November 2014 Zapatista News Summary

Originally posted on dorset chiapas solidarity:

November 2014 Zapatista News Summary


In Chiapas

1. Ayotzinapa Caravan Meets with EZLN in Oventik –  On November 15, the Caravan of relatives and compañer@s of the murdered and disappeared Ayotzinapa students which travelled south met with Zapatista bases and commanders of the EZLN in the Caracol of Oventik. Comandantes Javier and Tacho welcomed and opened the meeting and Subcomandante Moisés issued a major statement on behalf of the EZLN’s General Command.

2. EZLN and CNI Denounce Xochicuautla Arrests – On November 3, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN issued a joint statement regarding the use of riot police and helicopters in an action to break up a protest in Xochicuautla over the construction of a super-highway. 8 indigenous members of the community were arrested. This is the same community where the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellion against Capitalism will be inaugurated on December 21.

3. CNI…

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Masked Politics in Mexico

In the recent protests in Mexico over the Ayotzinapa[1] case, a minority of ‘encapuchados’ (people with bandannas covering their faces) have been involved in small ‘disturbances’ (including an arson attack on the door of the National Palace and some minor clashes with the police). The vast majority of protesters have marched peacefully, attempting to avoid conflict with state ‘security forces’ at all costs.

While there may be some anarchists in this small group of masked citizens, there have been claims that at least some are actually ‘infiltrados’ (undercover policemen, paramilitaries, or soldiers) who cover their faces to incite conflict whilst avoiding detection. There are photos which appear to show the latter is true, but it is worth analysing in greater depth the value of using masks, hoods, bandannas, and balaclavas as a part of social activism.

“From Taking Power from Above to Building It From Below”

In May 2014, Subcomandante Marcos’s “last public words” made it clear why the Zapatistas rose up in arms almost twenty-one years ago. “To kill or die”, Marcos said, “seemed like our only fate”. In an authoritarian system draining away the rights of indigenous Chiapans, the dilemma in local communities “was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying and living”. It was a dilemma thrust upon them by the ruling political system, but one that the vast majority of inhabitants recognised.

Marcos clarified, however, that the Zapatistas subsequently “had to rebuild the path of life that those from above had broken and continue to break – the path not only of indigenous communities but also of workers, students, teachers, youngsters, and peasants”. Instead of continuing to “sacrifice [their] blood for the path to power led by others”, he affirmed, the rebels realised they had to “turn [their] hearts and eyes to the people who [they were] – the indigenous people who protect the Earth and the memory [of those lost]”.

In other words, they would not aim to physically take power from the state, but to create democratic political structures independent of the state so that the latter would lose its relevance. They would defend themselves from outside attacks, but would focus on autonomously building the system they wanted rather than waging a bloody war against the system that had oppressed them for so long. Some left-wing critics believed “an army cannot and should not try to forge peace”, but the Zapatistas knew that, “by fighting, [they] would end up disappearing”, and that they would give the state an excuse to justify further repression and war. In other words, they chose, after “looking at each other and listening to each other”, to “cultivate life instead of praising death”.[2]

The Zapatista Balaclava

Perhaps one of the most recognisable features of Zapatismo is the way in which Zapatistas wore balaclavas in the uprising at the start of 1994 and how they have continued to use them in public mobilisations ever since. As both a metaphorical emphasis (regarding the ideological importance of community) and a means of avoiding targeted intimidation (from members of the state apparatus who oppose Zapatista autonomy), the balaclava has clearly served a purpose. But the key to its success has been the fact that the vast majority of Zapatistas have used it consistently. In other words, its use had been agreed upon almost unanimously.

Lack of Unity in Mass Protests

In Mexico City (and cities around the world), however, those who cover their faces are usually part of a tiny minority. In some cases, the provocative acts of these ‘activists’ (or undercover state operatives, depending on what we believe) are often counter-productive. They usually give the state an excuse to demonise protesters (even if the vast majority are peaceful) and crack down on freedom of movement or speech.

An entirely peaceful protest is much harder for anyone to criticise. There are even many capitalist cheerleaders who would oppose state violence against peaceful protesters. However, once there is any sign of activists being near people who damage (or vandalise) property (public or private) or who react aggressively to police presence (or provocation), many of the aforementioned citizens would feel perfectly comfortable with state ‘security forces’ restoring ‘order’ (i.e. repressing protesters).

Unity Is the Only Key to Meaningful Transformation

Here we have the real, concrete issue. If citizens are to change society (whether peacefully or violently), they must be unified and organised. The Zapatistas, for example, have managed to build autonomy in Chiapas peacefully not through protests or war, but through organisation and unity. Therefore, although the mass non-violent protests in Mexico are an important demonstration of dignified, popular indignation, they need to lead to daily coordination and action if they are truly going to change society.

