“Together, We’re Going to Shake This Country Up from Below, Lift It Up, and Stand It on Its Head”
Opening Words from the First Plenary Session of the Other Campaign
By Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Chiapas, Mexico
September 17, 2005
The words of Insurgent Subcommander Marcos from Friday, September 16, 2005
Compañeros and compañeras, according to our new tradition I will now report on the outcome of the campaign to gather support that we were running until September 11 of this year, two months after we opened it with a call to participate: 55 political organizations of the left have joined, up from 30 a month and a half ago; 103 indigenous organizations and Mexican Indian peoples, up from 32 a month and a half ago; 162 social organizations and movements, up from 47 a month ago; 453 non-governmental or collective groups and organizations, up from 210 a month ago; and 1624 people who came as individuals or representing their family, neighborhood, or community, up from 690 a month and a half ago.
Compañeros and compañeras, this is what’s in style right now for public speaking; for example, “which is my good side?” As Catherine Denueve would say, la gauche, the left, and so one turns oneself so, and begins to speak as if he were really thinking about what he was saying; he bursts out with precise words and big spaces between them, and not because he is mentally deficient, but because he is taking up more of his time on television. “I’m taking a pause.” This technique is often seized on because, in early-morning press conferences, no one is watching, so there are no commercials to be inserted between pauses. And then there’s also the method of being able to confront controversy: “Mr. Subcomandante Marcos, what do you have to say to Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the PRD?” “Whatever my little (middle) finger says.” There are other public speaking methods that are also in style: “My hairband fell down and my brassier is…” There is the genealogical model: “My dad taught me that those who love Mexico sell it whole, all at once, not in little pieces.” Another is the self-critical model: “Because I’m mediocre, that’s why I want to be president.”
These are more or less the public speaking styles that the image consultants recommend, and they charge quite a bit. I could tell them a few things for free. There are other speaking methods; that method of saying “everyone close their eyes,” and then the audience divides between the paranoid ones who grab their wallets and the upbeat ones who say, “I thought you’d never ask…” Then one says, “We’re all going to hold hands,” and someone next to you starts gasping and rolling his or her eyes. “What’s wrong, compañero, compañera?” “Well, that’s not my hand…” There is the dirty joke: “Compañeros and compañeras, we’re in a ‘hole,’ so ‘give it (your attention) to me.’” There are the techniques we’ve learned in these preparatory meetings, that begin by saying, “I’ll be brief…” and then a half-hour later we see what “brief” really means. There is the forced support method: “One, two three, four… vote!”
There is also the method often used with a wagging finger: “Honorable Congress of the Union,” I won’t say who it is because…. Here’s another one that gets used a lot — one stoops over because he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders: “We must be serious here, we can’t be laughing…” (bangs on the podium).
Laugh, compañeros, we must laugh, because what we are going to do is very serious.
What we’re going to do is, together, shake this country up from below, lift it up, and stand it on its head. Let that show all the plundering, all the hatred, all the exploitation. We’re going to shake it up and maybe we’ll find that it wasn’t right, that it shouldn’t have been like that; then we’re going to have to unroll it again, no higher and no lower than what its mountains, its valleys, its rivers and lakes indicate, and we’ll lay it out again, and again, between the Pacific and the Atlantic, between the Río Bravo and the Suchiate, and then we’ll really be ready to go.
What we need to be build can’t be decided from the podiums, by charisma or by the virtues or defects of one’s public speaking; it must be discovered below, decided below, worked on below. The podium should only serve to concentrate one word and many ears. Its place should be secondary, because it inherently involves selection and exclusion. We can’t trust in orators.
We have to prepare ourselves for a mobilization, but we must also prepare, compañeros and compañeras, for repression. When Insurgent Lieutenant Colonel Moisés spoke to us, he explained how the chain of command was planned and organized, so that if one leader was lost he or she could be replaced; we recommend that all the political, social, and non-governmental organizations, everyone, do the same, in such a way that no repressive action can behead the Other Campaign and that it can continue moving forward.
We have to learn to name our prisoners and name the repressions against us. In one of the meetings, someone spoke of the case of the repression in Guadalajara against the altermundista (globalization) activists; the ones who spoke didn’t know the prisoners’ names. This is rather chilling. We, as “the other campaign,” can’t do that; we have to be loyal among comrades and not leave anyone alone or forget about anyone. And I am going to name here two comrades, a man and a woman, who are prisoners and who—if we believe their relatives that came to one of the meetings—adhere to the Sexta; I’m talking about compañero Jacobo Silva Nogales and compañera Gloria Arenas Asís, prisoners from the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent Peoples (ERPI).
