Narco News 2001
March 16, 2001
Author's Note: A short
recount of the EZLN march from someone on the caravan. This represents
only the views and thoughts of the author and does not necessarily
reflect those of the EZLN, caravan, MSN, and definitely not those
of Fox, Bush, or multinationals.
many of us would have imagined that
some of the poorest indigenous people in the world would spark
such a strong movement(s) around the world in just a matter of
years? How many comrades even saw that the cloudy jungle of the
Mexican southeast would force the 72 year old dictatorship of
the PRI to come crumbling down in 2000? Surely, the same rotten
system remains in the country caught in the grips of the Great
Empire that we so enduringly call the United States of America,
but the political opening is so great that our brave comrades
in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation could so gloriously
caravan to the capital of the Republic. The indigenous farmers
of southern Mexico--indeed even the workers of the world--have
been empowered by this feat. So, the movement didn't end on March
12th. It won't even end this year. It will only end when this
parasitical system has been washed away.
Tens of thousands of Zapatista support
base community members met the incoming guerrilla commandantes
as they entered San Cristobal on February 24th. They swarmed
the streets in an all-night party to celebrate their revolution.
Cops and troops were noticeably absent from the festival--presumably
because no one invited them. And, they dare not come disrupt
it--not with the word of the Zapatistas. Wealthy tourists were
there and many didn't seem to know quite what to do. Is this
another invasion of those jungle people? We can feel relieved
to know that their asses were not on the line because the elite
of the world were ignored. For 500 years the rights of the poor
have been ignored in Mexico--it was time to ignore the rich.
As a gringo from North America, I was there to stand back in
solidarity with Mexico's poor as they took the stage for once.
I had a feeling that they will not ever turn back now.
The morning of the 25th, the caravan of
indigenous, other Mexicans, international groups, and various
US made helicopters traveled down the long, windy, and dangerous
road to Tuxtla--the newer capital of Chiapas. This is a modern
city, for sure, with electrical hookups and nice cars. But, we
must also remember that Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico--this
wasn't Beverly Hills. Thousands of supporters waved their banners,
chanted their chants, and screamed out for the triumphant 23
comandantes that came to meet them. Seeing this, I knew that
this revolutionary tourist (credit for this term goes to the
admirable [i.e. horrible] Ernesto Zedillo) adventure would be
like no other. I was about to witness an incredible historical
moment that would usher in the next stage. Pushing the realm
of possibility and being successful (remind all of those doubters
out there about the possibility of this march pre-1994)...we're
Our role as North Americans were constantly
called to attention in the delegation I was a part of. No doubt,
this is a good question to ask. What is our role as residents
of the richest empire of the world? Should we step back (because
the privileged activists do tend to sell out as soon as the shit
hits the fan)? Should we step up? Should we show our faces or
hide them? Should we chant back at the pro-EZLN crowd or just
wave? Of course, there are no easy answers to this. However,
in hindsight, I see a bit of all answers as part of the solution.
There was no reason to surrender to the mainstream media's assertion
that the caravan was just a bunch of foreigners. No matter what,
they were going to find a way to discredit the movement. It was
a positive move to show that North Americans supported their
cause. We are revolutionaries and ought to show it. But, stepping
back--in line behind--the movement in Mexico is important because
the poorest must be in the lead. Oh, no, I'm not being authoritarian.
I just mean that the ones that have the least to lose tend to
be the bravest and most aggressive. We must follow by example.
Libertarian socialism takes practice--if they were to use us
as examples they'd see us complaining about the lack of showers
or comfortable beds (don't get me wrong, these things are nice,
I didn't complain when I got these goodies, but it is elitist).
Their example reminded me of my weaknesses and reconfirmed my
commitment to a revolutionary lifestyle--whatever that means.
There was a tragedy that occurred on the
trip and it was potentially explosive. A bus carrying delegates
from the Mexico Solidarity Network crashed, killing one police
officer and damaging a number of cars. Subcomandante Marcos expressed
his regret for this incident and asked the people of Queretaro
whether the caravan could stay in their town that night. The
governor of that state hasn't been too friendly toward the rebels
in the past so this seemed like an ominous situation. A number
of people on the caravan stayed in a soccer stadium, including
myself, which looked for a time like we'd be kicked out being
that it was owned by the government (note-- not owned by the
people--by the government). It was a beautiful stadium. I slept
out on the cement bleachers and watched the night sky for a time.
I woke up one time in the night confused where the hell I was.
Lack of sleep will do that to you.
