Ricardo Dominguez on Tue, 29 Jul 2003 18:39:01 +0200 (CEST)

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Ricardo Dominguez <rdom@thing.net>
     CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele
     Electronic Action in Australia against Education Reforms 

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Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 06:55:47 -0400
From: Ricardo Dominguez <rdom@thing.net>
Subject: CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele

The Zapatista National Liberation Army, in the voice of 
Subcomandante Marcos, outlined a dramatic reorganization 
plan this week that will include regional governing 
centers and a profound deepening of the autonomy process: 
"For various years, the Zapatista indigenous communities 
have been involved in a process of construction of 
autonomy. For us, autonomy is not a fragmentation of the 
country nor is it separatism, but rather the exercise of 
the right to govern and to govern ourselves, as 
established in Article 39 of the constitution. Since the 
beginning of the uprising, and long before, the indigenous 
Zapatistas have insisted that we are Mexicans, but also 
indigenous. In other words, we claim a place in the 
Mexican nation, but without giving up who we are." 

In a series of communications, Marcos criticized corrupt 
and ineffective political structures, and announced a 
complete break with all of Mexico's political parties. In 
some of the strongest language of the week, Marcos 
rejected the Fox administration's Plan Puebla Panama as a 
development strategy that fragments Mexico into "the 
North, an enormous maquiladora, the Center, a giant mall, 
and the South, a huge ranch." In no uncertain terms, 
Marcos warned "in our rebellious lands the infamous plan 
will not be permitted. ... This is not a threat, but 
rather a prophecy." Non-governmental organizations that 
impose development projects without considering the actual 
needs of Zapatista communities also came under attack. 

The new Zapatista initiative comes in the context of 
recent congressional elections in which Fox's National 
Action Party took a serious beating, losing one-quarter of 
its seats in the lower house. Fox will likely be a lame 
duck president with little real authority until the next 
presidential elections, scheduled for 2006. In addition, 
60% of eligible voters abstained nationally, and 70% 
abstained in Chiapas. While some abstention may be due to 
laziness or disinterest, the Zapatistas are interpreting 
the historically unprecedented abstention rate as a sign 
that many Mexicans are fed up with politics as usual and 
are looking for alternatives. The new autonomy initiative 
will advance the stagnant San Andres Accords, signed by 
the EZLN and the federal government in 1996 but never 
implemented into constitutional reforms. It is a bold and 
creative move that will force many elements in civil 
society to choose sides - defending autonomy as a viable 
political project or defending the Fox administration's 
claims to a new era of democracy in Mexico. 

The Zapatistas invite national and international civil 
society to participate in the launching of this new 
initiative on August 8-10 in Oventic, Chiapas. The Mexico 
Solidarity Network encourages grassroots activists to come 
to Chiapas and participate in this historic event. 

For  more information, contact msn@mexicosolidarity.org. 

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
Miércoles 23 Julio 2003 

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele

Part One: A Conch 

Dawn in the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

Slowly, with an unhurried but continuous movement, the moon allows the dark 
sheet of night to slip off her body and to finally reveal the erotic nudity of 
her light. She then reclines across the length of the sky, desirous of looking 
and being looked at, that is, of touching and being touched. If light does 
anything, it delineates its opposite, and so, down below, a shadow offers the 
cloud its hand while murmuring:

“Come with me, look with your heart at what my eyes show you, walk in my steps 
and dream in my arms. Up above, the stars are making a shell, with the moon as 
origin and destiny. Look and listen. This is a dignified and rebel land. The 
men and women who live it are like many men and women in the world. Let us 
walk, then, in order to look at and listen to them now, while time hovers 
between night and day, when dawn is queen and lady in these lands.

Take care with that puddle and the mud. Better to follow the tracks which, like 
in so many other things, are the most knowing. Do you hear that laughter? It is 
from a couple who are repeating now the ancient rite of love. He murmurs 
something, and she laughs, she laughs as if she were singing. Then silence, 
then sighs and muted moans. Or perhaps the other way around, first sighs and 
moans, afterwards murmurs and laughter. But let’s continue on ahead, because 
love needs no witnesses other than glances turned flesh, and, since it is 
sunlight regardless of the hour, it also undresses shadows.

Come. Let us sit for a bit and let me tell you things. We are in rebel lands. 
Here live and fight those who are called “zapatistas.” And these zapatistas are 
very otherly…and they despair of more than one of them. Instead of weaving 
their history with executions, death and destruction, they insist on living. 
And the vanguards of the world tear at their hair, because, as for “victory or 
death,” these zapatistas neither vanquish nor die, but nor do they surrender, 
and they despise martyrdom as much as capitulation. Very otherly, it’s true. 
And then there is the one who is said to be their leader, one Sup Marcos, whose 
public image is closer to that of Cantinflas and Pedro Infante than to Emiliano 
Zapata’s and Ché Guevara’s. And it’s a waste of time to say that no one will 
take them seriously that way, because they themselves are the first to joke 
about their being so otherly. 

They are rebel indigenous. Breaking, thus, the traditional preconception, first 
from Europe and afterwards from all those who are clothed in the color of 
money, that was imposed on them for looking and being looked at.

And so they do not adapt to the “diabolical” image of those who sacrifice 
humans to appease the gods, nor to that of the needy indigenous, with his hand 
extended, expecting crumbs or charity from he who has everything. Nor that of 
the good savage who is perverted by modernity, nor that of the infant who 
entertains his elders with gibberish. Nor that of the submissive peon from all 
those haciendas which lacerated the history of Mexico. Nor that of the skillful 
craftsperson whose products will adorn the walls of he who despises him. Nor 
that of the ignorant fool who should not have an opinion about what is further 
than the limited horizon of his geography. Nor that of someone who is fearful 
of heavenly or earthly gods.

Because you must know, my blue repose, that these indigenous become angry even 
at those who sympathize with their cause. And the fact is that they do not 
obey. When they are expected to speak, they are silent. When silence is 
expected, they speak. When they are expected to move forward, they go back. 
When they are expected to keep going back, they’re off on another side. When 
it’s expected that they just speak, they break out talking of other things. 
When they’re expected to be satisfied with their geography, they walk the world 
and its struggles.

Or it’s that they’re not content with anyone. And it doesn’t seem to matter to 
them much. What does matter to them is for their heart to be content, and so 
they follow the paths shown by their heart. That’s what they seem to be doing 
now. Everywhere there are people on paths. They are coming and going, barely 
exchanging the usual greetings. They are spending long hours in meetings or 
assemblies or whatever. They go in with frowning faces, and they leave, smiling 
in complicity.


Whatever it is, I am sure that many people will not like what they are going to 
do or say. In addition, as the Sup says, the zapatistas’ specialty is in 
creating problems and then seeing later who is going to solve them. And so one 
shouldn’t expect much from those meetings other than problems…

Perhaps we might guess what it is about if we look carefully. The zapatistas 
are very otherly – I don’t know if I already told you that – and so they 
imagine things before those things exist, and they think that, by naming them, 
those things will begin to have life, to walk…and, yes, to create problems. And 
so I am sure they have already imagined something, and they are going to begin 
to act as if that something already exists, and no one is going to understand 
anything for some time, because, in effect, once named, things begin to take on 
body, life and a tomorrow.

Then we could look for some clue…No, I don’t know where to look…I believe their 
way is looking with their ears and listening with their eyes. Yes, I know it 
sounds complicated, but nothing else occurs to me. Come, let’s keep on walking.

Look, the stream is turning into a whirlpool there, and in its center the moon 
is shimmering its sinuous dance. A whirlpool…or a shell.

They say here that the most ancient say that other, earlier ones said that the 
most first of these lands held the figure of the shell in high esteem. They say 
that they say that they said that the conch represents entering into the heart, 
that is what the very first ones with knowledge said. And they say that they 
say that they said that the conch also represents leaving the heart in order to 
walk the world, which is how the first ones called life. And more, they say 
that they say that they said that they called the collective with the shell, so 
that the word would go from one to the other and agreement would be reached. 
And they also say that they say that they said that the conch was help so that 
the ear could hear even the most distant word. That is what they say that they 
say that they said. I don’t know. I am walking hand in hand with you, and I am 
showing you what my ears see and my eyes hear. And I see and hear a shell, 
the “pu’y’, as they say in their language here.

Ssh. Silence. The dawn has already yielded to day. Yes, I know it’s still dark, 
but look how the huts are filling, little by little, with light from the fire 
in the stoves. Since now we are shadows in the shadow, no one sees us, but if 
they did see us, I am sure they would offer us a cup of coffee, which, with 
this cold, would be appreciated. As I appreciate the pressure of your hand in 
my hand.

