not be more clear. In this context, the thousands of soldiers who marched into town during the recent celebration, along with the many thousands more who remained invisible, were all ready to give their life in defense of the territory and the autonomy the Zapatistas have built for themselves.
However, this message should not be interpreted as a return to armed struggle, but rather as a reminder that the EZLN is ready to defend their land and their struggle if necessary. Everything they have accomplished so far, explained Moisés, has been the fruit of their effort. “We are going to continue building and we will win.”
But throughout his speech, Subcomandante Moisés repeated, “We are alone.” For many people, this felt like a punch in the stomach. Did this mean that the EZLN’s 25-year efforts of working with the National Indigenous Congress, the Indigenous Government Council, the Sixth (la Sexta), national and international network of struggles, were all in vain? Was this a reference to an inability to overcome inertia and divisions among national and international networks of rebellions and resistances?
Not quite; these statements indicate a strategic decision vis-à-vis the new Mexican government. In all likelihood, it also represents a key moment in the trajectory of the Zapatista movement. It could be that Subcomandante Moisés was referring to the majority of Mexican voters who did not pay attention to the Zapatistas’ warnings [to not vote for him, or abstain from voting altogether]. But most importantly, his reference to the Zapatistas being “alone” was a reflection of that moment, 25 years ago, when they “alone went and woke up the people of Mexico and the world.”
That is to say, just like the decision to rise up in 1994 was wholly taken by the EZLN, now again, the decision to prepare for a confrontation with the federal government is the EZLN’s alone.
Challenging the new man in power
It is likely that the lessons of the so-called progressive governments of Latin America over the last 15 years, especially in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador, also carry some weight. On the one hand, there has been a weakening of social movements, especially of Indigenous movements, through co-optation, loss of autonomy, division and self-censorship. On the other hand, there is an unprecedented advance of the market through mega-projects, extractivism, GMO agribusiness, land grabbing and the destruction of ways of life sorely shaped by social relations warped by capitalists.
In short, “progressivism” has been, at least temporarily, one of the most efficient political tools making the capitalist hydra stronger and feeding its insatiable appetite. Instead of waiting for policies of the same kind to produce their deadly effects little by little, the Zapatistas preferred to take the lead.
Therefore, they challenge the new man in power, forcing him to choose between two of his solemn commitments: one, to carry out the announced major projects, and two, to never repress the Mexican people. They also oblige everyone, especially those in social movements and Indigenous struggles, to choose a side.
Above all, they are preparing to defend what they have been building for a quarter of a century: an experience of rebel autonomy with a scope and radicalism that have few equivalents in the world.”
‘Mayan Train Project To Displace 250 Communities in Mexico’, July 8, 2019, telesur via intercontinentalcry.org
“The National Fund for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur) of Mexico said Thursday that it plans to “reorganize” 250 communities for the “Mayan Train” project.
Fonatur plans to build homes, shops, linear parks, wildlife bridges and even modify roads adjacent to each terminal which will relocate the communities staying around the planned route of the train.
In a 28-paged document, the organization explained that one of the first terminals will be Palenque, Chiapas which will then work as the prototype for other terminals.
The Maya Train is a large-scale infrastructure project proposed by Mexican President Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador to connect the whole Yucatan Peninsula for tourism, transportation and economic purposes.
“Whatever the critics of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador government say, the project of the Maya Train will become a reality, there is the necessary financial support and the project will be carried out according to plan,” said Rogelio Jimenez Pons, general director of the Fonatur.
The project plan released Monday shows that they are commercializing the rebel areas. The station will be located at the center surrounded by commercial pavilions and front, a central square that will be a few meters from the municipal palace.
The calculation is that each area would house 50,000 people, who will have the capacity to receive up to three million tourists a year.
The Confederation of the Mexican Republic (COPARMEX) said that “specialists warn that the Maya Train project could cause severe social and environmental damage.”
As far as the mega-increase of the National Guard (they call ‘narco-militias’), if you look at the Zapatista/EZLN website, you’ll see any number of communications in various languages. The most recent, July 12 reads in part:
CALL BY THE CNI-CIG AND THE EZLN TO JOIN THE CAMPAIGN FOR LIFE, PEACE, AND JUSTICE IN THE MOUNTAIN REGION OF GUERRERO
The peoples, communities, nations, collectives, neighborhoods, and originary tribes that make up the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Governing Council, as well as the Zapatista Army for National Liberation call for actions to dismantle the ongoing war by the powerful against the life of humanity and the entire planet. More specifically, we call for actions that will dismantle the structure and paramilitary siege that maintains the ongoing violence against our peoples who, with dignity, have decided to confront and end that structure.
For this reason and:
- Considering that the capitalist narco-paramilitary war that is conducted with the complicity of the bad government and criminal gangs against the peoples and communities that belong to the National Indigenous Congress is expanding throughout much of the country, and that today, through terror, these actors threaten to exterminate the life and peace that we defend so that they can complete their violent neoliberal projects.
- Considering that the impunity continues for the cowardly assassination of our brother Samir Flores Soberanes from the Nahua indigenous community of Amilcingo, Moreles, and that the intentions of the big moneyed interests to complete the criminal thermoelectric project in Huexca, Morelos remain unchanged.
- Considering that the Emiliano Zapata Indigenous and Popular Council (CIPOG-EZ), who are members of the CNI-CIG, have made a call to break the narco-paramilitary siege that criminal organizations have imposed on the lower mountainous region of Guerrero.
- Considering that the permanent aggression against our compañeros is creating a humanitarian crisis, it has made the introduction of food and medicine to the region difficult, it has made it near impossible for people to work their land due to the fear that they will face assassination in their fields, and it has made it so that these communities cannot open their schools for fear of a possible attack on our children.
Others speak of assassinations and other forms of anti-life violence, as in this from June 5 (in part):
‘Neoliberal capitalism is marking its steps with the blood of our peoples as war is intensified against us wherever we refuse to cede our land, our culture, our peace and our collective organization, and because we refuse to give up our resistance or resign ourselves to dying off.
We denounce the cowardly attack on May 31 against the indigenous Nahua community of Zacualpan, which is part of the CNI, in the municipality of Comala, Colima, where narco-paramilitaries fired high-caliber weapons at a group of young people, killing one and critically injuring three more.
We condemn the aggression and destruction carried out in the early morning hours of May 31 against the Rebollero and Río Minas communities, part of the Binizza community of San Pablo Cuatro Venados in the municipality of Zachila, Oaxaca. There, a group armed with high-caliber weapons and heavy equipment came in firing on the community, destroying dozens of homes and forcing the population, including children, to flee. In all, 24 homes were demolished in the attack and the communities’ corn and other food supplies set on fire, including seeds saved for planting. The group also burned the families’ personal items such as clothing and shoes and stole their livestock, power generators, and water pumps.’
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)