Something new is happening – something new in content, depth, breadth and global consistency. Societies around the world are in movement. Since the early 1990s millions of people have been organizing similarly, and in ways that defy definitions and former ways of understanding social movements, protest and resistance. There is a growing global movement of refusal – and simultaneously, in that refusal is a creative movement. Millions are shouting No!, as they manifest alternatives in its wake. What has been taking place in disparate places around the world is part of a new wave that is both revolutionary in the day-to-day sense of the word, as well as without precedent with regard to consistency of form, politics, scope and scale. The current frameworks provided by the social sciences and traditional left to understand these movements have yet to catch up with what is new and different about them.
Last week, Its Going Down and Radio Zapote carried out a collective interview with a member of the Popular Indigenous Council of Guerrero-Emiliano Zapata (CIPOG-EZ)—an Indigenous organization working from within various communities in the Montaña Baja Region of Guerrero, Mexico, who are struggling for autonomy and self-determination amidst an unbearable climate of capitalist, state, and narco violence. The interview covers the history and development of the organization, its organizational forms and political goals, its thoughts on political parties and the state, along with its relationship to other social struggles in the state and country. These topics are taken up from within a context of tremendous violence, where communities belonging to CIPOG-EZ live under a continuous narco-paramilitary siege, with the constant threat of arrest, disappearance, or assassination.
It was a genuine surprise when the Zapatistas published their communiqué “A Mountain on the High Seas” on October 5, 2020, announcing a tour of the EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) across five continents, starting with Europe. Even though the Zapatistas have not shied away from organizing initiatives in Chiapas and across Mexico — the March of the Color of the Earth just 20 years ago is a case in point — it is basically the first time since 1994 that they are leaving the borders of their homeland behind. Then, on January 1 of this year, they published a Declaration for Life, co-signed with hundreds of individuals, collectives and organizations, outlining the objective of this voyage: making a contribution to the effort for anti-capitalist struggles — which are inseparable from the struggles for life — to converge in full consciousness of their differences and unhampered by homogenizing or hegemonizing forces.
On August 22, 2020, the ORCAO paramilitary organization looted and burned two Zapatista coffee warehouses in Cuxuljá, Chiapas. This is the latest in an accelerating series of attacks on the Zapatista project since the current administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) took office. Many of you will remember that in 2017 as Trump took office, the Zapatistas sent four tons of their coffee harvest to migrant and other communities in struggle in the United States as an organizing resource. Now we need to organize our own coffee solidarity effort — not only to help recover the cost of the lost harvest, but to show there is widespread solidarity with the Zapatista project.
Terror returned to Tila, Chiapas, hand in hand with the resurgence of the paramilitary group named Desarrollo, Paz y Justicia (Development, Peace and Justice). One after another, armed attacks, assassinations, sieges and all kinds of aggressions take place against the 836 ejido owners who reclaimed their territorial rights. In the Northern Zone of Chiapas, between 1995 and 2000, Paz y Justicia assassinated more than 100 indigenous Chols, expelled at least 2,000 campesinos and their families from their communities, closed 45 Catholic churches, attacked Bishops Samuel Ruiz and Raúl Vera, stole more than 3,000 heads of cattle and raped 30 women.
We dreamed “that the patriarchy burned” and that it was possible to inhabit spaces free of cruelty. For a long time, we graffitied it, theorized it, protested for it, and proposed it. We then came to shout this dream in a territory free of femicides. Here we cried it and wailed it. Here we sang it, danced it, cared for it in this valley of organization and work. From December 26 – 29, 2019, the Zapatista women sheltered us in their collective and rebellious lap to clothe us in dignity inside the seedbed carrying the name of Commander Ramona, who died 14 years ago. Walking in her footprints, in those of Susana and of all the founding mothers of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, we arrived at this gathering that never should have been.
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) published Saturday a statement to report the creation of new rebel and autonomous municipalities in different areas within the southwestern state of Chiapas in Mexico. The communiqué announced the foundation of Centers of Autonomous Resistance and Zapatista Rebellion, which will comprehend “caracoles” (autonomous organized Zapatista regions), “good” government councils, and autonomous municipalities.
Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged on Sunday for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) to leave behind differences and no longer fight in order to work for the unity of the country. "We respect the Zapatista movement very much so my respectful fraternal recommendation is that we stop any quarrel, enough of divisions, we need to unite,” the Mexican president said during a speech during a visit to Chiapas, the heartland of the EZLN movement. Later he added that “like that stanza of the Chiapas anthem: may hateful revenge be over, may resentment end forever ... All together united like brothers."
A "Global Action" is being carried out in defense of Mexican indigenous peoples' right to land, territory and autonomy. International networks supporting the Indigenous Council of Government (CIG) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), organizations that emerged from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), are protesting Friday in a "Global Action" in defense of land, territory and autonomy of Indigenous peoples and communities of Mexico. In San Cristobal de las Casas, hundreds of people protested in the main square changting: "Chiapas is not a barrack, get out military," and "we want schools and not military."
An indigenous community in the highlands of Chiapas is learning about the theory and practice of agroecology to lessen their dependency on pesticides. ispatches from Resistant Mexico is a series of short documentaries from southern Mexico, each depicting one of the thousands of pockets of resistance throughout Latin America that are in struggle against what the Zapatistas call “the capitalist hydra”. These individuals and communities affirm a way life in opposition to capitalist economics and values.
On January 1, 2019, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico celebrated the 25th anniversary of the start of their uprising in 1994. 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).
January 1, 2019 marked 25 years since the Zapatistas captured the world’s imagination with their brief but audacious uprising to demand justice and democracy for Indigenous peasants in southern Mexico. While never formally laying down its weapons, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN) has since become known more for its peaceful mobilizations, dialogue with civil society, and structures of political, economic, and cultural autonomy.
We, intellectuals, academics, artists, activists and others in solidarity, as well as organizations, associations and collectives from across the world, express our solidarity with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in this critical moment in its history, and condemn the ongoing campaign of disinformation, lies, and slander directed against the Zapatistas. For us, and for many others around the world, the Zapatista struggle is a key referent for resistance, dignity, integrity and political creativity. 25 years ago, the cry of Ya Basta!
On 1 January, 5.5 million women formed a 620-kilometre wall across the length of the Indian state of Kerala (population 35 million). This was not like Donald Trump’s wall across the US-Mexico border, a wall of inhumanity and toxicity. The wall of these women was a wall for freedom, a wall against traditions whose purpose is to humiliate. The immediate reason for the women’s wall was a fight over entry for women into the Sabrimala temple in southern Kerala. On 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India ruled that women must be allowed to enter the temple since the selective ban on women was not an ‘essential part’ of Hinduism but instead was a form of ‘religious patriarchy’.
January 1, 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico. For those of us who remember that day well, it’s hard to believe it was a quarter century ago. It’s been many years since the Zapatista movement was the darling of the international solidarity scene, and many years since I’ve been back to Chiapas. But in the era of Trump – of white nationalist populism on the rise around the world, of migrant children dying in ICE detention centers, of countless other horrors, the Zapatista movement still has much to teach us – about having the chutzpah to take on state-sponsored terrorism and global capitalism, while having the wisdom and humility to know that no one has all the answers, that we make the road by walking.