Look, the moon is already slipping away to the west, concealing its pregnant 
light behind the mountain. It is time to leave, to shelter the journey in the 
shadow of a cave, there, where desire and weariness are soothed with another, 
more pleasant weariness. Come, here, I will murmur to you with flesh and 
words: “And, ay, how I would wish to be/a joy among all joys,/one alone, the 
joy you would take joy in!/A love, one single love:/the love you would fall in 
love with./But/I am nothing more than what I am”/ (Pedro Salinas. “La voz a ti 
debida”). We will no longer be looking at each other there, but, in the half-
sleep of desire, moored in a safe harbor, we will be able to listen to that 
activity which is stirring these zapatistas now, those who insist on subverting 
even time, and who are once again raising, as if it were an external flag, 
another calendar…that of resistance.”

Shadow and light go. They have not noticed that in a hut a faint light has been 
kept up all through the night. Now, inside, a group of men and women are 
sharing coffee and silence, as they shared the word previously.

For several hours these humans with their dusk-colored hearts have traced, with 
their ideas, a great shell. Starting from the international, their eyes and 
their thoughts have turned within, passing successively through the national, 
the regional and the local, until they reached what they call “El Votan. The 
guardian and heart of the people,” the zapatista peoples. And so, from the 
shell’s most external curve, they thought words like “globalization,” “war of 
domination,” “resistance,” “economy,” “city,” “countryside,” “political 
situation,” and others which the eraser has been eliminating after the usual 
question: “Is it clear or are there questions?” At the end of the path from 
outside in, in the center of the shell, only some initials remain: “EZLN.” 
Afterwards, there are proposals, and they paint, in thought and in heart, 
windows and doors which only they see (among other reasons, because they still 
don’t exist). The disparate and scattered word begins to make common collective 
path. Someone asks: “Is there agreement? There is,” the now collective voice 
responds affirmatively. The shell is traced again, but now in the opposite 
path, from inside out. The eraser also continues the reverse path until only 
one sentence remains, filling the old chalkboard, a sentence which is madness 
to many, but which is, to these men and women, a reason for struggle: “A world 
where many worlds fit.” A little bit later, a decision is made.

Now is silence and waiting. A shadow goes out into the night rain. A spark of 
light barely illuminates the eye. Once again smoke rises from his lips in the 
darkness. With his hands behind his back, he begins a coming and going without 
destination. A few minutes ago, there, inside, a death has been decided…

(To be continued)

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, July of 2003.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele

Part Two: A Death

A few days ago, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation decided on the death 
of the so-called “Aguascalientes” of La Realidad, Oventik, La Garrucha, Morelia 
and Roberto Barrios. All of them located in rebel territory. The decision to 
disappear the “Aguascalientes” was made after a long process of reflection…

On August 8, 1994, during the Democratic National Convention held in Guadalupe 
Tepeyac, Comandante Tacho, in the name of the Clandestine Revolutionary 
Indigenous Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army of National 
Liberation, inaugurated, before some 6000 persons from various parts of Mexico 
and the world, the so-called “Aguascalientes,” and he handed it over to 
national and international civil society.

Many people did not know that first “Aguascalientes,” whether because they 
couldn’t go, or because they were very young in that year (if you are 24 now, 
or turning 25, you would have been 14 then, or turning 15), but it was a 
formidable ship. Run aground on the side of a hill, its huge white sails hoped 
to travel the 7 seas. The flag, with its ferocious skull and crossbones, waved 
fiercely and defiantly above the bridge. Two huge national flags were unfurled 
at the sides, like wings. It had its library, infirmary, lavatories, showers, 
piped music (which alternated obsessively between “red bow” and “marked 
cards”), and, it is said, even a place for attacks. The layout of the buildings 
looked, as I have related once, like a huge conch, thanks to what we called 
the “crooked house.” The “crooked house” wasn’t crooked, it had a crack that 
appeared at first glance to be an architectural error, but which, from above, 
allowed one to observe the spiral formed by the buildings. The crew of the 
first “Aguascalientes” was made up of individuals without face, clear 
transgressors of maritime and terrestrial laws. And their captain was the most 
handsome pirate who has ever sailed the oceans: a patch over his missing right 
eye, a black beard glistening with strands of platinum, a pronounced nose, hook 
in one hand, saber in the other, a leg of flesh and one of wood, pistol in his 
belt and pipe in his mouth.

The process that led to the building of that first “Aguascalientes” was 
fortuitous…and painful. And I am not referring to the physical construction 
(which was carried out in record time and without television “spots”), but to 
the conceptual construction. Let me explain:

We, after having prepared ourselves for 10 years for killing and dying, for 
handling and firing weapons of all kinds, for making explosives, for executing 
strategic and tactical military maneuvers, in sum, for making war,…after the 
first days of combat, we found ourselves invaded by a genuine army. First an 
army of journalists, but later one of men and women from the most diverse 
social, cultural and national backgrounds. It was after those “Cathedral 
Dialogues,” in February – March of 1994. The journalists continued to appear 
intermittently, but what we call “civil society” - in order to differentiate it 
from the political class, and so as not to categorize it in social classes - 
was always constant.

We were learning, and, I imagine, civil society was as well. We learned to 
listen and to speak, the same, I imagine, as civil society. I also imagine that 
the learning was less arduous for us.

After all, that had been the EZLN’s fundamental origin: a group of “illuminati” 
who came from the city in order to “liberate” the exploited and who looked, 
when confronted with the reality of the indigenous communities, more like burnt 
out light bulbs than “illuminati.” How long did it take us to realize that we 
had to learn to listen, and, afterwards, to speak? I’m not sure, not a few 
moons have passed now, but I calculate some two years at least. Meaning that 
what had been a classic revolutionary guerrilla war in 1984 (armed uprising of 
the masses, the taking of power, the establishment of socialism from above, 
many statues and names of heroes and martyrs everywhere, purges, etcetera, in 
sum, a perfect world), by 1986 was already an armed group, overwhelmingly 
indigenous, listening attentively and barely babbling its first words with a 
new teacher: the Indian peoples.

I believe I have already related previously, several times, this part of the 
EZLN’s formation (or “re-founding”). But, if I’m repeating it now, it’s not in 
order to overwhelm you with nostalgia, but in order to try and explain how we 
got to the building of the first “Aguascalientes,” and their later 
proliferation in zapatista, that is, rebel, lands.

What I mean by this is that the main founding act of the EZLN was learning to 
listen and to speak. I believe, at that time, we learned well and we were 
successful. With the new tool we built with the learned word, the EZLN quickly 
turned into an organization not just of thousands of fighters, but one which 
was clearly “merged” with the indigenous communities.

To put it another way, we ceased to be “foreigners,” and we turned into part of 
that corner forgotten by the country and by the world: the mountains of the 
Mexican southeast.

A moment arrived, I can’t say precisely just when, in which it was no longer 
the EZLN on one side and the communities on the other, but when we were all 
simply zapatistas. I’m simplifying, necessarily, when remembering this period. 
There will be another occasion, I hope, and another means, for going into 
details about that process which, in broad terms, was not without 
contradictions, setbacks and backsliding.

The fact is, that’s how we were, still learning (because, I believe, learning 
is never done), when the now “newly appeared” Carlos Salinas de Gortari (then 
President of Mexico, thanks to a colossal election fraud) had the “brilliant” 
idea of making reforms which did away with the campesinos’ right to the land.

The impact in the communities which were already zapatista was, to say the 
least, brutal. For us (note that I no longer distinguish between the 
communities and the EZLN), the land is not merchandise, but it has cultural, 
religious and historic connotations which don’t need to be explained here. And 
so, our regular ranks grew, quickly and exponentially.

And there was more. Poverty also grew and, along with it, death, especially of 
infants under the age of 5. As part of my responsibilities, it was up to me at 
that time to check in with the now hundreds of villages by radio, and there 
wasn’t a day when someone didn’t report the death of a little boy, of a little 
girl, of a mother. As if it were a war. Afterwards, we understood that it was, 
in fact, a war. The neoliberal model which Carlos Salinas de Gortari commanded 
in such a cynical and carefree fashion was, for us, an authentic war of 
extermination, an ethnocide, given that it was entire Indian peoples who were 
being destroyed. That is why we know what we are talking about when we speak of 
the “neoliberal bomb.”

I imagine (there are serious studies here that will recount with precise 
figures and analysis) that this took place in all the indigenous communities in 
Mexico. But the difference was that we were armed and trained for a war. Mario 
Benedetti says, in a poem, that one doesn’t always do what one wants, that one 
can’t always, but he has the right to not do what he doesn’t want. And, in our 
case, we did not want to die…or, more accurately, we didn’t want to die like 

Previously I have already, on some occasion, spoken of the importance memory 
has for us. And, therefore, death by forgetting was (and is) the worst of 
deaths for us. I know it will sound apocalyptic, and that more than one person 
will search for some touch of martyrdom in what I am saying, but, in order to 
put it in simple terms, we found ourselves then facing a choice, but not 
between life or death, rather between one kind of death or the other. The 
decision, collective and in consultation with each one of the then tens of 
thousands of zapatistas, is already history, and it was the spark for that dawn 
of the first of January of 1994.

