(en) Press Conference at Zapatista Encounter (it)

Steve Wright (sjwright@vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au)
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 09:43:52 +1000

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Network of struggles "Press Conference" San Sebastian de los Reyes 27.7.97

After last evening's opening ceremony for the 2nd Encounter held in the Plaza de Toros of San Sebastian, and a night of music and dancing, this morning, in the usual confusion which has marked these first few days of the Encounter - a confusion to which we have become accustomed and therefore can organise ourselves around - we all took off for Madrid to take part in the demonstration.

After the demo the majority of Encuentro participants went straight to the various cities hosting their discussion seminars ("mesa"), except for those who are to be based in Madrid.

In all the confusion of backpacks, buses and departure timetables, we were able to hold a first "alternative" press conference, using the banner of the "alternative press" under which we as comrades of Radio Onda Rossa, along with many others from Rome - and indeed the world - concerned with information and self-production are accredited at the Encounter. The meeting had begun at 7pm on the night before, and was interrupted when everyone was called away to take part in the Encounter's opening ceremony.

More than a conference, it was in effect a presentation on the part of some representatives of movements of struggle outside Europe. The principal problem for all, and an important part of all their struggles, is land: land understood not as "their" property, but as a means to reappropriate their own way of life, identity and culture. It is their way of resisting: the model of community life which attempts to oppose the neo-liberal model of development.

Following a question concerning the sometimes negative role of international cooperation organisations raised by a comrade of the Forte Prenestino social centre in Rome, Rolando Flores of the Argentinian indigenous national coordination declared that international cooperation was often complicit with the neo-liberal model of development in diminishing the strength and identity of indigenous communities. Confirming this thesis, the Mexican Carlos Beas from the work group "Indigenous people's justice and human rights" in the state of Oxaca emphasised how some projects realised in a different manner by solidarity organisations had instead sustained and aided the indigenous communities' identity and capacity to resist. There is to be a gathering in Chile in March 1998 where various Latin American communities will meet together and with international solidarity organisations, in an effort to strengthen their resistance and to construct a network of all the resistances: a network able to unite all the exploited social sectors in each country.

The Chilean representative of CEDELCOOP (Corporacion para la autogestion y el desarrollo cooperativo) further clarified the problem of the landless people in that country by describing the immense territories and mineral resources held there by international capital.

A poetic and passionate intervention was also made by the lawyer Efren Capiz Villegas, who is general coordinator of the Union de Comuneros "Emiliano Zapata" (Ucez). All the interventions made clear the need for alternative channels of communication, given the official media's blanket of silence on these themes. In particular Beas denounced the silence concerning the continuing repression in Mexico, despite the recent election results which have brought an end to the PRI's monopoly and the discrete affirmation of the PRD: the financial markets may be buoyed, but living conditions - and sometimes those of death - remain unchanged. And if living conditions are very grave in Chiapas, others in many other parts of Mexico face a similar predicament.

Other participants in the conference included Hondaine Mohamed of Agadir (Moroccan movement of culture and struggle for identity) - Azamir in the Berber language denied to his people.

Edited by Radio Onda Rossa and Tactical Media Crew

Translated by Steve Wright, Zapatista Solidarity Collective, Melbourne Australia

Visit the TMC Encuentro page for updates on photos from Spain - http://vivaldi.nexus.it/commerce/tmcrew/chiapas

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