Interview with Subcomandante Marcos, Part II: “At This Rate, the Elections Will Take Place Under Military Supervision”
Delegate Zero Predicts the Emergence of an Unprecedented, Cultural, Political, Scientific, and Humanist Movement
By Hermann Bellinghausen
May 13, 2006
The violence in San Salvador Atenco and in other parts of the country, like in San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca, is a product of the political system, and does not represent a victory for the government despite the repression, death, and imprisonment of dissidents. What the politicians have succeeded in creating, argues Subcomandante Marcos, is the destabilization of the country during an election year.
If things go on like this, the government is going to provoke “an increase in the level of social tension and protest, and come July, they will have to hold the elections in the midst of so much social agitation that they will have to bring in the Army and police. What image of democracy are they going to send to the rest of the world with elections overseen by the armed forces, and who is going to come out and vote if the Army is guarding the voting booths and there are protests all over the country and in other parts of the world?”
Marcos insists that the goal of the Other Campaign is to unite struggles in order to bring down the government, but non-violently, as has happened in other parts of the world. In an interview with La Jornada, delegate Zero confirmed that the future of the Other Campaign is “and always has been, to win.”
Now, Marcos is going around saying: “We are going to bring down the government through non-violent means; the rich are going to leave, and the politicians are all going to jail.” What is he talking about?
About non-violent mobilization, and about Article 39 of the Constitution, which says the people have the right, at any moment, to change their government. The ruling class in the government is destroying everything, it’s time to get rid of them, but we shouldn’t stop there. We have to change the system once and for all.
But how to get rid of a ruling class that has all the power, money, and force?
With popular, non-violent mobilization. What’s happening is that we are, or at least you all are, stuck on the question of how it could happen without violence. The classic image is of an army or an armed uprising that storms the Winter Palace (and then you have your revolution). And when the Other Campaign says no, all of us united are going to find out how much strength we have and what we can do, but always committed to non-violence, that’s when lots of good ideas and proposals begin to emerge from below. This isn’t about an armed insurrection or a central command. In lots of places where armed struggle has been proposed, it has been the EZLN that said “no,” because that is an option that excludes many people; only those who can fight, and who have something to fight with, are able to participate, and the majority stay on the sidelines, or even worse, get stuck in the middle. We have to build something inclusive.
A change that doesn’t bring down more suffering on the people? Because the powerful have arms, and they aren’t going to set them aside.
Yes, but there are people all over with lots of resources. This isn’t about one army confronting another. If you go in with the logic of asking how many weapons do they have, then you are already saying, ‘we need this many more.’”
Not everyone has arms or knows how to use them, and those who do have them are prepared to use them…
...And those who don’t have them are screwed. That’s why we have to build a non-military option, one that doesn’t exclude, one where everyone has a space for his or her form of struggle. A struggle that is that organized can’t be conquered by anything except an atomic bomb. There’s no army or police force in the world that can, or wants to, come up against that. The thing is that the government has to change, and if the change does not come from above, the government will have to fall like they have fallen in so many places, lots of governments, through mobilizations”
Is it possible, through non-violent means, to displace the existing power?
The existing ruling class, yes. Its foundation is already collapsing.
So then, the elections and the upcoming government, what do they mean?
This is just a change of managers, while up there in the United States they are saying “It doesn’t matter who governs, the right or the left, we will fix it so that the economic blueprint doesn’t change.” The manager can be anyone, but the company stays the same: Mexico Inc. What difference does it make if it’s Madrazo (in fact, they are probably more worried about Madrazo because he is going to keep stealing). With respect to Calderon, we could say that Calderon is going to fan the flames of social rebellion; if Calderon is elected, it’s going to provoke a return to the military (putting down social conflicts). As soon as you repress a people, or scare them, they start looking for other options, and that’s when political-military organizations — guerrilla groups — say, now it’s my turn.
And what’s going to happen if Lopez Obrador wins?
If there isn’t any other option, he’s going to rebuild the nation state to provide a new administration to the same crisis.
For that reason, many people want Lopez Obrador to win. In any case, they are ready, and the Other Campaign believes that’s not the way.