Mmh. It seems to me as if I’m wandering, because what this is about here is 
informing you that we have decided to kill off the zapatista “Aguascalientes.” 
And not only to inform you, but also to try and explain why. Ah well, be 
generous and keep reading.

Cornered, we left on that dawn in 1994 with only two certainties: one was that 
they were going to tear us to shreds. The other was that the act would attract 
the attention of good persons towards a crime that was no less bloody because 
it was silent and removed from the media: the genocide of thousands of Mexican 
indigenous families. And, like I said, it could sound as if we were inclined to 
being martyrs who sacrificed themselves for others.

I would lie if I said yes. Because even though, looking at it coldly, we had no 
chance militarily, our hearts weren’t thinking of death, but of life, and, 
given that we were (and are) zapatistas and, ergo, our doubts include 
ourselves, we thought we could be wrong about being torn to shreds, perhaps the 
entire people of Mexico would rise up. But our doubts, I should be sincere, 
didn’t extend so far as imagining that what actually happened could have 

And what happened was precisely what gave rise to the first “Aguascalientes,” 
and, then, to the ones which followed. I don’t believe it’s necessary to repeat 
what happened. I’m almost sure (and I’m not usually sure about anything) that 
anyone reading these lines had something, or much, to do with what happened.

And so make an effort and put yourself in our place: entire years preparing 
ourselves for firing weapons, and it so happens that it’s words which have to 
be fired. When it’s said like that, and now that I read what I just wrote, it 
seems as if it were almost natural, like one of those syllogisms they teach in 
high school. But believe me, at that time nothing was easy. We struggled a lot…
and we continue to do so. But it so happens that a guerrero doesn’t forget what 
he learns, and, as I explained earlier, we learned to listen and to speak. And 
so then history, as someone I don’t know said, grew tired of moving and 
repeated itself, and we were once again like we were in the beginning. Learning.

And we learned, for example, that we were different, and that there were many 
who were different than ourselves, but there were also differences among they 
themselves. Or, almost immediately after the bombs (“they weren’t bombs, but 
rockets,” those connected intellectuals – the ones who criticize the press when 
it talks of “bombing indigenous communities” - will then hasten to clarify), a 
multiplicity fell on top of us that made us think, not a few times, that it 
would have been better, effectively, if they had torn us to shreds.

A fighter defined it, in very zapatista terms, in April of that 1994. He came 
to report to me about the arrival of a caravan from civil society. I asked him 
how many there were (they had to be put up somewhere) and who they were (I 
didn’t ask each one of their names, but what organization or group they 
belonged to). The rebel considered the question first, and then the answer he 
would give. That generally took a while, so I lit my pipe. After considering, 
the compañero said: “They’re a chingo, and they’re absolute chaos.” I believe 
it is useless to expound on the quantitative universe embraced by the 
scientific concept of “a chingo,” but the rebel wasn’t using “absolute chaos” 
disapprovingly, or as a means of characterizing the state of mind of those who 
were arriving, but rather of defining the composition of the group. “What do 
you mean, absolute chaos?” I asked him. “Yes,” he answered. “There’s 
everything, there’s…it’s absolute chaos,” he ended up saying, insisting that 
there was no scientific concept whatsoever which could better describe the 
multiplicity that had taken rebel territory by storm. The storm was repeated 
again and again. Sometimes they were, in effect, a chingo. Other times they 
were two or three chingos. But it was always, to use the neologism utilized by 
the rebel, “utter chaos.”

We intuited then that, no way, we had to learn, and this learning must be for 
the most possible. And so we thought about a kind of school, where we would be 
the students and the “absolute chaos” would be the teacher. This was already 
June of 1994 (we weren’t very quick at realizing we had to learn), and we were 
about to make public the “Second Declaration of the Selva Lacandona” which 
called for the creation of the “National Democratic Convention” (CND).

The history of the CND is a matter for another story, and I’m only mentioning 
it now in order to orient you in time and space. Space. Yes, that was part of 
the problem with our learning. That is, we needed a space in order to learn and 
to listen and to speak with that plurality that we call “civil society.” We 
agreed then to build the space and to name it “Aguascalientes,” given that it 
would be the seat of the National Democratic Convention (recalling the 
Convention of the Mexican revolutionary forces in the second decade of the 20th 
century). But the idea for the “Aguascalientes” went further. We wanted a space 
for dialogue with civil society. And “dialogue” also means learning to listen 
to the other and learning to speak with him.

The “Aguascalientes” space, however, had been created linked to a current 
political initiative, and many people assumed that, once that initiative had 
run its course, the “Aguascalientes” would lose meaning. A few, very few, 
returned to the “Aguascalientes” of Guadalupe Tepeyac. Later came Zedillo’s 
betrayal on February 9, 1995, and the “Aguascalientes” was almost totally 
destroyed by the federal army. They even built a military barracks there.

But if anything characterizes zapatistas, it’s tenacity (“stupidity,” more than 
one person might say). And so not even a year had passed before 
new “Aguascalientes” arose in various parts of rebel territory: Oventik, La 
Realidad, La Garrucha, Roberto Barrios, Morelia. Then, yes, 
the “Aguascalientes” were what they should be: spaces for encuentro and 
dialogue with national and international civil society. In addition to being 
the headquarters for great initiatives and encuentros on memorable dates, they 
were the place where “civil society” and zapatistas met everyday.

I told you that we tried to learn from our encuentros with national and 
international civil society. But we also expected them to learn. The zapatista 
movement arose, among other things, in demand of respect. And it so happened 
that we didn’t always receive respect. And it’s not that they insulted us. Or 
at least not intentionally. But, for us, pity is an affront, and charity is a 
slap in the face. Because, parallel with the emergence and operation of those 
spaces of encuentro that were the “Aguascalientes,” some sectors of civil 
society have maintained what we call “the Cinderella syndrome.”

I’m taking out of the chest of memories right now some excerpts from a letter I 
wrote more than 9 years ago: “We are not reproaching you for anything (to those 
from civil society who came to the communities), we know that you are risking 
much to come and se us and to bring aid to the civilians on this side. It is 
not our needs which bring us pain, it’s seeing in others what others don’t see, 
the same abandonment of liberty and democracy, the same lack of justice (…) 
>From what our people received in benefit in this war, I saved an example 
of “humanitarian aid” for the chiapaneco indigenous, which arrived a few weeks 
ago: a pink stiletto heel, imported, size 6½…without its mate. I always carry 
it in my backpack in order to remind myself, in the midst of interviews, photo 
reports and attractive sexual propositions, what we are to the country after 
the first of January: a Cinderella. (…) These good people who, sincerely, send 
us a pink stiletto heel, size 6½, imported, without its mate…thinking that, 
poor as we are, we’ll accept anything, charity and alms. How can we tell all 
those good people that no, we no longer want to continue living Mexico’s shame. 
In that part that has to be prettied up so it doesn’t make the rest look ugly. 
No, we don’t want to go on living like that.”

That was in April of 1994. Then we thought it was a question of time, that the 
people were going to understand that the zapatista indigenous were dignified, 
and they weren’t looking for alms, but for respect. The other pink heel never 
arrived, and the pair remained incomplete, and piling up in 
the “Aguascalientes” were useless computers, expired medicines, extravagant 
(for us) clothes, which couldn’t even be used for plays (“señas,” they call 
them here) and, yes, shoes without their mate. And things like that continue to 
arrive, as if those people were saying “poor little things, they’re very needy. 
I’m sure anything would do for them, and this is in my way.”

And that’s not all. There is a more sophisticated charity. It’s the one that a 
few NGOs and international agencies practice. It consists, broadly speaking, in 
their deciding what the communities need, and, without even consulting them, 
imposing not just specific projects, but also the times and means of their 
implementation. Imagine the desperation of a community that needs drinkable 
water and they’re saddled with a library. The one that requires a school for 
the children, and they give them a course on herbs.

A few months ago, an intellectual of the left wrote that civil society should 
mobilize in order to achieve the fulfillment of the San Andrés Accords because 
the zapatista indigenous communities were suffering greatly (not because it 
would be just for the Indian peoples of Mexico, but so that the zapatistas 
wouldn’t suffer any more deprivation).

Just a moment. If the zapatista communities wanted, they could have the best 
standard of living in Latin America. Imagine how much the government would be 
willing to invest in order to secure our surrender and to take lots of pictures 
and make a lot of “spots” where Fox or Martita could promote themselves, while 
the country fell apart in their hands. How much would the now “newly appeared” 
Carlos Salinas de Gortari have given in order to end his term, not with the 
burden of the assassinations of Colosio and Ruíz Massieu, but with a picture of 
the rebel zapatistas signing the peace, and the Sup handing over his weapon 
(the one God gave him?) to the one who plunged millions of Mexicans into ruin? 
How much would Zedillo have offered in order to cover up the economic crisis in 
which he buried the country, with the image of his triumphal entrance into La 
Realidad? How much would the “croquetas” Albores have been willing to give so 
that the zapatistas would accept the ephemeral “redistricting” he imposed 
during his tragicomic administration?

