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(en) Mexico, The Zapatistas and the Other Campaign - The Pedestrians of History, Part IV

Date Mon, 02 Oct 2006 08:41:51 +0200

Two Pedestrians on Different Paths...and with Different Destinations
1. The "ways" of a leader. The rejection of Lopez Obrador by the
"presidential couple" grew along with the candidacy of the
Tabasqueño. With his morning conferences (and the broad
coverage afforded him by the mass media, today declared enemies of
the perredista), the mayor of Mexico City went about making the
agenda for Los Pinos...and for the rest of the political class. One
could be in the most remote corner of the country and would still
know what Fox had said (well, when he managed to articulate
something comprehensible), what AMLO had said, and at the end of
the day, what the rest of the cast of Mexican politics said about what
was said…by what was said by the mayor of Mexico City. For Fox
this didn't seem to be a problem...for awhile. In one television
program, Lopez Obrador mentioned he was disconcerted by the
sudden hostility of "Mr. President" (remember that part about "you
have to protect the presidential office"). "Yes he was my friend, I
don't know what happened to him," AMLO said. Well, what
happened is that the "presidential office" was now a couple: that
formed by Vicente Fox and Martha Sahagún. And "Mrs. Martha"
as her husband calls her, wanted, and wants, not to be the Mrs. of
the president, but to be Mrs. President.

If it sounds something out of the theater, that's no accident. In the
daily comedy that Los Pinos represents, Mrs. Sahagún always had
the starring role (although not always the most fortunate, one can't
be demanding). Mrs. Martha launched her long, and for now
stunted, career for the presidential seat very early on—precisely
when only Lopez Obrador appeared on the scene as the strongest
aspirant. But, while she went about ridding the cabinet and Fox's
inner circle of those uncomfortable (for her) personalities, Martha
looked with desperation on the fact that AMLO maintained position.
One didn't have to have much sense (and they didn't in fact have
much) to realize that who would be Martha's rival if she became
candidate for the PAN.

The work of the "video scandals" was the first indication of a serious
struggle to try to take AMLO out of the presidential race. The
struggle was raised to the category of battle with the attempt to strip
him of immunity and remove him from office. If in the videos you
could see the hand of the Fox government, in the "desafuero" [like
"impeachment"] their nerve was unparalleled . A growing citizen
mobilization (that Lopez Obrador himself de-activated) promised
Fox a crushing defeat. But in politics there are no final battles.

Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador was constructing a candidacy, that is, an
image. Of course in order to achieve it the privileged balcony of the
Mexico City government would not be enough; in the PRD the
figure of Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas Solorzano still carried a lot of
weight. But the Mexico City government was not only an
opportunity to be in the media spotlight, it also meant money, lots of
money. And this tune had a lot of "rating," among the political class
as a whole, not to mention in the perredista leadership. With discrete
agility, AMLO began "winning" the sympathy of (and control over)
the apparatus of the Revolutionary Democratic Party...and an
important sector of intellectuals, artists, and scientists. For the
former, a budget. For the latter, engagement and special attention.

In summary, everything was going well.

It was then that some of the informational media released its first
bait, which lopeobradorismo swallowed happily: the first polls. As in
these polls he appeared with a scandalous advantage over the other
hopefuls, AMLO gave them credibility and backing. Favored and
adored by the press at that point, Lopez Obrador forgot a basic rule
of the puddled territory of the media: the fleeting and the
instantaneous. The media make heroes ("and heroines, Martha adds
enthusiastically—I'll leave it up to you if the diminutive has an
"h") and villains ("and [female] villains adds Elba Esther Gordillo),
not just in soap operas, but also on the political scene. But just as
they make them, they unmake them. The "mature," "prudent," and
"responsible" head of government Lopez Obrador was at the
beginning later became the "irresponsible," "messianic," and
"provocateur" politician, and the polls that had put him ahead, now
put him behind.

In the mobilization against the "impeachment," one could see the
first indications of Lopez Obrador's "ways." Although it was evident
that not a few of those who mobilized did so against the injustice,
not because they supported him, AMLO used this movement to
openly launch his campaign for the Mexican presidency. When the
mobilization began to convert itself into a movement (in some
groups there appeared a restlessness to talk about deeper problems
such as the place of science, art, culture, and above all, political
goings on) and the Fox government recoiled, Lopez Obrador sent
the people home.

The objective—to stop the "impeachment" and put AMLO and
the top of the wave—had been achieved and AMLO had pledged
to stop the mobilizations. And he did.