It’s not possible. It’s a fiction. It’s impossible what Madrazo, Calderon, and even Lopez Obrador are proposing, and this idea that Lopez Obrador has more backing because he isn’t like the other two. He has prestige with the grassroots, he has moral authority for being honest, which he has destroyed with the team that he put together and which everyone else has sought to destroy in return for his not cooperating with the right wing.
But not one of them is feasible. The destruction is so profound that radical political measures are required. A program truly from the left is required. It’s not going to come from above, because no one up there is proposing it. A national struggle has to be built from below.
Is the proposal that “we are going to kick the wealthy out of the country” realistic?
Of course, because it has already happened. In the places that they have already left, things are progressing, and for the better. The rich farmers left Zapatista territory saying that the land was going to sit idle. Now, that land is producing more than when they were there and using it only for livestock. Our food supply improved, the price of coffee went up, we created ways of selling our products without middlemen, and production improved. At the Euzkadi tire factory, production also improved after they occupied the factory.
In those places where farming communities have created their own organizations, the crime rates are lower than anywhere else in the country, even lower than in gated communities with private security, because the private security guards tip off the kidnappers. In every place where the people have organized, things have improved.
But economic structures and economic power are huge. In Atenco, the violence was so devastating that the police won what was a very unfair fight. If that repeats itself on a national scale, isn’t that just bringing more suffering, repression, and punishment down on the people?
No, repression and punishment are already happening, but without any kind of alternative. Why is it that everyone knows about what happened in Texcoco? The Other Campaign was there; that made it visible. The same kind of thing is happening all over, but no one ever hears about it. How many assassinations are attributed to the work of drug dealers? All over the country, communities are uprooted and stripped of everything they have, but you never hear about it, because it doesn’t influence the elections.
What about what happened in Atempa, Oaxaca…
That was already happening when we got there. They had already suffered a lot. On a national level, no one had heard of San Blas Atempa, but they heard about it after the Other Campaign passed through. They were fighting to free prisoners who were arrested when they were attacked, and for the injured who were arrested while in the hospital. Later they were attacked again. In Atenco, they had already been attacked before, they had already been to prison, and now comes this escalation from the PRD, the PRI and the PAN. And right in the middle of election season the manage to destabilize the country. It wasn’t me, or the Other Campaign, but rather the political class — the combination of three idiots — that did it.
They feel like they won.
How are they going to win, two months away from the elections, with protests all over the country, and in other parts of the world, in response to a problem that they created? And only they can fix it, letting the prisoners go free, all of them. If not, none of this is going to stop. If the Other Campaign is so useless, so tiny and irrelevant, and all those other things that seem to bother the scholars so much. If Marcos is dead and tired, well then why not defuse that which is provoking the growing alliance with the Other Campaign and the increasing dislike for the media and the ruling class, and we’ll stay weak, out on the margin, with that poet Marcos and all the other things that cause them so much anxiety, and we’ll carry on with our anonymous trip around the rest of the country, and that will be it.
But we didn’t create this problem, we didn’t say to the PRD, tell the mayor of Texcoco to get rid of those flower vendors over there. It was the PRD that allowed that to happen, and all the intellectuals and activists who have given themselves to the PRD, falling into this trap of believing that the PRD is the left. The “Televisa Law” was voted in by PRD congressmen who said they hadn’t read it, which is the same thing that happened with the indigenous law, the Monsanto law, and all the other laws that they have passed. They see it, they keep their mouths shut, and they are complicit.
They didn’t take on the political trial of Marin.
That happened as well. They say, ‘ay, it passed us by.’ Well then, do you think the people are going to swallow the myth that we live in a democratic state of law and all that, as much as the conservative radio hosts shout about it? Who is going to buy the legality that Fox claims if (First Lady) Marta Sahagún is doing what she’s doing, using her position to give advantages to her kids? Or if there is someone like Marín in power, to give another example… Who is going to believe in that? Well, nobody believes it. Somebody from below, in the state of Mexico, might say that it was wrong to hit a cop, but nobody is going to say, “oh, poor guy,” no way, not those from below. The option is, either reinvent things, each one of us on our own, with violence, or get organized into one non-violent movement.
