The Zapatistas and the Other Campaign: Pedestrians of History V
Part Five: The Hour for Definitions?
By the Sixth Commission of the EZLN
Translated by Narco News
October 11, 2006
Within the collective heart that we are, the Zapatistas do not know exactly how our words traveled from the Sixth Commission to you. What we do know is that, from the places where you live, with your own histories and within your own struggles, you responded “yes” to the invitation to adhere to the Sixth Declaration and what we would later come to call the Other Campaign. In the heart of each of us, which is sometimes an individual heart, and other times the collective heart that we create as an indigenous community, political or social organization, NGO, collective, group, or as individuals, we decided to take this step that is no longer just Zapatista but now belongs instead to the many, to the everyone that we are.
In the year that passed from that plenary at the Caracol of La Garucha (held on September 16, 2005) to these agitated days, we have seen some people leave, some stay, others still come closer, some are working, while some are doing noting more than “raging” and getting in the way, that some – many – have made this project their own. These fluctuations have not only created “noise” within the Other Campaign, but have also made its face, words and path even more scattered.
As Zapatistas, we believe that this past year has served us well as a time to get to know each other, and to learn who was approaching us just for political gain. Sometimes people approached us to capitalize on the supposed “media impact” of the EZLN, sometimes in an attempt to impose hegemony on the Other Campaign, sometimes to direct it towards an alliance policy that would benefit them, sometimes to see what the Other Campaign was about and then to go to the other side to keep watching, and sometimes to try to homogenize the movement according to their own ideas.
We believe that this has happened not only because of our own errors (some of which we have pointed out and recognized; others that you have pointed out as well) but also because the Other Campaign lacks a healthy dose of definition.
What started out as a virtue, because it allowed us to call together a wide range of the best from the national anti-capitalist movement, has now has started to become a burden.
Although fundamental, the basic definitions of the Other Campaign are too general, above all with respect to the organizational structure, our alliance policy, the place for differences within the movement, and the issue of who is invited to join and who is not.
Additionally, given what we have seen and heard during our rounds of different meetings and assemblies, it has become necessary to decide whether we will limit defining the Other Campaign by the characteristics it now holds. To point out just one example, in many places we have traveled, people have pointed out that it is necessary for the Other Campaign to include an anti-patriarchal aspect as one of its basic characteristics.
Another serious and urgent problem is that we have not defined the process of how decisions are made in the Other Campaign as a movement. This has led, at times, to the position of one individual, group or organization (including the EZLN) being presented as if it were the position of the entire Other Campaign.
In the reflections that we already presented to you, we have explained that we always conceived of the Other Campaign as necessary for a future time. For that reason, we have been able to spend a little time going about getting to know each other, getting comfortable with each other and defining ourselves.
As we also already explained, we believe that the moment of political crisis at the top, at which point a leftist, anti-capitalist alternative becomes necessary, is already upon us. Although it is palpable just how deep the political crisis at the top goes, we Zapatistas know very well that, if there is no alternative coming from below, those from above will just reposition themselves and take another breath.
We believe that the hour of the Other Campaign, the hour of the Nobody that we are, has arrived.
We believe that now is the time to establish direct contact with all of those from below, with our people; and that now is the time to start working together to build a national program of struggle.
We must do more than just get to know each other, disseminate information and build ties between the resistance movements against the capitalist system that exist in our country; we must also, in turn, start organizing that plan, its contents, and its objectives, and laying out the steps and ways we plan to carry it out.
But the Other Campaign still does not have its own face. We think that it is time for all of us to create it together. And it is time now for those who do not identify with the majority opinion of the Other Campaign to leave, and for those who do recognize themselves in this collective face that we are creating to stay and to keep joining us.
We believe that the hour has arrived to solidify the definitions that have been left open.
What we consider to be the main definitions can be grouped into what we call the six points: the characteristics of the Other Campaign; who is invited to join and who is not; the organizational structure (including the mechanism and ways in which we make decisions); the space for differences; our alliance policy; and our immediate tasks.
We detected these issues in the preparatory meetings, and in the first plenary we proposed that all of the adherents go off to discuss and decide. But there was no deadline set, and we did not establish how each of our voices would be taken into consideration in decisions made about these matters.
And taking everyone into account is something that distinguishes us from other political proposals, projects and movements.
We have advanced both a lot and a little in discussing these six points over more than a year. We believe that now we should conclude this stage, each take a position and define the Other Campaign.
That is to say, we should respond, as the Other Campaign, to the questions: who are we? where do we stand? how do we see the world? how do we see our country? what do we want to do? and how are we going to do it?