No. The zapatistas have received many offers to buy their consciences, and they 
keep up their resistance nonetheless, making their poverty (for he who learns 
to see) a lesson in dignity and generosity. Because we zapatistas say that “For 
everyone everything, nothing for us,” and, if we say it, it is what we live. 
The constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture, and the 
improvement of living conditions, is for all the Indian peoples of Mexico, not 
just for the zapatista indigenous. The democracy, liberty and justice to which 
we aspire are for all Mexicans, not just for us.

We have emphasized to not a few people that the resistance of the zapatista 
communities is not in order to engender pity, but respect. Here, now, poverty 
is a weapon which has been chosen by our peoples for two reasons: in order to 
bear witness that it is not welfare that we are seeking, and in order to 
demonstrate, with our own example, that it is possible to govern and to govern 
ourselves without the parasite that calls itself government. But fine, the 
issue of resistance as a form of struggle isn’t the purpose of this text either.

The support we are demanding is for the building of a small part of that world 
where all worlds fit. It is, then, political support, not charity.

Part of indigenous autonomy (to which the “Cocopa Law” certainly speaks) is the 
capacity for self governance, that is, for conducting the harmonious 
development of a social group. The zapatista communities are committed to this 
effort, and they have demonstrated, not a few times, that they can do it better 
than those who call themselves the government. Support for the indigenous 
communities should not be seen as help for mental incompetents who don’t even 
know what they need, or for children who have to be told what they should eat, 
at what time and how, what they should learn, what they should say and what 
they should think (although I doubt that there are children who would still 
accept this). And this is the reasoning of some NGOs and a good part of the 
financing bodies of community projects.

The zapatista communities are in charge of the projects (not a few NGOs can 
testify to that), they get them up and running, they make them produce and thus 
improve the collectives, not the individuals. Whoever helps one or several 
zapatista communities is helping not just to improve a collective’s material 
situation, it is helping a much simpler, but more demanding, project: the 
building of a new world, one where many worlds fit, one where charity and pity 
for another are the stuff of science fiction novels…or of a forgettable and 
expendable past.

With the death of the “Aguascalientes,” the “Cinderella syndrome” of 
some “civil societies” and the paternalism of some national and international 
NGOs will also die. At least they will die for the zapatista communities who, 
from now on, will no longer be receiving leftovers nor allowing the imposition 
of projects.

For all these reasons, and for other things which will be seen later, on this 
August 8, 2003, the anniversary of the first “Aguascalientes,” the 
well “deceased” death of the “Aguascalientes” will be decreed. The fiesta 
(because there are deaths which must be celebrated) will be in Oventik, and all 
of you are invited who, over these ten years, have supported the rebel 
communities, whether with projects, or with peace camps, or with caravans, or 
with an attentive ear, or with the compañera word, whatever it may be, as long 
as it not with pity and charity.

On August 9, 2003, something new will be born. But I will tell you of that 
tomorrow. Or, more accurately, in a bit, because it is dawn here now, in the 
mountains of the Mexican southeast, dignified corner of the patria, rebel land, 
lair of the transgressors of the law (including the one of seriousness) and 
small piece of the great world jigsaw puzzle of rebellion for humanity and 
against neoliberalism.

(To Be Continued…)

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, July of 2003.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele

Part Three: A Name

It’s raining. As it does here in July, the seventh month of the year. I’m 
shivering next to the stove, turning around and around, as if I were a chicken 
on a rotisserie, to see if I can dry off like that a bit. It so happened that 
the meeting with the committees ended quite late, at dawn, and we were camped a 
good distance from where the meeting took place. It wasn’t raining when we 
left, but, as if it were waiting for us, an almighty downpour was unleashed 
right when we were halfway there, when it would have been the same distance to 
go back or to keep on going. The rebels went to their respective huts to change 
out of their wet uniforms. I didn’t, not out of bravery, but out of idiocy, 
because it so happens that, seeking to lighten the weight of my backpack, I 
wasn’t carrying a change of clothes. And so, here I am, making like a “Sinaloa 
style chicken.” Uselessly, to boot, because, for some reason, which I’m not 
able to fathom, my cap acts like a sponge, absorbing the water when it rains 
and exuding it only when its inside. The fact is, inside the hut where the 
stove is, I have my own personal rain. These absurdities don’t astonish me. 
After all, we’re in zapatista lands, and here the absurd is as frequent as the 
rain, especially in the seventh month of the year. Now I’ve really thrown too 
much wood on the fire, not figuratively, and now the flames are threatening to 
burn the roof. “There’s no bad that can’t get worse,” I say to myself, 
remembering one of Durito’s refrains, and it’s best that I leave.

Outside there isn’t any rain above, but there’s a deluge under my cap. I’m 
trying to light a pipe with the bowl turned down when Major Rolando arrives. He 
just watches me. He looks at the sky (which, at this altitude, is already 
completely clear and with a moon that looks, believe me, like a noonday sun). 
He looks at me again. I understand his confusion and say: “It’s the cap.” 
Rolando says “Mmh,” which has come to mean something like “Ah.” More rebels 
come over and, of course, a guitar (and, yes, that’s dry), and they start 
singing. Rolando and yours truly burst into a duet, “La Chancla,” in front of a 
confused public, because the “hit parade” here leans towards cumbias, folk 
songs and norteñas.

Having seen a repeat of my failed launch as a singer, I withdrew to a corner 
and followed the wise counsel of Monarca, who, just like Rolando, kept looking 
at me, looked at the sky, looked at me again and just said: “Take off your cap, 
Sup.” I took it off and, of course, my private rain stopped. Monarca went over 
to where the others were. I told Captain José Luis (who acts as my bodyguard) 
to go rest, that I wasn’t going to be doing anything now. The Captain went, but 
not to rest, rather to join in with the singing.

And so I was left alone. Still shivering, but now without rain over me. I went 
back to trying to light my pipe, now with the bowl turned up, but then I 
discovered that my lighter had gotten wet, and it wouldn’t even flicker. I 
murmured: “Son of a bitch, now I can’t even light my pipe,” certain that 
my “sex appeal” would be going to hell. I was searching in my pants’ pockets 
(and there’s quite a few), not for a paperback edition of the Kamasutra, but 
for a dry lighter, when a flame was lit quite close to me.

I recognized the face of Old Antonio behind the light, I moved the bowl of my 
pipe to the lit match and, still puffing, I said to Old Antonio: “It’s cold.”

“It is,” he responded, and he lit his hand rolled cigarette with another match. 
By the light of the cigarette, Old Antonio kept looking at me, then he looked 
at the sky, then he looked at me again, but he didn’t say anything. I didn’t 
either, certain that Old Antonio was already accustomed, as I was, to the 
absurdities which inhabit the mountains of the Mexican southeast. A sudden wind 
put out the flame, and we were left with just the light of a moon that was like 
an axe, jagged from use, and smoke scratching at the darkness. We sat down on 
the trunk of a fallen tree. I believe we were silent for a time, I don’t 
remember very well, but the fact is that, without my hardly noticing, Old 
Antonio was already recounting to me…

The History of the Upholder of the Sky

“According to our earliest ones, the sky must be held up so that it does not 
fall. The sky is not simply firm, every once in a while it becomes weak and 
faints, and it just lets itself fall like the leaves fall from the trees, and 
then absolute disasters happen, because bad comes to the milpa and the rain 
breaks everything and the sun punishes the land and it is war which rules and 
it is the lie which conquers and it is death which walks and it is sorrow which 

Our earliest ones said that it happens like this because the gods who made the 
world, the most first, put so much effort into making the world that, after 
they finished it, they did not have much strength left for making the sky, the 
roof of our home, and they just put whatever they had there, and so the sky is 
placed above the earth just like one of those plastic roofs. Thus the sky is 
not simply firm, at times it comes loose. And you must know that when this 
happens, the winds and waters are disrupted, fire grows restless, and the land 
gets up and walks, unable to find peace.

That is why those who came before we did said that four gods, painted in 
different colors, returned to the world. They placed themselves at the four 
corners of the world in order to grab hold of the sky so that it would not fall 
and it would stay still and good and even, so sun and moon and stars and dreams 
could walk without difficulty.

However, those of the first steps on these lands recount, by times one or more 
of the bacabes, the upholders of the sky, would start to dream or would be 
distracted by a cloud, and then he would not hold up his side of the earth’s 
roof tightly, and then the sky the roof of the world, would come loose and 
would want to fall over the earth, and the sun and the moon would not have an 
even path and nor would the stars.

That is how it happened from the beginning, that is why the first gods, those 
who birthed the world, left one of the upholders of the sky in charge, and he 
had to stay alert, in order to read the sky and to see when it began coming 
loose, and then this upholder had to speak to the other upholders in order to 
awaken them, so they would tighten up their side and put things straight again.

And this upholder never sleeps, he must always be alert and watchful, in order 
to awaken the others when evil falls on the earth. And the most ancient of 
journey and word say that this upholder of the sky carries a caracol [conch] 
hanging from his chest, and he listens to the sounds and silences of the world 
with it, and he calls the other upholders with it so that they do not sleep or 
in order to awaken them.

