On November 17, 2015, the 32nd anniversary of the EZLN’s founding, Chiapas Support Committee members got together at Oakland’s Omni Commons to share what they learned from the background readings and video for Level 2 of the Little Zapatista Schools (Escuelitas Zapatistas). This was a unique experience because the Zapatistas made it possible for those who received the Level 2 video to share it with the other members of our collective. We concluded the evening by singing the Zapatista Hymn. The background readings were already online as “words” spoken at the Seminar on “Critical thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.” Several members also wrote articles for our Newsletter, Chiapas Update. Those articles are posted on our blog and the links are included below.
By: Gilberto López y Rivas / III
Video for Level 2 of the Escuelitas
EZLN members brought down this statue of Diego de Mazariegos on October 12, 1992, more than a year before the 1994 Uprising.
Students of the Zapatista Escuelita (Little School) who hope to pass the second level had access to a video more than three hours long, a significant part of which demonstrates the less known history of the EZLN: the history of the years prior to the 1994 Uprising. This memorable film document, which offers an extraordinary lesson of how to organize in the most adverse conditions, begins with an introduction from Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, the current spokesperson of that political-military organization. Around 30 local responsables coming from the five Zapatista Caracols give talks.
In these testimonies they announce, live and in the various languages of the peoples, the difficulties of clandestine work from the crucial years of 1983 and 1984; the slow and tortuous process of taking consciousness, explaining the 13 demands, the exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, the bourgeois State, criticism and self-criticism. They talk about the first recruitment of members, about the forms of secret communication and discretion, meeting with each other in the milpa or in the coffee field, in the mountains, avoiding the travelled roads, walking along the dirt paths, at night, many times in the rain, enduring hunger, mud, cold and heat, all for the struggle.
They detail the security rules for not disclosing the presence of the organization in its infancy, including sharing it with family members, neighbours and friends, “burning the notes so that the enemy would not know about us.” They remember the sacrifices and zeal of the first militants, of the initial desertions and treasons of the splits, as well as the compas that continue firm in the struggle. They describe the tasks of the local and regional responsables throughout the years, as well as the sacrifices and the conditions in which the military preparation of the insurgents and milicianos took place. They looked for secure places for the trainings and, at the same time, the militants bought their weapons, machetes, boots, hammocks, uniforms and batteries; they had “reserves,” because they didn’t know how long the war would last. There was a bakery, a tailor shop, and later a radio. They cooperated among the support bases for that and they worked collectively; the rebellion was assumed as a great task for everyone, while the insurgents gave training to the milicianos and, in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, which finally led to the 1994 Uprising, there was time to “raise spirits,” above all by realizing that more were convinced every day, that there were concentrations of thousands, with those who joined the platoons, battalions and regiments of what would be the Zapatista National Liberation Army. The Indigenous Revolutionary Committee was composed of the zonal and regional spokespersons. Compañerismo and unity, information and formation, the economy of resources destined to mobilization were followed in all these organizing efforts. When the armed and uniformed insurgents arrived in a village, they would make welcoming fiestas with marimba music and dancing.
In the expositions they identified values and qualities for eventual members of the organization; that is, they chose those who “were well-spoken,” demonstrated punctuality, discipline and completion of work, were without addictions, with irreproachable conduct and, above all, who had no contact with the government and the finqueros.  The best of these were selected to be local and regional responsables. In these years they were forging the organization’s basic principles: don’t surrender, don’t sell out, don’t give up and don’t deceive the (support) bases.
The reference to the work of the women in the guerrilla organization was very instructive: their first incorporation into peripheral tasks in the beginning, and their passage towards positions and duties with greater responsibility, including those directly related to the war that was being prepared; that is, as milicianas and insurgentas. In the 1993 consultation to decide the start of the war, they also signed the agreement, prepared the food for the milicianos and milicianas who marched at the front. They even made known a military action at an airplane landing strip, in which the women brought down the antenna and expropriated a radio transmitter. Now, they proudly affirm that they have learned a lot: that they are agents, commissioners, midwives and health promoters, education responsables, members of the autonomous governments, commanders and, above all, self-sufficient human beings with rights backed up by the Women’s Revolutionary Law. They maintain that the war is never going to end because “the fucking bad government is always going to betray us.”
