Monday, February 25, 2008

3 Zap Tours in the USA and Beyond

Gloria Muñoz Ramírez brings 'The Fire and the Word' to Oxnard, CA

There are at least three Zapatista-related tours taking place within the USA right now:

Campaign EZLN: The Fire and the Word - Acclaimed Mexican journalist Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, who devoted seven years of her life to working in the zapatista communities and currently writes a column for La Jornada covering "struggles from below" throughout the world, is touring the USA and beyond to share the history of rebellion of the zapatistas and to raise money to support projects of the zapatistas' Councils of Good Government. She is bringing with her a video, a photo exhibit, a book, and a musical collection. This is a really unique opportunity that should not be missed - keep an eye on the website for when the tour is coming your way... or get in touch with them to see if you can arrange a stop in your town.

"Beyond Resistance: Everything" Book Tour: The Zapatistas, The Other Campaign, and US - El Kilombo Intergaláctico, a people of color collective and social center in Durham, North Carolina, have just published their first book and are touring the East Coast to discuss what a movement from below might look like in the US. What more do you need to know? Get the book and book the tour!

From East Harlem to Southern California Tour - Movement for Justice in El Barrio are kicking off an incredibly ambitious year with this tour to dialogue and connect with people fighting gentrification in Southern California and to build their International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio. Check out the bottom of this post to see a run down of everything they have in store in the coming months, including tours of Texas, the UK and Mexico. Prepare to join the International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio!

Also worth mentioning is the CAPISE tour of the US and Europe on the current repression against the zapatistas, which I covered in the body and comments of this post and got a recent write up in The Indypendent.

Looks like we've got 3 or 4 more tools to heat things up on the international front. Here's what some groups in Europe are planning... what are we doing in the USA?! To be continued...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Urban Zapatismo in NYC

Movement for Justice in El Barrio in action

Here's an up-to-date profile of Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB), this time for the upcoming April/May 2008 issue of Left Turn Magazine.

If you are in the New York City area, MJB and NACLA are hosting -tonight at 7p- a teach-in on the current repression against the zapatistas with the Director of CAPISE and a screening of a new film on the Other Campaign at the King Juan Carlos Center of New York University (53 Washington Square South)... if you can't make it I will be sending along any notes, links to audio/video from the gathering through the comments section of last week's post...

Movement for Justice in El Barrio
Urban Zapatismo in NYC
By RJ Maccani
for the April/May 2008 issue of Left Turn Magazine

Zapatismo is not a new political ideology or a rehash of old ideologies. Zapatismo is nothing, it doesn't exist. It only serves as a bridge, to cross from one side to the other. So everyone fits within zapatismo, everyone who wants to cross from one side to the other. Everyone has his or her own side and other side. There are no universal recipes, lines, strategies, tactics, laws, rules or slogans. There is only a desire: to build a better world, that is, a new world.
- The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (CCRI-CG of the EZLN)

Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB), an East Harlem-based organization of immigrants and low-income people of color, has been fighting gentrification in Manhattan’s “last frontier” for over three years now. Being majority Mexican and sharing an affinity for the zapatistas’ way of organizing, MJB decided less than a year after forming to join the Other Campaign as an essential component of their work for self-determination. Inspired by the zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the Other Campaign is a transnational, anti-capitalist movement for all Mexicans to liberate Mexico “from below and to the left.” Non-Mexican members of MJB support this initiative and are attentively watching the development of the Zezta Internazional, the global movement inspired by the zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration. MJB describes its work as “urban zapatismo in the heart of New York City.” What does this mean when the indigenous leadership of the EZLN describes zapatismo as “nothing…only…a bridge”? What is it that MJB are crossing over with this bridge called ‘zapatismo’?