I’m going to read a poem from Jacobo Silva Nogales called “Secondary Effects,” which he wrote exactly two years ago in the Almoloya prison:
If I could,
there by the entrance,
to start, I would put a sign
and it would say: “caution,
use with care
In very high doses,
it can produce pain,
anxiety, neurosis, insomnia,
depression, suicide attempts,
disintegration of the family, loneliness, bitterness,
addiction to medications or drugs,
to insipid TV shows,
to any sport, spectacle,
with eyes closed or open,
claustrophobia, perhaps narcissism,
onanism or change of sexual preference.
A brief contact could produce
restrained rage, a choked-up throat, burning in the eyes.
could produce hard hearts, harder than stone.
And in extreme cases,
Sadism hidden behind a stern face,
Those are the rules.
In sensitive souls,
it provoke desire for some kind of change,
and a droplet of effort.
And in the last line,
the label would say:
Instead of the eternal “consult your physician,”
A plain and simple:
and do something, dammit!”
August 10, 2003, Amoyola de Juárez
Jacobo Silva Nogales
The Other Campaign must name, then, our prisoners and our disappeared, but also our dead. When we do this work, we do not look toward the future; or we do, but in reverse: looking toward our past, toward our deaths. If we only look ahead, we get excuses; realism like “we have to be mature, prudent,” “we have to think about what is possible,” “we can’t do this,” “we can’t do the other,” “be careful.”
Let us then, together, see to the duties we have accumulated, to the debts. Let us fight for them, for our dead, and for ourselves; then tomorrow will live, with its own strength, and will be, undoubtedly, something different.
If we look toward the future forgetting where we come from, we get excuses, good sense, prudence, fear, surrender, and worst of all, betrayal, that is, our betrayal of ourselves.
Hoping to leave new liberties to future generations, we are instead leaving them balls and chains. Let us let them decide their own destiny, as that and nothing else is what it means to be free.
That way, the world will be a little better, and others, later, will give it its shape, its direction, its first step, its velocity, and its destination. Because we can’t forget: something is always missing.
The EZLN is putting its life, its survival as an organization, its moral authoritiy, the modest advances we have built—in sum, all we have—into the Other Campaign and the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. In exchange for this, we ask: everything for everyone, nothing for ourselves.
Let everyone say to oneself how much he or she is putting into this, and what he or she is willing to do. According to this, let everyone establish his or her commitment and what he or she hopes for in return.
The unity we need is not the unity we are accustomed to; unity as hegemony and homogeneity, where someone wins and pushes the rest and makes them the same. In this kind of unity someone wins and someone loses, but not the one who should lose, not the one above.
Building unity out of desire for hegemony and homogeneity is doomed to failure.
Before she left us, Ramona gave me this embroidered cloth that she made when she was in Mexico City, recuperating. It was given to someone from civil society, who returned it to us in one of these preparatory meetings. I gave it to her, and she gave it back to me and said: “this is what we want from the Other Campaign.” These colors, not one more, but not one less.
Maybe what we have to do is understand unity as this embroidery of Ramona’s, where each color and each shape has its place; there is no homogeneity, nor is there hegemony.
Finally, understand unity as agreement that moves forward on a path.
And that unity means, above all, loyalty to one’s comrade. We, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, offer our loyalty to you as comrades; the same loyalty we have to our communities and to our fellow troops.
It’s about the Nobody that we are defending, its home, its path, its way and its destiny, and above all, the multiplicity of feet and ways of walking in the Other Campaign.
Within all of this, we leave space to the imagination. What will happen, compañeros and compañeras, will surely not be anything like what we imagine. Hopefully, it will be better, and hopefully it will not drag the balls and chains that we could pass down to it. Let it also be free of us.
A long time ago, there was a poem that was sung and became an anthem. The lyrics were castrated, along with their meaning. I am going to paraphrase it: no more dictators nor supreme saviors, neither Caesar, nor bourgeoisie, nor gods; neither Andrés nor Marcos, Nobody will be its own surrender. It was part of L’Internationale, but modified.
Compañeros and compañeras:
I am going to give the criteria that the EZLN’s Sixth Committee will use as they go out:
Economy. There will be no bank accounts. The Sixth Committee delegation will travel and receive shelter and food solely with the support of organizers in states, regions, and towns. The person receiving will go to pick up the delegation or send money for it to arrive. The Zapatista delegation will be accountable for everything it receives.
No personal gifts will be received, not even symbolic ones. Everything you want to give, send it to the communities.
The historians tell us, if we are to believe them, that the places where critical anticapitalist thought and the desire to create a new society with new social relations first arrived in Mexico were the coast of Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula; among workers on coffee and henequen (the agave plant that produces sisal fiber) plantations. That is where the Other Campaign will begin.
The Zapatista delegation will begin where it began twelve years ago, on a January first, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, on January 1, 2006.
The week of January 2 to January 8: Chiapas
From January 9 to 15: Yucatán and Quintana Roo
From January 16 to 22: Campeche and Tabasco
From January 23 to 29: Veracruz
From January 30 to February 5: Oaxaca
From February 6 to 12: Puebla
From February 13 to 19: Tlaxcala
From February 20 to 26: Hidalgo
From February 27 to March 5: Querétaro
From March 6 to 12: Jalisco
From March 20 to 26: Nayarit and Colima
From March 27 to April 2: Michoacán
From April 3 to 9: Guerrero
From April 10 to 16: Morelos
From April 17 to 23: State of Mexico and Federal District (Mexico City)
From April 25 top 30: Federal District and State of Mexico
From May 1 to May 7: San Luis Potosí
From May 8 to 14: Zacatecas
From May 15 to 21: Nuevo León and Tamaulipas
From May 22 to May 28: Coahuila and Durango
From May 29 to June 4: Chihuahua and the fist meeting with Chicano compañeros on the other side
From June 5 to 11: Sinaloa and Sonora
From June 12 to 18: Baja Californa Norte, Baja Califonia Sur, and the second meeting with the Mexicans from the other side
From June 19 to June 25: It is proposed that on Saturday, June 25, on the night of the festival of San Juan, a plenary-debriefing meeting be held in Mexico City and the state of Mexico.
On June 25, we return to Chiapas and wait for whatever will happen to happen.
The first trip out, as I already explained, will begin in the month of January and end in the month of June. For six months, the one we call delegate zero—that is, me—will make a first pass touring the country to hold state meetings for the Other Campaign and look at plans for the transportation, lodging, feeding, and movement of the Sixth Committee. There will also be bilateral meetings with the compañeros who request it in each state.
The second trip out will be in September, 2006, going until March, 2007. Another delegation will appear, the national delegation and regional or state delegations. That is, the EZLN’s Sixth Committee will have a group that travels around the entire country and others that plant themselves in states or regions to carry out the Other Campaign.
The national delegation will hold meetings throughout the country, state-by-state. According to how we advance in this, regional delegations will be installed and will begin to visit the struggles, resistances, and rebellions.
In April 2007, a new team will replace the national and regional delegation.
And so it will be until we finish, if we finish.
What I am going to propose in this discussion, to all of you, is that there be no bank accounts: don’t go trying to slip in some “progressive” banker or businessman, as others call them.
Let us sustain all of this with the support of the people, with donations, by panhandling, whatever, and always being clearly accountable for all of it.
Without any, any support from the parties or institutions.
Let teams be organized to take social x-rays of the situation in each state, and to join with the demands that are detected, as well as the struggles, to advance the Other Campaign by States, regions, and sectors.
We propose that there be no special commissions. All they do is duplicate work and create bureaucracies.
In terms of human rights, as far as we can see, we have all the major non-governmental organizations that are experts on human rights in Mexico as adherents to the Sexta. I don’t see why we would have to create another special commission.
In terms of propaganda, we have groups and collectives from whom I was looking at several publications and things they do, and they are really very good, of very high quality and all that. So, I propose also that this be done by each person on his or her own, in his or her own way.
In terms of gender, the compañeras who have worked for a long time in that area should take charge of that. The same for people with other differences who are already working on that. That is, let the Indian peoples, the homosexuals, the lesbians, et cetera, organize themselves.
Compañeros and compañeras:
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
In the name of the women, men, children and elderly of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, we now make a formal and shared transfer of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and the Other Campaign to the political organizations, indigenous organizations, organizations and social movements, non-governmental organizations, groups and collectives, families and individuals who adhere to the Sexta and commit to work in a campaign to go to all corners of Mexico where we are invited to, with a new way of doing politics, listen and learn from the struggles, resistances and rebellions, support them and link them to the construction of a national program of anticapitalist and left-wing struggle.
The Sexta and the Other Campaign are now no longer only the EZLN’s, but belong to all who want to make it theirs.
For the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee–General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation,
Comandanta Ramona, Comandanta Susana, Comandanta Esther, Comandanta Miriam, Comandanta Hortensia, Comandanta Gabriela, Comandante David, Comandante Tacho, Comandante Zebedeo, Comandante Ramón.
For the insurgent militia troupes of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation,
Insurgent Lieutenant Colonel Moisés
For the EZLN’s Sixth Comizzion,
Insurgent Subcommander Marcos
Caracol of La Garrucha, Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Municipality Francisco Gómez, Chiapas, Mexico
September 16, 2005
It’s all yours, compañeros.
Click here for more Narco News coverage of Mexico
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
Legga questo articolo in italiano
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism
For more Narco News, click here.