It’s also interesting listen to the stories of how the EZLN combined the forms of struggle before the Uprising, with open organizations that answered to their commanders, one of which brought down the statue of Mazariegos  on October 12, 1992, in which the indigenous peoples aired their protest against the “celebration” of the invasion of our continent and, at the same time, a general rehearsal for the taking of San Cristóbal de las Casas in 1994.
What shows through is the pride and affection for the “organization,” for the history that its supporters are unravelling, each one in their fashion, from their particular experience and in their own forms of oral expression. They declare that they will never give themselves up as conquered, that the Zapatistas, 20 years after the declaration of war, have their autonomous governments, without depending on the bad government, and that this future they are constructing is forever.
They conclude by pointing out that they prepared the Second Level course for the Escuelita Zapatista with a lot of love, and starting with a commitment to the people of Mexico, to the millions of Mexicans, to whom they deliver this seed of organization and resistance.
 Finqueros – Ranch owners
 Diego de Mazariegos was a Spanish colonizer who invaded Chiapas.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Friday, November 6, 2015
Sub Galeano (aka Marcos) at the Seminar on Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra
By Carolina Dutton
“The EZLN, through its Sixth and International Commissions, will announce a series of initiatives, of a civilian and peaceful character, to continue walking together with the other Native Peoples of Mexico and the whole continent, and together with those who, in Mexico and in the entire world, resist and struggle below and to the left.” (The EZLN announces its next steps) Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, December 30, 2012.
From the beginning the vision of the Zapatistas has been to construct their autonomy together with the people of Mexico and the world. Massive support from the Mexican public and world opinion saved them from being wiped out by further massacres in 1994. Later that year they organized a national democratic convention in Chiapas. In 1995 they held a consultation with the people of Mexico to ask the people in all parts of the country about indigenous culture and the steps Mexico needed to take towards dialogue and democracy from below. They also presented their 13 demands for land, housing, work, food, health, education, culture, information, independence, democracy, liberty, justice and peace, which are not just for them, but rather for all people from below. More consultations were done throughout Mexico in 1999 and the March of the Colour of the Earth visited 13 states of Mexico in 2001. Then came the 6th Declaration and the Other Campaign in 2005-6. The Escuelitas (Little Schools), which began in 2013, are their most recent way of reaching out to others struggling against capitalism and working to create another world. In Level 1 of the Escuelitas, the Zapatistas permitted us to participate in their resistance and thus be directly connected to them. In Level 2, they connect with us by sharing online, so that the many who can’t go to Chiapas can learn from the Zapatistas’ experience organizing and building their organization in clandestinity.
In the first level of the Escuelita, we lived in Zapatista villages and the compas shared with us their everyday resistance and their construction and practice of autonomy, mostly from 1994 to the present. We worked with our host families on their everyday economic activities, everything from carrying water and collecting firewood to tending the cattle, cultivating the milpa , coffee and sugar cane. We visited their autonomous schools and health centres and learned about autonomous government. Our host families sometimes shared their history with us around the dinner table, how things have changed for them now that they live autonomously, and their participation in the uprising. We were given readings, which were testimonies of many Zapatista women and men who had served in various levels of civilian autonomous government.
The second level of the Escuelita has been conducted entirely online. The readings emphasize the need to organize our communities to resist the capitalist hydra economically and politically. We were given the link to a video where the Zapatistas shared how they formed their organization and how they organized and recruited new members, educated, encouraged, and protected each other as a clandestine organization beginning as early as 1983 up until the 1994 uprising, when they became public. The video consisted of testimonies from those who had been and some who still are both local and regional responsables  during clandestinity. Responsables spoke from each of the five Caracoles, or centres of Zapatista regional government: Caracol 1 La Realidad, Caracol 2 Oventic, Caracol 3 La Garrucha, Caracol 4 Morelia, and Caracol 5 Roberto Barrios.
The Zapatistas made it very clear their reasons for sharing this precious information. They hope that learning how they went about organizing will give us ideas and help us organize in other parts of Mexico or in our own communities in many parts of the world. They are very aware that they cannot do it alone, that they need us to organize too, but that we may need to do it in our own way depending on our unique situations. We are all in this together and we need not only each other’s support but also each other’s vision.