The microscopic circles of masked citizens involved in clashes with the state ‘security forces’, meanwhile, are highly unlikely to change anything. They are significantly outnumbered (in both firepower and number) by the enforcers of state power, and their actions are, as mentioned before, extremely counterproductive (creating division in the mass movement and giving state forces an excuse to intensify repression). In other words, only the state really benefits from their activities and, for precisely this reason, the idea that at least some of them are undercover state agents seems incredibly believable.

In summary, covering one’s face is not virtuous in itself. The anonymity of the mask, hood, balaclava, or bandanna is only of any positive use if there is unity in action and purpose within a movement. Without that unity, covering one’s face is an empty, meaningless act that allows for the possibility of state infiltration. Therefore, unless activists have a unified mass movement behind them, they should leave their faces uncovered. That way, we can be certain who the revolutionaries are, and who the counter-revolutionaries are.

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Posted in Aguirre, Anarchism, Assassination, Autodefensas, Autonomía, Autonomy, Ayotzinapa, Bourgeois Democracy, capitalism, Democracy, dignity, EZLN, Iguala, Mass Protests, mexico, Social Activism, Zapatismo, Zapatistas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ebola and Poverty

Once again, Africa is in the news because of death, massacres, and horror: wars, mass displacements, famine, migration, shipwrecks, and illness. And, once again, the cause of such injustice and pain – the profit of multinational corporations – is kept hidden. These companies pull a smokescreen over their responsibility, and even proclaim themselves to be the solution to the problem. With the collaboration of international institutions, in this case the WHO, they attempt to legitimise the world’s injustices. All the while, the mass media controls public opinion, directing it towards partial or secondary truths in order to hide the principal causes – poverty and hunger. In this way, they ensure the most absolute impunity for those who trade in the pain and death of the poor.

If we compare the deaths caused by the Ebola virus with those of other devastating diseases in this plundered continent – such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis or malaria, we realise straight away that we are being deceived. Upon comparing the death rates from these illnesses in impoverished nations and wealthy nations, we see what the true cause of death in Africa is.

The Ebola virus is not airborne. One has to be in contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person in order to be at risk of contracting the disease. All experts know that such conditions make it possible to control an epidemic rapidly if the will exists to do so. Why, then, does the media talk about a pandemic? The miscalculation of the Swine Flu virus announcement led to a scandal that served to profit pharmaceutical companies, which in Spain alone sold 37,000,000 vaccines. And here lies the answer to the question above. Disease is big business.

New medicine is not the solution to Ebola. The problem, we repeat, is the poverty of effected populations: overcrowding, lack of drinking water and ventilation, and lack of quick diagnoses due to lack of resources. In short, it is an illness that only really devastates impoverished communities. But should we see this as a coincidence?

There are not only economic interests at play, but socio-political ones. Epidemics in impoverished nations allow wealthier nations to exert more control of their border, and see violence and xenophobia towards immigrants increase. The fact that, in many cases, they have migrated to escape the poverty caused by a global economy based on robbery is brushed under the carpet. In Africa itself, meanwhile, some countries have even mobilised their armies to repress their populations – on top of closing their borders. And mistrust is even being sown between family members and neighbours, breaking ties of solidarity that previously existed.

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has made it a crime, to be punished with two years in jail, to accommodate people infected with Ebola – in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus. For supposedly the same purpose, the Liberian Government has ordered its soldiers to “shoot to kill” at anyone who tries to cross its border. The consequences of all of these actions risk provoking a true humanitarian catastrophe, much more serious than the Ebola virus itself.

Meanwhile, the true causes of the Hunger of the majority of African citizens remain hidden.

Translated by Oso Sabio from a text found in Spanish at

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indigenous amazonian people fight for their lands as belo monte construction continues (video)

Originally posted on we are not afraid of ruins:

reposted from global revolution:

The Munduruku Indians: Weaving Resistance

The Brazilian government is planning to build a vast number of big dams on the rivers around the Amazon Rainforest, destroying biodiversity and disrupting the way of life of thousands of Amerindians and local populations. Now that the work is well under way on the huge Belo Monte dam, on the Xingu river, the government is pushing ahead with its next big project – a series of dams on the Tapajós river. But 12,000 Munduruku Indians, long feared as warriors, live here and are fighting back.

This documentary, filmed in late 2013 and early 2014, looks at life in a Munduruku village, where traditional skills are practised and children are brought up with remarkable freedom. It documents the growth of resistance, even among the women, not traditionally fighters, some of whom are emerging as guerreiras (woman warriors).