And those who were the very first say that this upholder of the sky, so that he 
would not sleep, came and went inside his own heart, by way of the paths he 
carried in his chest, and those ancient teachers say that this upholder taught 
men and women the word and its writing, because they say that while the word 
walks the world it is possible for evil to be quieted and for the world to be 
just right, they say.

That is why the word of the one who does not sleep, of he who is alert to evil 
and its wicked deeds, does not travel directly from one side to the other, 
instead he walks towards himself, following the lines of reason, and the 
knowledgeable ones from before say that the hearts of men and women have the 
shape of a caracol, and those of good heart and thoughts walk from one side to 
the other, awakening the gods and men so that they will be alert to whether the 
world is just right.. That is why the one who stays awake when the others are 
sleeping uses his caracol, and he uses it for many things, but most especially 
in order to not forget.”

With his last words, Old Antonio had taken a wand and sketched something in the 
dirt. Old Antonio goes, and I go as well. The sun is just barely peeking 
through the horizon in the east, as if it were just looking, as if checking to 
see if the one who is staying awake has not gone to sleep, and if there is 
someone staying alert for the world to become fine again.

I returned there at the hour of pozol, when the sun had already dried the earth 
and my cap. At one side of the fallen trunk, I saw the sketch which Old Antonio 
had made on the ground. It was a firmly traced spiral, it was a caracol.

The sun was halfway through its journey when I returned to the meeting with the 
committees. The death of the “Aguascalientes” having been decided the previous 
dawn, now being decided was the birth of the “Caracoles,” with other functions 
in addition to the ones the now dying “Aguascalientes” had.

And so the “Caracoles” will be like doors for going into the communities and 
for the communities to leave. Like windows for seeing us and for us to look 
out. Like speakers for taking our word far, and for listening to what is far 
away. But, most especially, for reminding us that we should stay awake and be 
alert to the rightness of the worlds which people the world.

The committees of each region have met together in order to name their 
respective caracoles. There will be hours of proposals, discussions on 
translations, laughter, anger and voting. I know that takes a long time, so I 
withdraw and tell them to let me know when an agreement has been reached.

In the barracks now, we are eating, and then, sitting around the table, Monarca 
says that he has found a really “fantastic” pool for bathing and he doesn’t 
know what all else. The fact is that Rolando, who doesn’t bathe even in his own 
self-defense, gets enthusiastic and says “Let’s go.”

I’ve been listening with some skepticism (it wouldn’t be the first time that 
Monarca has been up to tricks), but, since we have to wait anyway for the 
committees to reach agreement, I say “Let’s go” as well. José Luis stays in 
order to catch up with us later, because he hasn’t eaten, and so the three of 
us – Rolando, Monarca and me – leave first. We cross a pasture, and nothing. We 
cross a milpa, and nothing. I told Rolando: “I think we’re going to arrive when 
the war is already over.” Monarca replies that “we’re just about there.”

We finally arrive. The pool is in a ford of the river where cattle cross and 
is, therefore, muddy and surrounded with cow and horse dung. Rolando and I 
protest in unison. Monarca defends himself: “It wasn’t like this yesterday.” I 
say: “Besides, its cold now, I don’t think I’m going to bathe.” Rolando, who 
lost his enthusiasm during the walk, remembers that dirt, like Piporro put it 
so well, also protects against bullets, and he joins in with a “I don’t think I 
will either.” Monarca lets out then with a speech about duty and I don’t know 
what all else and says that “privations and sacrifices don’t matter.” I ask him 
what duty has to with his bloody pool, and then he delivers a low blow, because 
he says: “Ah, then you’re backing out.”

He shouldn’t have said it. Rolando was grinding his teeth like an angry boar 
while he was taking his clothes off, and I was chewing my pipe as I undressed 
completely, down to completely revealing my “other average personal details.” 
We dove into the water, more out of pride than desire. We bathed somehow, but 
the mud left our hair in such a state that we would have been the envy of the 
most radical punk. José Luis arrived and said “the water’s a mess.” Roland and 
I said to him, in stereo, “Ah, then you’re backing out.” And so José Luis also 
got into the muddy pool. When we got out, we realized that no one had brought 
anything to dry ourselves off with. Rolando said “Then we’ll dry off in the 
wind.” And so we only put on our boots and our pistols, and we started back, 
absolutely stark naked, with our minutiae exposed, drying ourselves in the sun.

Suddenly José Luis, who was marching in the vanguard, alerted us, 
saying “people coming.” We put on our ski-masks and continued on ahead. It was 
a group of compañeras who were going to wash clothes in the river. Of course 
they laughed and someone said something in their language. I asked Monarca if 
he’d heard what they said, and he told me “There goes the Sup.” Hmm…I say they 
recognized me by the pipe, because, believe me, I haven’t given them any reason 
to have recognized me from the “other” average personal details.

Before we got to the barracks, we got dressed, even though we were still wet, 
because we didn’t want to disturb the rebels either. They advised us then that 
the committees had already finished. Each caracol now had a name assigned:

The Caracol of La Realidad, of Tojolabal, Tzeltal and Mame zapatistas, will be 
called “Madre de los Caracoles del Mar de Nuestros Sueños [Mother of Caracoles 

The Caracol of Morelia, of Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Tojolabal zapatistas, will be 
called “Torbellino de Nuestras Palabras” [Whirlwind of Our Words], or “MUC’UL 

The Caracol of La Garrucha, of Tzeltal zapatistas, will be called “Resistencia 
Hacia un Nuevo Amanecer” [Resistance for a New Dawn], or “TE PUY TAS MALIYEL 

The Caracol of Roberto Barrios, of Chol, Zoque and Tzeltal zapatistas, will be 
called “El Caracol Que Habla Para Todos” [The Caracol Which Speaks For All], 
TI LAK PEJTEL” (in Chol).

The Caracol of Oventik, of Tzotziles and Tzeltales, will be called “Resistencia 
y Rebeldía Por la Humanidad” [Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity], or “TA 

That afternoon it didn’t rain, and the sun was able to come out without any 
problems, traveling through a level sky, towards the house it has behind the 
mountain. The moon came out then, and, even though it seems incredible, the 
dawn warmed the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

(To Be Continued…)

>From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, July of 2003.

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele 

Part Four: A Plan 

The zapatista indigenous communities have been committed for several years now 
to a process of building autonomy. For us, autonomy is not fragmentation of the 
country or separatism, but the exercise of the right to govern and govern 
ourselves, as established in Article 39 of the political Constitution of the 
United Mexican States. 

>From the beginning of our uprising, and even long before, we zapatista 
indigenous have insisted that we are Mexicans...but we are also indigenous. 
This means that we demand a place in the Mexican nation, but without ceasing to 
be what we are. 

The purported zapatista project for a "Mayan Nation" exists solely in the 
papers of some of the stupidest military persons in the Mexican Federal Army 
who, knowing that the war they are waging against us is illegitimate, are using 
this poor argument in order to convince their troops that, by attacking us, 
they are defending Mexico. The high military command and their intelligence 
services know, however, that the aim of the EZLN is not to separate itself from 
Mexico, but, as its initials say, for "national liberation." 

The separatist project for the Mexican Southeast does indeed exist, on the 
other hand, in the implementation of the neoliberal doctrine in our lands, and 
it is being directed by the federal government. The now ill-fated "Plan Puebla 
Panama" was nothing more than a plan for fragmenting the country, assigning the 
Mexican southeast the function of "reserve" for world capital. 

In the fragmentation project which is being operated by the government (this is 
the real agenda of the political parties and the three branches of the 
government, not the one which appears in the press), Mexico will be divided in 
3: The north, with its states incorporated into the economic and commercial 
framework of the American Union; the center, as provider of consumers with 
middle and high level purchasing power; and the South-Southeast, as a territory 
to be conquered for the appropriation of natural resources which, in the 
globalized destruction, are increasingly more important: water, air and land 
(wood, oil, uranium...and people). 

Being simple and laconic, we would hold that the plan is to make the north into 
a great maquila, the center into a gigantic mall and the south-southeast into a 
large finca. 

But plans on paper are one thing, and reality is another. Big capital's 
voracity, the corruption of the political class, the inefficiency of public 
administration and the increasing resistance of groups, collectives and 
communities, have all prevented the plan from being fully implemented. And, 
where it is able to be established, it demonstrates the solidity of a shaky 
cardboard stage set. 

Since "suicides" seem to be fashionable for Power of late, we might say that 
there is no better concept for defining the plan that politicians and 
businesspersons have for our country: it's a suicide. 

The globalization of Capital needs the destruction of the Nation State. For 
some time the Nation State has been (among other things) the trench where local 
capital has taken refuge in order to survive and grow. But there is only a bit 
of rubble left of the trench. 