Objectively, do you think that the Other Campaign is making that happen?
Yes. The indigenous people see the same symptoms as we saw in 1990. If we had had the Other Campaign in 1990, we wouldn’t have risen up with arms. Señor Ik wouldn’t have died, nor subcomandante Pedro, nor Fredy, nor Aldo, nor any of those who died (in the uprising), because we wouldn’t have had to do it that way. Our voices would have been heard all over the place. We see the same thing everywhere we go, this call to break free and say “enough.” Whatever it takes. And we know that is a recipe for random action, if there isn’t a political-military or spontaneous organization that is stronger.
What effect does the Other Campaign have in a place like Zumpango, for example, when it passes through? The people there seemed indifferent.
This is the first step. The idea is that people from there begin to look around, gain experience, come to agreements and begin to talk with others. The Other Campaign isn’t just the adherents, it’s the work that we, all the popular organizations, including adherents, are going to do with those from below. We are going to tell them: here is another proposal. We aren’t going to hustle you because we aren’t looking for power. We are going to support you, like Nacho del Valle and the People’s Front in Defense of the Land supported the flower vendors. Maybe things don’t work out for us, they attack us, or whatever. But we didn’t decide to evict the flower vendors. We didn’t give the mayor the order to call in the police. We didn’t tell the media to egg on the government so it would use repressive force. The people in Atenco defended themselves. The police weren’t beaten in their rooms; they were beaten when they decided to go in and attack Atenco, doing what they did later with even more police. The police went in to violently remove the people, it just didn’t work out how they planned so they sent in even more police to do the same thing.
There’s the worry that the blockades and actions affect the lives of residents. Is it appropriate for the Other Campaign to put out the call for that, if they are considered violent measures?
That’s not violence. This is the problem. The problem isn’t the Other Campaign, or the actions, it’s the situation that provokes it: an illegal, illegitimate action, the detention or deceit of an innocent group of people who adhere to the Other Campaign. The principle of the Other Campaign is to support each other. People are taken prisoner, and instead of discussing whether or not it’s a problem that fruit gets to market late, or that there’s a traffic jam, or that people show up late to work, we should be asking why this situation exists in the first place. And what other option for struggle do these people have? Armed uprising? Don’t block highways, don’t close streets, don’t hold rallies. Well then, of course, join up with an armed political organization and rise up in arms, and then people will listen to you.
Wasn’t Atenco a trap, predicting the reaction and using it to justify the repression?
They can’t justify anything. In any case, it’s a trap for them.
I insist that the analysts spend so much time looking up that they forget to look down. They think the state is a lot smarter than it really is. Things got out of hand. And they say, “No, it was all perfectly planned.”
“No, they didn’t get their hands on all the leadership of the FPDT. They got Nacho and the other guy, because they were there supporting the flower vendors, so they were close by. If it had been a planned action, they would have beheaded the FPDT.”
Is Atenco, like the (1994) assassination of (Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo) Colosio, the resurrection of “the fear vote?”
That is another invention. Since everything is being decided by the polls with the consent of all the candidates, they are using it (the fear vote) to beat each other up. When one, Calderon, begins to gain on the other in the polls, it doesn’t last long, because this man lacks intelligence. And the other, Lopez Obrador, is afraid. And the other, Madrazo, is bloodthirsty. The polls are close and the mass media decides, because they have already been put in charge by all the candidates. And so the vote doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter to them if people don’t vote or if they do. What matters is that they are the ones that stay in control. The fear vote was talked about already. Before (Atenco) the game was going to be played this way. Jose Barberan said, “look at the 1994 elections: the percentages were the same in a suburb as in a poor neighborhood.´ When we met with Cardenas (in 1994) we told him ´you are going to come in third. That is the game.´What is happening is that before there was not an Other Campaign and the fatigue by the mass media that we see today because they follow the political class, didn’t exist back then.
Aren’t they more powerful?