This video…

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Calle 13: The Ayotzinapa Case Is a Disgrace

“All social causes are important, but it seems to me that the case of Ayotzinapa[1] goes beyond politics: it moves into the field of human rights. It [also] goes beyond Mexico: it is something much bigger…, it is a disgrace!”

These were the words of René Pérez (aka Residente Calle 13) in a press conference before the Calle 13 concert of November 22nd in the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City.

Having spoken to one of the parents of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Residente said “…I support these causes because I can’t avoid doing so. It is my duty. For me, when something like this happens in Latin America, it is impossible for me to get up on stage without mentioning it”. At the same time, he insisted “I don’t know why some people in Mexico have misinterpreted [my comments] and been offended”.

When asked what he would say if he met Mexican President Peña Nieto, he affirmed “he is not my president. You [the Mexican people] have to send him that message, protesting peacefully so that unity can be built”.

Regarding his regular social commentaries on stage, Residente claimed he only sought to use the microphone to express himself in a positive, productive way. “The words we express are genuine. We don’t make anything from it. What kind of opportunism would it be? The only opportunity I gain is for someone to shoot me… or for my music to be played less on the radio, for my album to stop selling, or for them to stop me participating in the Grammys. We are just artists and we express what we feel with total honesty. We have absolutely no reason [to be opportunistic]. I’m not interested in being a leader. I just have a microphone, and I use it. I could easily stay out of it all, sing pop music, and live peacefully, not requiring security and not having a scared wife. But I won’t do that. I am going to speak up for people in other countries too”.

Referring to his speech at the recent Latin Grammys, he said “artists aren’t obliged to say things they don’t feel. My parents raised me to have the values I have, so when an injustice like Ayotzinapa occurs, I just do what I feel I have to do”. Mexican artist Lila Downs, Residente insisted, was the only Mexican to have spoken out at the ceremony but, because she did it before being given the award, her comments were not televised.

Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, meanwhile, who would play with Calle 13 in Mexico City, insisted he and many other Americans are following the Ayotzinapa case very closely. At the same time, Residente’s brother Eduardo [aka Visitante Calle 13] insisted that “you need to have balls to do what [Residente] did”.

Through Instagram, Residente invited family members of the missing students of Ayotzinapa to speak during his concert. “There is a law here preventing me from speaking because I’m not a Mexican citizen, but they are Mexican citizens, and they are going to speak”, he asserted.

Translated by Oso Sabio from

For more on Calle 13, see [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

[1],,,, and

Residente Calle 13 normalistas ayotzinapa

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MEXICO: Ayotzinapa & Revolution

In Mexico in 1910, a revolt was called for November 20th against the government of Porfirio Díaz (which was in the pockets of national and international economic elites).

Today’s government, which is not much different, has not been able to celebrate the Mexican Revolution in the country’s capital because of a mass protest against its corrupt, murderous rule. As with the other marches in the last month or so, the vast majority of protesters have shown their dignified rage in a peaceful, united manner. This 20th of November, however, the ‘security forces’ of the government made the decision to clear Mexico City’s main square (the Zócalo) by force – bringing to mind the attempts made by Porfirio Diaz to prevent revolutionaries from overthrowing his regime over a hundred years ago.

The more the Bad Government provokes the People, though, the more the it digs its own grave…

For more on Ayotzinapa and the movement it has inspired, see [1] [2] [3] and [4].

DSCF0344 DSCF0353 DSCF0366 DSCF0367 DSCF0372 DSCF0373 DSCF0380 DSCF0390 DSCF0394 La Lucha Sigue Su Dolor Es Nuestro

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MEXICO: CNTE, Zapatistas & CRAC-PC Unite Around Ayotzinapa

Three social movements that have represented the hopes of Mexican people for autonomy and justice in recent years have been the CNTE teaching union, the Zapatistas, and the community police forces of the CRAC-PC. Strongest in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero respectively, these groups have raised their voices recently in response to the kidnapping and suspected murder of 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. The significance of their support is that it represents one of the first occasions in which all three groups have simultaneously rallied around the same issue. Consequently, their unity could well be the trigger for a more organised resistance to the everyday crimes of the Mexican State – widely blamed for its involvement or complicity with the disappearance of the students of Ayotzinapa.[1]


As the oldest of the aforementioned groups to be formed, the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) has fought for the democratisation of Mexico’s main teaching union – the SNTE – since 1979. More recently, it has fought against the privatisation of education and in favour of an education system run by education professionals rather than self-interested government officials.[2]

On October 8th, members of Guerrero’s Section 14 of the CNTE called for a strike in response to the disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa. They also occupied the square in front of the state’s government buildings in Chilpancingo. Around ten thousand people, meanwhile, including university students, teachers, peasant groups, and community police forces, marched through the streets of the city.

