The EZLN celebrated its 20th anniversary and 2014 dancing

** The governor of Chiapas recognizes changes in the state because of Zapatismo

** The festive gatherings were held in the five caracoles

** The events were closed to the press, although some reporters and photographers entered Oventic incognito

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 1, 2014

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) celebrated the New Year of 2014 and the twentieth anniversary of their uprising in festive gatherings in their five Caracoles. In other words, as the communities like: dancing. In Oventic, La Garrucha, La Realidad, Roberto Barrios and Morelia, thousands of support bases from the respective regions concentrated in the headquarters of their autonomous governments. The expectation that the memorable anniversary generated, and the naturalness with which the Zapatistas demonstrated a sort of peaceful joy permits inferring that they had to celebrate.

Hundreds of students from the Zapatista Escuelita in the five Zapatista autonomous rebel municipalities (Marez) also went to the gatherings, as well as “graduates” of the course offered by the Votanes or guides between December 25 and 29 in communities of autonomous territory and those who are attending the course that will begin January 3 and conclude the 7th, for which a total of 4,500 people are registered, coming from all over Mexico and diverse countries (the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Basque Country, Canada, Brazil and Holland, among others). The night of January 1, in the installations of Cideci in this city, more than two thousand new students gathered that the Zapatistas themselves will transport to the communities.

Those who attended the five public commemorations coincided in pointing out the youth of the Zapatista support bases in the different Caracoles, and also that of the majority of the students of the Zapatista Escuelita. Thus, 20 years after the famous ‘94, while public opinion is distracted awaiting an appearance from Subcomandante Marcos or corroborating his suspicious absence, indigenous and visitors that were born a little before or after the uprising are those that are found this New Year in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Without any pronouncement as such from the rebel organization, in the gatherings of the pueblos Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal and Chol peoples, which started on December 30, the comandantes of each region presided over the commemoration during midnight of the last day of the year. On December 19, Subcomandante Moisés had announced that the anniversary would be open to the public, but not to the press. No obstante, at least in the Caracol of Oventic, in the Highlands, reporters and photographers entered without identifying themselves as such. An international (news) agency reported that: “access was difficult for the communications media.”

Governor Manuel Velasco Suárez made benevolent statements about the EZLN rebels and their Good Government Juntas. “Far from any conjunctural pretension,” he recognized: “the continuous dynamic of transformations generated starting with 1994.” Chiapas, he added in a press bulletin, “owes innumerable consequences of change to Zapatismo.” Although his predecessor Juan Sabines Guerrero also liked to make similar statements of no practical consequence about the benefits of Zapatismo, the current governor’s statement at least contradicts the current of opinion of officialist breath that has been considering the uprising as “useless,” and maintains that the indigenous communities are “worse off” than before the uprising.

Then it must be that the Zapatistas are crazy. They celebrate the 20-year anniversary like it makes them happy when (if one believes the versions in use) they ought to be mourning. On the other hand, many of them seem renewed and happy and they receive thousands of visitors in their communities. They expose their lives and their everyday work, as teachers and hosts. In a comunicado on December 28, Subcomandante Marcos pointed out: “You ask: ‘What has the EZLN done for the indigenous communities?’ And we are answering with the direct testimony of tens of thousands of our compañeros and compañeras.”

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