In the countryside, small and mid-size producers have been succumbing in the 
face of large agro-industry. They will soon be followed by the large national 
producers. In the cities, the "malls," the commercial centers, are not only 
destroying small and mid-size businesses, they are also "swallowing up" the 
large national companies. Not even to mention national industry, which is 
already in its last death throes. 

In response to this, the strategy of national capital has been naive, if not 
stupid. It has been distributing coins on one side and the other of the 
spectrum of the political parties, thus ensuring (or at least believing) that 
it does not matter what color [party] is governing, because it will always be 
at the service of the color of money. And so big Mexican businessmen finance 
the PRI, the PAN and the PRD equally, as well as any political party which 
might have a chance in the governmental and parliamentary rackets. 

During their meetings (like in the times of the mafia in North America, 
weddings are generally a pretext for the great gentlemen to sign agreements and 
settle conflicts), the Mexican gentlemen of money congratulate each other. They 
have the entire national political class on the payroll. 

But I regret to have to give them some bad news: as the now silenced scandal of 
the "Friends of Fox" demonstrated, the heavy duty money comes from the other 
side. If the one who pays, governs, the one who pays more governs more. And so 
those politicians will promote laws commensurate with the checks they receive. 
Sooner or later, big foreign capital will be appropriating everything, starting 
by bankrupting and absorbing those who have the most. And all of this with the 
protection of "ad hoc" laws. Politicians are now, and have been for some time, 
docile employees...of whomever pays more. National businessmen are quite wrong 
if they think that foreign capital will be satisfied with the electricity 
industry and oil. The new power in the world wants everything. And so there 
will be nothing left of national capital but nostalgia and, if they're lucky, 
some minor positions on the boards of directors. 

Dying national capital, in its historical blindness, looks at any form of 
social organization with terror. The houses of rich Mexicans are protected with 
complicated security systems. They fear that the hand which is going to snatch 
what they have away from them is going to come from below. By exercising their 
right to schizophrenia, rich Mexicans are revealing not only the real source of 
their prosperity, but also their shortsightedness. They will be dispossessed, 
yes, but not by improbable popular rage, rather by an avarice that is even 
larger than theirs: those who are indeed rich where the wealth is. Misfortune 
will not enter by assaulting the great mansions at dawn, but through the front 
door and during office hours. The thief will not have the physique of the 
destitute, but of the prosperous banker. 

The one who will be stripping everything from Slim, the Zambranos, Los Romo, 
the Salinas Pliegos, the Azca'rragas, the Salinas de Gortaris, and the other 
surnames from the limited universe of wealthy Mexicans, do not speak Tzeltal, 
Tzotzil, Chol or Tojolabal, nor do they have dark skin. They speak English, 
their skin is the green of the color of money, they studied in foreign 
universities, and they are thieves with cultivated manners. 

That is why armies and police forces will be of no use to them. They are 
preparing and entrenching themselves in order to fight against rebel forces, 
but their greatest enemy, the one which will annihilate them completely, 
practices the same ideology: savage capitalism. 

The traditional political class, for its part, has already begun to be 
displaced. If the State is viewed as a business, it is better if managers, not 
politicians, run it. And in the "nation-state.com" neo-business, the art of 
politics is of no use. 

The politicians of yesteryear have now realized that, and they are positioning 
themselves for ambush in their respective regional or local trenches. But the 
neoliberal hurricane will also go there to seek them out. 

Meanwhile, national capital will continue with their sumptuous feasts. And they 
might never realize that one of their guests will be their gravedigger. 

That is why those who are longing for the defense of the Nation State to come 
from national businessmen, from politicians or from "the institutions of the 
Republic," are waiting in vain. The one, the other and the other have all been 
intoxicated by the hologram of national power, and they do not realize that 
they will soon be thrown out of the mansion they now have. 

We, the zapatistas, have referred on some occasions to the so-called "Plan 
Puebla Panama" as something already extinct. This has been for various reasons: 

One is that the plan has already been undermined, and even the attempt at its 
implementation will do nothing but worsen social uprisings. 

Another is that the plan expects us to accept that things have already been 
decided in the north and center of the country and that no one is opposed. This 
is false. The routes of resistance and rebellion cross the entire national 
territory, and they are also surfacing there, where modernity seems to have 
completely triumphed. 

Another reason is that, at least in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, its 
implementation will not, for any reason, be permitted. 

We have no problem if Derbez and Taylor continue conning businessmen with the 
Plan, or if some officials earn a salary for working on a corpse. We have done 
our duty by letting them know, and everyone can believe whatever they wish. 

The government's main plan is not the "Plan Puebla Panama." That is only useful 
for entertaining a part of the state bureaucracy and so that national 
businessmen will fall for the idea that now the government will, yes, be doing 
something to improve the economy. 

The main plan of the presidential couple, on the other hand, involves something 
completely separate from the "PPP": dismantling all of the already weak 
defenses of the national economy, handing it over completely to globalized 
disorder and lessening, just a bit, with sermons and handouts, the brutal 
impact of a world war which has already devastated several nations. 

If Carlos Salinas de Gortari's post-administration plan was "Pronasol" 
(remember that the "solidarity party" was even beginning to be formed), for Fox 
it is the "Let's Go Mexico Foundation" which Martha Sahagu'n de Fox 
directs. "Pronasol" was nothing but institutionalized handouts. "Let's Go 
Mexico" has, in addition, a strong odor of rancid gossip. 

Government plans are generally complicated and grandiose, but the only thing 
which is concealed by so many words are the high salaries of its officials. 
These plans serve only to have offices, release press communique's and give the 
impression that something is being done for the people. 

Those who govern governing have forgotten that the virtue of a good plan is 
that it should be simple. 

And so, in response to the "Plan Puebla Panama" in particular, and against all 
global plans for the fragmentation of the Mexican Nation in general, the 
Zapatista Army of National Liberation is now launching the..."Plan La Realidad-
Tijuana" (or "RealiTi"). 

The Plan involves linking all the resistances in our country and, along with 
them, rebuilding the Mexican nation from below. There are men, women, children 
and old ones in all the states of the federation who do not surrender and who, 
even though they go unnamed, are fighting for democracy, liberty and justice. 
Our plan involves speaking with them and listening to them. 

The "La Realidad-Tijuana" plan has no budget whatsoever, nor officials, nor 
offices. It has only those people who, in their place, in their time and in 
their way, are resisting dispossession, and who remember that the patria is not 
a business with branch offices, but a common history. And history is not 
something which is just the past. It is also, and above all, the future. 

Like the Corrido of the White Horse, but in Shadow-Light and departing one 
Sunday from La Realidad (and not from Guadalajara), the zapatista word and ear 
will cross the entire national territory, from Cancun and Tapachula, to 
Matamoros and La Paz, it will arrive in Tijuana at the light of day, it will 
pass through Rosarito, and it will not back off until it sees Ensenada. 

And not just that. Given that our modest aim is to contribute in some way to 
the building of a world where many worlds fit, we also have a plan for the five 

For the north of the American continent, we have the "Morelia-North Pole Plan," 
which includes the American Union and Canada. 

For Central America, the Caribbean and South America, we have the "La Garrucha-
Tierra del Fuego Plan." 

For Europe and Africa, we have the "Oventik-Moscow Plan" (traveling to the east 
and passing through Cancun this September). 

For Asia and Oceania, we have the "Roberto Barrios-New Delhi Plan" (traveling 
to the west). 

The plan is the same for the five continents: fighting against neoliberalism 
and for humanity. 

And we also have a plan for the galaxies, but we still don't know what name to 
give it (the "Earth-Alpha Centauri Plan"?). Our intergalactic plan is as simple 
as the previous ones, and it involves, in broad strokes, in it not being 
shameful to call oneself a "human being." 

It is obvious that our plans have several advantages: they are not onerous, 
they do not have any directors and they can be carried out without ribbon 
cuttings, without boring ceremonies, without statues and without the music 
group having to repress its desire to play - now to the rhythm of the cumbia 
and while the respectable kick up their heels - the one that goes "the horizon 
can now be seen..." 

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. 

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos 

July of 2003. 

Chiapas, Mexico, American Continent, Planet Earth, Solar System, Galaxy... 
Galaxy...What is our galaxy called? 

P.S. Speaking of evil plans, this July 25, it will be 9 years since the attack 
on the procession of the then candidate for Governor of Chiapas, Amado Avenda~o 
Figueroa, in which social activists Agusti'n Rubio, Ernesto Fonseca and 
Rigoberto Mauricio, lost their lives. Justice is still pending. I don't know 
about you, but we have not forgotten. 

CHIAPAS: The Thirteenth Stele 

Part Five: A History 

The history of the rebel zapatista Autonomous Municipalities is relatively 
young, it is 7 years old, going on 8. Although they were declared at the time 
the December 1994 siege was broken, the rebel zapatista Autonomous 
Municipalities (the MAREZ) still took a while to become reality. 