Defeating Neoliberal Gentrification

Just a year ago, members of MJB were celebrating their victory against the multi-millionaire Steve Kessner, the worst slumlord in El Barrio. Or at least he was the worst. MJB forced Kessner to sell his entire East Harlem portfolio of 47 buildings just months after boasting to the Village Voice, “I'm not selling... No one is forcing me out of the neighborhood I helped build. This particular problem with this group [MJB] has been my only headache. Listen, I like this neighborhood. I have four sons in the business and we're going to grow. I'm going to finish my job."

Reflecting on this considerable victory, MJB member Oscar Dominguez described the broader horizon of the group’s work:
Since we began as an organization, our struggle has been a fight against neoliberalism. Our targets: HPD [the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development], the multi-national corporations, and landlords are all capitalists. We forced one powerful capitalist out named Steven Kessner. He was replaced by another capitalist, a multi-national corporation from London named Dawnay, Day Group. These are our targets. The struggle is the same. Our campaigns are against all of these. The form in which these capitalists try to gain their money is a crime against humanity.

MJB is now launching their International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio, an initiative of ‘David vs. Goliath’ proportions that will have them challenging the capitalist gentrifiers of El Barrio wherever on Earth they may be found. MJB will tour to build participation in the campaign, and is scheduled to appear in Southern California and Texas in March and the UK and Spain in April, with other support committees already forming in Chicago, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia.

The UK tour, which already has stops scheduled in London, Bristol, Reading, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Brighton, Leeds, Stirling, and Aberdeen, Scotland builds crucial support on the ground to fight Dawnay, Day Group at its home. This means that MJB will once again be going after the biggest capitalist on the block. Following their purchase of Kessner’s 47 buildings in East Harlem for the whopping sum of 250 million pounds, Dawnay, Day Group, which either owns or manages $10 billion in assets, informed The London Times that East Harlem is the “last area of the whole of Manhattan being gentrified” and that they in intend to take advantage of lax tenant protection laws in NYC to raise rents tenfold.

MJB is attempting to use that bridge called zapatismo to cross over from failed and compromised struggles against gentrification to successful ones that actually address its root cause: neoliberal capitalism. This explicit anti-capitalism is a key component of MJB’s urban zapatismo. There is another key component however, which has likely been the primary catalyst for the upsurge of interest in and support for MJB’s work over the past two years.

Self-Determination, Autonomy, Participatory Democracy

Much of MJB’s day-to-day work looks like that of many other community-based, social justice organizations around the country; they employ a variety of non-violent tactics (protests, direct actions, media tours, court actions, protests) against specific targets (landlords, mortgage lenders, city institutions) to achieve winnable demands (stopping a rent increase, getting the heat turned on in the winter, cancellation of unjust fees). The two key features that define MJB’s urban zapatismo are their explicit anti-capitalism and their commitment to honoring and developing self-determination, autonomy and participatory democracy within and outside of their organization and community. This means, for example, that unlike some other prominent housing rights groups in NYC, MJB accepts no government funding, and tactical decisions are not imposed from above, but made by those who must implement them.

“We represent ourselves,” announced MJB member Victor Caletre during their recent NYC Encuentro for Dignity and Against Gentrification. “Each of the 23 [now 26] buildings we work in has its own tenant association that decides what they will do and how they will choose to struggle,” Caletre continued, “And the rest of the organization supports their decision… It’s not only an organization that is struggling, but a community, and that community has the right to decide.” With this in mind, MJB recently carried out a Consulta del Barrio in which it consulted residents in East Harlem in order “to hear from people about where we should direct our next struggle.”

East Harlem is home to more than 100,000 people, half of whom are Latino. Spanish is the most spoken language after English, and is followed by Chinese and other Asian languages, Arabic, and several African languages. Recognizing the many worlds that exist within East Harlem, and echoing a sentiment that the zapatistas share when asked why they do not seek state power in Mexico, MJB member Oscar Dominguez inaugurated the Consulta del Barrio’s first town hall meeting by saying, “We are but one organization. How can we make decisions for El Barrio? We’ve learned that we can fight together and that the people themselves can fight without having to be under one leader.”

