In May, two indigenous people were attacked in the autonomous municipality of Polhó, Chiapas, and, as a result, members of the PFP (federal police) were sent to ‘guarantee security’ in the area. This was seen by the EZLN and NGOs alike as “a clear provocation of the EZLN”.
When Vicente Fox won the presidential elections, one of his first orders was to withdraw troops from the conflict zone, opening a new path towards dialogue with the EZLN. However, Marcos demanded that the government disarm the PRI’s paramilitary groups as a condition for peace talks.
At the start of 2001, Marcos announced the creation of the ‘Centro de Información Zapatista‘, to help coordinate national actions. President Fox was not willing to allow the closure of military positions in Chiapas that the EZLN had asked for, but the army was withdrawn from Ocosingo, with indigenous and EZLN civilians claiming to be “contentos y no contentos” with this withdrawal.
In 2005, the EZLN released their “Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona”, in which they announced that they would abandon armed conflict and focus on peaceful political organisation.
Between August and September, the EZLN held meetings with left-wing, indigenous, social, and non-governmental organisations, cultural and artistic groups, children and the elderly, individuals, families, communities, streets, and neighbourhoods who had subscribed to the ‘Sexta Declaración’. In these meetings, six points guided the reflections and discussion: ratification, extension, or modification of the characteristics of ‘La Otra Campaña‘ (‘The Other Campaign’); definition of who should be invited and who shouldn’t; the organisational structure of the campaign; the special place of differences within the campaign (indigenous communities, women, LGBTs, the youth, children, among others); the position of the campaign against other organisational structures; and immediate tasks.
On December 21st 2012, tens of thousands of Zapatistas marched through five cities in Chiapas: Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Palenque, Altamirano y San Cristóbal. Hours after the march, the CCRI-CG released a communique in the form of a poem, signed by Subcomandante Marcos, on the website ‘Enlace Zapatista‘:
“A quien corresponda:
Es el sonido de su mundo derrumbándose.
Es el del nuestro resurgiendo.
El día que fue el día, era noche.
Y noche será el día que será el día.
(To whom it may concern:
Did you hear that?
It is the sound of your world collapsing.
It is the sound of ours resurging.
The day that was day, was night.
And night will be the day that will be day.
Grassroots, horizontal organisation, dialogue, education, and popular participation have led the EZLN to gain support throughout Mexico and the world, and serves as an example for all of us.
Their attempts at dialogue with the government have not been successful because the government has its own prerogatives and has betrayed the peace process from the very beginning. In the face of this hypocrisy, the EZLN has focussed on forging a new type of politics without government participation or contribution, thus increasing the possibilities of real, sustainable change in Zapatista communities.