With regard to everything we are saying here, and everything we have been seeing, hearing and saying over the past year, we propose:
- That all of the adherents now conclude our analysis, discussion and definition and that we take a position with respect to:
- The fundamental characteristics of the Other Campaign (its collective identity)
- The structure of the Other Campaign (how we relate to each other)
- Our alliance policy (who we support, who we unite with)
- The space for differences (where we stand)
- Who is invited to join and who is not (who is a compañero or compañera and who is not)
- The common tasks for all adherents (beyond the tasks that each of us has in our own struggles)
- That the conclusion of this analysis, discussion and definition be carried out principally in the space where people made the decision to join: in the indigenous communities, political and social organizations, NGOs, groups, collectives, families, and as individuals. Each one of us carries out our own resistance and struggle within these spaces. And it is there where each one of us debates and decides what kind of Other Campaign is best suited for accomplishing our proposals.
- That for this analysis and discussion, all of those who propose to, can share their positions and arguments with the rest of us. For now we do not have any common space other than the web page of the Sixth Commission and the organizations, groups and collectives that we count on. We believe that, although our time is short and limited, we should all put to use whatever media or modes of communication that we rely on in this analysis and discussion. Through articles, alternative radio or TV shows, “blogs,” emails, round tables, meetings, conferences, flyers, newspapers, assemblies, or whatever means possible, the individuals, families, groups, collectives and organizations can make their positions on each of these points clear to the rest of the adherents. For example, their stance on the issue of being anti-patriarchal (meaning, why the Other Campaign should be should be anti-patriarchal, and how). Basically, generating an intense, but always respectful, debate about each of our own ideas and proposals.
- That this internal analysis, discussion and debate within the Other Campaign be concluded during the months of October and November, 2006.
- That each of our own decisions be presented in a consultation with all of the adherents. A universal consultation within the Other Campaign, where the opinion of each person and every adherent is listened to and taken into consideration, without it mattering where they live, the language they speak, their age, race, sexual preference, level of education, whether they know how to speak in public or not, etc., etc. but only that they adhere to the Sixth Declaration. A vote, in a sense, by all of the adherents.
- That this consultation take place during the week of December 4-10, 2006.
- That the various organizational working groups that exist or have been created for this process carry out a consultation with all of their adherents. That if anyone is unable to attend the assembly or meeting for whatever reason, someone from the Other Campaign will go to the place where they work, study, or live and ask them and record their opinion on each of the points, regardless of whether they are many people or just one person.
- That everyone’s “customs” for making their opinions known are respected: whether they do so in an individual, family, group, collective, organizational or indigenous community statement.
- That each organizational working group decide the form and content of how to carry out the consultation in the space where it will be held.
- For those who would like, the Sixth Commission of the EZLN will receive their opinions and make sure that they are taken into account (even if they do not coincide with our own or go against what we hold true as Zapatistas) in the internal consultation of the Other Campaign.
- That, once finished, each organizational working group publicly share the results of its consultation and where it was held, through the website Enlacezapatista. That way all of us will be able to account for the results and know what the majority decided.
- That, once we know the final results, we will take that information back to all of the adherents by the same paths that were used to consult with each member.
- That the Other Campaign will clearly define its characteristics, its organizational structure, its alliance policy, the place each of us holds, who is with us and who is not, as well as our common tasks, in this way by the end of this year.
- That in February, 2007, the Other Campaign will begin the next stage, in which we will promote and carry out our National Program of Struggle with the direct participation of delegates from the Sixth Commission of the EZLN, in direct contact with our people, and in which we will carry out the general tasks that are agreed upon, such as continuing the struggle to demand freedom and justice for the Atenco prisoners, freedom and justice for all political prisoners across the country, the return of all disappeared people (wanted alive), and the cancellation of all arrest warrants against fighters in the struggle for social justice.
- That the adherents that agree with this proposal let us know through the various forms of correspondence, through the organizational working groups of the Other Campaign in all of Mexico, or through whatever means they consider convenient.
This is our proposal, compañeros and compañeras of the Other Campaign.
By the Revolutionary Clandestine Indigenous Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
Sixth Commission of the EZLN.
Comandanta Gabriela (Delegate One).
Comandante Zebedeo (Delegate Two).
Comandanta Miriam (Delegate Three).
Compañera Gema (Delegate Four).
Comandanta Hortensia (Delegate Five).
Comandante David (Delegate Six).
Comandante Tacho (Delegate Seven).
Subcomandante I. Marcos (Delegate Zero).
México, September 2006.
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