This framework for movement building, rooted in the active practice of self-determination by each participant and each organization involved, requires intentional cultivation. The Consulta del Barrio process—its town hall meetings, community dialogues, extensive street outreach, door knocking, house meetings, and community-wide votes—is a methodology of struggle and an organizing model that fosters this type of democratic participation throughout the community. Mexico’s Other Campaign, with its sector-based preparatory meetings and national listening tours, directly inspired MJB’s Consulta. “The Other Campaign has given us the magic touch to find another way,” remarked Caletre.

Over 1,500 community members participated in the Consulta del Barrio, and MJB is currently processing the results in order to launch a campaign later this year around the new issue that the community has selected. With the Consulta del Barrio, MJB is bringing more residents into the work and, by branching out beyond the struggle against gentrification, moving closer to its broader mission of “fighting against neoliberalism and discrimination in all of its forms… racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism…” Through this innovation, which helps to realize an actually existing and evolving urban zapatismo, MJB has attracted a great deal of interest and support outside of East Harlem.

A Model and Resource for the Movement

Last year, MJB’s Juan Haro was invited to Barcelona for the KRAX conference, an international gathering of organizations pursuing creative responses to urban conflict. Haro shared the Consulta del Barrio process with eleven organizations from eleven different countries, including Argentina, Bosnia, England, Japan, and Venezuela. MJB was also invited to present at a wide range of US-based universities and community organizations throughout the year. Of particular note was their extensive work with local chapters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and at one of their regional action camps. “It has really taken us by surprise,” MJB member Ana Laura Merino reflected, “to know how many organizations in NYC, throughout the US, in Mexico, and even in Spain have reached out to us, wish to learn how we fight in NYC, and have offered us their support.”

MJB spent time in 2007 not only to share their work with others, but also to collectively learn the lessons of other struggles. In particular, they had the opportunity to learn about the Young Lords, the racial injustice surrounding the case of the Jena 6, and the struggle of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO).

MJB is the only organization being invited back to Barcelona’s KRAX conference this year, to share the methodology of the Consulta with eleven new organizations from eleven different countries. This time, MJB will also be using the experience to share the zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration and build their International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio.

Encuentro and Invitation

Through an initial NYC Encuentro for Dignity and Against Gentrification this past October, MJB has begun to build horizontal relationships with other people struggling against gentrification. A multi-cultural and multi-media evening including discussions, plays, sing-alongs, movie clips, and even a neoliberal gentrification piñata for kids, the Encuentro attracted representatives from 27 groups, some coming to East Harlem from as far as Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey. A follow-up to the Encuentro is planned for this year to bring anti-gentrification groups together with international adherents to the zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration.

MJB will soon also be releasing their foundational declaration for the International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio, with a call for endorsements from around the world. From their embattled apartments in East Harlem, MJB members are inviting you to traverse a bridge with them – a bridge to defeat neoliberalism and build participatory democracy on the block and around the world. Will you accept their invitation?

Movement for Justice in El Barrio can be contacted directly at

Thanks to Radhika Singh for meticulous, creative and tolerant proofreading :-)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Learning & Mobilizing for Zapatistas

a demonstration in madrid

UPDATE Mar 3 '08: Two articles have been published on CAPISE's NYC presentation on repression against the zapatistas (1,2) and european groups have put forward a proposal for how they are going to respond to this repression.

Two pieces this week: First is a call out for a day of action this Friday from two German groups (our friend -Kolya 1,2- has just translated this into English) ... perhaps some of us can't pull something together by the 15th (and perhaps some can?!) but it gives us an idea of what is happening in Europe and what we could be doing! Second is an announcement for a rare educational event here in New York City with Ernesto Ledesma Arronte of CAPISE on the repression in the zapatista communities - check it out, this could be a space for us to plan our own solidarity actions!

Also, Gloria Muñoz Ramirez has begun her tour of the USA and make sure to check out El Kilombo Intergaláctico's first book, "Beyond Resistance: EVERYTHING!" and maybe even help organize their "Beyond Resistance: Everything" Book Tour: The Zapatistas, The Other Campaign and US. Now back to zap solidarity in Europe and NYC...