Today, the exercise of indigenous autonomy is a reality in zapatista lands, and 
we are proud to say that it has been led by the communities themselves. The 
EZLN has been engaged in this process only in order to accompany, and to 
intervene when there have been conflicts or deviations. That is why the EZLN's 
spokesperson has not been the same as the Autonomous Municipalities'. The 
Autonomous Municipalities themselves have directly communicated their 
denuncias, requests, agreements, "twinnings" (not a few rebel zapatista 
Autonomous Municipalities maintain relationships with municipalities in other 
countries, primarily in Italy). If the autonomous have now asked the EZLN to 
fulfill the duties of spokesperson, it is because they have entered into a 
higher stage of development and, having broadened, announcements are not the 
purview of one, or several, municipalities. That is the reason for the 
agreement that the EZLN would announce these current changes. 

The problems of the autonomous authorities, in the period which is now over, 
can be divided into two types: those having to do with their relationship with 
national and international civil society, and those having to do with self-
governance, that is, with relations with zapatista and non-zapatista 

In their relationship with national and international civil society, the 
primary problem has been an unbalanced development of the Autonomous 
Municipalities, of the communities located within them, and, even, of the 
zapatista families who live there. Those Autonomous Municipalities which are 
most well known (like those which were the seats of the now 
defunct "Aguascalientes") or closer at hand (closer to urban centers or with 
highway access), have received more projects and more support. The same thing 
has taken place with the communities. The most well known and those along the 
highway receive more attention from "civil societies." 

In the case of zapatista families, what happens is that, when civil society 
visits the communities or works on projects or sets up a peace camp, they 
usually build special relationships with one or more families in the community. 
Those families will, obviously, have more advantages - assignments, gifts or 
special attention - than the rest, even though they are all zapatistas. Nor is 
it unusual for those who interact with civil society because of the position 
they occupy in the community, in the Autonomous Municipality, in the region or 
in the area, to receive special attention and gifts which often give rise to 
talk in the rest of the community and do not follow the zapatista criterion 
of "to each according to his needs." 

I should clarify that it is not a bad relationship, nor what someone proudly 
called "well intentioned counterinsurgency," but rather something natural in 
human relations. It can, however, produce imbalances in community life if there 
are no counterbalances to that privileged attention. 

Regarding the relationship with zapatista communities, the "govern obeying" has 
been administered without distinction. The authorities must see that 
communities' agreements are carried out, their decisions must be regularly 
informed, and the collective "weight", along with the "word of mouth" which 
functions in all the communities, become a kind of monitoring which is 
difficult to avoid. Even so, instances take place of persons managing to get 
around this and to become corrupt, but it does not get very far. It is 
impossible to conceal illicit enrichment in the communities. The guilty party 
is punished by being compelled to do collective work and to repay to the 
community whatever he wrongfully took. 

When the authority goes amiss, becomes corrupt or, to use a local term, "is a 
shirker," he is removed from his position, and a new authority replaces him. In 
the zapatista communities, the position of authority is not remunerated at all 
(during the time that the person is in authority, the community helps to 
support him). It is conceived as work in the collective interest, and it is 
rotated. It is not infrequently enforced by the collective in order to punish 
laxness or indifference of some of its members, such as, when someone misses a 
lot of the community assemblies, they are punished by being given a position 
such as municipal agent or ejidal commissioner. 

This "form" of self-governance (of which I am giving just the sketchiest 
summary) is not an invention or contribution of the EZLN. It comes from further 
back in time. When the EZLN was born, it had already been operating for a good 
while, although only at the level of each community. 

It was because of the enormous growth of the EZLN (as I have already explained, 
this was at the end of the 80s), that this practice moved from the local to the 
regional. Functioning with local responsables (that is, those in charge of the 
organization in each community), regional ones (a group of communities) and 
area ones (a group of regions), the EZLN saw that those who did not discharge 
their duties were, in a natural fashion, replaced by another. Although here, 
given that it is a political-military organization, the command makes the final 

What I mean by this is that the EZLN's military structure in some 
way "contaminated" a tradition of democracy and self-governance. The EZLN was, 
in a manner of speaking, one of the "undemocratic" elements in a relationship 
of direct community democracy (another anti-democratic element is the Church, 
but that's a matter for another paper). 

When the Autonomous Municipalities began operating, self-governance did not 
move just from the local to the regional, it also emerged (always tendentially) 
from the "shadow" of the military structure. The EZLN does not intervene at all 
in the designation or removal of autonomous authorities, and it has limited 
itself to only pointing out that, given that the EZLN, by principle, is not 
fighting for the taking of power, none of the military command or members of 
the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee can occupy a position of 
authority in the community or in the Autonomous Municipalities. Those who 
decide to participate in the autonomous governments must definitively resign 
from their organizational position within the EZLN. 

I am not going to expand much on the operations of the Autonomous Councils. 
They have their own methods of acting ("their way," as we say) as guarantor, 
and there are not a few witnesses (national and international "civil societies" 
who have seen them functioning and who work with them directly). 

I do not, however, want to leave the impression that it is something perfect or 
that it should be idealized. The "govern obeying" in zapatista territories is a 
tendency, and it is not exempt from ups and downs, contradictions and errors, 
but it is a dominant tendency. Its having managed to survive in conditions of 
persecution, harassment and poverty that have rarely existed in the history of 
the world speaks to the fact that it has benefited the communities. In 
addition, the autonomous councils have managed to carry forward, with the 
fundamental support of "civil societies," a colossal labor: the building of the 
material conditions for resistance. 

Charged with governing a territory in rebellion, that is, without any 
institutional support and under persecution and harassment, the autonomous 
councils have focused their efforts on two fundamental aspects: health and 

In health, they have not limited themselves to building clinics and pharmacies 
(always helped by "civil societies," it must not be forgotten), they also train 
health workers and maintain constant campaigns for community health and disease 

.One of those campaigns came very close, once, to costing me being criticized 
in assembly (I don't know if you know what it's like being criticized in an 
assembly, but, if not, it's enough to tell you that hell must be something like 
that) and being "looked at" by the community (the people "look" at you, but 
with one of those looks which make you tremble, in sum, a kind of purgatory). 
It so happened that, I think I was in La Realidad, I was passing through, and I 
spent the night in one of the huts the compas have for these cases. The 
community's "health committee" was going around checking out the latrines in 
each house (there was an agreement that the latrines had to be regularly 
blocked with lime or ash in order to prevent the spread of disease). Our 
latrine, of course, had neither lime nor ash. The "health committee" told me, 
kindly, "companero subcomandante insurgente Marcos, we're checking out the 
latrines by agreement of the community, and your latrine doesn't have! 
lime or ash, so you have to put it in, and we're going to come tomorrow to see 
if it has it then." I began babbling something about the trip, the lame horse, 
the communique's, military movements, the paramilitaries and I don't remember 
what all else. The "health committee" listened patiently until I stopped 
talking and said only "that's all companero subcomandante insurgente Marcos." 
When the "health committee" came by the next day, the latrine, of course, had 
ash, lime, sand, but not cement, only because I couldn't find any and seal the 
latrine up forever... 

Regarding education - in lands where there had been no schools, let alone 
teachers - the Autonomous Councils (with the help of "civil societies," I will 
not tire of repeating) built schools, trained education promoters and, in some 
cases, even created their own curricula. Literacy manuals and textbooks are 
created by "education committees" and promoters, accompanied by "civil 
societies" who know about those subjects. In some areas (not in all, it's 
true), they have managed to see to it that girls - who have been traditionally 
deprived of access to learning - go to school. Although they have also seen to 
it that women are no longer sold and may freely choose their mate, what 
feminists call "gender discrimination" still exists in zapatista lands. 
The "women's revolutionary law" still has a long way to go in being fulfilled. 

Continuing with education, in some places the zapatista bases have made 
agreements with teachers from the democratic section of the teachers' union 
(those who aren't with Gordillo) that they will not do counterinsurgency work 
and will respect the curricula recommended by the Autonomous Councils. 
Zapatistas in fact, these democratic teachers accepted the agreement, and they 
have fully complied with it. 

Neither the health nor the educational services take in all the zapatista 
communities, it's true, but a large number of them, the majority, now have a 
means of obtaining medicine, of being treated for an illness and for having a 
vehicle for taking them to the city in case of illness or serious accident. 
Literacy and primary education are hardly widespread, but one region already 
has an autonomous secondary school which, incidentally, recently "graduated" a 
new generation made up of men and, ojo, indigenous women. 

.A few days ago, they showed me the diplomas and school-leaving certificates 
from the Rebel Autonomous Zapatista Secondary School. My humble opinion is that 
they should have made them out of chewing gum, because at the top they 
have "EZLN. Zapatista Army of National Liberation," and then they read 
(in "Castillo" and in Tzotzil) "The Rebel Autonomous Zapatista Educational 
System of National Liberation (referring to how it operates in Los Altos, 
because there are other educational systems in other areas) certifies that 
student so-and-so has satisfactorily completed the three grades of the 
Autonomous Secondary School, in accordance with the Zapatista Plans and 
Programs in ESRAZ, Primero de Enero of 1994 Rebel Autonomous Zapatista 
Secondary School, obtaining an average of__. Therefore our Educational System 
recognizes your efforts, your contributions to the resistance struggle and 
invites you to share with our peoples what the people have given you." And it 
then says "For a l! 
iberating education! For a scientific and popular education! I put myself at 
the service of my people." And so, in the event of persecution, the student 
will not only be unable to show it, she will also have to eat it, that's why it 
would be better if it were chewing gum. There is also the report card (which 
appears as "Recognition"), and there you can read the subjects (in reality, 
they aren't subjects, but "areas") which were completed: Humanism, Sports, 
Arts, Reflection on Reality, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Reflections on 
the Mother Language, Communication, Mathematics and Productions and Services to 
the Community. There are only two assessments: "A" ("area approved") and "ANA" 
("area not approved"). I know that the "Anas" of the world are going to be 
offended, but there's nothing I can do, because, like I say, autonomies are 

Education is free, and the "education committees" go to great efforts (I 
repeat: with the support of "civil societies") to see that each student has his 
own notebook and her pencil, without having to pay for it. 

In health, efforts are being made to see that it is free as well. In some 
zapatista clinics, they no longer charge the companeros, not for the consult, 
not for the medicine, not for the operation (if it's necessary and able to be 
performed in our circumstances), and in the others only the cost of the 
medicine is charged, not the consult nor the medical care. Our clinics have the 
help and direct participation of specialists, surgeons, doctors, nurses from 
national and international civil society, as well as from students and 
assistants in medicine and odontology from UNAM, from UAM and from other 
institutions of higher education. They do not charge one single peso, and, not 
infrequently, they pay out of their own pockets. 

I know that some of you will be thinking that this is starting to look like a 
government report, and the only thing missing is my saying "the number of poor 
have been reduced" or some other "Fox-ism", but no, the number of poor have 
increased here, because the number of zapatistas have increased, and one thing 
goes with the other. 

That is why I want to emphasize that all of this is taking place under 
conditions of extreme poverty, shortages and technical and information 
limitations, in addition to the fact that the government does everything 
possible to block those projects which come from other countries. 

A short time ago, I was talking with some "civil societies" about the suffering 
they had to go through in order to bring a freezer that worked off solar 
energy. The project involved vaccinating children, but the majority of the 
communities do not have electricity or, if they do have it, they don't have a 
refrigerator. And so the freezer would allow the vaccine to be maintained until 
it was administered to those who needed it. Fine, it so happened that, in order 
to bring the freezer, they had to go through an infinity of bureaucratic 
procedures and, according to their investigation, there was only one 
organization which could bring what they wanted in from the outside 
expeditiously: Martha Sahagu'n de Fox's "Let's Go Mexico Foundation." They did 
not, of course, resort to that publicity agency. They carried out all the 
procedures, and the freezer will be installed, although late, and there will be 

In addition to education and health, the Autonomous Councils look at problems 
with land, work and trade, where they are making a little progress. They also 
look at the issues of housing and food. Where we are in our infancy. Where 
things are doing a bit well is in culture and information. In culture, the 
defense of language and cultural traditions is being promoted above all. In 
information, news in local languages is being transmitted through the various 
zapatista radio stations. Also being regularly transmitted, alternating with 
music of all kinds, are messages recommending that men respect the women, and 
calling for women to organize themselves and to demand respect for their 
rights. And, it may not be much, but our coverage on the war in Iraq was very 
superior to CNN's (which, strictly speaking, isn't saying much). 

The Autonomous Councils also administer justice. The results are erratic. In 
some places (in San Andres Sacamch'en de los Pobres, for example) even the PRIs 
go to the autonomous authorities because, as they say, "they do take care of it 
and resolve the problem." In others, as I will explain now, there are problems. 

If the relationship between the Autonomous Councils and the communities is full 
of contradictions, the relationship with non-zapatista communities has been one 
of constant friction and confrontation. 

In the offices of non-governmental human rights defenders (and in the 
Comandancia General of the EZLN), there are a fair few denuncias against 
zapatistas for alleged human rights violations, injustices and arbitrary acts. 
In the case of the denuncias which the Comandancia receives, they are turned 
over to the committees in the region in order to investigate their veracity 
and, when the results are positive, to resolve the problem, bringing the 
parties together in order to come to agreement. 

But in the case of human rights defenders organizations, there is doubt and 
confusion, because there has been no definition as to whom they should be 
directed. To the EZLN or to the Autonomous Councils? 

And they are right (the human rights defenders), because there is no clarity on 
this matter. There is also the problem of differences between statute law 
and "uses and customs" (as the jurists say) or "path of good thinking" (as we 
say). The resolution of the latter belongs to those who have made the defense 
of human rights their lives. Or, as in the case of Digna Ochoa (whom the 
special prosecutor regarded as nothing more than an office worker - as if being 
an office worker was somehow less - but who was, and is, a defender for the 
politically persecuted), their death. Regarding a clear definition of whom one 
should direct oneself to in order to process those denuncias, it belongs to the 
zapatistas. It will be made known soon how they will try to resolve them. 

In sum, there are not a few problems confronting indigenous autonomy in 
zapatista lands. In order to try and resolve some of them, important changes 
have been made in its structure and operation. But I will tell you of these 
later, now I just want to give a brief sketch of where we're at. 

This long explication is owing to the fact that indigenous autonomy has not 
been the work of just the zapatistas. If the process has been carried out 
exclusively by the communities, its realization has had the support of many and 
many more. 

If the uprising of January 1, 1994 was possible because of the conspiratorial 
complicity of tens of thousands of indigenous, the building of autonomy in 
rebel lands is possible because of the complicity of hundreds of thousands of 
persons of different colors, different nationalities, different cultures, 
different languages, in short, of different worlds. 

They, with their help, have made possible (for the good, because the bad is our 
responsibility alone), not the resolution of the demands of the rebel zapatista 
indigenous, but their being able to improve their living conditions a bit, and, 
above all, to survive and make grow one more, perhaps the smallest, of the 
alternatives in the face of a world which excludes all the "others," that is, 
indigenous, young people, women, children, migrants, workers, teachers, 
campesinos, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, unemployed, homosexuals, lesbians, 
transsexuals, committed and honest religious persons, artists and progressive 
intellectuals and____(add whatever is missing). 

There should also be a diploma for all of them (and those who are not them), 
which says "The Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Rebel Zapatista 
Indigenous Communities certify that____ (name of the accomplice in question) is 
our brother/sister and has, in these lands and with us, a dusk-colored heart as 
home, dignity as food, rebellion as flag, and, for tomorrow, a world where many 
worlds fit. Given in zapatista lands and skies at such and such a day of such 
and such a month of the year, etcetera." And it would be signed by those 
zapatistas who know how to do so, and those who can't would leave their mark. 
I, in a corner, would put: 

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. 

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos 

Mexico, July of 2003. 

(To Be Continued...) 

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Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 07:16:45 -0400
From: Ricardo Dominguez <rdom@thing.net>
Subject: Electronic Action in Australia against Education Reforms 

Electronic Action in Australia against Education Reforms 
   Join the electronic sit-in on Friday, 1st August, 2003 organized by The 
savehighered collective. 

*******Do not circulate this alert after Friday, 1st August, 2003*******

ACTION ALERT: Join the NO_WAY_NELSON electronic sit-in

The savehighered collective has been actively campaigning to have Nelson's 
reforms or negotiated deals blocked in the Senate.

For decades thousands of Australians have had free or cheap higher education. 
Under the proposals (known as the Nelson review) from the Federal Education 
Minister, Brendan Nelson, there will be fewer publicly funded places and 
universities will be able to charge up to 30% on top of the government-set fees 
for a course and TAFE fees will go up. The irony is that the Minister and his 
Coalition mates all got the benefit of a free education!

Higher education contributes $4 billion to Australia's export market and yet 
the government spends as little as 6% of GDP on higher education. The Federal 
Education Minister has said that it would cost $3 billion to properly fund 
public higher education. Yet the current government has slashed more than $3 
billion from universities.

The government treats higher education like a liability rather than an 
investment in our future. The Senate must not back away from its commitment to 
ensure the maintenance of and continuance of affordable and accessible higher 
education for
ALL Australians.

If you believe that education should be affordable and accessible to ALL global 
citizens then take part in the NO_WAY_NELSON electronic sit-in. Send a message 
to the Australian Government and the Senate that Australians want affordable 
and accessible higher education. HELP STOP YET ANOTHER GOVERNMENT FROM 
What can you do?
Join the electronic sit-in on Friday, 1st August, 2003
Log onto http://www.dest.gov.au at
+ 1pm to 2pm in Eastern states
+ 12:30pm to 1:30pm in South Australia and Northern Territory
+ 11am to 12pm in Western Australia

If you are an international supporter - THANK YOU - log on to coincide with 1pm 
Australian Eastern Standard Time

Send this Action Alert to people you know that are concerned about the state of 
higher education in Australia.

Visit http://savehighered.angelcities.com for more information

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