Pain and Rage: The Zapatista Response to Aggression

After the violent attack on the Zapatista community of La Realidad over a week ago, Subcomandante Marcos spoke out in a note entitled “Pain and Rage” on May 8th, 2014. “In the 20th year of the war against oblivion”, the note reads, “our efforts are for peace”.


The efforts of the government and its puppets, meanwhile, “are for war” and, in order to resist that aggression, the bases of support in La Realidad have decided that the EZLN should protect their borders indefinitely until the killers of José Luis Solís López (a teacher known as “Galeano”) are brought to justice.


In the communiqué, Marcos invokes the image of a meeting in La Realidad which was, as it often is, full of pain and rage. He affirms that a simple note would not have been an adequate response to the aggression recently suffered by the community.


The pain and rage present in La Realiad, he says, are the same that “made us challenge everything and everyone 20 years ago” and are now forcing members of the EZLN to “lace up [their] boots, put on [their] uniforms, strap on [their] guns, and cover [their] faces” once again.


Having arrived in the community after a request for support made by the Committee of Good Government, Marcos and others were told by a teacher in La Realidad that the only reason the community didn’t respond violently to the attack was that they were Zapatistas. He spoke of the rage that ran through the community after Galeano’s murder, but also of their desire for justice rather than revenge.


According to the investigation led by Subcomandante Moisés, the attack was “planned”, “premeditated”, and “militarily organised”, and came within a violent, counterrevolutionary context “created and cultivated from above”. As a result, Moisés decided to suspend indefinitely the meeting with the National Indigenous Congress, the homage to Luis Villoro, and the Zapatista participation in the Seminar “Ethics in the face of Dispossession”. In effect, all of the public activities of May and June would be cancelled as a result of the decision.


Along with the CIOAC-H paramilitary group, the investigations also implicate the Partido Verde Ecologista (the name under which the PRI governs in Chiapas), the PAN, and the PRI in the organisation of the attack. While the planned nature of the attack has even been revealed by members of the CIOAC-H, the extent to which the federal government was involved is not yet clear.


Marcos hoped to emphasise in his communiqué that the aggression was not a skirmish that happened ‘in the heat of the moment’. He describes how the paramilitaries first destroyed the community’s school and clinic, expecting the community to come out in defence of the buildings, before then ambushing the citizens who arrived. Galeano, meanwhile, was not a victim of this ambush. He was surrounded by 15-20 paramilitaries, who he allegedly challenged to hand-to-hand combat and disarmed in the process. When they saw his fighting spirit, they shot him in the leg, beat him up, and cut him with a machete, before shooting him again in his chest and head. The photo of his beaten body taken later on would simply reinforce the rage that the members of the community already felt. It wasn’t, however, published in the press. Instead, a picture of injured citizens was taken by reporters sent on behalf of the state government, who would then claim there had been a ‘violent community confrontation’. Zapatistas, meanwhile, told reporters, who were intruding in a process of mourning over Galeano’s bloody body just a few steps away, to fuck off to AMLO’s ranch.

The communiqué stresses that organisations like the CIOAC-H, CIOAC-I, ORCAO, ORUGA, and the URPA “make their living from provoking confrontations”. The government, pleased whenever the Zapatista project is attacked, rewards these groups with money and social programs. The governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco, even backed up this assertion by saying “it is more convenient for us that the Zapatistas are kept busy with artificially created problems than for them to be holding activities for “güeros” [light-skinned people] from around the world”. As a white politician (in a majority-indigenous state) who is submissive to the country’s white president, Velasco seemed to be ignorant towards the irony in his comment.


The government-backed paramilitary groups, Marcos affirms, engage in violence whenever their budgets are running low in order to encourage the government to pay them off. The growth of these groups began under the blood-soaked PRI governorship of Roberto Albores between 1998 and 2000, and continued under AMLO follower Juan Sabines. And today, under Velasco’s ‘Green’ government, support for these violent groups remains as strong as ever.


Back at the meeting in La Realidad, tears fill the room and, whilst emphasising the need for justice rather than revenge, the assembled emphasise that the tears are “not tears of sadness” but “tears of rebellion”.


Meanwhile, in a meeting of the leaders of the CIOAC-H, the paramilitaries know that they “cannot negotiate with money” when it comes to the EZLN. They realise that those involved in Galeano’s murder would have to go to jail but that their release could later be arranged with the government. Alternatively, they could “stage a death” or “kill one of [their] own” so it looked like “there was a death on both sides”. For them, such tactics would be necessary in order to settle the problem they caused.


The leaders of the militant EZLN, in order to reach a consensus in the community of La Realidad, asked the citizens there if they wanted help in ensuring justice arrived or if they preferred to be left alone. Aware of the persecution of EZLN leaders that took place in 1995, and the probability of this happening again, the community decided that the EZLN leaders should stay.


The communiqué concludes by affirming that the government is invoking “the Acteal model” once again, referring to counterrevolutionary aggressions against Zapatista sympathisers as “intra-community conflicts”. “Increased militarisation”, therefore, is likely to continue, along with “the hysterical voices of the domesticated press, the simulations, the lies, and the persecution”. The return of the PRI’s Emilio Chuayffet (Secretary of Government from 1995 to 1998 who oversaw the events of the Acteal Massacre) to government, Marcos says, represents the government’s inclination towards counterrevolution. And, according to the communiqué, it is now reinforced by the presence of trained lapdogs in the government and “peasant” organisations of Chiapas.


Pain and rage have brought us to where we are today”, Marcos affirms at the end of the communiqué. But before signing off, he invites us to ask ourselves where such pain and rage, if we share them, lead us in our own lives?


The full communiqué can be seen in English at and y en español en



About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
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9 Responses to Pain and Rage: The Zapatista Response to Aggression

  1. Posted this on Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

  2. Pingback: Pain and Rage: The Zapatista Response to Aggression | dorset chiapas solidarity

  3. Pingback: Pain and Rage: The Zapatista Response to Aggression | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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  6. Pingback: 22nd October March for Ayotzinapa in Mexico City | Resistance Is Fertile

  7. Pingback: The CNI’s Position on the Wave of Repression Waged against the People | Resistance Is Fertile

  8. Pingback: The CNI’s Position on the Wave of Repression Waged against the People | dorset chiapas solidarity

  9. Pingback: The CNI’s Position on the Wave of Repression Waged against the People | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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