EZLN: Homage to the Zapatista Teacher Galeano

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2015 by floweroftheword

Zapatista Teacher Galeano: Notes on a life

May 2, 2015

Compañeros and compañeras of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation:

Compañeroas, compañeras, compañeros of the Sixth:


It is my turn to talk about our compañero, the Zapatista teacher Galeano.

To talk about him so that he can live on in our words.

To talk to you about him so that you might understand our rage.

We say “the Zapatista teacher Galeano” because this was the cargo [job or responsibility] that our compañero held when he was assassinated.

For us, Zapatistas, the compañero teacher Galeano epitomizes an entire anonymous generation within Zapatismo. Anonymous to those on the outside, but for us, the fundamental protagonist in the uprising and in these more than 20 years of rebellion and resistance.

It is a generation that, as youth, was part of the so-called social organizations and therefore knew of the corruption and deceitfulness that nurtured their leaders. This generation prepared itself in secrecy, rose up in arms against the supreme government, resisted the betrayals and persecutions alongside us and guided the resistance of the today’s generation that now takes on cargos in the indigenous communities.

A violent, absurd, ruthless, cruel, and unjust death came to him while he held the cargo of teacher.

A bit later and it would have been in the cargo of autonomous authority.

A bit earlier and it would have been as advisor.

Before that, it would have been the death of a miliciano.[i]

Many moons before, it would have been the death of a youth who knew enough, what is necessary, about the system, and sought, as many[ii] others still do, the best way to challenge it.

A year ago, a trio of journalists from the paid media, sponsored by the government of that Aryan Velasco and his rotten court, spread a lie about Galeano’s murder.

The person who took the photos of the supposed, carefully bandaged blows suffered by the murderers, won a prize a trip to New York to show off their other mercenary photos.

Those who unabashedly swallowed the government’s shit and disseminated it on the front page, are now echoed by those who dress up the news and present Galeano’s murder as the result of a confrontation.

Those who were silent accomplices out of financial convenience or political cunning continue to pretend that they do journalism and not badly disguised propaganda.

Just a few days before this event that has brought us here together, we read in the paid press that the “heroic,” “selfless,” “professional,” and “unpolluted” police from the Federal District in Mexico had a “confrontation”—that’s what they called it—with a group of blind people. Those wicked blind people used their “weapons”—their canes—to attack the poor police officers who were only doing their duty and who were forced to respond with their clubs and shields in order to make those without sight see that the law is the law for those below, and not for those above.

Also recently, in those seasonal speculations that tend to sweep across not only the journalistic profession, but also the social networks, when talking about something is a way to hide the fact that one has nothing important to say or report, a journalist—one of these who claims “professionalism” and “objectivity”—writing about the death of a brother in struggle and collector of rains, Eduardo Galeano, assumed a false link between Galeano the writer and Galeano the teacher, miliciano, and Zapatista.

When referring to the Zapatista compañero Galeano, the paid journalist insisted that he had died in a confrontation, and submitted photos taken by her tourist friend in New York.

I mention that this journalist is a woman not out of misogyny, but for the following reason: as is already common in the press—so common that sometimes it isn’t even reported in the news—murders of women are also disguised as “deaths” and not described as “murders.”

Take any given case, in any home or on any street, in any geography, in any calendar: there is a discussion, a fight, or not even that, but just because he reigns, the man attacks the woman, the woman defends herself and manages to scratch the man, the man beats, stabs, or shoots her to death, and with contempt. The man is treated and his scratches cleaned and bandaged.

About this, the “professional and objective” journalist, as she says, would make the following report: “a woman died in a confrontation with her husband, the man sustained injuries resulting from the fight.” They add photos of the poor injured man, after he is treated in the medical clinic. “The family of the female aggressor would not allow her body to be photographed.” End of the report and of coverage.

That is how today’s news reports are: blind people armed with canes confront police armed with batons, shields, and tear gas. Women armed with their fingernails confront men armed with knives, batons, pistols, and penises. These are the “confrontations” that they report on in the paid media, although some of them disguise themselves as free media, as some have done who registered for the seminar as free media, thinking that we didn’t know who they were and that we wouldn’t let them in if they were from the paid media. But we know who they are and here they are “covering” this event.

The Zapatista compañero teacher Galeano did not die in a confrontation. He was kidnapped, tortured, bloodied, beaten, slashed, murdered and re-murdered. His aggressors had firearms; he did not. His aggressors were many; he was alone.

The “professional and objective” journalist will demand the photos and the autopsy, and won’t receive either. Because if she doesn’t respect herself, and doesn’t respect her work, and that’s why she writes what she writes without anyone questioning her and on top of that gets paid for it, [by contrast] we Zapatistas do respect our dead.

More than 20 years ago, in the battle of Ocosingo which lasted four days, Zapatista combatants were executed by the federal police after being injured in combat. The Zapatistas’ firearms were replaced by wooden sticks. The press was then called to do what they are paid for, under the watch of the government troops. That’s how this lie was woven, repeated incessantly and ad nauseum even today, that the troops of the EZLN went to battle with wooden sticks to face off with the bad government. Sure, there is the small problem that someone took photos when the fallen Zapatistas didn’t have anything by their side. These photos were later compared with those presented by the official press. A lot of money was paid out so that the photos that showed the truth wouldn’t be disseminated.

Today, in the modern times of economic crisis in the paid media, photojournalism—an art—has been transformed into a poorly paid commodity that often only manages to provoke nausea.

I won’t detail each and every one of the injuries suffered by compañero Galeano, nor will I present you with photos of his sullied cadaver. I won’t rehash the narrative cynicism with which his murderers detailed the crime, as someone would recounting a great feat.

Time will pass. The confessions of the executioners will come to light. We will come to know in detail the torture and their celebration at each drop of blood, the drunkenness of cruel death, the subsequent euphoria, the moral and ethical hangover in the days that followed, the guilt that pursues them, the justice catching up to them.

The Zapatista teacher compañero Galeano will be remembered by the Zapatista communities, quietly, without headlines. His life and not his death will be a joy within our struggle for generations. Hundreds of Tojolabal, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Zoque, Mame and mestizo children will carry his name. And there will no doubt be little girls named “Galeana.”

The 3 members of the decadent media nobility who beat the drums of war by spreading a lie, who have been silent in cowardice, and the “professional and objective” journalist will all continue to be mediocre; mediocre they will live, mediocre they will die, and history will run its course without anyone even remembering who they were.

And just to end once and for all that silly idea, Zapatista teacher compañero Galeano did not take the name of that tireless collector of the word of below, Eduardo Galeano. This connection was an invention of the press.

Although it sounds absurd, the compañero takes his nom de guerre from the insurgente Hermenegildo Galeana, indeed originally from Tecpan, in what is now the state of Guerrero, and who would become the lieutenant of the independence leader José María Morelos and Pavón. Hermenegildo Galeana was with the insurgent troops when, on May 2, 1812, they broke the siege that the royal army held over Cuautla, defeating General Félix María Calleja’s troops along the way. The insurgent resistance wrote a brilliant page in military history that day.