In Oaxaca, meanwhile, teachers from Section 22 of the CNTE blocked a number of roads in their own state in solidarity with their counterparts in Guerrero.[3] On October 29th, they began their own 72-hour strike, with 70 thousands affiliated teachers being called to amass in their own towns to demand the return of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa.[4]

On November 15th, thousands of members of the CNTE held a “Popular Court” in the centre of Mexico City, at which they demanded the resignation of President Peña Nieto for “high treason”, citing the “multiple violations of human rights” committed so far during his time in office. They also called for criminal proceedings against the secretary of Public Education (Emilio Chuayffet), the leader of the SNTE teaching union (Juan Díaz de la Torre), and the governors of Puebla, Guerrero, and the State of Mexico.[5] They cited the 39th article of the Mexican Constitution, which insists that “the People have the inalienable right at all times to alter or modify their form of government”.[6]

Omar García, meanwhile, who survived the attack on Ayotzinapa’s students, spoke on behalf of the family members of his fellow students, claiming that Sebastián de la Rosa Peláez, leader of the PRD’s “Nueva izquierda” current in Guerrero, headed the “political arm that justifies extrajudicial executions in the state”. He also blamed the PRD for “turning its eyes away” from what was going on in Guerrero, emphasising that former governor Ángel Aguirre (along with President Peña Nieto) “guaranteed impunity by protecting politicians who could be involved”. For the parents of the missing students, any apology from the PRD would not be accepted. “How can we forgive the accomplices?” García asked.[7]

The Zapatistas

On October 22nd, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN[8] released a joint statement on Ayotzinapa. They claimed that the 43 students were “kidnapped and disappeared by the Bad Governments” and that, “as long as this country is governed by criminals, …those who strengthen their political and social conscience by exercising and defending education will be murdered and disappeared, and those, like the Yaqui Tribe, who defend water for their ancient and heroic people, will be imprisoned”. While the State has “tried to minimize the criminal repression of the student compañeros as if they were just a few more victims of delinquent crime”, the statement read, “those of us who have suffered many kinds of repression know that that the delinquents are in the political parties… and in the halls of government”.

The people who struggle against the “dangerous mafias” that make up the Mexican State, however, “know that something terrible… is happening in this country: a war against all”. They, who “see and suffer [it] in its totality”, can therefore empathise with others affected by the same conflict. The “Narco State”, meanwhile, “uses terror in order to manufacture [the] pain and fear” which it uses to govern and “try to disappear our conscience”. Throughout the country, the statement insisted, “repression against the people, the extraction of natural resources, and the destruction of territories… are operated by the Narco State, without scruples”, but people’s “pain and rage has been transformed into dignity and rebellion”. With their commitment to fight against “extermination”, they demand the “dismantling of the entire State structure that sustains organized crime”.[9]

On November 15th, a convoy of Ayotzinapa family members met with the EZLN and the Committee of Good Government of the Oventic Caracol in Chiapas.[10] In the private meeting, Omar García “stressed that what happened in Ayotzinapa is not an isolated incident”. Forced disappearances, he insisted, are “a mechanism that the Mexican state has used to silence and contain social movements” for many years. A representative of the seventh section of the SNTE, Manuel de Jesus Mendoza Vazquez, meanwhile, “called for actions of “civil insurgency” in support of the Ayotzinapa students” and “for a boycott of the official November 20 parade to commemorate the Mexican Revolution”.[11]

According to one student, it was the family members who had sought out the Zapatista comrades, being aware of “their political position and way of working”. They insisted that the Zapatistas had emphasised they “do not aim to lead anyone”. The EZLN simply expressed to the family members its “total disposition” to help them, and suggested that they meet with “those of us who have suffered forced disappearances and extrajudicial assassinations”. The reason for this suggestion was that “these are the people who can understand us and accompany us in our pain and our struggle”. They are the ones, the Zapatistas said, who “can articulate a movement… with all of the social organisations which wish to show their solidarity”. And this seemed like precisely the plan of the Ayotzinapa delegation – to travel through the southern states of Mexico to meet “with organisations and individuals from civil society”.[12]


In early October, the new president of the PRD[13] (Carlos Navarrete) apologised for the fact that the Ayotzinapa case had happened under the watch of PRD politicians Ángel Aguirre[14] and José Luis Abarca. He said the PRD had not been “careful enough”, trying to distance his party from Abarca (who had “permitted, or even directed, the co-optation of the municipal police by organised criminals”) by insisting he had been accepted as an “external candidate”. PRD member René Bejarano, meanwhile, suggested Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam and Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong (both members of the governing PRI) knew about the links between Abarca and organised crime. The fact that Abarca’s wife had even been “at the top of a list of possible PRD national advisers” before Ayotzinapa, however, suggests that the party’s attempts to absolve itself of responsibility are somewhat cynical.