In the Escuelita 2 video the local and regional responsables during the EZLN’s 10 years of clandestine formation shared with us their tasks and sacrifices. The local responsables coordinated the organization’s work in the communities. They observed how people participated in the community and recruited new members who exhibited responsibility and understanding. They were in charge of orienting new members and raising their consciousness to understand why their lives were so hard and the necessity to struggle and to study in order to prepare the struggle.
The responsables also coordinated local security. Women were especially important for security since they usually stayed in the community and were aware when people who didn’t belong there were present. The responsables, both men and women, also convened meetings and assemblies. Sometimes meetings took place in the middle of the night on stormy nights when people would not be seen or heard as they left home and travelled to a safe meeting place.
Local responsables also organized the training and equipping of the milicianos.  They also organized collective work, which was necessary to free up time for those with other responsibilities in the organization as well as to earn money to buy necessities for the struggle including boots and weapons. The sewing collectives sewed uniforms. The women collectively made tostadas and women and men collectively grew the food for the milicianos and insurgents. Many women and men had responsibly for this collective work and for security but the responsables oversaw the collectives in their area and communicated information about any problems and needs to the regional responsables.
The regional responsables oversaw the work of the organization in wider regions. They oriented the local responsables, prepared and encouraged the milicianos and raised the consciousness and understanding of members of the organization. In isolated areas compas often became discouraged so the responsables organized fiestas so that the members in a region could meet each other and see how many hundreds and thousands of compas were committed to the struggle. The Zapatistas love parties, all without drinking alcohol, which was against the EZLN’s rules.
So why have the Zapatistas decided to share this information with us now? They want us to organize too in our own way. They need people all over Mexico and the world to organize and to be in touch with them. It is the only way our movements can resist the capitalist hydra whose tentacles reach all corners of the earth and all aspects of life. I think they also want to share this history with their youth. An entire generation has grown up since the uprising that did not participate in building the organization and preparing for war. Zapatista resistance now requires creativity and sacrifice but it is very different. It is important that the youth know what came before, what has changed, and the ingenuity, discipline and sacrifice that went into building the organization they have always known.
Our exam to pass Escuelita 2 consisted of 6 questions, questions which each of us had to write and ask the Zapatistas. As Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano explain: “The questions are important, as is our Zapatista way, they are more important than the answers… What interests the Zapatistas are not certainties but the doubts because we think that certainty immobilizes, that one is still, content, sitting still and not moving, as if we had arrived or we already knew. On the other hand, doubts, questions, make one move, search, not be still, not be in conformity, like day and night don’t pass, and the struggles from below and to the left are born of inconformity, of doubts and restlessness. If one conforms it’s that one is waiting to be told what to do or has already been told. If one is not in conformity, one searches for what to do.” (Second Level of the Little School, July 27, 2015).
 A milpa is much more than a field of corn. It is a diverse area of cultivation. The dominant plant is the basic grain of the people, corn. Beans grow up the corn stalk, different forms of squash creep along the ground and many medicinal and culinary herbs grow in and around the milpa.
 A responsable is the person responsible for a certain task or group of tasks. In the context of early EZLN organizing the responsable seems like more of a political operative or organizer.
 The milicianos were and still are somewhat like the National Guard in the US. They have military training, but are not insurgents, and can be called to active duty in an emergency.
On 17 November, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) observed the thirty-second anniversary since its founding. Its creation occurred after the arrival of the National Liberation Forces (FLN) to the Lacandon Jungle and following the indigenous congress of 1974, as well as within the context of a struggle over land, upheaval by indigenous and campesino social organizations, as well as the ecumenical work of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese in accordance with liberation theology and the preferential option for the poor, as endorsed by Vatican Council II. It was not for another 10 years of a clandestine accumulation of strength that on 1 January 1994 the EZLN rose up in arms against the Mexican Army, demanding work, land, housing, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, and peace.
Several groups released pronunciations congratulating the EZLN for its more than 32 years of struggle, such as the General Confederation of Work (CGT) Chiapas and the Network against Repression and for Solidarity (RvsR). In this way, several collectives organized events to celebrate the date, both at the national and international levels.