It is common in Zapatista communities that men and women apply gender pronouns according to their own very particular understanding. For example, the map [el mapa with the masculine article in Spanish] is “la” mapa [with the feminine pronoun]. What the compañero did was “masculinize” the name Galeana, changing it to Galeano. This was years before we came out publicly.

I won’t say much more about the Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano.

His families and compañero, who honor us with their presence today, will do it far better, as will compañeroSubcomandante Insurgente Moises.

His absence still causes me a lot of pain.

I am still unable to make sense of the cruelty with which they treated him, murdering him with weapons and with journalists’ reports.

I am still unable to understand the complicit silence and indifference from those who were assisted and supported by his generosity, and who then turned their backs on his death once they’d made use of his life.

This is why I think that, since it’s his life that we are raising up, it would be better if compañero Galeano were the one to speak to you.

The following fragments that I will read to you come from compañero Galeano’s notes. The notebook, with this and other writings, were handed over to the General Command of the EZLN by the family of that compañero who we are missing here today.

The first notes apparently date back to 2005, and the last ones are from 2012.

He writes:

“Dedicated to all who will read this brilliant history, so that my children and my compañero can never say that it faded away.

I am writing about the actions and steps I have taken in the struggle, but I am also critical, so that they learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. But it does not mean that I am not a compañero.

Well then, I will begin with my earlier life as a youth and a civilian.

When I was about 15 years old, I always participated in the work and the actions of an organization called, “Unión de Ejidos de la Selva.”

I knew that I was exploited because the weight of poverty that fell on my sunburnt shoulders was enough for me to recognize that exploitation still existed, and that one day someone would come to help us rise up and show us the path, someone to guide us.

Well, as I mentioned in the beginning I participated in a tour that (number illegible) we indigenous made in order to exchange ideas about productive work projects. That’s what they called the program our advisors from that so-called Union created and that we were active in.

Well, for me, it helped me learn a lot of things. In the first place, I realized how those damned advisors, Juarez and Jaime Valencia, among others, tried to deceive us. We had gone all the way to Oaxaca, a place where indigenouscompañeros like us live, and they also had an organization called X, directed by a priest who was there with them. But they were also in the same situation of oppression that we were.

Well, to make a long story short, we visited many cities throughout the country. It was there where I noticed how many people were begging on the streets, without housing and with nothing to eat. From there an idea took root in me that this should be our objective—to exchange ideas on how to demand a dignified life for everyone who we saw living in such humiliating poverty by fault of the governments.

I also noticed something that disgusted me so that I never again came to depend on those liars and tricksters who pretend to be with those from below. They used to create these movements so that they could get rich off our backs, and we were idiots to believe in their vicious and false ideas.

Why do I say it this way? Well, you will soon see how things were. It turns out that they would promote government programs in order to deceive us, and in turn, have us deceive our own people in our own communities. On that tour, the government gave 7 million pesos of support, which at that time was a ton of money because we were talking about pesos in the thousands, not like now [after the peso conversion in 1993] when we only talk about pesos in the singular. At that time they told us that the government had given 7 billion but that we wouldn’t get it all—just 3 million and that the rest would go to fund the other tours. We never knew what happened to that money.

Of course, they never told us, but that money stayed with the aforementioned advisors, and while we were eatingtotopo with a little piece of cheese there in Oaxaca, and sleeping in the hallway of the municipal building in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, where do you think they were? Well, they were sleeping in nice hotels and eating in fine restaurants. And that’s how it was until we returned to Chiapas.

When we had arrived in Puerto Arista, they bought themselves cases of beer so that they could get wasted. When it was over, they said that they had to use the 3 million pesos in order to cover expenses. They told us that we would have to eat crackers and drink sodas because there was no more money left. But I knew that it wasn’t true, that the representatives in charge of the accounts tried to make us believe that the money was all gone, but they had already come to an agreement with those idiot advisors. And so I proposed that they count the money again to see if it were in fact true that it had all been spent. But my proposal was not accepted and then they told me that the tour had come to an end in Motozintla. They gave me 40 thousand pesos (of the old currency) so that I could return home because they had budgeted that it was the amount I would spend on transport to Margaritas, but after that, to get to La Realidad, I would have to figure it out myself.

It was damned difficult, 40 thousand of the old pesos that Salinas converted are only equal to 40 pesos today. And that’s how I returned to my village, completely sad and enraged at the same time.

It was in ‘89 when I met a real advisor, a man who used to pretend to be a humble worker, a parrot vendor. He and I were kind of friends, but even though we knew each other, he had never told me who he really was and what he really wanted or what he was really doing. We often encountered each other in the Cerro Quemado and we chatted, and I noticed that he carried a rucksack with his tools wrapped and ready for work. That’s what my friend used to tell me. How many other people like me knew the story of my friend without knowing the real story. It remained to be seen how many lies my friend used to tell back in those days. Lies in order to make truth; lies in order to make Reality. True lies. He was my buddy, and I was so slow that I had no idea what was going on.

Until one day when I bumped into my friend once again, but this time he wasn’t dressed like a humble worker, and he didn’t carry a rucksack, and he didn’t have his parrot cage with him.

So what was he carrying then? Well, there was my friend, my buddy, all in black and brown, with a backpack and shoes, and a weapon over his shoulder. It turned out that my friend was a brave guerrilla and soldier of the people. I was shocked and I went home completely sad and still unable to understand what was going on.

That was my mistake, not understanding quickly enough what that man wanted.

It was then when he knew that I had found him out, and he had me summoned to the safe house along with my parents and siblings. But my dad didn’t want to join and neither did my siblings, but I didn’t give it a second thought. That was how I joined the organization. They called me to train. At that time, almost everyone was already a Zapatista. We went to train. Later they assigned me to the rank of corporal and that’s how it went until all of my family members eventually joined.

The day arrived when I finally learned what my liar true friend’s name was: at that time, he was known as Captain Insurgente Z. This was a man who had to travel all of Chiapas’ indigenous villages, all of its mountains, rivers, and ravines. He walked at night as a guerrilla, during the day as the most humble man in search of work; and all the while sowing, step by step, the seed of freedom until it grew and bore fruit.

How great his suffering had been, but what beautiful fruits he harvested and carried with him. Proudly he received his promotion to Major for his intelligence and brave action and preparation.

But he wasn’t the only one. There was another great, brave, unforgettable revolutionary in the history of our clandestinity. Our beloved Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro, respectfully nicknamed “the Uncle” by all thecompañeros of our struggle. Beloved by all because he was a true exemplary who shared his revolutionary wisdom. He was a true teacher of discipline and compañerismo.