Lopez Obrador's message to the rest of the political class (of which
he is a part, don't forget) and the gentlemen (and ladies) of money
was clear: "I have the capacity not only to convoke a huge
mobilization, but also to direct it, control it, measure it out...and stop

2. AMLO's intellectuals. From one part of the progressive
intellectual sector began to arise, as of then, what we know as
"cultured lopezobradorismo." This tendency would initiate the
construction of a new classification to locate those who moved
within or hang around political Mexico, a classification which can be
divided in two: the good (those that are with AMLO, that is, the
"nice" and "popular"), and the bad (those that are not with AMLO,
that is, the envious, according to Elenita). Whatever criticism or
questioning directed at Lopez Obrador, even if they were lukewarm
and harmless, was catalogued as a conspiracy, as coming from
Carlos Salinas de Gortari, from the dark forces of the far right, from
the Yunque, from a hidden conservatism. Now that they are
somewhat "tolerant," the criticisms of lopezobradorismo are labeled
"sectarian," "marginal," "ultra," or "infantile."

With a stagnation worthy of a better cause, this sector began
constructing a sectarian, intolerant, despotic, and petty thought. And
it did this so effectively that this thinking is what guided Lopez
Obrador's intellectual "mirrors" in the electoral campaign, later in
the resistance movement against the fraud, and now in AMLO's

When the Mexican newspaper La Jornada headlined one of its
August 2005 editions (on the occasion of the first preparatory
meeting of the Other Campaign): "they're either with us or against
us" (something like that), they were both mistaken and not. Marcos
didn't say it. But the phrase was said then and continues to be said
since by the "cultured lopezoradorismo."

This thinking (that began to be consolidated by ignoring the PRD's
support for the indigenous counterreform) encouraged the closing of
eyes and ears when the perredistas from Zinacantan, in the Altos of
Chiapas, attacked Zapatista support bases; when it was permitted
that the assassinations of human rights defender Digna Ochoa y
Placido, as well as the young student Pavel Gonzalez, were managed
by the perredista government of Mexico City with a corruption that
later would become routine. In the cases of Digna and Pavel, with
the additional crime of humiliating the death of social strugglers,
honest voices kept silent..."in order not to play to the right."
"Cultured lopezobradorismo" had then its first triumph, illegitimate
just like all those that followed.

If the PRD leaders, sympathizers, and militants, this intellectual
sector and AMLO himself were silent then, it could only be expected
that they would say nothing when the assassins of perredista
militants occupied candidacies under the yellow and black flag.

And that's what happened.

When someone is silent faced with something like that, they will be
quiet in the face of anything. The phantasm of the "unnameable"
Carlos Salinas de Gortari lurked on all sides and anything against
him was considered valid; everything, even recycling those
discontinued salinistas...in the PRD and the inner circle of Lopez

With this autochthonous modality of "unique thought" came a new
system of evaluation, a new standard of measure: the same thing
was judged differently depending on who did it or proposed it. If
AMLO or one of his sympathizers did or proposed it, then the act or
project acquired every imaginable virtue; but if it was someone who
criticized AMLO, then it was a project of the "dark forces" of the

When we pointed out (in "The Impossible Geometry of Power") that
AMLO's project was salinista, the intellectuals screamed to high
heaven (they're still up there, hysterical). But when the head of the
of the lopezobradorista economic plan (Mr. Ramirez de la O, political
economic advisor who, according to some, would have been
Secretary of State if AMLO won the presidency) declared, a few days
before the elections, that his proposal would be for a "social
liberalism" similar to that of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, these
intellectuals looked away.

Meanwhile, the actually existing right-wing continued triumphal.
Some of their thought and proposals had already been incorporated
into the perredista line: Vicente Fox's bad, and badly executed, Plan
Puebla Panama would find its "purification" in AMLO's Project
Transitsmico; the approval of the "Televisa law" by the perredista
bench in the lower house was a "tactical error"; the minor laws and
regulations also approved by this party which legalized the
dispossession of indigenous lands, were not "so serious"; the
promiscuous relationship between Lopez Obrador and businessman
Carlos Slim was "high politics"; the privatization of the Historic
Center of Mexico City was "modernity"; the colossal investment in
the second floor of the freeway that connects to one of the riches
zones of DF at the same time that the public transport budget was
cut was an example of "good government" (and not an omission of
that " first the poor"); the repression of the popular urban movement
was "establishing order"...and the political patronage that was
generated and cultivated..."the emergence of a new leadership."

Without any indication whatsoever of what this meant, Lopez
Obrador decreed that he was leftist because...because...well, because
he said so (well, sometimes, sometimes not, depending on who he
was talking to).

The calendar arrived at May 3rd and 4th, and pain and death arrived
at San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco, in Mexico State. The polls
said one had to support the repression or stay quiet. Fecal [Felipe
Calderon] said good, magnificent, that this is what had to be done.
Madrazo appeared weaker and weaker. On the "left," the perredista
contingent in the Mexican congress applauded the police action and
supported Peña Nieto. For his part, Lopez Obrador...remained
silent. Atenco would be useful if it worked to influence the elections,
but the "mediations" of the media signaled the contrary. "Cultured
lopezobradorismo" complained a little, without the slightest
conviction, for this or what was to follow.

It has also been forgotten that, during the entire trajectory of his
candidacy, AMLO made an effort to be friendly to the business
sector. If you review his pre-campaign and electoral campaign
discourses and declarations, they have nothing to do with what has
come out after July 2 nd. Time and time again he insisted to
politicians that "there would be no revenge" And to the business
sector he said, word for word, "don't be scared of me." That is, "I
will not affect your properties, nor your profits, nor the habits and
customs of the political class.

To not see this you would have to have a very serious myopia. But to
see it and not say anything, you would have to have a cynicism that
doesn't cease to haunt us.

A time later, now in the mobilization against the fraud, Lopez
Obrador said, in the Zocalo of Mexico City, that the victory of Juan
Sabines in Chiapas had detained...."the advance of the right!" That
AMLO promoted this conclusion which "purified" (and made leftist)
those who supported him—take note and continue—after all,
he created it. But that "cultured lopezobradorism" applauded
enthusiastically a stupidity of this degree was incomprehensible...or
else a palpable demonstration of the degree of cretinism it had
achieved. This "detaining the advance of the right in Chiapas" had
meant recycling Croquetas Albores and the author of that famous
phrase that "in Chiapas a chicken is worth more than an Indian"
(Constantino Kanter). Anyone who could swallow this would
swallow anything. And if anything was abundant in "cultured
lopezobradorismo" it was "windmills" of this size.

In this "healthy" environment of discussion and "high" level of
analysis, the July 1st arrived with "cultured lopezobradorism"
elaborating not just a progressive program of citizen participation
(that is, fighting with the political parties over political terrain), nor a
novel proposal for art, culture, and science, but rather a slogan full of
pride and arrogance: "smile, we're going to win." No, they didn't
call for the detainment of the right-wing (of course now they will say
that they did). They called for preparations to celebrate their triumph
(this of course, with moderation and maturity).

Ah! It was all going to be so easy, so without mobilizations, so
without repression, so without clashes, so without political and
ideological confrontations, so without debate, so without internal
struggles, so peaceful, so calm, so stable, so balanced, so without
radicalism, so without the flight of capital, so without a fall in the
stock market, so without international pressure, so without anybody
realizing anything, so without class struggle, so...so.

Repression? Well that would belong to the Other Campaign, Atenco,
to these, yes, these "vulgar plebes." And nothing of this blocking of
main highways, even if it was for a legitimate demand for liberty and
justice for the prisoners of Atenco. When the Other Campaign
blocked streets in solidarity with our compañer@s, the Mexico
City police attacked in order to "assure free transit." Dozens of young
people, majority students of the ENAH and the CCH Sur, were
beaten and gassed on the Periferico Sur, and pursued even inside the
installations of the National School of Anthropology and History.

"Cultured lopezobradorismo" said good, bravo, that the street, the
cars, the gang number 13 (expedited by AMLO when he was
mayor), the free circulation, that the "ultras," that order, that
stability. After all this, it was just a few kids (and probably they
wouldn't vote anyway and didn't even have electoral credentials).
That is, as Alaska and Thalia would say, "who cares."

A while later, the mobilization against the fraud, making use of the
legitimate right to free expression, blocked the Avenue Reforma (I
think that's what it's called). When the businessmen and the "good
people" protested (despite monetary backing), and demanded the
head of the mayor of Mexico City, Elenita Poniatowska interviewed
mayor Alejandro Encinas. He declared that one had to respect and
protect the right to protest.

Perhaps moved by Encinas' suffering, Elenita "forgot" to ask him
why these freedoms were worthy and respected when carried out by
AMLO sympathizers and not when carried by the Other Campaign,
or by the movement of those rejected from higher education, or by
those movements that resort to these actions in order to be seen and
heard. In the "forgotten" of the interviewer and interviewee you
could hear clearly: "there is one law for some (those that are with
me) and another law for the others (who do not support/follow/obey

But the night of June 1st, "cultured lopezobradorismo" dreamt that,
by just going to a ballot box, the country would change. And they
tolerated with modesty, how generous of them, the grateful
manifestations of the poor ("look little one, there goes the doctor, he
gave classes to Mr. President and his son; and there go those we saw
on stage, wave to them because they are going to direct our
liberation"), of the indigenous (not of the Zapatistas, because it is
well known that they are ungrateful), of the workers, of the peasants,
of the women, of the young people, of the elderly, of Mexico. And
internationally there would be conferences and round tables. And
"cultured lopezobradorismo," these ones yes, with modesty and
self-control, would tell what they had done for Mexico... all that was
missing was for them to have said it from centerstage .

But July 2nd arrived, and with it, Gordillo. And with her...fraud.

3. The mobilization against the fraud. But, after the initial disconcert
and now that the stage had been set to annihilate Marcos, the
EZLN, the Other Campaign, and all those that resisted to being
"purified," these intellectuals realized that what had happened had
happened. AMLO demonstrated, once again, that he is more
intuitive and more intelligent than the "cultured lopezobradorismo."
He knew how to play a mobilization against fraud so that it depended
on what he said and did, and indeed he said and did. And so arose a
popular movement—authentic, legitimate, and just: the
mobilization against the fraud, and consequently against the
imposition of Felipe Calderon.

It has been said that the mobilization was not and is not what it's
said to be. They talk of a disgrace, of the blatant and impertinent
meddling of the Mexico City government and the PRD structure,
that they were not and are not what they said they were. That could
be. What is without doubt, at least for us as Zapatistas, is that there
was and are honest people in this mobilization, who were and are
there by conviction and on principal. These people deserve and have
our respect, but their path leads to a place we don't want to go.

We share with them neither path nor destination.

And our form of respecting them is not joining their mobilization,
not to dispute with AMLO the indisputable leadership he has there,
not to sabotage it, nor to take advantage of the situation, nor in order
to "enlighten" the masses (which are some of the arguments and
reasons for which some organizations and groups are there, although
they aren't in agreements with the leadership of the movement).

The honest people who are there, we understand, think that it is
possible to convert the mobilization into a movement (with the
CND), and that this does not depend on a leader or the structure of
control that was imposed on those that attended the convention.
That could be. We don't think so, and what's more we think that it
wouldn't be ethical to "join up" or "take advantage of" a mobilization
for which we haven't done anything, except maintain a critical

That said, about the mobilization against the fraud and the attempt
to convert it into a movement via the CND, we say the following:

1. The "conscience" of AMLO with respect to the illegitimacy of the
institutions appears because his electoral victory was covered over by
fraud. It would be another story if it had been recognized that he won
the presidency.

2. The National Democratic Convention was not part of
lopezobradorista thinking at the beginning of the mobilization. If it
had been, the sit-in would have taken the opportunity to analyze,
discuss, and debate the different proposals that later would be voted
on by acclamation September 16 th, 2006. The CND was and is a
form of providing an "out" for the sit-in, and a legitimate form for
beginning to construct a movement in order to gain the presidency in
2012...or before, if Fecal falls.

3. In the CND a leadership was imposed that, more than directing
the movement, was designed to control it. There is not even a seed
of democratic participation in the discussions and the making of
decisions, much less of self-organization. The leadership has its own
interests and commitments (although the CND agreed on the
boycott of some business and products, some of its leaders declared
that they would not comply—see what Federico Arreola wrote in
Milenio Diario, the day after the CND).

4. The movement in formation of lopezobradorismo does not attest
to a crisis of the institutions (those that aided and abetted the fraud).
If that was the case, they would have decided not to accept any of
the positions they acquired in the elections, which would have
provoked a rupture difficult to control. The CND does not seek
autonomy or independence. On the contrary, it continues subject to
the old political class (today converted into the "left").

5. The majority, not all, of those in the CND leadership stand out for
their corruption, opportunism, and tendency toward shady dealings.

If on one hand they sent the fraudulent institutions "to hell," on the
other hand they participate (money included) in them. The
negotiations are the order of the day and there are important ones
still to come: the federal budget and the budget of Mexico City.

6. "Cultured lopezobradorismo" is directing its attacks now at itself,
against those who previously supported AMLO but now criticize
him. The internal disqualifications and purges will keep growing.

7. The mobilization had and has unquestionable sparkle and shine:
for example, the creativity and genius of the denunciation actions
against some of the businesses complicit in the fraud (banks,
Walmart, etc); the committed participation of people from below; the
just and legitimate rage against the power of the PAN and the Fox
government, as well as the insulting contempt that some electronic
media (Televisa, TV Azteca, and the large radio networks) show
toward those that were and continue participating in the

4. Below...And meanwhile, in the Mexico of below...The honest
people. The large part of those that participated in the mobilizations
against the electoral fraud are found "below": those that wanted
AMLO to be president because they voted for him and he won; those
that defend the right to democratically choose their government;
those that don't want another 1988; those that had and have a
healthy distrust of the party apparatus of the Coalition; those that
challenge existing power and want a change in the neoliberal system
that has been destroying the social fabric and abandoning the

Oaxaca. The "below" also erupted in Oaxaca and took shape and
path with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).
The veto capacity of this movement has been worthy of taking it into
account It does not matter whether those that participate voted or
not (or if they did whether it was for the Coalition or whatever other
partisan force). This is not what matters, but rather that they had
faith in forces that went beyond the leaders and their allies. This
trust has permitted them, up until now, to decide for themselves
their tactics without ceding to external pressures or to the advice of
the "good consciences." As the EZLN we support his movement and
try to see and learn through the compañer@s of the Other
Campaign that struggle there. Our support does not go beyond that
for two reasons: one is that it is a complex movement; a more direct
support could provoke "noise," confusion, and distrust; the other
reason is that several times the Oaxacan movement has been
accused of having links to armed groups, and our direct presence
could increase the media campaign that they already have against

The Others. Apart from the gossip and backscratching of the politics
of above, another rebellion has been constructing itself at the deepest
part of society: among the indigenous peoples, among young people
abused by the powers that be (including the PRD), among the
maquila workers, the sex workers, among those unsubmissive
women that live with the anxiety that their husbands will migrate
north, in the political organizations of the left that are convinced that
something beyond capital and representative democracy exists,
among all those that comprise the Other Campaign, which exists in
all parts of the country and is organizing and inventing another form
of doing politics and of relating to their equal-differents.

The Other Campaign is not what has come out in the mass media,
nor is it what some of its participants say about it, and well, neither
is it what the Sixth Commission of the EZLN has said about it. It is
much more than all of this. It is a torrent that continues below, that
does not yet express itself completely, that exists and reproduces
itself in the basement of Mexico.

But also below exist millions, the majority, who do not vote; who do
not believe in the elections (many of them, like we the Zapatistas,
have never voted upon conviction). Those that form part of that
Mexico which is scorned and humiliated (and now "cultured
lopezobradorismo" wants to scorn and humiliate them more,
blaming them for the defeat). Many of them are part of the Mexico
of the indigenous peoples, that just a few years ago were held up for
their willingness to struggle and resist.

With the latter, with those that don't look above, are the Zapatistas.
And we think that it is with them that the Other Campaign should

Because some of those from below, those of us who are in the Other
Campaign, already identify our pain and the enemy that causes it:

And we know two central things: one, that in order to free this
struggle we need the construction of a social-political movement that
is autonomous and independent. And the other, that above there is
no real solution for the economic and social problems that plague the
people of Mexico, nor for the hijacking that the political class has
committed against the participation and organization of the people.

We, the Zapatistas of the EZLN, as of one year ago opted for
launching a national anticapitalist movement, below and to the left,
that would pass over the electoral conjuncture, where one could be
independently of what one decided about the elections. Now we have
seen and learned many things. From those from above, from the
Other Campaign, from we ourselves.

We think that, whether one is in agreement or not with the
legitimacy and popularity of the movement headed by Andres
Manual Lopez Obrador, this is not the path of the Other Campaign,
and, above all, it des not have the same destination of those of us
who are compañer@s of the Other Campaign.

We, the Other Campaign, do not look for who will rule us, nor who
we can rule. And we don't look to obtain from above what is
constructed below.

And it is you, our compañeras and compañeros of the Other, to
whom we want to make a proposal...

(to be continued...)\

For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine
Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army for
National Liberation.

Sixth Commission

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos


September 2006

Translation El Kilombo Intergalactico
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