February 15th, 2008

We call on all fellow adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and those struggling and resisting from below and to the left to join us on February 15th, 2008, for an international day of action against the repression in Chiapas and for the respect of indigenous autonomy.

In recent months, aggressions against the Zapatista communities have drastically worsened. The low intensity war has acquired a dimension not seen since the Acteal massacre ten years ago. At the same time, media coverage remains low. We believe that it is crucial that we make it clear to public opinion in Europe that we have not forgotten the conflict and resistance in Chiapas. We will show the Mexican government that here in Europe we are closely watching the worrying situation in Chiapas. For this reason, we are calling for an international day of action on February 15th in front of Mexican Embassies and Consulates. The date coincides with the 12th anniversary of the San Andrés Accords. (The anniversary is actually on February 16th, but this is a Saturday, so embassies will be closed on the day).

The San Andrés Accords negotiated between the EZLN and the Mexican government had as their objective to guarantee indigenous autonomy. Amongst other things, they included indigenous autonomy and self-management of natural resources by the indigenous inhabitants of the area. However, the EZLN broke off the negotiations due to the fact that the government neither fulfilled nor respected the Accords. We are in solidarity with the realization of indigenous autonomy.

The situation of the indigenous communities in resistance has worsened since the implementation of Plan Puebla Panama and other neoliberal mega projects, which require access to Chiapas’ biosphere reserves for infrastructure and tourist purposes.

In August 2007, four communities were violently displaced in the biosphere reserve of Montes Azules in the Lacandon Jungle. Over the last year, the number and intensity of paramilitary attacks carried out by OPDDIC (Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Peasant Rights) against Zapatista communities has increased in the area of Agua Azul, the most visited and well-known waterfalls in México.

Since September 2007, OPDDIC has issued several threats and carried out attacks against the Zapatista settlement Bolom Ajaw due to the fact that the people are located in the road to some waterfalls, which are currently still inaccessible to tourists. In cahoots with the state government OPDDIC is planning a new tourist project for which it intends to displace the community. Now that the community has refused voluntary resettlement, it has suffered numerous attacks and death threats, as well as threats of rape, at the hands of OPDDIC. Furthermore, some houses were burnt down in Bolom Ajaw. The perpetrators of these deeds were inhabitants of the ejido Agua Azul, nearly all of who belonged to OPDDIC. For this reason, both local and international organizations are calling for a tourism boycott until the aggressions against Zapatista communities cease.

In the community of Vetel Yo’chib, near to Agua Azul, on December 29th, 2007, on the road to his milpa [plot of land], compañero Pablo Silvano Jiménez received a bullet in the leg from two policemen and a member of OPDDIC. From then on, he has had to go into hiding and can no longer work to feed his family. In the last week of January an international observation brigade that was in Vetel received death threats and also threats of rape. On February 1, 2008 members of OPDDIC and the police shot at compañero Eliseo Silvano Jiménez and his son. Afterwards they were arrested in an OPDDIC truck. In prison they were tortured and forced to have photos taken of them holding arms. Currently they are still in prison in Palenque and there is no media attention.


1. The suspension of all forms of aggression against the Zapatistas and other communities in resistance.

2. The suspension of the counter-insurgency war against the indigenous and zapatista communities and the withdrawal of the military bases from the indigenous region of Chiapas.

3. The release of Eliseo Silvano Jiménez and Eliseo Silvano Espinoza as well as all other political prisoners.

4. A total halt to the violent evictions in the indigenous territory of Chiapas.

5. The end of cooperation between paramilitary organizations such as OPDDIC and the federal army and police, as well as the legal recognition of the crimes that this organization has committed.

6. Respect for Indigenous Autonomy.

This call was issued by Activists from the Gruppe B.A.S.T.A. (Münster, Germany) and Atenco Resiste (Berlin), who are currently in Chiapas, México

For more information see:


Movement for Justice in El Barrio

invites you to learn more about the escalating low intensity warfare being waged by the Mexican government against the Zapatista communities: the brutal displacement, death threats and incarceration.