I call him an exemplar because he would say that he would be out on the front lines and if it were necessary to die for our people, he would do so.

On December 28 (of 1993), the compañero Sup I. Pedro told me to head over the Margaritas to buy gasoline and some batteries that we needed. He told me to tell compañero Alfredo to take “el Amigo,” (the community car) but not to let him know that the war was about to begin. And so I went. To throw off the driver, we bought shelled maize because it was an emergency trip and that way he would not suspect what was about to take place. Except he already knew, but only as gossip, that the war was about to begin and so he asked about it, but I never said anything because those were my orders, and I fulfilled them although he was my good friend. I didn’t even inform my parents about what was about to happen, because by then they were living in Margaritas. We walked all night and all day.

On the 29th (of December 1993), we returned at about 4pm to Realidad. I had completed my first mission. I gave my report back and he told me, “Prepare yourself because we are going to fight. In half an hour we’ll have forced the police in Margaritas to surrender.” And that always stayed with me. Just like many others of Sup C. I. Pedro’s feats.

And that trip the 30th (of December 1993) to Margaritas continues to stay with me to this day. But also, there were many accidents along the way. Our troops’ advance was incredible. Without the enemy realizing it, we advanced like ghosts in the middle of the dark night, illuminated only by the headlights of the Zapatista cars and buses.

Before reaching Las Margaritas there is a place, before Zaragoza. Near that place everyone dispersed, with their revolutionary assignment: first group, take the municipal presidency; second group, take the Margaritas-Comitan highway checkpoint; third group, take the San Jose Las Palmas-Altamirano highway checkpoint; fourth group, the Independencia-Margaritas highway; fifth group, take the Margaritas radio station.

That was at dawn, on that glorious January 1, when we ceased being phantoms of the night and became the EZLN before the eyes of the world. Everyone saw us with amazement and respect for our courageous act.

That’s how it was when Sup C. I. Pedro fell in combat against the police. He died courageously, killing various police officers. He confronted them alone. His rage against the murderers of the people was so great that he no longer cared about his own life, and with that he fulfilled his promise: die for the people or live for the homeland.

I was shocked when they informed us that our beloved chief had fallen. I felt such a great pain, but he had fulfilled his mission and had also prepared the next in line very well. Because he knew that he would fight and that this sort of thing could happen in war.

That’s when that brave guerrillero, my friend Major Insurgente Z, took up the command. So our missions, although the fall of our great chief was so painful, were directed by Major I. Z. One group went and took over the plantation of Absalon Castellanos Dominguez, taking him prisoner, and brought him to the mountains in order to put him on trial for all of the crimes he had committed while he was governor, for he was the intellectual author of those crimes. In spite of all the charges against him, of being guilty of murdering so many of the children, women, and elderly of Wololchan, his rights as a prisoner of war were respected. He was never once tortured. On the contrary, whatever the troops ate, he was given to eat as well. That’s how our comrade once again demonstrated the education and military experience he had gotten during the clandestine period. The lives of those who fall prisoner in a war must be respected. And it is a reminder for all who read our history that respect is earned by respecting those below, but also those above if they demonstrate respect to those below. Dying to live. Galeano.”


“In Las Margaritas I had the task of creating a checkpoint on the Margarita San José Las Palmas highway. From there, we were transferred to the Margaritas-Comitan highway. That’s where we were on January 1, all night long until we received the order to take the Conasupo warehouse that was over in Espiritu Santo. We went with othercompañeros insurgentes to take things from there so that the troops could have something to eat. Then the order was given for us to retreat to the mountains and so we came and positioned ourselves at Guadalupe Tepeyac. After that we ambushed La Realidad at kilometer 90, Cerro Quemado. And then they sent me to recover a 3-ton vehicle that belonged to this bastard named J from Guadalupe Los Altos.

I didn’t know how to drive well. I only knew how to drive a vehicle in theory, and so that’s when I got my practice and the vehicle started to move. I reached La Realidad using only the first gear the entire time. They were already waiting for me, the compañera Captain L and many other insurgentes, and they told me, “Let’s go Galeano,” and I said, “I haven’t even driven and much less given anyone a ride.

Dying to live. Galeano.” (written between 2005 and 2009)


“It doesn’t matter, all’s fair in war,” the compañera replied. And so we went up ahead, past Cerro Quemado, I was gaining confidence and I started going faster, but at a curve I turned the steering wheel too far and I ran off the road about 15 meters into the tall grass beside the highway. But well, I managed to get us out of there and I drove on in order to fulfill my mission.

From that day on, I started driving every day until one day a helicopter spotted us and it began to shower me with bullets. It shot at me for about 10 to 20 minutes, but I had taken cover really well under a rock. Only dust and the smell of rock and gunpowder reached me. And it wasn’t until the gunfire ceased and the helicopter retreated that I left my hiding place and continued on with my mission. The mission was to pick up the milicianos who were near Momón. I headed over there and returned with my friend and military chief, the compañero Major Insurgente Z. We were always together during those days of war, even during the ceasefire.

With the work of the first Aguascalientes in Guadalupe Tepeyac, I participated in receiving the people who came to the National Democratic Convention. They trained me as a bodyguard; I was a bodyguard for our leadership.

Later, the day of Zedillo’s betrayal, on February 9 we went to block the highway at Cerro Quemado. The army was already at Guadalupe Tepeyac. But we still advanced in darkness and worked at building ditches and felling trees in order to prevent the federal troops from making it to La Realidad.

Next, we retreated to the mountains for several days until, once again, the people of Mexico and the world mobilized and prevented the persecution of our EZLN leadership and troops. After many days of encampment in the mountains, we returned to our villages.

I participated in all of the encounters that our organization organized. I escorted our military chiefs. I participated in the march of the 1,111 Zapatistas to Mexico City. In all of the marches, I always traveled proudly as the driver of “El Conejo,” “El Tata,” and “El Chocolate.” I always took our compañeros to the marches in order to make our demands. When all of the sergeants got cold feet, I remained and they promoted me to sergeant. I was a regional organizer for the youth during in times of clandestinity and in times of war. We have made war against the enemy a thousand and one ways, although the bad government has done the same thing too.

We should value the great paths we have traveled no matter the sacrifices and deprivations. They have all made us much stronger and they keep me along the path of struggle, until we find the freedom that our people need. There is still much more to travel because, true, the path is long and difficult. Maybe it is close, maybe it is far, but we will win.

After that, the Good Government Councils were formed and they chose me as the driver for the first truck obtained by the Good Government Council. It was called “the Devil.” Later I was kidnapped together with anothercompañero, and the CIOAC-Histórica tied us up and took us in that same truck. They had me tied up for several hours before transferring me over to a jail in Saltillo. Then they transferred me to Justo Sierra and left me there without food, tied up, without communication. They wanted me to demand that one of their delinquents be released, but I refused to be exchanged because I was innocent and he was one of those thieves who abound in social organizations.