As a result of the apparent government involvement or complicity with the repression of progressive social activists, members of the citizens’ police force called Unión de Pueblos y Organizaciones de Guerrero (UPOEG) began to search for the disappeared students for themselves in early October.[15] Meanwhile, on October 15th, a Popular National Assembly (ANP) was formally established at the teacher training school of Ayotzinapa – dedicated to ensuring the return of the students and that those responsible be brought to justice. Fifty-three social and student organisations joined the ANP, including both local groups and national organisations like the CNTE, the “Federación de Estudiantes Campesinos Socialistas de México” (FECSM), the “Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas” (SME), the “Comité 68 Pro Libertades Democráticas”, the “Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad”, and the “Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (Atenco)”.[16]

A number of unions were also involved in forming the ANP, as was the Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositoras a la Presa ‘La Parota’ (CECOP), which has itself suffered repression at the hands of government forces.[17] The UPOEG was also present, along with the Consejo Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias-Policía Comunitaria (CRAC-PC).[18] On November 5th, Proceso reported on how members of the ANP, along with striking students and teachers, blocked a number of roads in Guerrero with the support of community police forces – all as part of an international day in solidarity with the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa.[19]

The following day, the CRAC-PC[20] met to commemorate its 19th anniversary. The community police forces emphasised that their forthcoming actions would depend on the agreements made in the ANP (now consisting of “over 70 organisations”). CRAC-PC spokesman Marcelo Gómez Nazario affirmed that the groups would be prepared to act accordingly if government complicity or involvement were to be proven in the case of Ayotzinapa. He was confident in asserting that the justice of the CRAC-PC was much “better than the judicial system that the State has”. The replacement of Ángel Aguirre as governor, the ANP asserted in a communique, was not enough, and “the immediate disappearance of the three powers of the State in Guerrero” would be necessary. Only the establishment of “an Honourable Government of Workers and Peasants”, he insisted, would be the “only real solution for the current problems”.

Gómez asserted that the CRAC-PC did not recognise interim governor Rogelio Ortega, and also criticised the UPOEG’s exploitation of the case of Ayotzinapa in an attempt to wipe their involvement in detaining community police members (like Nestora Salgado) from popular memory. He therefore emphasised the CRAC-PC’s independence from the UPOEG, and his group’s commitment to “defending territory and opposing the dispossession and displacement of the population which will be affected by the privatisation of ejidos”.[21]

The CRAC-PC further demanded the liberation of imprisoned community police member Gonzalo Molina González and the CRAC-PC members detained in Olinalá over a year ago. Meanwhile, educational workers took control of the Federal Palace of Acapulco and the City of Justice in Chilpancingo. Other members of the ANP, including the CECOP, FECSM, and a number of ejido members, also took part in the actions.[22]


The increasingly coordinated actions of social movements (as a response to government involvement and complicity in repression of social activism) are a positive sign for Mexico. While individual cases of resistance have been inspirational, only popular organisation will be able to push both organised criminals and their allies in government out of citizens’ lives. The fact that the key organisations involved (like the CNTE, the Zapatistas, and the CRAC-PC) are opposed to neoliberalism, meanwhile, is no coincidence. Capitalism has been the driving force behind privatisation of natural resources and the resulting dispossession. The corrupt and exploitative system which props it up has led to the repression of social activists who hope to save their communities from destruction. And the ensuing desperation has driven some in deprived areas to join the ranks of criminal organisations in the attempt to make a living they would find it hard to make in legal employment.

However, the desperate situation that many people in the country suffer has also led progressive groups to stand up and organise themselves. There are indeed differences in political philosophies, but horrific events like those in Ayotzinapa help to remind campaigners that their main objectives are the same. They want to get rid of the Bad Government. They want lives full of freedom and dignity. And they know that popular, directly democratic rule is necessary in order to achieve these things.

And the more they unite, the more chance their dreams have of becoming reality.

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Posted in Abarca, Aguirre, Anarchism, Assassination, Autodefensas, Autonomy, Ayotzinapa, Bourgeois Democracy, capitalism, Democracy, dignity, Education, Enrique Peña Nieto, Exploitation, EZLN, Iguala, Impunity, independence, Injustice, Latin America, maestros, mexico, Murder, PAN, PRD, PRI, Zapatismo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment