The Passing of Ramona Pushes the Reset Button on Marcos’ Six-Month Tour of Mexico
By Andrew Kennis
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
January 9, 2006
SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS AND TONALÁ, CHIAPAS, MÉXICO: In a communiqué issued last night, Subcomandante Marcos announced that the Zapatistas will be continuing their nationwide six-month “Other Campaign” by pushing most previously planned activities three to seven days forward:. The campaign was put into hiatus following the passing of Comandanta Ramona this past Friday.
The schedule for the remaining six months of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign – in which Marcos, as “Delegate Zero,” will visit all 31 Mexican states plus the federal district – has been reprogrammed and resumes today from where it left off last Friday, in the coastal city of Tonalá. Changes to the original schedule include the decision for the campaign to travel first to Quitanna Roo, as opposed to the Yucatán, follow the coastal state through Chetumal, Playa de Carmen and Cancún. The Other Journalism road team is currently in the Yucatán and will be continuing their work from there. Other changes included the cancellation of the campaign’s plans to visit Comítan in Chiapas, a locale that is a rather significant base of support for the Zapatistas. One cancellation that did not occur, however, was the planned trip to the hurricane afflicted and largely indigenous community of Huixtla. The new schedule has the campaign arriving there for tomorrow.
The campaign’s suspension came immediately after the public announcement of Comandanta Ramona’s death, which was given in a sudden and unexpected fashion during the campaign’s stop in Tonalá. Subcomandante Marcos abruptly excused himself from a town-hall like meeting and an hour later, teary-eyed and choked up, Marcos made the emotional announcement of Ramona’s death. Immediately following the announcement, the “Sixth Commission,” a group consisting of indigenous comandantes and Subcomandante Marcos that are leading the campaign, undertook the long 7.5-hour trip to Oventic, where Ramona’s funeral was held on Saturday. The funeral was closed off to the press and the general public.
The resumption of the campaign to the coast of Chiapas comes after the occurrence of a few events before last week’s temporary cancellation of the campaign. On the way to Tonalá this past Friday, Marcos made a surprise stop at El Amate, a Chiapas prison. The self-named “Delegate Zero” walked towards the fence at the entrance of the prison and went towards highly-armed guards in a moment filled with tension and suspense. Marcos spoke to the guards telling them that there were comrades of the Zapatistas being held at the jail and demanded that their human rights be respected and honored. Through the still stunned prison guards, Marcos sent a message of solidarity to the prisoners inside.
Following the surprise stop at El Amate, an additional stop was made at the small town of Arriaga. Marcos greeted a couple hundred of supporters by receiving letters and complaints in accordance with the Other Campaign’s goal to listen to the “simple and humble” people of Mexico and continued on to Tonalá.
Marcos in the town of Arriaga
Photo: D.R. 2006 Andrew Kennis
In Tonalá, a long public meeting was held at the auditorium and headquarters of the group the Tonalteco Civic Front (Frente Cívico Tonalteco). The open meeting was similar to the one held last week in Nueva Maravilla, a largely indigenous and impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of San Cristóbal. In Tonalá, however, locals who were not as politically active than those who spoke at the less publicized meeting in San Cristóbal had a more prominent role. Housewives, fruit stand owners, a young brother of an immigrant, local reporters, and an indigenous community member from Tulijá were amongst the many who spoke about problems unaddressed by the government to Delegate Zero, which is heading the Other Campaign that is designed to provide a platform to speak from to the “simple and humble” people of Mexico. The litany of problems and complaints included a lack of local employment and resulting problems with immigration, high power and water bills in the state that is the source of most of Mexico City’s electricity, lack of educational and employment opportunities for young people and many other problems.
Pedro, a Chol indigenous man from Tulijá, pointedly asked Marcos if he would run for President in six years and abandon the movement. “Delegate Zero” answered with a definitive “no.” Countering, Pedro asked that better lines of communication be open with the Zapatistas so as to construct a new and more democratic nation.
After listening attentively for hours on end and taking notes, Marcos responded to the plethora of local problems and struggles expressed by the ordinary people of Tonalá:“I can identify a number of fears: [one being,] what is going to happen to our movement? I can see in you all a fear that the leaders [of the EZLN] will become corrupt, will leave you all alone and will be brought into the [political] game. What we are trying to do is to assure everyone that in all moments that the compañeros and compañeras will all be taken into consideration.”
Opening lines of communication is the essence of the Other Campaign, which ultimately aims to establish a non-electoral and independent leftist alliance that could provide a force to implement a new anti-neoliberal constitution.
That, and other unkept promises pending – such as getting the San Andrés accords for indigenous autonomy in Mexico implemented – would surely be among the best ways to honor Comandanta Ramona’s memory.
Marcos’s Comunique about resumption of Other Campaign & re-programmed schedule
Transcription of Marcos’s announcement of Ramona’s death
Audio from the event in Tonalá with some of the local activist groups:
Unión Ejidal Calera
Frente Civico Tonalteco
Welcome Message to the Delegation in Tonalá
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