I was held captive for 9 days until they recognized that they were getting themselves into problems with human rights and with the EZLN. And finally they released the truck after holding it for 3 months. And after that, the truck got a name change: “The Historic Kidnapped.” That was when the work of the Good Government Councils and of autonomy began. Dying to live. Galeano. January 24, 2012).”

This is the last date that appears in his notebook. Next to that brief autobiography, appear a pair of poems, probably his own, and some songs about love and that sort of thing.

For my part, all that’s left for me to do is add that the Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano was just like all the other Zapatista compañeros and compañeras, somebody worth dying for, so that they may be reborn.

Upon finishing these lines, maybe there is a response to a latent question—a question planted in the middle of the kind of history that is not written with words:

Who or what made it possible that a space of struggle could witness the convergence of a Zapatista philosopher and an indigenous Zapatista?

How was it that, without ceasing to be a teacher, the philosopher became a Zapatista, and the indigenous, without ceasing to be a Zapatista, became a teacher?

Something happens in the world that makes this and other absurdities possible.

Why, in order to live, one bequeaths to their loved ones a hidden piece of the puzzle of their story?

Why, in order to not leave, the other leaves us letters in which their gaze is turned on themselves and their history with us Zapatistas?

This is what we try to answer every day, every hour, in ever corner.

Now, as I am about to place the final period on these words, the answer occurs to me, or at least a part of it: it is seated at that table, it is within those who are in front of and behind me, it is in the worlds that lean over to peer at the struggle of those, with secret pride, call themselves Zapatistas, professionals of hope, transgressors of the law of gravity, persons who, without a fuss and in each step say: IN ORDER TO LIVE, WE DIE.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

Mexico, May 2, 2015.

The compañera Selena, Zapatista-escucha [a cargo of listener], now has the floor …

[i] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves

[ii] The text uses “muchos, muchas, muchoas” for “many” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

Atenco Victims of Police Abuse Seek Truth and Justice, Again Reject Government Payment

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2015 by floweroftheword

Gloria Leticia Díaz

Proceso, 4th May, 2013

Nine years after the repression in San Salvador Atenco [State of Mexico,
near Mexico City], 11 women who are litigating the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported that Enrique Peña Nieto’s government is slowing the process and trying to mislead members of the Commission.

At a press conference, three of the victims and their representatives from the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Centre (PRODH Centre) announced that in the past few days, the State of Mexico government stated that it had established a trust to cover compensation for the 11 women who reported sexual assault to the IACHR.

Following this, Mario Patrón Sánchez, director of the PRODH Centre, and Stephanie Brewer, the lawyer of the case, indicated that the announcement from [Governor] Eruviel Ávila’s government intends to convince IACHR members of the State of Mexico’s supposed disposition to reach an amicable settlement with the victims.

Not only that, it also aims to avoid submitting an in-depth report that shows the operational chain of command in which Peña Nieto’s responsibility could rise to the surface. MV Note: Peña Nieto was governor at the time and has acknowledged he gave the order for the state police action.

Since 2008, when they lodged their complaint with the IACHR, Bárbara Italia Méndez, Edith Rosales Gutiérrez, and Norma Jiménez Osorio, three of the women who were assaulted in May 2006, have made public their decision to reject a negotiated solution. In March 2013, they reaffirmed their position before the Commission at a public hearing in Washington.

Brewer stated that despite the women’s position, representatives of the Mexican government continued to approach their lawyers, sent letters to the IACHR insisting on an amicable settlement, and “repeatedly asked not to submit the in-depth report because the State was going to solve the case internally.”

The lawyer emphasized that the state government announced the establishment of an “ad hoc compensation fund for the women reporting the case through the Institute for the Assistance of Victims in the State of Mexico, which we consider to be pressuring and harassment."

On page 21 of the State of Mexico Government Gazette, dated March 19, an edict was published to notify the 11 women and PRODH Centre of an "assistance fund created by the Government of the State of Mexico for the victims of the events that occurred on May 3 and 4, 2006, in San Salvador Atenco.”

The fund, whose amounts have not been disclosed, "is available (to the victims) at the offices of the Institute for Victims of Crime of the Attorney General of the State of Mexico" in Metepec. The edict is signed by its Director General, Marcela Mora Córdoba.


Edith Rosales considered the edict "offensive", not to mention, threatening to the women by making the public think they are going to receive funds.

"Their intention is to pay in order to end the process of struggle. We will not sell our dignity; they must provide real justice and define where the chain of command is. It must reach he who boasted [Peña Nieto] about having implemented the operation, because until now no one in the chain of command has been arrested or prosecuted,” she emphasized.

In March 2013, Bárbara Méndez was responsible for reading the letter signed by 11 women at the Washington hearing, which repeated to the Mexican State that "there will be no amicable or negotiated settlement.”

"It’s not about money; rather it is about dignity and justice. We will not stop moving forward until we get both. Already there are more than 11; in this fight, we have managed to strengthen our side with other women who were sexually assaulted by members of the military, police and navy,” she said.

Additionally, Norma Jiménez indicated that even though all the complainants could not attend the press conference, there is an agreement between the 11 to continue with the proceedings before the IACHR. They will continue “despite having received blows for nine years from the Mexican State, who have wanted us to give up.”

According to Stephanie Brewer, the intention behind publishing the edict was to "put pressure on the women, delay the process before the IACHR and confuse them. They expect to convince the IACHR that there is a dialogue and negotiation in order to block the in-depth report."

The lawyer stated that one of the women’s objectives is that in the in-depth report, guidelines for achieving "structural changes to end sexual assault" be included, and that the IACHR may decide to bring the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, if the recommendations issued in its resolution are not met.

Noting that it is likely that the conclusions of the agency will be made public in either of the two sessions to be held this year (in July and October), Mario Patron indicated that in the report of the UN rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, he recognized that in Mexico, "the degree of impunity for sexual assault is even higher than that used to incriminate people in crimes."

Similarly, he noted that during the operation in May 2006, 47 women were arrested: 26 of them reported sexual assault, but only 11 decided to continue the fight for the punishment of those responsible.

According to the director of PRODH Centre, "the State of Mexico is not interested in justice, truth or reparations. It is only interested in dismissing a case in which the president and former governor is involved. This campaign to delay the proceedings revolves around the logic of trying to buy the victims’ silence.”

Translated by Amanda Coe



EZLN Homage by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2015 by floweroftheword

MAY 2, 2015

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moises


Zapatista compañeras and compañeros from the bases of support of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Compañeras, compañeroas, and compañeros from the National and International Sixth.

Sisters and brothers from Mexico and the world.

We greet the family of compañero Luis Villoro.

Welcome to the rebel lands that struggle and resist in Zapatista territory.

It is an honour to have you with us, the Zapatista bases of support from the five zones.

Greetings to the family of Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano.

Receive our embrace, compañeros and compañeras of the family of compañero Galeano, and of the family of compañero Luis Villoro.

We should honour, and know how to honour, those who deserve it for the mission fulfilled by the compañeros Galeano and Luis Villoro.

Compañeros, compañeras, and compañeroas, brothers and sisters, we are here today not to remember how much we miss the physical existence of the compañeros Galeano and Luis Villoro.

We come here to remember and to talk about the struggle they waged in lives and in their work, the resistance struggles they were part of.

We did not come here to remember death, but to remember what they gave life to through their lives of work and struggle, and what we must do to keep those lives of work and struggle alive.

It is we who have to make it so that those who give their lives for a new world, one created by the people, live forever.

We are not here to raise a statue.

A statue will not provide life, a museum will not give life; they do not speak.

We are those ones who speak. We are the ones who have to keep them alive and in this way, create a statue and a museum that will live in our hearts for generations, rather than remaining mere symbols.


We were very happy that we were able to hear more about the life of the Zapatista compañero Don Luis Villoro, who in other places is known as a theorist and who here we know as a practitioner; who in other places is known as a philosopher, and who here we know as a Zapatista.

To those who were by his side in struggle and in work, to those who worked with him, we give our thanks because they told us more about him, about the other facets of his life.

So we Zapatistas will tell you about another facet of his life.

For example, thanks to the compañero Luis Villoro and others like him, we have clinics and schools for Zapatista education.

That came from his efforts, from his work.

But that in itself is not enough. People were needed to build, people like compa Galeano, and people needed to work as promotoras to launch their dreams there and then organize for what the students would need.

And that was what compañero Galeano constructed, worked on, and got moving.

This is how the Zapatista people are organized.

This is how the compa Galeano came to be a teacher, thanks to the help of compa Luis Villoro and others like him.

He respected us, and we respected him. He treated us as equals. He believed in us and we believed in him. We came to work on the same project without seeing each other physically, that is, one can contribute to constructing something without personally being there.

This is how, for example, the Sixth all over the world worked to construct the school and clinic in the Zapatista community La Realidad, over the blood of our compañero Galeano.

The compas Luis Villoro and Galeano did not know each other, but nonetheless they were together, constructing the same freedom.

We also heard about facets of compa Galeano’s life of struggle.

First he decided to struggle, and later he received support, and then he organized for the actual construction, and then he organized those who would be promotores, and finally he oversaw what the students would need.

This requires organization.


Because the compa Galeano was and is a miliciano, a corporal, and later a sergeant. He was regional representative of the youth, member of the MAREZ (Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion), teacher of the Zapatista Little School, and member-elect of the Good Government Council.

This requires ORGANIZATION.

From there he practiced and was later able to teach what he had learned, providing classes all over the world through the course, “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.”

Because one needs to organize in order to LIBERATE oneself from the capitalist system.

Because only the people will liberate themselves, no one will give them their freedom; no leader, man or woman, will bring freedom.

Because the capitalists are not going to give up or repent and stop exploiting the people.

Because the capitalist system cannot be humanized.

In order to put an end to the system, it must be destroyed, and to do that, one must organize.

Compa Luis Villoro saw that this is what the Zapatistas were doing and he did not think twice about accompanying us, in struggling and working and supporting the struggle and the organization that the life of compa Galeano represents.

Hopefully there will be more Luises, Luisas, and Luisoas, Villoros, Villoras, and Villoroas.


One never finishes organizing, because you need organization in order to build, and then you must be organized in order to watch over what you have built, and that’s how it goes, that is what it means to be organized.

That is what is necessary so that the same exploitation of people does not come back, like today men and women are exploited, as well as those who are not men or women.

So that the people take on the task of governing themselves.

This requires organization. Organization is made of communities, women, men, and otroas.

Now that we have heard the words that have been spoken to us, we want to say this to you:

Some people think that we are an organization made up of indigenous people or of Mexicans, but we are not.

We are an organization of Zapatistas, indigenous and non-indigenous, just as we have seen here in the act of paying homage to two Zapatista compañeros.

We are in Mexico because this is where we happen to be, it is our geography.

Just like those who struggle for the freedom of the Kurdish people are there because that is where they happen to be.

Just like everyone is where they happen to be, like the Sixth in Mexico and across the world, they are in the places that for whatever reason correspond to them.

That’s why we talk about the geography of each of us, the corner of the world where each of us rises up, rebels, and struggles for freedom.

Here what needs to be made clear is what it means to be a Zapatista.

To be a Zapatista means to be decided and ready.[i]

Because it’s not about showing off but about working, organizing, and struggling in silence until their final consequences, that is, it is about theory and practice.

Putting on a ski mask does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, organizing oneself and destroying the capitalist system does.

Simply saying, “I am a Zapatista” does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, deciding to struggle until death does.

Speaking about Zapatismo does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, working collectively with the organized communities does.

It is not being a Zapatista to take up the struggle when it’s in fashion and put it aside when attacks by the bad system cause suffering.

Putting on a uniform—disguising oneself, as we say—in order to hand oneself over to the bad government does not make one a Zapatista, because a Zapatista never gives in.

Saying that one is an EZLN commander and pretending to dialogue [with the
government] in order to get paid in money and material projects by the bad government does not make one a Zapatista, because a Zapatista never sells out.

Searching for and working under those who want a government post, pay, and who only struggle every six years or whenever the market for official posts [elections] rolls around again does not make one a Zapatista.

A Zapatista struggles for total change; they struggle all their life and do not give in. That is, their thoughts do not shift with the trends or with whatever is convenient or according to whatever colour is shining brightest in the marketplace.


Trying to have it both ways, to be a [political] party-follower and a Zapatista does not make one a Zapatista. Because the party-follower wants to change the colour of the ruler. In contrast, the Zapatista wants to change the entire system, not just one part but all of it, so that the people rule and nobody rules over them.

One is not a Zapatista because they are never scared. One may have fear sometimes but control it and continue to struggle.

One is not a Zapatista if they have a lot of rage but no organization. Rather, one must organize with others and with a lot of dignity.

Who gets to say when you become a Zapatista? The people.

Who gets to say what makes a Zapatista? The people.

Who gets to say when you cease being a Zapatista?

There isn’t anyone who says “you’re done.” Rather, one must continue to struggle until death to fulfil the sacred duty to liberate the exploited, and even after death you continue in struggle.

This is why we are having this homage, in order to remind ourselves and all of you that, even if death comes in an attempt to convert us into the forgotten, we continue to live in the people, in the struggle, for the struggle and for the struggle of the people. That is how life continues on and wins—and death comes to an end and loses.

Thank you.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moises.
Mexico, May 2015.

[i] The text uses “decididos, decididas, decididoas” (decided or decisive) and “puestos, puestas, puestoas” (willing and ready) to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.