Currently, there are 79 permanent military bases in Chiapas and paramilitary groups are threatening Zapatista families.

Our special guest Ernesto Ledesma from the Chiapas-based Center of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigation (CAPISE) will share with us how the main three Mexican political parties (PAN, PRD and PRI) attempt to displace the Zapatistas from their land.

We will also present the New York Premiere of "One Big Train Called The Other Campaign", a new documentary filmed by the Zapatista communities on the Zapatista-initiated national Mexican movement.

Monday, February 18th @ 7 pm
New York University's KJC Center
53 Washington Square South, Suite 201
Manhattan, NY

(Take subway A,B,C,D,E,F to West 4th St. Walk east on West 4th St. West 4th St. becomes Washington Square South)

The new book collection of Zapatista communiques "Speed of Dreams" will be also be available.

For more information, please contact Movement for Justice in El Barrio at

Co-sponsored by the National Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
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Monday, February 04, 2008

Womyn's Encuentro Reportback

In addition to the reportback below, also check out this one and this one...

The Collective Voice of Resistance
Experiencing The First Zapatista Women's Encuentro

Written collectively by Cory Fisher-Hoffman, Tessa Landreau-Grasmuck, Kaya Weidman, and Mandy Skinner

It is just after midnight on January 1st, 2008. It is the 14th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, and the caracol of La Garrucha is alive with celebration. From the top of a refurbished school bus we watch a mass of bodies dance to norteños below a vast sky littered with stars, and the occasional covering of fog that characterizes these mountains of the Mexican southeast.

Tonight marks the end of the third Encuentro of the Zapatistas with the People of the World, and the first Encuentro of Zapatista Women and the Women of the World. Why a women's encounter? ¨Because it was time,¨ repeated the voices of the masked women speaking before a seated audience of women from Zapatista support bases across Chiapas, as well as from social movements in Mexico and the world.

From December 28th 2007 to January 1st of '08, women of the world were invited into the mountains and jungles of Chiapas, which are home to the Zapatistas. This revolutionary indigenous movement erupted onto the international stage in an armed uprising on January 1st, 1994, with members calling out "¡Ya Basta! Enough already!" As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), implemented on that same New Years Day, continued to decimate impoverished, indigenous campesino communities in Mexico, the Zapatistas began to build autonomous structures in resistance to over 500 years of exploitation, marginalization, and genocide.

However, as we heard emphasized throughout the recent encuentro, "the struggle began before and continued after" that much referenced New Years Day. And it is important to remember that the previous year, in 1993, clandestine Zapatista communities and their army, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), experienced an internal uprising of Zapatista women who implemented the Revolutionary Law for Women:

· Women, regardless of their race, creed, skin color or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle, in the place and to the degree their willingness and ability permit.

· Women have the right to work and receive a just pay for their labor.

· Women have the right to decide the number of children they will bear and care for.

· Women have the right to participate in community affairs and hold political office if they are elected freely and democratically.

· Women and their children have the right to PRIMARY MEDICAL CARE in health and food issues.

· Women have the right to education.

· Women have the right to choose their spouses and not to be forced into marriage.

· No woman may be hit or be physically abused neither by relatives or strangers. Rape, assaults and actual rapes will be severely punished.

· Women may hold leadership positions in the organization and hold military rankings in the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

· Women have all the rights and obligations set by the revolutionary laws and obligations.

In La Garrucha, one of 5 autonomous political-cultural centers known as caracoles in Zapatista territory, we joined over 3,000 people to listen, observe, celebrate, and build stronger resistances with these rebellious Tzetzal, Tzotzil, Chol, and Tojolabal Zapatista women. Dressed in the traditional colors, a line of some 200 Zapatista women filed in and out of the auditorium in a rainbow of resistance for each of the 4 daily plenary sessions.

