Zapatista tour advances 10 years after stalled peace accord

Feb. 16 marked a full decade since the signing of the San Andres Accords, negotiated by rebel Zapatista commanders and Mexican federal legislators in the restive southern state of Chiapas. The Accords called for changes to the Mexican constitution as a minimum peace demand for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), but have languished for ten years as the federal bureaucracy has refused to implement them. As the anniversary passed, Zapatista leaders on a national tour dubbed “The Other Campaign” (a reference to the presidential campaigns now underway in Mexico) arrived in the city of Puebla. (La Jornada, Feb. 17)

In a communique entitled “How big is the world?,” Zapatista Subcommander Marcos carried on his continuing dialogue with his alter-ego, a jungle beetle named Durito. In his usual surrealist and tongue-in-cheek style, Marcos re-asserted the Zapatistas’ national and even international ambitions. Marcos answers his own rhetorical question: “Much bigger than Chiapas!” (EZLN communique, Feb. 17)

Marcos refered to the entourage of alternative (mostly web-based) media accompanying the rebel delegation as the “Zapatista Intergalactic Television System (SZTVI).” (EZLN communique, Feb. 18) Zapatista leaders presided at a convention of alternative media projects Feb. 20 at Zacatelco, Tlaxcala. (La Jornada, Feb. 20)

Other meetings between rebel leaders and grassroots movements included a public assembly of sex workers in Apizaco, Tlaxcala. (Enclace Zapatista, Feb. 22) The official slogan of the meeting was “We are sex-workers, the politicians are prostitutes!” (EZLN communique, Feb. 25)

Marcos and other rebel leaders also met in Tlaxcala with the National Assembly of Braceros, aging veterans of the World War II-era migrant labor program in which Mexican workers were brought to the United States to fill jobs in fields and factories left vacant by the military draft. Two generations later, the bracero veterans are still fighting the US and Mexican governments alike for full wages they were denied. (EZLN communique, Feb. 20)

Marcos continued his verbal assault on all of Mexico’s major political parties, while still denying that the Zapatistas are promoting abstentionism. (La Jornada, Feb. 19) At Hidalgo’s National Politechnical University, he charged that all three major parties lack “moral authority” (La Jornada, Feb. 28) and that the leading members of Mexico’s political elite are “illiterate.” (APRO, Feb. 27) In Queretaro, he charged that the politicians are “a bunch of cabrones [bastards] who are destroying the country and selling everything.” He called for a new constitution to be drawn up to protect Mexico’s resources. (Narco News, March 7)

In a meeting with Hidalgo campesinos, Marcos called for national unity against a plan to build a new international airport which would seize traditional peasant lands. (La Jornada, March 2) (See WW4 REPORT #60)

In a Feb. 27 communique, the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) became the latest clandestine armed group in Mexico to express its support of the Other Campaign. (APRO, Feb. 27)

In a sign of continued violent political divisions in rural Mexico, on March 1 some 200 police retook the town hall in San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca, which had been occupied since Jan. 1, 2005 by followers of Francisco Salud Bautista, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate who lost the October 2004 elections to Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Eliseo Reyes Vasquez. Salud supporters pelted stones at the police in running street battles. PRD members allege the PRI was secured by the usual method of fraud in the form of vote-buying, such as distributing household items and construction materials. (La Jornada, March 2)

Meanwhile, back in the Chiapas city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, the offices of the Political Analysis and Social-Economic Investigation Center (CAPISE), one of the groups that organized logistical support for the Other Campaign, was burglarized and ransacked March 4. (La Jornada, March 5)

In another apparent case of political harassement, the British-owned HSBC bank without reason ordered closed the accounts of Enlace Civil, an NGO that serves as an intermediary between aid organizations and Zapatista villages in Chiapas. (La Jornada, Feb. 15)

All sources from the Chiapas95 archive.

See our last posts on Mexico, the Zapatistas and the Other Campaign.