March Nine Years after the Repression

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2015 by floweroftheword

Atenco movement demands prison for Peña and Fox


"Without Justice, There Will No Forgetting Or Forgiveness." Photo: Pablo Ramos"

Javier Salinas y César Arellano

La Jornada, 5th May, 2015
San Salvador Atenco, State of Mexico – Nine years after the repression and seizure of the town of San Salvador Atenco by police forces, the Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) indicated that ”there will be no forgetting or forgiveness”, because to date there has been neither justice nor punishment of the masterminds and perpetrators of either the women’s violations or for the murders of Alexis Benhumea and Javier Cortés.

Ignacio del Valle, FPDT leader, said: ”The first ones who should be in jail for murder and the wrongs they have done to our peoples—above all to the women—are former President Vicente Fox and Enrique Peña Nieto (governor of state of Mexico, 2005-2011), because they are the masterminds of the repression of our people. They gave the order to the police leadership, and this we do not forget, because it is an insult to our community.”

In Mexico City there was also a demonstration that marched from the Angel of Independence to the Zócalo. With machetes in hand and banners proclaiming support of the families of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students, the ejidatarios [members of ejidos, lands owned and worked collectively] of Atenco asserted that their lands are not for sale.

The strong thunderstorm that lashed the capital did not deter the marchers, who shouted slogans against construction of the new Mexico City airport and for the live appearance of the Ayotzinapa students:

  • ”Yes, to the land, No, to airplanes";
  • "Rebellious Atenco does not give up or sell itself; it [Atenco] loves and defends itself”

The Atenco movement warned that it will continue with its resistance, and it will reinforce its demonstrations to prevent their farmland from being taken over for the alternate airport project announced by the federal government. They also warned that they will prevent the indigenous peoples and towns from disappearing.

Meanwhile, on Monday a group of activists held a march from the main plaza of San Salvador Atenco to the junction with the federal Texcoco-Lecheria highway, the site where on May 4, 2006, student Alexis Benhumea fell wounded by a tear gas projectile fired by police when federal and state forces burst into Atenco. The young man died a few days later.

For about 20 minutes, protesters blocked traffic on the highway and mounted an "honour guard" in memory of the murdered student. FPDT members recalled the events of May 3-4, 2006, when the police repression resulted in more than 200 people and activists arrested and in the sexual abuse of the women.

Protesters denounced that currently there is no punishment either for the masterminds and perpetrators of these multiple human rights violations or for the murders of José Enrique Espinoza Juárez (murdered in 2002), Javier Cortés and Alexis Benhumea.

Ignacio del Valle pointed out that in the coming days, demonstrations will be held to protest construction of the new Mexico City Airport. For now, this weekend they received the Caravan of Dignified Resistance, which brings together different social and resistance movements against projects that deprive villages of water and land.

The caravan will tour several cities in the state of Mexico and will conclude its journey on Teacher’s Day, May 15, in the city of Toluca [capital of state of Mexico, borders Mexico City].

Translated by Jane Brundage



The EZLN renders homage to Luis Villoro and to teacher Galeano

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2015 by floweroftheword

From Chiapas Support Committee

EZLN milicianos at the Homage to Luis Villoro and to teacher Galeano

EZLN milicianos at the Homage to Luis Villoro and to teacher Galeano

By: Isaín Mandujano

OVENTIK, Chiapas (proceso.com.mx) – This Saturday, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) rendered homage to the Mexican philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo and to the Indigenous Zapatista teacher Galeano, assassinated precisely one year ago in La Realidad, by an anti-Zapatista shock group.

More than five thousand people, between indigenous EZLN support bases and adherents and sympathizers of the movement, gathered in the esplanade to see on the stage the families of Don Luis Villoro, teacher Galeano, the parents of a youth disappeared from Ayotzinapa seven months ago, the General Command of the armed group and the surprising public appearance of Subcomandante Galeano.

Before the event, six columns of Zapatista milicianos with green pants and brown shirts guarded the family members of those being paid homage to
from the principal entrance to Oventik for a kilometer until
arriving at the enclosure where the ceremony would take place.

Among the fog that covered the development of the entire event, the words of Don Pablo González Casanova were read first. He remembered many of the political differences that he always maintained with Luis Villoro.

On one occasion he dared to say to him: “Do you agree, Luis? We have always had theoretical differences and discussions, but we always find ourselves in the same battle as now with the Zapatistas” to which Villoro responded: “The solution is not logical, but rather ethical.”

González Casanova eulogized Villoro’s contribution to critical thought in his text sent for the homage, as Adolfo Gilly would do, upon a reading after an extensive speech in which he rescued extracts from his books and essays in which he brought up the domination and liberation of the peoples.

It was Silvia Fernanda Navarro Solares, Villoro’s life-long compañera, who talked about the love and commitment the philosopher had to the Zapatista struggle and cause, for whom he dedicated much of his analysis of 
social and political theory.

Navarro said that she as much as Villoro were always assiduous visitors of the Zapatistas and their communities, so much so that he contributed resources for the construction of the Zapatista School in Oventik.

And that throughout these 21 years they have accompanied the indigenous Zapatista communities in their advances and achievements that since August 2003 made theirs full autonomy to work in matters of education and the development of all of the rebel autonomous peoples.

She eulogized the level of organization and discipline of the Zapatistas that have walked these two decades accompanied above all with other peoples of Mexico and the world that have been in solidarity with the Zapatista cause.

Juan Villoro at his turn pointed out that it was the Zapatista that put into the national public arena the fraternal struggle of the masked ones that is not annihilating, but rather transforming.

In the name of his three absent siblings, Miguel, Carmen and Renata, he thanked the homage to his father that the Zapatistas organized in this Caracol, one of the seats of the five Good Government Juntas.

He said that his father hated homages and with all certainty would have been opposed to this event that the rebels organized, but in his absence he can’t do anything now, he said, to the complicit laugh from the crowd.

After Juan Villoro’s speech, Subcomandante Galeano suddenly appeared from among the masked indigenous where he had remained camouflaged the whole time, to read an extensive discourse that the “dead Marcos” wrote after his death in March 2014, a homage that he would have made in the middle of last year, but that had to be suspended because of the attack and the death of Galeano.

Galeano, who “buried” Marcos on May 25, 2014 after taking the name of the fallen Zapatista teacher, he revealed today to the family members present, that the philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo was “a Zapatista compañero” that after a night and early morning in May many years ago he came out as a member of the EZLN with the condition that no one, not even his own family, would know about it.

Juan Villoro and SupGaleano at the Homage

Juan Villoro and SupGaleano at the Homage

He indicated that UNAM’s professor of philosophy, Don Luis Villoro was a Zapatista not only until his death but also as of now that he is remembered for his commitment as a sentinel that fulfilled the mission with which he was charged.

When they asked him then what his clandestine name would be, Don Luis Villoro elected his real name, which surprised the Zapatistas, but he assured what that would precisely do: it would hide the Zapatista with the role of a philosopher that the whole world already knew. Well then, nobody would know that Villoro would have really been an EZLN member.

