Sign Up for Free Mailing List

March 3, 2001

Narco News 2001

Beyond Spectacle

Zapatista Caravan Marches

Through All América

March 3rd Editorial by the daily La Nación of Costa Rica

Publisher's Note: Narco News translates and publishes today's editorial from the daily La Nación of Costa Rica, not because we agree with all of its opinions - we don't - but because a publication with different viewpoints agrees on the essential point: The Zapatista Caravan is important to all América.

Beyond Spectacle

The Zapatista Army Marches through all América

A week ago, "the march for indigenous dignity" began, from its headquarters in La Realidad, in Chiapas, led by the enigmatic subcomandante Marcos, 23 unarmed comandantes and their faces covered with ski masks, as well as indigenous groups, all of which form the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). In a week, after 3,000 kilometers and the celebration of 33 acts or special stops, the caravan will arrive in Mexico City.

This long March, reminiscent of Mao - although different in that the many comandantes don't sleep in trucks but, rather, travel in a tourist bus equipped with television, air conditioning and bathroom - complies with one of the first promises by the EZLN: "Advance to the capital." On this occasion the proposal is not to defeat the government, as it announced on January 1, 1994, but, according to what its leaders have proclaimed in recent days, a dialogue for peace in Chiapas and the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights. As the caravan advances, criticism of the government of President Fox intensifies, sometimes with archaic rhetoric, but thunderous and, it seems, effective in many countries of the Third World. And the number of spectators grows each day as if this were a bicycle race.

Subcomandante Marcos becomes today a national hero for diverse sectors of Mexico, culminating seven years of intense and continuous propaganda. Without a doubt, he is the consummate teacher. His role, in political, social, economic and social ideals since 1994, has discovered an unending mother lode, sustained and made even larger by the the advantage of irresponsibility that people of these kinds of movements have.

This march and, in general, the actions of the EZLN are a direct matter for Mexico. But its strategy, methodology and results, positive or negative, cannot be disassociated from the reality of our countries because of the discourse it brings, its geographic proximity and its resonance, political and military, with similar movements in Latin America in recent years.

For President Fox, it constitutes an enormous challenge at the dawn of his government, one that could determine, for good or for bad, his political future. But it is also for the Mexican people. The political leaders must understand that. From this perspective, the Colombian example, near and painful, represents the best laboratory. If the Mexican state cedes its most basic essence in the principles of sovereignty, legitimacy and government, the consequence is well known. The principal danger lies in not being able to distinguish, from the conceptual and practical points of view, between the justice of the indigenous demands, which must be satisfied, and the certain fact that an internal rebellion - like the alliance between drug trafficking and Colombian guerrillas - will always want and demand more.

We cannot remain indifferent toward the internal situation of Mexico, above all if we look toward the south at the crisis in Colombia, Venezuela or Ecuador, whose triggers have been, in this order, drug trafficking, guerrillas and paramilitaries; the populism of a Marxist shade by President Chávez and the chaos of Ecuador aggravated by the growing opposition by indigenous groups. The common denominator of these complex situations has been the accumulation of economic and social problems, the political incapacity to react quickly with seriousness and effectiveness, a certain slumber and even complicity, in many cases, by Civil Society, reflected in the spineless city cultures. The political vacuum and governmental ineptness lead, in some cases, to rebellion, in others to messianic populism: in both cases to the fracture of the system. If these premises are joined, there is no democratic country that will be immune to the results. This is a time to observe and to learn.

Bolívar Rides in México