EZLN: a clarifying text
SCI Marcos before he died and became SCI Galeano. Photo: Vice
By: Magdalena Gómez
I dedicate this collaboration to the Cuban people and to Pablo González Casanova for the “Lessons of Fidel” and, also for his own. The text “A story to try to understand,” elaborated by sub Galeano and Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, spokesperson and current head of the EZLN, is very opportune. It is obligatory reading for those who in good faith are interested in knowing and sharing the initiative underway, about which the National Indigenous Congress is consulting with indigenous peoples and communities. The detailed story about the gestation of the initiative gives an account of a political conviction of the EZLN that it is certainly not the first time they have put into practice. We remember their historic decision in the dialogue with the federal government, of ceding the table to the country’s indigenous peoples so that they would be the ones that in the first instance would discuss the proposals on indigenous rights and culture in coordination with the indigenous commanders. The San Andrés Accords owe their relevance to that construction and unpublished collective debate.
The correct allegation about the more than evident fact that neither dreams nor nightmares fit into ballot boxes, for the effects of the subject initiative in consultation is a double edged sword, because, as is recognized, “there have been, there are, and there will be doubts and legitimate and rational questionings,” among them is rightly the one that proposes to go to an election when it (the election) is recognized as being meaningless.
Nevertheless, one must turn to that evaluation and the text that proposes it clearly: there is no other more convincing way of making the situation of the indigenous peoples visible than placing themselves on the stage where the whole political class will see them in 2018. Very strong what they shared with the CNI upon presenting their proposal to them: “Our pain reaches fewer people all the time. Our deaths don’t echo like before. And it’s not that the people outside have become cynical or apathetic. It’s that the war we have suffered since a long time ago as Native peoples, now reaches them, it is now in their streets, in their houses, in their schools and in their workplaces. Our pains are now one more among many others. And, although the pain extends and becomes deeper, we are more alone than ever. Each time we’re going to be fewer. Soon the CNI won’t be able to meet because no one will be able to leave their territories, be it because of the cost, be it because of the bad government, be it because of the corporations, be it because of crime, be it because of a natural death or a bad death mala that it impedes you. In a while more we will only be talking among ourselves, already knowing what we’re going to say.”
Also very significant, for those who want to understand, the story about the meeting that the now-deceased Sup Marcos had 10 years ago with a northwest indigenous chief of the country’s northwest 10 years ago, when he (Marcos) was touring with the other campaign.The chief had previously received institutional governments. The chief told Marcos: “I know very well that they didn’t want you to meet with me, that they pressured you so that you would not be here. They also pressured me so that I would not receive you. I don’t know why you are here. I imagine that those who command you told you that you should see us and listen to us. I don’t know. But I’m going to tell you why I received you. I have received the governments. They have come from all the colours and sizes. They come and take their photo, they say a few words, they go away and they don’t come back. I have received them because my predecessors told me that my duty was to see that my people, my pueblo, would not die, that they would survive. I received them for that reason. I receive you because of that. I don’t believe that you bring me ether advice or teachings, although it’s good that you don’t seek a photo and that you listen instead of talking. I received them because I think my people will survive a while longer that way and won’t die. So I receive you because I believe that something will be seen from what we are and that view, although only for a little time, will help my people survive.”
Upon the deceased Sub Marcos questioning whether he wasn’t worried that they would judge him for receiving him, he answered: “Only my own people can judge me. If my people condemn me for what I have done and for what I do, that would mean that I wasn’t wrong. My people will have to have survived in order for them to condemn me. So that would mean that I have fulfilled my duty and I can show the dead that I have done so, although the living condemn me.”
Another of the document’s central messages is the clarification that it will not be the EZLN that participates in the election: “the CNI is who will decide if it participates or not with its own delegate, and, if so, it will have the support of Zapatismo.” It couldn’t be clearer. The decision of the peoples in the consultation is complex, because they rightly resist the enslavement of power, but also, like the indigenous chief of the northwest, they are supported in institutional mechanisms like survival strategy. They know that the community, individual and secret vote will be visible and they will be objects of multiple pressures. There is the task of the indigenous peoples we have accompanied and obviously we decided to assume it.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee