Wednesday, June 25, 2008

International Solidarity Statement

With many Europeans getting well organized into a caravan, here comes a statement initiated out of Los Angeles with signatories from throughout the USA and Australia, as well as Spain. If you would like to add yourself to the statement, you can do so in the comments section of this post.

Today's the fourth (and final?) session of the "Enter the Intergalactic" class I've been facilitating at the Brecht Forum here in NYC. Amongst other things, attendees will be receiving a mix CD of zapatista and zapatista-inspired music as a parting gift! I've already posted the agendas for sessions 1 and 2, those for sessions 3 and 4 will come in the weeks ahead...

International Statement in Solidarity with the Zapatistas

To the people of Mexico:
To the EZLN:
To the Other Campaign:
To the International Community:
To the media:

As members of diverse collectives and organizations in different corners of the World, we wish to express our outrage and complete repudiation of the renewed military invasion of Zapatista communities on June 4th 2008.

Numerous reports from the International Civil Commission of Human Rights Observation (CCIODH), the Centre for Political Analysis and Socio-Economic Investigations (CAPISE) and Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center have raised concerns regarding the continued and increasing hostility from the Mexican Government towards the Zapatistas. In these investigations it is clear that this dirty war relies upon a system that involves paramilitary organizations, institutions such as the Agrarian Reform Secretary (SRA) and both Federal (PAN) and State (PRD) Governments, as well as the military occupation surrounding Zapatista territory since 1994.

The Mexican Army’s decision to invade La Garrucha, Rancho Alegre (known as Chapuyil), Hermenegildo Galeana and San Alejandro represents more than the violation of the Dialogue, Conciliation and Peace in Chiapas Law (1995), the Mexican Constitution (Article 29), the American Human Rights Declaration (Articles 21 and 29b) and the International Civil and Political Rights Convention (Articles 14 and 27). It also represents a change in the strategy against the Zapatistas. In view of this, we are extremely concerned for the physical and physiological integrity of our indigenous Zapatista brothers and sisters. The Mexican Government is attacking the right of indigenous peoples to freely organize by attempting to use the outrageous accusation that the Zapatistas cultivate marijuana. As the Mexican State looks for mechanisms to legitimize open warfare, it is clear that its real objective is the destruction of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

We are certain that the Zapatista demands are made peacefully, that these demands are being organized in conjunction with other indigenous peoples, cities and states across the Mexican Republic following the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, which calls for peaceful civic organization called the Other Campaign. The continued aggression towards Zapatista communities and especially this recent invasion by the Mexican Army demonstrate that that the Mexican Government is unwilling and incapable of resolving popular demands and is reliant on repressive tactics to attempt to extinguish those voices that demand the most basic of rights.

We demand that the Mexican Government, represented by the President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, immediately withdraw the National Armed Forces strategically deployed in the conflict zone in Chiapas.

We demand that the Chiapas State Government, represented by Juan Sabines Guerrero, stop all acts of aggression and threats by State Police to Zapatista communities.

If the Mexican Government continues to attack Zapatista communities we, the undersigned, will do everything we can to act in solidarity with the Zapatistas and in rejection of the violent and repressive Mexican State.

Partial list of endorsers

Collectives and individuals from La Otra Los Angeles
(Mujeres de Maiz, Danza Mexica Mictlanxiucoatl, Olmeca, ARMA, Los Poets del Norte, Teocintli, Rodrigo Estrada Garcia, East Side Café,, Don Newton, Oscar Navarro) - USA

El Kilombo – Durham, North Carolina, USA

Rare Purpose Collective – Florida, USA

El Colectivo Zapatista de Valencia “El Caragol” – Valencia, Spain

CGT-Comisión Chiapas - Spain

Mutiny Collective – Sydney, Australia

Electronic Disturbance Theater – San Diego, USA


Collectives and Individuals from La Otra San Diego
(California Coalition Against Poverty, Colectivo Zapatista San Diego, Colectivo Zapatista Tzajalek 32, San Diego Indymedia, dj lotu5 y otr@s) - USA

Local to Global Justice - Tempe, USA

Mexico-Australia Solidarity Network (MASN) - Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, Australia

Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) – Australia

Solidarity Without Borders - New York City, USA - New York City, USA

Nottinghamshire Zapatista Solidarity Campaign - UK

Accion Zapatista de Humboldt - USA

Read More!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Intergalactic Class #2 w/ Q&A

lead by obeying = class outside!

Below is the agenda we used for session #2 - just as session #1 had the 4WW/zapatista timeline, make sure to check out this week's Q & A section attached here below the agenda!

In other news, La Jornada's Luis Hernández Navarro brings us an excellent piece this week on how once again the "War on Drugs" is being wielded against the dry and drug-free zapatista communities. And speaking of the bogus "War on Drugs," word on the street in Mexico is that we can still beat Plan Mexico! Thanks to Kristen Bricker for translating the former piece and reposting the latter - check out her excellent blog, My Word is My Weapon.

CLASS #2 of


A) What we've done so far - see previous post

B) Explain that we will not be going through why capitalism is bad in this class. For those that want to brush up on this, check out the Brecht Forum's 3-Day Intensive Introduction to Marxism - from July 11th through 13th, this year's intensive will be focusing on the global food crisis.

C) Give a layout for the rest of the classes: session #3 will focus heavily on global context and zapatista proposal in light of this and session #4 is where we get down to how we in the class might each best be involved in the "intergalactic."

D) Explain agenda for today

TWO BIG GROUPS - Responses to the zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle

Class is broken up into two groups of 13 to 15 people that sit in a circle. A facilitator for each group informs them that we are going to each give a two minute response to one of the three questions posed for our homework reading of the Sixth Declaration. Again, the questions are:

a) Why do you think the zapatistas wrote this declaration the way they did?
b) What do the zapatistas think is wrong with the world? What do you think of their assessment?
c) How do the zapatistas propose to change the world? What do you think of their proposal?

The sharing happens "popcorn-style," with people electing to go when they feel ready. The facilitator makes sure everyone goes be the end of the go-around.

FOUR MEDIUM GROUPS - Gathering questions
(in the future I think I might just keep the two big groups above together and gather questions this way so as to save time...)

We split each of our two big groups in half so that we now have four groups of 6 to 8 people. In these medium-size groups, people brainstorm the questions they have regarding both of the homework readings as well as any other questions they may have. People in the groups try to respond to questions that have been raised that they feel they can answer. From those questions that remain unanswered, some questions are selected that the group wants to prioritize.

WHOLE GROUP - Question & Answer

We bring everyone back together and a representative from each of the four previous groups shares the questions they've prioritized for getting answered. The class facilitator (me in this case) collects all of the questions on a chalkboard. When everyone is ready and feels content that some key questions have been raised, I give an animated lecture attempting to respond to as many of the questions raised as possible. CHECK OUT THE Q & A SECTION BELOW!

CLOSING (my friends Ily and Radhika came up with this!)

We ask everyone to wander around until the facilitators shout out a number. Whatever the number is, that's the number of people that need to get into a group. For example, if we shout out "3," than groups of 3 should form. When the groups are formed, the facilitators ask a question - each person has a chance to respond to the question with other people in their group. When everyone has responded we do it again. We did several rounds of this activity and here were a couple of the questions:
- What was one thing you learned today that surprised you?
- What is one way you are planning to share something you've learned today with someone else? With your mother, for example.

Finally, we end by forming a big circle and hold hands. One person in the circle begins to roll towards a person next to them and the whole group rolls up into the shape of a spiral (or caracol) and then we roll back out!

We ended with a bonus viewing of last year's opening video for the Allied Media Conference and a video recap of that year's conference, followed by a plug for folks to get on the bus and go this year.

Afterwards we meandered a bit before settling on some food and drink at the Belgian Beer Bar :-)

Homework: Read Kolya Abramsky's "The Bamako Appeal and The Zapatista 6th Declaration: Between Creating New Worlds and Reorganizing the Existing One" - and don't sweat it if it leaves you feeling a little confused :-)

(I'm in no way a representative of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation [EZLN] or any part of the zapatistas - this is just my attempt to convey or connect folks to information that might be helpful to them in understanding the zapatista movement)

Q: How have health, education, etc. improved compared to government programs?
A: Check out Part II (“A Society to Create”) of El Kilombo Intergaláctico’s “ Feliz Año Cabrones: On the Continued Centrality of the Zapatista Movement after 14 years.”

Q: How are the words and actions of Subcomandante Marcos held accountable to the desires of the EZLN and the zapatista communities? What is the zapatistas’ process of self-reflection, of assessing their challenges and the distance between their visions and their reality?
A: The short answer to the first part of this question is that Subcomandante Marcos gets his charge and is accountable to the Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee (CCRI). The CCRI is an elected group of individuals representing the zapatista communities. These representatives command the military structure and are, in turn, controlled by their communal assemblies. For more info, you may be interested in checking out this piece "The Origins of the Zapatista National Liberation Army" as it offers a peek behind how the EZLN became a bit of a different kind of political-military organization. I think I can only answer the second part of this question by referring to the structure of the communities. This stuff gets hashed out in community assemblies where stories are told, problems discussed, decisions taken, etc. – these assemblies can last for days if they need to.

Q: What does unity or coalition mean to the zapatistas? How does it work with people coming from different places?
A: One interesting response to this comes from Al Giordano’s response to John Ross’ question, “Is the Other Campaign really a collective endeavor?,” which is part of the piece “John Ross’ Twenty Questions for Big Al, the Other Campaign, and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Q: What do the zapatistas want from me?
A: I recently wrote a piece called “Zapatismo and Solidarity,” might be a good place to start.

Q: What is the pace of what we’re doing?
A: What is the speed of dreams?

Q: What is the history of the drama between the zapatistas and the PRD (“center-left” party in Mexico)?
A: Short version – PRD and zapatistas worked “side by side” after the zapatistas’ 1994 uprising but by 2001 the PRD had collaborated with the other political parties in passing what the zapatistas refer to as racist and neoliberal changes to the Mexican Constitution restricting indigenous rights. This is instead of the set of agreements on indigenous rights and culture (San Andres Accords and COCOPA) to which the Mexican government and the zapatistas had signed many years earlier. In 2004, the PRD government of the Zinacantán municipality in Chiapas cut off water to zapatistas living there. While neighboring zapatistas traveled to bring their compañeros water, they were shot at by PRD members… eventually we get to the 2006 elections with the PRD’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) favored to win the presidency. AMLO’s campaign team was chock full of people from the former ruling party (PRI) and this was one of many things that the zapatistas pointed out before and during the election cycle. They didn’t tell people not to vote but rather talked about what the candidates were really about and encouraged them to join with the zapatistas in building another movement (the Other Campaign). Today the PRD controlled government of Chiapas is enthusiastically helping to build what may be the largest counter-insurgency effort yet against the zapatistas.

Q: How genuine is the simplicity of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle? Is content lost in this simplicity?
A: Don’t really know where to go with this one…

Q: Why do the zapatistas talk about defending the “Patria” (Homeland)?
A: The Other Campaign is a movement to liberate Mexico “from below and to the left.” That being said, the zapatistas are very clear that they are talking about a Mexico where many worlds fit – including, for example, all the different indigenous peoples and their respective forms of organization. So, whereas Mexican national identity and culture provides a set of stories, identifications, etc. that is powerful and useful to engage with in building a movement against the imposed monoculture of global capitalism, the Other Campaign is not set out to reinforce the sort of narrow nationalism we are used to in the USA. In fact, the Other Campaign is itself transnational. Think of it as queering nationalism… also check out Ashanti Alston’s “Beyond Nationalism But Not Without It.”

Q: What is up with 2010 and 2012? How important are these dates to the Zapatistas? Where is the spirituality of the zapatistas and what kind is it?
A: 2010 is the 100 year anniversary of the Mexican Revolution and the 200 year anniversary of Mexican Independence. Thus it becomes a powerful reminder and proof to the Mexican people that their destiny can be in their own hands if they seize it. The zapatistas are asking people what they are planning to do in 2010 – it’s pretty clear that they would like to see a national uprising in which people directly seize the means of production. It’s less clear what importance 2012 has within the zapatista movement although the mayan calendar does seem to play an important role in when certain actions are taken and/or how actions are communicated. Although the EZLN itself is secular, many zapatistas identify as Catholic or Protestant Christians. There also seems to be a whole lot of other stuff going on too.

Q: How are documents written?
A: I'm inclined to say that whoever signed it, wrote it. The stuff Subcomandante Marcos is writing or saying is driven by the mandate he’s being given by the Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee (CCRI) – he is recallable by this body as well. The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle was written by the CCRI and adhered to by over 98% of the zapatista community-members.

Q: How did LGBTQ struggles become so connected to the zapatista struggle?
A: Check out a post I wrote a little over a year back called “Zapatismo and Queer Struggles.”

Q: What are the national structures of solidarity between the Other Campaign, the EPR (Ejercito Popular Revolucionaria), the Oaxacan struggle, etc?
A: The Other Campaign is, itself, a national structure of solidarity. Many within the Oaxacan struggle, for example, are also a part of the Other Campaign. Relatedly, there is the National Forum Against Repression – check out the EZLN’s organizational proposal for this ongoing initiative. The EZLN and EPR have had a strained relationship for a long time now but recently there was some verbal support from the EZLN of EPR demands for the freedom of two of their political prisoners. The Other Campaign and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), which also includes Oaxacan-based adherents to the Other Campaign, have coordinated actions together.

Q: How do we fight for autonomy in a globalized world?
A: Get a copy of El Kilombo Intergaláctico’s book “Beyond Resistance: Everything” and check out the Introduction called “Zapatismo: A Brief Manual on How to Change the World Today.”

Q: What options do we have within the USA for alternative lifestyles?
A: I think the book I mentioned in the previous question, “Beyond Resistance: Everything” by El Kilombo Intergaláctico really best gets at this question.

Read More!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Intergalactic Class #1 w/ Timeline

Here's the (idealized version of the) agenda, etc. that we used for class #1 of "Enter the Intergalactic: Zapatismo in the US & the World." Word is that we set a record at the Brecht Forum with 30 participants in the class. Class #2 is set to start in just a few hours!

Also, keep an eye on what's going on with the zapatista communities. Now is a time when the elites are further militarizing Mexico and repressing the simple and humble people who struggle there, especially the zapatistas and the Other Campaign. The Europeans have a plan to put their energies into the defense of these struggles... what's our plan?

CLASS #1 of

SPACE: The Brecht Forum, main room... zapatista band "Dos Vientos de Voz y Fuego" music is playing. Zapatista-related books, CDs, films, stickers, posters, pamphlets, etc are displayed around the room on 3 tables.

A) Frame for the class:

We will explore the following questions:
I) What is the Fourth World War and what does it mean for how we struggle today?
II) What is the zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle?
- What has happened since its release in the summer of 2005?
- How do its initiatives for transnational (Other Campaign) and global (Zezta Internazional) coordination compare to other processes, such as the World Social Forum?
III) What are OUR analyses of the zapatistas' Fourth World War framework, their Sixth Declaration and the initiatives that have followed... and how do we relate to them?

B) Make sure folks are registered - just $45 to 65 total for 4 amazing class - all $ goes to support the Brecht Forum!

C) Facilitator intro and Agenda for the day

MOVIE: 60 Minutes shortly after 1994 uprising - Ed Bradley following around and interviewing Subcomandante Marcos... discuss questions, comments, reactions

TIMELINE (included below): A way to actively engage everyone in learning some basic history, inspired by the Project South timelines.

A big piece of butcher paper is presented to the class and divided into an upper and lower row. The Upper row is labeled "4th World War" and the Lower row is labeled "the Zapatistas." Each row has a line going through it that is subdivided into years and has marks on it where a significant event has taken place...

The class is divided into 2 groups (4WW and Zaps) and each group is given a set of little pieces of paper with an event described on each, but without dates. The goal for each group is to attach their events to their marks on the timeline with the most accuracy.

After both groups are finished ordering and attaching their set of events on their respective halves of the parallel timelines, they are given a "key" (see below) to the other team's timeline. So now the Fourth World War group goes through the Zapatista timeline to see if the events were ordered correctly and matched to the correct dates... and vice-versa. This way everyone gets to interact with all the material!

The winning team of this contest gets a zapatista-style reward for competency: they are given the "cargo" (responsibility) of organizing snacks for the following class... the losing team has to support them in their cargo by providing the financial means to make that possible :-)

Get to know you check-out: We form a big circle with everyone and do a full go-around where each person, in turn, says their name and responds to one or more of the following questions:
a) What's one thing people wouldn't be able to know about you just by looking at you?
b) What's one thing you hope to get out of this class?
c) What's one thing liked or disliked about today's class?

First read the Zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and respond to the following questions:
a) Why do you think the zapatistas wrote this declaration the way they did?
b) What do the zapatistas think is wrong with the world? What do you think of their assessment?
c) How do the zapatistas propose to change the world? What do you think of their proposal?

and then read "Learning, Surviving: Marcos after the Rupture," a relatively up-to-date and critical article and interview with Subcomandante Marcos on the national and international work of the zapatistas - reprinted in English by NACLA's Report on the Americas.

Fourth World War/Zapatista TIMELINE
(in the future I think I would cut the two parts of the timeline down to maybe just 10 dates and use the time saved to map a third part, which would be for participants to each chart and share an "Ah-Ha! moment" of when they realized something was wrong with the world AND that they could do something about it)

Fourth World War entries in white
Zapatista entries in yellow

July 1944
Bretton Woods Agreement is reached at the close of World War II - Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (now one of five institutions in the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are founded.

October 2, 1968
Ten days before the Summer Olympics celebrations in Mexico City, police and military shoot student demonstrators. The death toll remains controversial: some estimates place the number of deaths in the thousands, but most sources report between 200 and 300 deaths.

November 17, 1983
With just six members, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) is formed somewhere in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico.

November 1989
After weeks of civil unrest, East Germany announces that it will permit movement across the Berlin Wall – this marks for many the end of the Cold War (or 3rd World War).

February 1990
The Sandinista Front for National Liberation in Nicaragua loses the presidential elections after 11 years in power.

The United Nations imposes sanctions on Iraq at the urging of the United States to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

The United States, with an enormous vested interest in the oil supplies of Western Asia leads an international coalition into Kuwait and Iraq.

January 3, 1992
The Mexican government amends Article 27 of the Constitution, abolishing the protections to communal land rights established during the Mexican Revolution and paving the way for NAFTA.

The Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation in El Salvador sign peace accords with the government and convert themselves into a political party.

March 1993
Zapatista women succeed in the “first uprising of the Zapatistas” by achieving passage of the Zapatista Revolutionary Law for Women.

January 1, 1994
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect creating the largest trade bloc in terms of GDP in the world.

January 1, 1994
The EZLN rises up in arms declaring NAFTA a “death sentence” for Mexico’s indigenous. The EZLN’s First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle states their desire to depose the corrupt Mexican government and open up a space for legitimate elections. Thousands of combatants take over at least 5 cities in Chiapas. Over a million acres of land are liberated from plantation owners following the uprising.

January 2, 1994
Battles begin between the Mexican Federal Army and the EZLN. It continues for many days with hundreds wounded and dead, along with the displacement of entire rural communities.

January 12, 1994
Thousands of Mexicans take to the streets nationwide to demand an “End to the Massacre” against the indigenous of Chiapas.

January 12, 1994
The Zapatistas announce that they want to listen to the peoples’ call for a peaceful transition and decide to seek a political solution.

January 12, 1994
Mexican president Salinas de Gortari, in the face of growing mobilizations, a nervous market, the decomposition of the state, and the coming elections, announces a unilateral ceasefire to the fighting in Chiapas.

February-March 1994
Peace talks initiate between the EZLN and the government. At the end of the talks, the Zapatistas announce that they will be returning to their communities to consult with their base on the government’s proposal.

August, 1994
The Zapatistas iniciate the National Democratic Convention with over 7,000 delegates from around the country. An agreement is taken to vote against the ruling PRI party who has been in power for nearly 70 years.

December 1994
Talks begin for the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Summit of the Americas held in Miami. The FTAA would extend NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere with the exception of Cuba.

January 1, 1995
WTO is established as an international organization designed to supervise and liberalize international trade. Its operation has a systematic bias toward rich countries and multinational corporations, harming smaller countries which have less negotiation power.

February 9, 1995
Mexican President Ernest Zedillo launches a military and police offensive against the EZLN, issuing arrest orders for its leadership. Along with an intensification of arrests, torture, murders, and rape against the indigenous of Chiapas, over 30,000 people are displaced.

March, 1995
Mobilizations against the new invasion continue. National and international pressure forces the Mexican government to sign a Law for Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace in Chiapas.

April, 1995
The Dialogues of San Andres begin between the EZLN and the Mexican government.

June 1995
The Zapatistas call for a National and International Consulta for Peace and Democracy is, which asks people their opinions on the demands of the Mexican people, forming an oppositional front to the government, profound reform of the Mexican government, and the future of the EZLN.

August 1995
With over 50 thousand promoters setting up nearly 10 thousand collection tables, 1 million and 88 thousand Mexicans and 100 thousand foreigners from 50 countries respond to the Zapatistas questions in the National and International Consulta for Peace and Democracy. Later, over 200 thousand youth between the ages of 12 and 18 participate in a similar Youth Consulta.

September 1995
The EZLN proposes constructing a great national dialogue without the government, and also calls for an international encuentro known as the “intergalactic.”

February 1996
After a broad consultation of their support bases and indigenous groups around the country, the EZLN reaches an agreement with the federal government on the San Andres Accords in which indigenous autonomy is affirmed as the beginning of profound reforms of the Mexican state.

July 1996
The Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism –also known as the intergalactic- is in held in the 5 Zapatista meeting places in Chiapas. Over 5,000 delegates from 42 countries attend.

December 1996
The Mexican government fails to adhere to the agreements reached earlier that year with the EZLN on the San Andres Accords.

July 1997
The Second Intergalactic, or Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, is hosted in the Spanish State with over 4,000 in attendance.

February 1998
Inspired by the Zapatista Intergalactics, Peoples Global Action Against Free Trade and the WTO is launched by organizations ranging from peasant movements in Brazil and India to labor unions in Argentina and Canada, indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolk, immigrants, squatters, environmentalists, anarchists, autonomists, and rebels from every continent, united by a set of shared principles.

September 1997
1,111 zapatistas –one delegate from each community- begin the mobilization from Chiapas to Mexico City seeking to force the government to adhere to the San Andres Accords and to participate in the founding of the Zapatista Front for National Liberation (FZLN).

December 1997
45 adult and children Christian pacifists are massacred at Acteal in Chiapas by paramilitaries. The Zapatistas respond building national and international pressure.

November 1999
Following on the heels of similar demonstrations around the world, the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle are brought to a stand still by tens of thousands of protestors.

After over 70 years of one party rule, an opposition candidate is elected president of Mexico… there is much talk of change. Vicente Fox, the new president, says he will resolve the conflict in Chiapas in 15 minutes.

The Institute of Governmental Studies releases a report announcing that the income gap between the richest and poorest of the world has never been as large as it is today.

February 2001
Zapatistas launch the March of the Color of the Earth –the largest mobilization in the history of Mexico- crossing through 13 Mexican states in 37 days on their way to Mexico City to demand a constitutional reform recognizing indigenous rights and culture along the lines of the San Andres Accords.

April 2001
20,000 protestors from throughout the Americas descended upon the meeting of the FTAA in Quebec City.

April 2001 to September 2002
The 3 branches of Mexican government –executive, legislative, and judicial- pass a constitutional reform for indigenous rights and culture in spite of enormous protests and legal challenges declaring the changes “neoliberal and racist.”

July 2001
Massive protests erupt in Genoa, Italy against the G8. Continuing a hot summer of resistance and repression in Europe around the meetings of the global elite, Italian protestor Carlo Giuliani is murdered by Italian security forces.

February 15, 2003
The largest global mobilization in the history of the world is seen across the globe as people take to the streets demanding that the USA not invade Iraq. Heidi Giuliani, mother of slain anti-G8 protestor Carlo Giuliani, reads an anti-war communiqué from Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN at the massive demonstrations in Rome.

March 2003
Drawing on the fallout of the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaida attacks in the USA, the Bush administration leads a small coalition of forces into an invasion of Iraq.

July-August 2003
The Zapatistas announce the creation of the Caracoles and Councils of Good Government, institutionalizing de-facto autonomy within their territories and calling on indigenous groups from around the country to do the same.

September 2003
Facing fierce protests from outside and opposition from within, the WTO is dealt what will turn out to perhaps be a death blow as talks collapse. Amongst the outsider protestors is an especially militant contingent from Korea.

June 2005
Following a consulta with the over 200,000 members of the Zapatista communities, the Zapatistas release their Sixth Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle – seeking to actively build a national movement to liberate Mexico “from below and to the left” and to build more relationships of mutual support and respect with people and movements around the world “fighting against neoliberalism and for humankind.”

March 2005
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is established in Waco, Texas by the NAFTA heads of state as a “region-level dialogue with the stated purpose of providing greater cooperation on security and economic issues.” It is dubbed by opposition groups as NAFTA plus the War on Terror.

September 2005
Following six gatherings of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals from throughout Mexico inspired by the Zapatistas’ Sixth Declaration, the Other Campaign is announced with the stated goals of creating an “other way of doing politics, a national program of struggle, and a new constitution in Mexico.”

November 2005
Meetings to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas are held in Argentina – the last such meeting of its kind as the agreement again falters under both external protests and internal disagreements.

January 1, 2006
EZLN Subcomandante Marcos, taking on the civilian title “Delegate Zero”, begins a scheduled six-month listening and speaking tour of Mexico to build the Other Campaign.

May 1, 2006
Having passed through Mexico’s seventeen southern states, Delegate Zero gives an emboldened speech in front of the US embassy in Mexico City announcing that a national movement is building that will “expel from this country… the great capitalists, including—of course—the American capitalists.”

May 3, 2006
The Peoples Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), adherents to the Other Campaign from the autonomous municipality of San Salvador Atenco on the outskirts of Mexico City, come to the aid of their members who are being attacked by police for attempting to sell their flowers in nearby Texcoco. The conflict expands as hundreds of federal police arrive to attack and arrest the FPDT. Delegate Zero announces the suspension of his tour and calls for civil and peaceful solidarity actions with the people of Atenco. Solidarity actions spread throughout Mexico and to at least fifty countries around the world.

May 4, 2006
Municipal, state, and federal police widen their attack on Atenco and those who mobilized to defend them. The police arrest 207 people (including the leadership of the FPDT), kill two, and rape and abuse sexually 23 women. Delegate Zero places the blame on all three of the major political parties and the commercial media and begins a campaign to break the media distortion of the events and to liberate the prisoners.

July 2, 2006
Amidst widespread allegations of fraud, electoral officials fail to declare either the populist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD, or US government supported Felipe Calderón of the PAN, as winner in the presidential elections.

July 30, 2006
Obrador calls for a protest camp to occupy the main Zócalo of Mexico City and several major avenues, including Paseo de la Reforma. Unlike their repressive treatment of other recent civil disobedience actions, the city’s PRD government financially and materially supports the massive tent city that emerges. Obrador’s main demand is for a full, vote-by-vote recount.

September 5, 2006
The Federal Electoral Tribunal certifies Calderón as the victor in Mexico’s presidential elections. Obrador refuses to recognize the Tribunal’s decision and declares that he will establish a parallel government representing the "true, authentic republic."

September 30, 2006
Seven indigenous leaders of the EZLN, taking on the civilian titles of “Delegate One” through “Delegate Seven,” arrive in Mexico City to attend gatherings in support of Atenco’s remaining 30 political prisoners and to discuss the national political context with adherents to the Other Campaign. Delegates One through Three remain in Mexico City while Four through Seven return to Chiapas to report back to their communities.

October 9, 2006
With Delegate’s One through Three remaining in Mexico City to agitate for the freedom of the prisoners of Atenco, Delegate Zero resumes his listening and speaking tour, now traveling through Northern Mexico to finish this first leg of the Zapatistas’ participation in building the Other Campaign.

October 19, 2006
In a historic gathering, Delegate Zero holds his first meetings in Tijuana at the US/Mexico border with Other Campaign adherents not just in Mexico, but on “the other side” as well.

December 2006-January 2007
The First Encounter between the Zapatista Peoples and the Peoples of the World brings thousands from throughout Mexico and around 50 other countries. Members of the Councils of Good Government presented Zapatista experiences in autonomy and other forms of government; the other education; the other health; women; communication, art, culture and the other commerce; and land and territory.

March 2007
The Second Stage of Zapatista participation in the Other Campaign is launched with 16 members of the EZLN leadership spreading out throughout the Northern states of Mexico to work with members of the Other Campaign through June.

July 2007
The Second Encounter between the Zapatista Peoples and the Peoples of the World again brings thousands to Chiapas – this time to hear from zapatista promoters and other community activists from each zapatista municipality speak to the themes of autonomy, collective work, health, education, and women. A very impressive delegation of Via Campesina representatives from major peasant organizations worldwide participated in this Encuentro, from: Brazil, Bolivia, Honduras, Dominican Republic, USA, Canada, Quebec, Basque Country, India, Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia. Unfortunately the one African representative, from Madagascar, was denied a visa. One day was devoted to speeches from most of the Via Campesina delegates.

September 2007
The Zapatistas halt their second stage of participation in the Other Campaign due to growing military, police, and paramilitary attacks and threats against their communities.

October 2007
The Zapatistas, along with 7 other indigenous organizations, convene the Encounter of the Indigenous of the Americas in Sonora, Mexico. 570 delegates from 67 indigenous peoples, coming from 12 american nations participated.

December 2007
At a conference in memory of long-time zapatista supporter, Andrés Aubry, Subcomandante Marcos announces that it will be his last public appearance for some time due to the heightening of repression in zapatista territories.

December 2007-January 2008
The Third Encounter between the Zapatista Peoples and the Peoples of the World – AKA the “Womyn’s Encuentro” – brings together thousands of women to meet while the men cook and provide childcare, including a delegation from members of Via Campesina groups from around the world.

Mexican President Calderón seeks to open up PEMEX, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, to private sector investment. PEMEX is is the 10th largest oil company in the world in terms of Revenue and 34th place out of the Fortune 500 companies.

May 2008
27 delegations from organizations in 10 European countries, along with dozens of individuals as well as representatives from Mexico’s National Indigenous Congress and East Harlem’s Movement for Justice in El Barrio attend the European Encuentro in Defense of and in Struggle with the Zapatista Communities and Mexico’s Other Campaign.

Read More!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Movimiento in Revista Rebeldía

Revista Rebeldía is the closest thing to an official magazine of the Other Campaign. Completely up-to-date on MJB's latest activities, it does no explaining of who the zapatistas are or what the Other Campaign is because the readership IS the Other Campaign. It does, however, do a bit more explaining about this place called New York City. Enjoy :-)

Movement for Justice in El Barrio
Urban Zapatismo in New York City
By RJ Maccani
Originally published in Spanish by Revista Rebeldía

For Movement for Justice in El Barrio, the struggle for justice means fighting for the liberation of women, immigrants, lesbians, people of color, gays and the transgender community. We all share a common enemy and its called neoliberalism. Neoliberalism wishes to divide us and keep us from combining our forces. We will defeat this by continuing to unite all of our communities until we achieve true liberation for all.
International Declaration in Defense of El Barrio, Movement for Justice in El Barrio, March 2008

Movement for Justice in El Barrio (Movement) is an organization of immigrants, the majority of whom are Mexican, and low-income people of color and has been fighting the gentrification of their neighborhood for over three years now. Adherents to the Sixth Declaration and the Other Campaign, they say their work is "urban zapatismo in the heart of New York City." This urban zapatismo is a bridge with which Movement's 400 members meet each other across the 30 apartment buildings in which they live. Walking this zapatista bridge, they are connecting to their neighbors, to other people fighting displacement throughout New York City, to their compañeros in the Other Campaign, and to allies from around the world.

"¡Aqui Estamos y No Nos Vamos!"

New York City is made up of five big pieces: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. We often refer to Manhattan simply as "the city," a place that the rest of us New Yorkers travel to for work, to meet, or to go out at night. A major commercial, financial, and cultural center of the United States and the world, Manhattan was the land and territory of the Lenape prior to European colonization. Home to generations of immigrant revolutionaries, from Emma Goldman to the Young Lords, neoliberal displacement has been transforming Manhattan into a playground of the global rich for several decades now.

Today capitalist developers see East Harlem as Manhattan's "last frontier." It is one of the last places in the city where poor folks can live. Often referred to as "Spanish Harlem" or simply "El Barrio," East Harlem is home to more than 100,000 people, half of whom are Latino. Spanish is still the most spoken language after English, and followed now by Chinese and other Asian languages, Arabic, and several African languages. Whereas a generation ago the Latino face of El Barrio had been primarily the Puerto Rican with citizenship, today it is increasingly immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere, many of whom lack U.S. citizenship (or any legal status for that matter), who make up its Spanish-speaking population. Nearly 40 percent of El Barrio's residents live below the poverty line. It is here, in this place and at this time, that Movement has emerged.

Movement was born over three years ago when residents of El Barrio began to organize against problems with their landlords. In addressing their grievances, they had the support of organizer, Juan Haro, a founding member of AZUL (Amanecer Zapatista Unidos en la Lucha), a Mexican immigrant organization inspired by and in solidarity with the Zapatistas. Together, Haro and these residents in El Barrio, successfully organized against the landlords to win their demands.

With residents in five buildings organized, Haro and the founding members decided to form Movement for Justice in El Barrio in December 2004 as an immigrant-led, community-based organization that would fight for social justice and against all forms of oppression in El Barrio. Over the past three and a half years, Movement has employed media tours, court actions, protests, and direct actions against landlords, mortgage lenders, and city institutions to challenge the unjust housing system that seeks to displace them.

In August of 2005, Movement began studying locally based social justice movements from around the world in order to better understand their own struggle in its global and historical context. The zapatistas and the Other Campaign were among the movements studied. Inspired by what they learned, they decided to adhere to the Sixth Declaration and, since a majority of their membership is Mexican, Movement decided to join the Other Campaign as well. And they did not do so quietly…

La Otra Campaña en El Otro Lado

Movement organized protests at the Mexican Consulate in solidarity with the people of Atenco and, at the request of various allied groups throughout the region, began giving presentations on zapatismo and the Other Campaign.

In November of 2006, Movement members traveled nearly 2,000 miles to the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border for the meetings of the Other Campaign with the zapatistas' Sixth Commission. They participated in a dramatic border takeover and presented the voices and faces of over a dozen of their members who could not make the journey through a video created for the gathering entitled "Our Message to the Zapatistas."

Featuring snippets from interviews with Movement's members, "Message…" is a powerful expression of their perspective, politics, and direction as Mexican immigrants fighting for justice "on the other side." Moving through different themes and capturing equally men's and women's voices, the video captures their views on why they left Mexico, what they think of Mexico's political parties, their struggles in New York City with housing, work, immigration, and the Mexican consulate, their commitment to the equal rights of women and queer folks, and their reasons for joining the Other Campaign. The video is a scathing indictment of the Mexican political system, neoliberal globalization, and oppression in the US. Describing it as "the magic touch to find another way," Movement member Victor Caletre explains in the video that the Other Campaign inspired them "to fight in New York City and to claim justice now" while building towards a greater goal: "to free Mexico and return."

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, in attendance at the border gathering in his role as Delegate Zero, responded in 2007 with a video communication of his own entitled "Message from the Zapatistas." Directed specifically to Movement for Justice in El Barrio, to all Mexican immigrants in the U.S., as well as to people of color, women, gays, lesbians, transgender, and indigenous people living here in the city, Marcos' words are a powerful echo of Movement's original message of autonomy and solidarity.

Inspired by this dialogue, Movement members began to bring their struggle to audiences throughout the city, utilizing the videos to actively connect their local organizing, and the work of the Other Campaign, to many other struggles.

In the summer of 2007, Movement began working to complement the organizing of the National Forum Against Repression by mobilizing members of the Other Campaign living in the US, as well as Sixth Declaration adherents around the world, to echo the Forum's national initiatives. Originally calling for a June 26 International Day of Action Against Repression and for the Liberation of All Political Prisoners in Mexico, Movement consulted with the many groups who responded to that call and ultimately decided to instead organize an international component of the July 18 "National, Regional, and Local" Day of Action proposed by the zapatistas' Sixth Commission to the Forum. The language of Movement's original call, however, still applied:
From where we are, North of the Rio Bravo, we are filled with pain and rage to hear about the repression being exerted by the Mexican government on the Other Campaign. The repression began more than a year ago with the terrible events in San Salvador Atenco. As the strength of the Other Campaign grew, the repression spread to Oaxaca, Yucatan, Chiapas, San Luis Potosi and to all different parts of the country. The repression has included police brutality, torture, arbitrary detentions, the murder of two youth, and the rape of detained women. In the past few months the repression has intensified. Recently, soldiers from the federal army harassed Zapatista Delegates from the Sixth Commission, the Compañero David Venegas was beaten and illegally jailed in Oaxaca, three members of the People's Front for the Defense of the Land, from Atenco, were illegally sentenced to 67 years in prison, and these are not the only cases. This repression fills us with anger. That is why we propose that we unite the strength of the many struggles that make up the Other Campaign to oppose this repression and demand freedom for all political prisoners in Mexico.

And so, alongside actions throughout Mexico and the world, Movement held a public forum on July 18, 2007 about the repression of the Other Campaign that was attended by Chicano and Mexican restaurant workers, artists, poets, teachers, construction workers and others. Less than a month later, they protested and performed street theater in El Barrio "to inform the community about what is happening in Mexico that is not reported on commercial television either here or over there, nor in the written press in English or in Spanish."

Urban Zapatismo

More than their conversations with Marcos or their solidarity actions in defense of the Other Campaign, what has drawn the most attention to Movement is their own local practice of urban zapatismo. The two key features that define Movement'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 New York City, Movement accepts no government funding, and tactical decisions are not imposed from above, but made by those who must implement them.

"We represent ourselves," announced Movement member Victor Caletre during their recent New York City Encuentro for Dignity and Against Gentrification. "Each of the 23 [now 30] 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, Movement 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."

Recognizing the many worlds that exist within East Harlem, Movement member Oscar Dominguez inaugurated the Consulta del Barrio's first public forum 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 public forums, 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. A long history of zapatista consultas directly inspired Movement for Justice in El Barrio's Consulta del Barrio.

Over 1,500 community members participated in the Consulta del Barrio, and Movement is currently processing the results in order to launch a campaign around the new issue that the community has selected. With the Consulta del Barrio, Movement 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…"

Last year, Movement for Justice in El Barrio was invited to Barcelona for the KRAX conference, an international gathering of organizations pursuing creative responses to urban conflict. Juan Haro went as a delegate and shared the Consulta del Barrio process with eleven organizations from eleven different countries, including Argentina, Bosnia, England, Japan, and Venezuela. Movement was also invited to present at a wide range of US-based universities and community organizations throughout 2007. "It has really taken us by surprise," Movement member Ana Laura Merino reflected, "to know how many organizations in New York City, throughout the USA, in Mexico, and all over the world have reached out to us, wish to learn how we fight in New York City, and have offered us their support."

Through their first New York City Encuentro for Dignity and Against Gentrification this past October, Movement has also begun to build horizontal relationships with other organizations struggling against gentrification in the city. The Encuentro was a multi-cultural and multi-media event including discussions, plays, sing-alongs, movie clips, and even a neoliberal gentrification piñata for kids. It attracted representatives from 27 groups, some coming to East Harlem from as far as Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey. A follow-up event to the Encuentro, this time bringing anti-gentrification organizations together with international adherents to the Sixth Declaration, occurred this year in conjunction with Gloria Muñoz Ramirez' visit to New York City.

The International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio

Just a year ago, members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio were celebrating their victory against the multi-millionaire Steve Kessner, the worst slumlord in El Barrio. Or at least he was the worst. Movement forced Kessner to sell his entire East Harlem portfolio of 47 buildings just months after he had boasted 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 [Movement] 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, Movement 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.

Movement has now launched their International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio, an initiative of 'David vs. Goliath' proportions that has them challenging the capitalist gentrifiers of El Barrio wherever on Earth they may be found. They are currently touring to build participation in the campaign, visiting California, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts in the USA, and England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, France and Greece in Europe.

The UK tour, with stops in London, Bristol, Reading, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Brighton, Leeds, Stirling, and Aberdeen, Scotland has built crucial support on the ground to fight Dawnay, Day Group at its home. This means that Movement is once again 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 intend to take advantage of lax tenant protection laws in New York City to raise rents tenfold. What Dawnay, Day Group is finding, however, is a powerful community in resistance with a rapidly expanding international network of supporters.

As I write this, Movement has a delegation in Athens, Greece attending the European Encuentro in Defense of and in Struggle with the Zapatista Communities and Mexico's Other Campaign. Along with at least 27 delegations representing diverse collectives, networks, groups and organizations from 10 European countries, in addition to individual participants and groups who have sent their proposals by mail, they are planning short and medium-term actions in support of zapatista autonomy as well as mobilizations in support of the Other Campaign. They are also, no doubt, building a powerful relationship with this impressive grouping of zapatista Europe. Just announced, Movement is planning to tour Mexico later this year to continue solidifying their relationship with their compañeros in the Other Campaign. In less than four years, Movement has built an effective struggle in East Harlem, given a face to the Other Campaign here in New York City and supported the organizing of groups around the world. Now, from the embattled apartments of Manhattan's "last frontier," Movement has released its International Declaration in Defense of El Barrio. With this declaration, Movement's 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?

For more information you can write to Movement for Justice in El Barrio directly at

Thank you to Malú Huacuja del Toro for the Spanish translation

Read More!