Voices from different autonomous Zapatista regions offered a cascade of testimony of their resistance. Representatives from the Juntas de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Councils), education and health promoters, comandantas of the EZLN, and support bases young and old, told of how Zapatista communities, and women in particular, lived before the uprising, and how they live now, how they resist the violence of the mal gobierno (bad government), and what their rights and responsibilities are within their movement.

Women from throughout Mexico, the Americas, Europe and the world gathered inside the auditorium to bear witness to the testimonies of these women who are exploited three times over, "for being poor, for being indigenous, and for being women." The surrounding fields were full of tents; families opened their homes, their yards, and their kitchens to foreigners and to compañeras and families from other autonomous communities. Many slept under make-shift shelters at food stands, on the ground in the auditorium, in trucks and cars, or beneath the stars.

We arrived to the encuentro with a caravan of some 150 people from Mexico City organized by Mujeres y La Sexta. Most of us, like many of the non-Zapatistas who participated in the Encuentro, are adherents to the Other Campaign, or its international component, the Sixth International. With the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle in June of 2005, the Zapatistas initiated a national plan of struggle, which seeks to unite struggles "from the left and from below." A delegation of EZLN comandantes traveled across Mexico in 2006 in the first wave of this Other Campaign, with the intent to listen to the voices of those who struggle against capitalism and neoliberalism in all its forms, and to create new political spaces.

The days were filled with talk of the concrete measures Zapatista women and girls have taken to organize for self-determination, liberty, democracy and justice in their own communities. As the voices of the women rose up from behind their pasamontañas and paliacates (the ubiquitous ski masks and bandanas that have come to symbolize autonomous resistance in Chiapas), and began to echo each other, the significance of the testimonies became clearer to those of us from the outside. The voices being amplified were not individual voices, but reflections of a collective experience, a collective resistance. And while we national and international women listened, the lessons of the Other Campaign filtered through the plenaries like the fingers of sunlight sneaking through the wooden slats; in order to build a world in resistance, a world in which many worlds fit, we must listen and we must organize. As Comandanta Hortencia said, "To organize, we must identify why and for what."

Humbly, the Zapatista women apologized for their Spanish, which is not their mother tongue, and for their lack of education. "Before, we did not know how to read and write, and now we have learned, and send our daughters to learn too." The elder Zapatista women told of their experiences before the 1994 uprising. It was a dark time, when women were sexually exploited by land owners, frequently mistreated by their husbands and silenced by their communities. They told of how they organized clandestinely before the uprising, wearing certain colored shirts or bracelets to notify each other about meetings, which would be held quietly in the night far into the jungle. Since then, there have been many advances in Zapatista communities, where alcohol and drugs are outlawed as measures to curb domestic violence, a demand made by the Zapatista women. Women continue to take more positions of representation and responsibility, as education and health promoters, in the Good Government Councils, as comandantas of the EZLN, and in artisan cooperatives.

The voices of Zapatista youth punctuated the plenaries with hope and solemnity. "Without the organization, I would not be alive," said Marina, a precocious and well-spoken 8-year-old girl, "I would've died of a curable disease." Her empowered articulation exemplified the fortitude and success of the autonomous schools, as well as the sense of mutual respect between the youth and elders of the Zapatista communities.

Despite the advances made this far, the compañeras know that there is still a long and difficult road ahead. In the past 6 months Zapatista communities have faced heightened military and paramilitary aggression. While the Encuentro went on, an isolated Zapatista community named Bolom Ajaw (located in a strategic tourist zone) experienced violence from neighboring paramilitary troops and is currently being threatened with displacement.

During the informal conversations held around tables at meal times, people spoke of the recent shift in tactics of governmental repression. Rumors and propaganda incited by paramilitary provocations between Zapatista and non-Zapatista indigenous communities is creating violence and conflict that allows the paramilitary groups to appear blameless. National and international civil society whispered of the strategic retreat and preparation of the Zapatistas.

