The Zapatista “Other Campaign” is making its way up the Mexican isthmus. Leaving behind the Maya realms of Chiapas and the Yucatan, in recent weeks it has passed through the states of Tabasco, Veracruz and, most recently, Oaxaca. At each stop, Subcommander Marcos—dubbed “Delegate Zero” for the tour—met with local activists and campesino leaders, addressing local issues. He and his fellow rebel leaders also visited political prisoners in all three states.
Arriving in Oaxaca state Feb. 5, the “Other Campaign” delegation visited several small Zapotec and Mixtec indigenous villages. At Boca del Monte, Delegate Zero told a gathering, “The Isthmus is not for sale,” refering to the mega-development project planned for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec by “one of the presidential candidates.” Marcos blasted the industrial and tourism scheme as a opening a “new fronteir for the gringos.” The group that hosted the gathering, the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus Zone (UCIZONI), has been opposing the isthmus mega-project since it was announced. (Hermann Bellinghausen for La Jornada, Feb. 6)
Marcos also visited Tehuantepec prison, where he met with five indigenous political prisoners. (La Jornada, Feb. 8) Speaking in Oaxaca City Feb. 10, he called for international intervention in the cases of Mexico’s poltical prisoners, saying no justice was possible under the corrupt legal system. In addition to prisoners accused of collaborating with the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), Marcos also invoked those chared with involvement in two local guerilla groups, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI). (APRO, Feb. 10) At Oaxaca’s Ixcotel prison, Marcos met with prisoners accused of belonging to the EPR. (Olor a Mi Tierra, Oaxaca, Feb. 9)
At Lerdo Park in the Veracruz state capital of Jalapa Feb. 2, Delegate Zero announced: “This is going to fall,” in reference to late capitalism. But he said an “unprecedented” political mobilization will be the only way to avoid going down with the system.
Marcos explained the Zapatistas’ change of direction from armed to civil struggle:
We can build something else that is more inclusive. I say this because there is nothing more exclusive than an armed, insurgent political-military organization. Not just because of what it represents, but also because of the destination that is chosen. We had a feeling of duty toward all of you. If we were able to survive and then work for the progress of the indigenous community without interference from local and state governments, it was because of your support and the support of many people in this country.
But with every show of support we heard the question: ‘and what about us?’ We felt that the task was too great for us, and at the same time this decay was happening in our national life. It is not true that capitalism is creating dependency in many peasant farmers or small businesses, believe me, it is not true. The opposite is true; capitalism’s advance means their total disappearance. And it is not that I am making this up or deducing it from some kind of academic analysis, although those exist, too, and demonstrate the same thing. It is the people themselves who say it. Peasant farmers are losing their lands because of capitalism, and capitalism can’t offer them anything except to make them disappear. (La Jornada, Feb. 5)
The delegation also visited Tzocohuite and other Nahua indigenous villages in the poor and mountainous Huasteca region. (La Jornada, Feb. 1)
In Villahermosa, capital of Tabasco state, where two of the presidential candidates hail from, Marcos blasted all three—but saved his harshest criticism for former Tabasco governor Roberto Madrazo, the PRI candidate, accusing him of links to narco-trafficking. Madrazo is a longtime bitter rival of PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who led the political opposition in Tabasco in the ’90s. The third candidate is the ruling PAN’s Felipe Calderon, from Michoacan. (APRO, Jan. 27)
At the village of Chacalpa, in Jalpa de Mendez municipality, the Zapatistas met with campesinos demanding reparations from the state oil company Pemex for the degradation of their lands by spills and explosions. (La Jornada, Jan. 29)
Meeting with political prisoners at Tacotalpa prison, Marcos accused President Vicente Fox of using indigenous prisoners as “hostages” to coerce the Zapatistas into returning to the dialogue table on poor terms. Delegate Zero visited the accused Zapatista prisoners Francisco Perez Vazquez and his son Angel Concepcion Perez Gutierrez, incarcerated for ten years on charges of assassinating a campesino in a land dispute near the Chiapas-Tabasco border. (APRO, Jan. 27)
All sources archived at Chiapas95
See also La Jornada’s coverage of the “Other Campaign”