A highlight of the trip was the National
Indigenous Congress in Nurio. Thousands of indigenous delegates
and invitees from the caravan slept out for two days for discussions
on the San Andres Accords. The Zapatista commandancia spoke at
this and was met with total support. I mean, this movement is
supported by over 50% of Mexico. Marcos has better approval ratings
than the US dictator, W. Does W. really have any approval rating
at all? Anyway, I digress. It was inspiring to once again see
the poorest people of the world instituting democratic discussions
and decision making--a feat that the elite of the world could
never do (they're too busy jumping each other's wives, etc.).
We all braved freezing nights and scorching days to take part
or observe this congress.
One morning, a few of us on the MSN delegation
(no, not Microsoft--the Mexico Solidarity Network...they stole
it from us...go to hell, Gates!) acted as security for the comandantes.
Okay, so we weren't the Italians who guarded the inner perimeters...
and guarded well, I dare say. We guarded the first gate. The
security group hung out for a few hours that morning waiting
for something to happen when one of our comrades spotted the
elusive Sup. Marcos and Comandante Tacho walking down the path
toward us. We had to be quick about it and smooth. Hey, they're
just like us and hell, we don't get star struck, do we? We said,
"good morning" and they responded in kind. But, it
was too much for us. We needed a handshake and a picture. No
doubt, they had nothing better to do. They were very gracious
and let us take a picture with them (I enlarged it as Kinkos--I'll
have one copy in every room of my residence...note-remember to
put it in frame in my shower).
A group of Christians--somewhat like Mennonites--joined
the caravan around this time. I apologize because I forget the
name of the denomination, but I was very curious about this.
They all wore traditional Puritan-esque clothing, complete with
bonnets in the women's hair, but they considered themselves revolutionaries.
I thought that was positive even though I am not religious, but
I did feel uncomfortable with the missionary feel of them. Kudos
to the Christian group anyway.
After the Indigenous National Congress
we headed to more communities around DF. The towns all run together
in my mind because I was an idiot not to write them down. Oh,
no worries, I have them on my EZLN rock tour t-shirt. However,
we stayed in Milpa Alta before heading into DF staying at a school
with the Ya Basta! Italian group. Many of you may remember this
group when they so heroically busted through police lines in
Prague. They used inner-tubes to bounce the cops off of them
and shields to protect them from the fascist blows. It almost
resulted in getting Ya Basta! into the IMF meeting there. Wonderful
to see and I had the upmost respect for them. There was some
bashing of them in the mainstream media because they allegedly
had been drinking and smoking pot on the bus. Maybe it was true,
maybe it wasn't but the fact was that the government (which controls
the media in Mexico) desperately wanted to divide the movement.
Although, some people felt that Ya Basta! may have done some
inappropriate things we all understood the role the media was
playing in this.
So, as the EZLN started their last leg
of the march, following Zapata's trail the realization this march
was almost finished began to set in. I entered Mexico City on
March 11th, in a state of culture shock as the big city of 23
million people deafened by senses. However, I love DF and I love
the Zocalo--a hostel is right behind the cathedral--so I had
a good time. I acted in a tourist role one day enjoying the Leon
Trotsky museum where he was killed by a Stalin agent. I also
watched the Aztec dancers next to the ancient ruins that were
uncovered. Damn, that's culture.
On March 12th, the EZLN made their way
into Mexico City to speak to the people of the capital. Between
300,000-500,000 people came to meet the guerrillas and the pictures
from the air were spectacular. The US can't get 20,000 at a Mumia
rally! But, this is a different place with a different context
to it. Marcos finally made it that day, the EZLN won and has
gained the upperhand. The lies that Vicente Fox (aka George W.
Bush?) spouts could not cloud the reality. It was the EZLN's
day, for sure.
And, as I look back on this trip, I can
see it now. The EZLN won't fall apart if the San Andres Accords
are passed in congress. It won't even disappear if the "peace"
accords are signed. The EZLN will live on no matter what. Through
political movements, through the struggle--their message of nothing
for no-one and everything for ourselves will strive. We must
remember, even if Marcos is gone tomorrow, the revolution will
go on. It is like he said recently (I am paraphrasing, so don't
quote me on this)--Marcos is an illusion. When you try to see
him through the window of the bus it looks as though there is
a shadow, or an illusion. But, if you look close enough, you
see the reflection of yourself. That is the true message. It
is not the struggle of one man or even of the Maya. It is the
struggle of all the people to carry on in our communities, in
our country, in our world. Because, if we just step back and
watch we'll miss the call. We'll miss the chance to save our
species and our Earth. Humans have an enduring need (beyond what
we need to survive) for love, freedom, clean water and air...we
have a need for each other and for other animals. Let's not mess
that up. Take it as you will, but do what you can. There's not
much time and we need democracy now. Sometimes I wish the "hasta"
in hasta la victoria siempre could be changed to "ahora".
Sure, my Spanish isn't too good--I don't know if that would be
grammatically correct...but it's necessary nonetheless.
the Victory... NOW!