Event for the release of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Photo: @Sipaz.
On 7 November there was held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas an event for the release of political prisoners Alejandro Díaz Sántiz and Mumia Abu-Jamal. The event was organized by the “We Are Not All Present” Work Group (GTNET), together with the participation of relatives of prisoners who organize to affirm their rights in different Chiapas-state penitentiaries. At the event, there was read several communiques and an art-making activity was installed to express support for the liberation of both prisoners.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a U.S. journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was incarcerated in 1982, accused of having murdered a police officer, though there is no evidence for this, and indeed there is testimony from witnesses who have come forward to declare that they were pressured into holding him responsible for the killing. Mumia was condemned by the judge “who is known to have condemned more Blacks to death than any other judge in the U.S.,” according to Nodo 50, in a country gripped by racism. During his 33 years in prison, Mumia has written nine books and produced more than 2,000 radio addresses. In March of this year, Mumia suffered serious health problems that were caused by a diabetic crisis, as the administration had denied him the necessary medical treatment. At present, he is slowly recovering.
Alejandro Díaz Santiz is an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle issued by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), being the only member of those in solidarity with the Voz del Amate who continues behind bars. Incarcerated since 1999, “he has not given up and while in prison he politicized himself and organized […] by participating in hunger strikes. To date, he has lent his voice to denounce the abuses that the authorities commit in the prison,” notes the GTNET. On 10 September, Alejandro was transferred without warning to the Federal Centre for Social Reinsertion (CEFERESO) in Villa Comaltitlán, close to Tapachula. GTNET theorizes that “this forcible transfer is political vengeance from the bad government against Alejandro, punished for having supported and raising the consciousness of other prisoners. This brutal way of changing one’s prison, after having remained many years in the same place, is psycho-physical torture because it distances the prisoner from his family and network of friends.”
During the event, the conditions experienced at the state and national levels were also denounced, given that, according to a report from the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), “there is at present a 25.4% over-crowding of the prisons,” meaning that Mexican prisons hold more than 51,000 people beyond their capacity. In this way, the third visitor general of the CNDH argued that the crowding of prisons “is the result of the unmitigated use of imprisonment” amidst “excessive penal sentences,” leading to “violence, torture, abuse, and lamentable states of health and hygiene.”
On 3 November by means of a public denunciation, the Believing People from the San Antonio de Pádua parish in Simojovel expressed gratitude for the accompaniment by all those who have walked beside them, reviewing the different meetings of the past few months as well as the mass-pilgrimage from Simojovel to Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Furthermore, they reported on the present situation that they are experiencing, noting that they are “disappointed with the different levels of government” and that despite their “peaceful actions, the situation remains the same” amidst their demands. They denounced that “the number of bars has actually increased,” and furthermore that “these firms have more power than state and federal officials, such that it is clear that the governors are not governmental but rather financial […].”
In light of a situation that “does not improve,” the Believing People will continue to organize themselves “so as to find the true freedom for our people, as we see clearly the complicity due to the omission of the authorities at the three levels of governance in terms of the beer-making firms and the drug-traffickers.” They assured that “true change does not come from a political party, because the major problem is the governmental and political-economic system,” adding that they will not “keep silent, because to do so would be to become complicit.” The principal demand made by the Believing People continues to be “the closure of all bars, legal and clandestine.”
Communiqué from the Ejido San Sebastian Bachajón, Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, 20th November, 2015Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2015 by floweroftheword
"We want to tell the bad government that we are not afraid of their repression, imprisonment and death"
"On this day we remember with dignified rage the struggle and great example of the revolutionary life of our General Emiliano Zapata who gave his life to defend the Mother Earth and to achieve better living conditions for the people of Mexico."
FROM EJIDO SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJÓN, ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, 20th NOVEMBER 2015
To the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
To the Good Government Juntas
To the Indigenous National Congress
To the compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle
To the mass and alternative media
To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression
To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York
To national and international human rights defenders
To the people of Mexico and the world
Compañeros and compañeras of good heart, and with honest and combative hearts, we demonstrate from the bottom of our hearts through this communique the commitment we have to defend our territory as an indigenous and united people, and to those people and communities who resist day by day the repression of the bad government, their cursed war which they wage on the peoples and communities of Mexico and the world who struggle for a better world, a world where many worlds fit, free of the lords of money, the lords of power who destroy everything in order to make more money in the name of progress and development, which the Tzeltal indigenous of Bachajón call death, destruction, dispossession and discrimination.