He says that instead of a mask, Don Luis Villoro would always wear a black beret, to camouflage his identity. The first mission to which he was assigned was like that of everyone when they started in the ranks of the EZLN; he did the “post,” standing guard, because of which he was always a “Zapatista Sentinel,” which mission he knew how to fulfill until his last days.

Galeano reviewed that meeting with the Zapatista philosopher that even left his chestnut brown jacket hanging in the EZLN Barracks at which he presented himself to leave as one more in the ranks of the armed group.

After thanking the presence of the family members of Don Luis Villoro, he reviewed the life and trajectory of teacher Galeano in the ranks of the EZLN, who got to know the Zapatista guerillas in 1989. Little by little he was enrolled to be a miliciano that participated in the January 1, 1994 feat under the command of Insurgent Captain Zeta, in the taking of Las Margaritas, where the most affectionate Subcomandante Pedro would be killed with bullets.

Galeano said that the Zapatista teacher from whom he took his new name was a rebel, and that he also fulfilled all the missions to which he was assigned. Because of that and nothing less than that they have presented this deserved homage.

His daughter Lizbeth was there, as well as his son Mariano, his wife Selena and his father Manolo, who talked about Galeano, the teacher at the Escuelitas Zapatistas that the EZLN had organized months before to the thousands of adherents that came from diverse communities of the five autonomous regions where they have a presence.

Upon the event ending, those with ski masks sung the Zapatista Hymn and the milicianos broke ranks in order to protect the exit of the EZLN’s general command and SupGaleano.

Fernanda Navarro was moved; she thanked the homage with tears. Juan Villoro also said that his father would not have imagined this multitude of masked indigenous rebels that today rendered homage to him today for his support to critical thinking and for his unconditional support to the EZLN’s cause.

This Sunday, the family of Villoro Toranzo will deliver the philosopher’s ashes to the Zapatistas so that he may be buried in the shade of a luxuriant tree as was his wish, to finally rest in the territory to which he dedicated his last 20 years of life.


Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso.com.mx

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Sunday, May 3, 2015

En español: http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=403142


The Zapatista philosopher and the teacher

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2015 by floweroftheword

By Raul Romero in collaboration with Agencia SubVersiones

Photos by Heriberto Paredes

It is 2nd May, 2015, just past midday. The geography is the Caracol of Oventik , Zapatista rebel territory in Chiapas, Mexico. In the distance can be heard Latinoamérica by Calle 13, the verse that says, "You cannot buy my life" has never had more meaning. With the song, a group of milicianos and members of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) begin to march. Their footsteps are heard loudly and their movements are perfectly synchronized.

The contingent reaches the doors of the Caracol, where they receive the family of Luis Villoro Toranzo, the relatives of the Zapatista teacher Galeano, and representatives of the relatives of the 46 absent Ayotzinapa students. After greeting and embracing them the contingent adopts a new formation in which the special guests and relatives of those being honoured are at the centre.


Photo: Heriberto Paredes

Now we hear the sound of the Maria Elena Wels song, immortalized by Mercedes Sosa, "like the cicada." At the same time, the militants and guests, embraced and hidden by the mist, march now towards the stage. The Caracol doors are then opened and the rest of the attendees enter. The tribute has begun.

Already on the stage, comandante Guillermo is responsible for leading the ceremony. The first to participate is comandante David, who reads the message sent by Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, who affirmed that, faced with certain challenges or difficulties, his classmate, Luis, had told him many times "the answer is not logical but ethical." Next is the turn of Adolfo Gilly, who is responsible for highlighting the importance of the work of Villoro and its usefulness for the resistance of original peoples as well as reflection about a "masking" kind of thinking.

Adolfo Gilly. Photo: Heriberto Paredes

Adolfo Gilly. Photo: Heriberto Paredes

Juan Villoro. Photo: Heriberto Paredes

Juan Villoro. Photo: Heriberto Paredes

The fourth to participate is Fernanda Navarro, compañera of Luis Villoro at the time of his death. She recounts with emotion her relationship with Luis and the EZLN, while sketching some concepts and ideas central to the thinking of Villoro and herself. She tells here how the concept of death among indigenous peoples helped her to understand the death of Don Luis as a parting and not a loss.

Fernanda brings two shawls with her, she gives one to the family of the Zapatista teacher Galeano and the other to doña Bertha Nava, mother of Julio Cesar Nava, a student at the Rural Normal School "Raúl Isidro Burgos" murdered by the state in the early morning of 26th to 27th September 2014. The shawl, says Fernanda, is a symbol of their pains and their struggles embracing.

Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Finally, with tears brimming in her eyes, Fernanda Navarro says that they have decided that the ashes of Luis Villoro Toranzo will be buried in the Caracol of Oventik under a tree that is to be agreed.

The next to take the floor is Juan Villoro, son of Luis. Juan weaves childhood memories with reflections on the Zapatista movement today. He notes how, while those above buy “white houses,” and believe that Tijuana and Monterrey are states, the Zapatistas have built real alternatives, possible worlds.

Later it was the turn of Subcomandante Insurgente (SCI) Galeano, who adopted the name to give life and pay tribute to José Luis Solis Lopez, better known as teacher Galeano, murdered by paramilitaries of CIOAC-Historic on 2nd May 2, 2014.

Subcomandante Galeano. Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Subcomandante Galeano. Photography: Heriberto Paredes

SCI Galeano read a text written by the late SCI Marcos, in which he told the story of when Luis Villoro repeatedly asked to join the EZLN. "I want to become a Zapatista" said the Mexican philosopher –by choice– to the spokesman for the organization. In the text Marcos also gave evidence of how Luis Villoro asked to perform his task as a Zapatista, but to remain Luis Villoro, because that way no one would suspect he was a Zapatista and he could fulfill the functions commissioned by the EZLN: to be a Postman.

But enough: I had already registered him in the special unit. Now he is for us our colleague Luis Villoro Toranzo.

And I explained that, according to our way, we will call him only "Don Luis", so I thought we just need to welcome him and assign his work.

The now Zapatista compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo stood to attention and, with admirable poise, greeted the officer.

And what work will be assigned? I managed to ask in the mist of my confusion.

That which is appropriate: the postman, said the other and left.

I could almost guess that Juan, Fernanda and those who listen to me now and read this later, will take these words as another of the fantastic stories that populate the mountains of southeastern Mexico, told again and again by beetles, irreverent children, ghosts, cat-dogs, twinkling lights and other absurdities.

But no. It is time for you to know that Don Luis Villoro Toranzo was discharged from the EZLN one May morning, many moons ago.

His struggle name was "Luis Villoro Toranzo ‘and the General Command of the EZLN knew him as "Don Luis" for brevity and efficiency.

The place was in the headquarters “Bed of Clouds," where he left his brown top for when he returned, which he did several times before his death.

Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Photography: Heriberto Paredes

In the same participation, and always linking the Zapatista Luis Villoro with the Zapatista teacher Galeano, SCI Galeano read some notes taken from the notebook carried by José Luis Solis Lopez. Here it was told how the organization Union of Ejidos of the Selva and other organizations around Mexico had profited from the need of many campesinos, of how "leaders" took over organizations and ended up being corrupted and trading, always to the detriment of those who they claimed to represent.

In his notebook, the Zapatista teacher Galeano tells how he linked with the EZLN, establishing fraternal relations with Subcomandante Pedro – assassinated on 1st January 1994 – and Insurgent Captain Z, who he had previously known as an alleged seller of parrots:

It was then in ’89, I met a true counsellor, a man who was posing as a humble hard-working seller of parrots. He and I were almost friends, but even though we already knew each other, he never told me who he was and what it was he really wanted and did. Many times we met in the Cerro Quemado, we talked and I saw he was carrying a painted backpack, as we call it, and in it were all his tools wrapped up. That was what my friend told me. How many people like myself knew the story of my friend without knowing the reality, which shows how many lies my friend told at that time. Lies to make truth, lies to make Reality, true lies. He was my mate; I was so clumsy that I did not understand what was happening.

Until one day I stumbled again upon my friend, but this time he was not wearing the humble dress of a tradesman, he was not carrying a painted backpack nor was he carrying a parrot cage.

What was he wearing then? You see, there was my friend, my mate, all in black and brown with backpack and boots, and a gun on his shoulders. It turns out that my friend was a brave guerilla and soldier of the people. I was amazed, and I came back all sad and still not understanding what was happening there.


Photography: Heriberto Paredes

The homage to Galeano, the Zapatista who became a teacher, continued with the participation of one of his students, compañera Selena, who said that "compañero Galeano, for us, was and will be a true man who truly knew how to think for we the indigenous worldwide. He not only fought for himself and his family, he fought for us all. So we should fight as he did, he showed us his example, his ideals, his ideas, he showed us how to be rebellious in the struggle."

His daughter, compañera Lizbeth, also came to share a few words: "He gave us all the right to do the work of the struggle and he said to us: to do the work of the struggle we must also take care of the family, or that it is also in two parts, because he knew how to look after the family and do his work in the struggle. And so that is why those assassins of reality envied him."

Compañera Lizbeth, daughter of the teacher Galeano. Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Compañera Lizbeth, daughter of the teacher Galeano. Photography: Heriberto Paredes

Meanwhile, Mariano, son of the Zapatista teacher, said that "he was a man who respected the people, who understood the reasons and the suffering of the people, I say this compañeros because I spent many years with him, I am 18 years old and I was always with him in any work we were doing in the family."

With these and many other words, from compañero Manolo from Nueva Victoria (where Galeano lived) and from SCI Moisés, the homage ended. As a final act the Zapatista hymn was sung and gradually those who attended this moving act of memory and recognition were deployed to the top of the Caracol, ready to return.


The Zapatistas Prepare to Honour their Dead and Call for a Reality Check

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2015 by floweroftheword


Letter from Mexico: Part One

by Christy Rodgers / April 29th, 2015

Chiapas, Mexico — In May of last year, José Luis Solís López, a teacher in the Zapatista community of La Realidad (one of five affiliated communities of the now 20-year-old Zapatista experiment in autonomy and self-governance) was killed by paramilitaries during an ambush in which several other unarmed Zapatistas were also injured. The paramilitaries proceeded to destroy the community’s clinic and seriously damage its school. Such tensions have been a constant part of life in Zapatista territory in the remote south of Mexico. Failing to dislodge the Zapatistas by force after their initial uprising in 1994, the Mexican government, wealthy landowners and developers have been waging a slow dirty war against them ever since, using paramilitary organizations made up of paid locals, practicing hostility and harassment which sometimes erupts in violence and death.

In spite of this, the communities organized along the lines of horizontal and participatory democracy (governing from below, or “commanding by obeying,” as the Zapatistas call it) have survived, grown in population and a second generation is now coming into the ranks. Fifty thousand Zapatistas marched in the streets of the several cities in Chiapas in December 2013, a few weeks before the 20th anniversary of their uprising, in an effort to show the rest of their society that they were still active and strong, not diminished or irrelevant as the Mexican mass media has often tried to portray them. The clinic and school have since been rebuilt with international support, and the Zapatistas are preparing to repeat a previous experiment of inviting large numbers of interested people from Mexico and abroad to live in the communities temporarily and study their way of life. The communities refuse all aid from the Mexican state, and manage all internal governance themselves. Extreme poverty is still a constant fact of life, but so, according to many reports, are a level of dignity and equality almost unknown among other populations in similar economic conditions.

To honour Solís López, who went by the name Galeano in the community (perhaps a nod to the great Uruguayan leftist writer and activist Eduardo Galeano – recently deceased), a year after his death, the Zapatistas have organized a commemoration open to friends of the communities from Mexico and beyond. Another honoree is the Mexican academic and philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo, who participated in an exchange of letters on a wide-ranging series of topics with Subcomandante Marcos in 2011. He passed away in March at age 91.

From the gently jokey communiqués of their eternal spokesman Marcos (who has since assumed the name Galeano, in honour of the murdered teacher), you’d never know tensions had been running so high in the region. But in addition to organizing the commemorations of these dead friends, the Zapatistas have put out a call to trusted members of the international community to come and share their thoughts on the current situation, globally, and in Mexico particularly. The tone of the invitation was fairly dark, indicating that the Zapatistas may be on the alert for a new wave of large-scale repression against their communities, or simply indicating that in a Mexico rife with corruption and murder perpetrated with absolute impunity, with no sign that the forces in charge are capable of self-reform, and no mass movement as yet capable of forcing it – dark days are guaranteed.

With his usual gift for metaphor, Marcos/Galeano described what he called “Night Watch Syndrome” in which those who are always on the alert for danger (i.e., the Zapatistas themselves) sometimes fail to recognize it when it is coming, simply from fatigue at always being on the alert. Or conversely perhaps they are over-sensitive to the possibility when really things will just carry on as usual. So the idea of bringing in experienced friends from other movements in Mexico and beyond is to get a kind of reality check – by assimilating information from many realities of confrontation or suppression by the system, and from analysts who’ve been “on watch” a long time themselves.

We don’t know yet what the conclusions will be, or even who all the presenters are. Over a thousand people are currently registered to attend. Family members of the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa are on the list of invitees, as well as international activist-intellectuals like Immanuel Wallerstein, Sylvia Federici, and John Holloway. On May 1st and 2nd, commemoration ceremonies will take place in Zapatista territory. From May 3rd to May 9th, invited thinkers, activists and supporters will meet, listen to one another, and try to get a collective understanding of the situation they face and the difficulties ahead. More to come.




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