The ruling class is more powerful, but they continue to have less and less moral importance for the people, they move the people less and less. Wouldn’t you expect the things they said to have shown up in the march from Chapingo to Atenco? Things like “Get out of here! Radicals! Murderers! Take off your Mask!” Just the opposite happened. Didn’t they spend an entire day bombarding us with all that? The thing is, it doesn’t matter to them. What matters to them is what such and such commentator said, or that they all meet together around a big round table at Televisa and say “We’re so intelligent, so human.” Didn’t they say things like “I don’t believe in coincidences, this whole thing was planned?” That’s not true either, because they arranged the images and the story to fit with the story they conjured up. Just like they said the UNAM strike was a plot against Cardenas, as if it wasn’t enough that the PRD was plotting against its own candidates.
Somewhere it was said that in Mexico we don’t believe something can happen until it happens. What kind of moment are we in?
The Other Campaign is the only national movement really from the left. I mean, nationally, because it’s in all 32 states. And when I say from the left, I’m not talking about whether or not it’s revolutionary or reformist, or whatever, or anti-capitalist, and even though right now it is centered around this Marcos figure or around the EZLN, that is exactly what guarantees that there’s no hegemonic or homogenizing force. Each of us really has his or her own space and own demands, and that is what will allow for it to be a national struggle.
Let me say something about Atenco, about what is going to happen if they don’t defuse the situation. They are thinking that they already did their foolishness, that it was an enormous folly, but, well, “we’re going to use this to stick it to Lopez Obrador, and bring him down in the polls once and for all, and bring up Calderon, and later we’ll see how we can bring down Calderon as well.” Because they don’t care who is making the decisions as long as they’re all on a leash.
And now it turns out that they have to come out against Marcos and the EZLN while they’re at it, and “why not go for the whole cake, we’ll go after the EZLN, we’ll arrest Marcos,” which is what the COCOPA (the government peace commission) is saying right now. Madrazo has nothing to do with those declarations, but someone in COCOPA just said that the law of dialogue has expired. Now it’s just like it was in 1994. That’s what the PRI and the PAN are saying. And the way things are going, it’ll only be a short time before the PRD says it too. So what they are going to provoke is an increase in social tension and protest, until come July they’ll have to hold the elections in a climate of social agitation, calling in the Army and police. What image of democracy are they going to send to the rest of the world, holding elections overseen by the military, and who is going to come out to vote when the voting booths are guarded by the army?”
And aren’t they going to say that it was Marcos who sabotaged the climate of democratic harmony?
That I sabotaged it?! I didn’t send the police to attack Atenco. No, what’s going to happen is that everything is going to come tumbling down. I mean, capital requires order and calm, it doesn’t need elections. There won’t be calm, it doesn’t matter if there are or aren’t elections. What capital needs is calm.
It’s the same thing, that’s what governability is, calm and order. And now we see that order can’t be imposed this way. Order is imposed through legitimacy, not through violence. And what the governments want to do is impose it through beatings and incarceration, and repressing the people who hold blockades and protests and rallies, and sending more and more people to prison. We’ll reach a point in which everyone is in prison, or in which they’ve generated enough fear to erase Marcos. Do it now, so that what comes next is fear. And what are the options for the seven armed resistance groups, that the newspaper today says are on red alert? Not the EZLN, which is in the Other Campaign, no. We’re talking about political-military organizations. They’re going to hand them the social base that they don’t have now.
When there is no longer a possibility for popular, non-violent mobilization, such as the Other Campaign, then the only thing left is the other option. That’s the signal they are sending, and they have to correct that, because if they think they can maintain control with police and with television, radio, and newspapers, they’re wrong. We’ve already seen it in the twenty states where the Other Campaign has gone. We can’t be controlled.
Will the Other Campaign be the antidote to violent insurrection?
Not just violent insurrection, but isolated rebellion as well.
So then, what is it?
We’re not afraid.
A non-violent insurrection?
If that is the option that the Other Campaign is proposing, what is its future in the current scenario?
It has always been to win. The Other Campaign is going to succeed in uniting all these struggles and rebellions; all these leftist political organizations will come together, as happened in the Caravan. It is going to create an unprecedented cultural, political, scientific, humanist movement in this country, from below and to the left.
Click here for Part I of this interview
Click here for Part III
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