Our people are aware of your struggle to defend the life and dignity of your communities, peoples and the Mother Earth, we would like to do more for all of you sisters and brothers in the struggle but we are also fighting our own battle for the defence of our land, which the bad government wants to take away with violence and repression, our land which was left to us by our ancestors; at the same time we demand the release of our political prisoners and other prisoners of Mexico and the world who are unjustly imprisoned for the great crime of defending life and Mother Earth. Although we are not with you compañeros and compañeras, our prayers, thoughts and struggle seek to make a contribution to the defence of life and human rights that the bad government always wants to exterminate because it does not care about the dignity of the people, but only about money to be rich and powerful, as if all that money and power could overcome death. Our thinking is very different from that of the bad government and so they are upset that we have this love and respect for Mother Earth and all that she gives us so we can be able to live.
On this day we remember with dignified rage the struggle and great example of the revolutionary life of our General Emiliano Zapata who gave his life to defend the Mother Earth and to achieve better living conditions for the people of Mexico.
We want to tell the bad government that we are not afraid of repression, imprisonment and death, because Mother Earth is everything for our people, because the land belongs to those who work it, not those who destroy it, and we are ready to give our lives to defend it, whatever the cost, just like our compañero in struggle, the human rights defender and former Secretary General of the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Juan Vázquez Guzmán gave his life; he was killed on 24th April, 2013 and compañero Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, regional coordinator of the organization, was killed by more than 20 shots from high calibre firearms on 21st March, 2014 near the Virgen de Dolores community.
We call on the compañeros, compañeras, communities and peoples in resistance to unite their forces and join our struggle so that together we can work to stop so much evil and injustice from the bad government, from a capitalist government, and build a world where there is life, peace and justice. It does not matter if we have different ideas and thoughts or if our ways of doing things are different, we respect difference and consider it a necessary strength to build that world where many worlds fit. We are tired of so much deprivation, forced disappearance, murder, detention and discrimination from the bad government, we raise our voice and hands to demand the immediate release of our political prisoner compañeros Esteban Gómez Jiménez prisoner in Cintalapa de Figueroa, Chiapas (amate No 14), Santiago Moreno Pérez and Emilio Jiménez Gómez, prisoners in Playas de Catazaja, Chiapas (cereso No 17) who were imprisoned for having the commitment to fight and defend the mother earth and also for the freedom of other political prisoners of Mexico and the World.
From the northern zone of Chiapas the women and men of San Sebastián Bachajón send combative greetings to all the compañeras, compañeros, communities and peoples of Mexico and the world who are in resistance, we greet the dignified struggle of San Francisco Xochicuautla, Coyotepec, Atenco, Tocuila, Acuexcomac and neighbouring communities in resistance in the State of Mexico, communities in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca struggling against the theft of their land and to defend their autonomy as Binissa peoples and Ikoots peoples, the Chol people of Tila, the people of Banavil, los Llanos, Viejo Velasco, Acteal, the towns and communities of Semilla Digna, the peoples of Guerrero from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities in Guerrero and their political prisoners who are imprisoned for defending a dignified life, the Yaqui people and all the compañeros and compañeras who, without our knowing their name or their struggle, are resisting and fighting and looking for a better way of living, with justice and peace.
Never again a Mexico without us
Land and Freedom
Hasta la victoria siempre!
Freedom for political prisoners!
Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!
No dispossession of indigenous territories!
The state police out of our indigenous territory!
Immediate presentation of the disappeared and assassinated compañeros from the Normal School Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa!
Long live the dignified struggle of our Chol compañeros y compañeras from the ejido Tila!
Long live the dignified struggle of our compañeros and compañeras from San Francisco Xochicuautla!
Long live the peoples who struggle for their autonomy and freedom!
JUSTICE FOR AYOTZINAPA, ACTEAL, ABC, ATENCO!