"I'm calm in my struggle," proclaims Elisa, echoing words heard again and again during the Encuentro; "There is no other path." And with that, the loudspeakers boomed again with the rolling upbeat music that punctuated every session, and the Zapatista women lined up to walk ceremoniously out of the auditorium. For those three days, men were given a decidedly secondary role, and the comandantas ran a tight ship in enforcing the rules posted on multiple signs throughout the gathering space: Men were not allowed to represent or translate, nor sit inside the auditorium. Instead they were offered the tasks of cooking, childcare, cleaning the latrines and hauling firewood.

For centuries, indigenous and poor women have carried the responsibility of these tasks. Their backs have held the weight of the survival of their families, communities, and cultures. Their resistance is inseparable from that of their communities, serving as an integral source of strength. The Zapatista women emphasize a dynamic relationship between rights and responsibilities (derechos y deberes). As young women born to white feminists in the US, we joined many 2nd and 3rd wave feminists in the crowd who've been taught that women's liberation means equal rights, that it is a movement towards independence and self-determination. Our politics of feminism and solidarity are perhaps tested, seeing the women of this indigenous Zapatista movement declare their rights as integral to their collective responsibility, for the well-being of their community. Indigenous men, standing at the edges of the auditorium, shading their eyes from the sun nodded in agreement as the voices of the Zapatista women demanded the right to education, emphasizing the responsibility to become promoters of education. As their voices demanded the right to choose their own partners, they emphasized the responsibility of participating in family and community matters. By having a women's encuentro, they sought to have their voices heard and not spoken over or marginalized. But when questioned about whether this was the beginning of their own women's movement, and if they wanted to create more women-only spaces; they emphasized that the movement included their brothers, husbands, children, elders...everyone in the community. This appeared as something distinctly different from women´s liberation; more like collective liberation. Or better yet, described as Zapatismo.

When asked what non-Zapatista communities could do to support their work, the Zapatista women replied, "Organize yourselves." On the final day of the Encuentro, international women responded. Women from the Other Campaign, Via Campesina and students addressed the Zapatista women and the women of the world. Letters were read from political prisoners around the world. In the afternoon, Trinidad Ramirez took the stage holding her machete high, and spoke for the rebel farm workers and political prisoners of Atenco. "We are not capable of abandoning our sisters," she told the crowd, teary eyed with her testimony of trauma and unbreakable resistance. As she turned and climbed down the stage to a chorus of “Viva”s, rain suddenly began to pound on the tin roof. In sun and water, the struggling women of the world are suddenly reminded that we are all echoes of that which is alive and vibrant in the world. As the last plenary came to a close, a group of young Mexican students from the School of History and Anthropology offered to the seated Zapatistas a giant puppet called Emiliana Digna Ramona who had danced among the crowd the evenings before. "Though born in Mexico City, her heart is Zapatista, filled with the dreams of a better world."

From the top of the bus on New Years Eve we watch this collective resistance, this collective survival, in all its celebration. When the New Year rolls in it is met with silence, to honor the fallen martyrs of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The Comandancia climbs onto the stage, and the masses below take off their hats. Fog sweeps over the caracol as we sing the National Anthem and Zapatista Hymn, embrace strangers and friends. The dancing picks up again and lasts all night. And as the sun comes up on another year of struggle, we are carrying with us the tiny piece of our responsibility to build a better world: to go home and organize.

Tessa Landreau-Grasmuck is a writer and activist from Philadelphia. She is currently translating for a children's book project about Mayan struggle and spirituality. Cory Fischer-Hoffman is an organizer with the Student Farmworker Alliance, she is currently working on her MA degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas. Kaya Weidman is a farmer and activist from Upstate New York. She is currently working to connect the practical work of sustenance with the broader work of building solidarity within the movement towards collective liberation. Mandy Skinner's main interests are in popular education, arts, and youth organizing. She has worked with the Beehive Collective and is on the board of ENGAGE, an organizing network linking students returning from grassroots/community-based study abroad programs.

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