(en) Zapatistas return to San cristobal

Tue, 16 Sep 1997 14:33:10 -0600

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ANARCHY NIGHTS IN CHIAPAS The Second Taking of San Crist=F3bal by Mark Connolly =20 Its 4am on the morning of tuesday 9th september and the occupation of the town of San Cristobal de las Casas is complete. Some 10,000 masked but unarmed Zapatistas have overrun the central plazas and surrounding streets. Not since the momentous uprising on the 1st of January 1994 have they taken complete control of the former colonial capital of the state of Chiapas. Its cold and damp, but there's a street party raging. Thousands of masked rebels are dancing away the night in front of a banner bedecked stage in the central plaza proclaiming ' Welcome EZLN, forgers of dignity'. "El Mo=F1o Colorado", a sugery pop song and unofficial Zapatista anthem, blasts out for the 20th time and plots unfold, of romance and revolution beneath the legions of ski-masks and bandana's. Beyond the stage front, the scene is one of armagedden for Coletos. Zapatistas are everywhere, camped out on every available inch of space, an ocean of indigenous colours and blankets and masked faces and rebozos and guerrilla rucksacks. The aroma of tortillas cooking, the smell of the mountains, the demure sound of the people of corn, the quiet cacophony of indigenous tongues.=20 The Zapatista have re-occupied the Coleto Municipal Palace, seat of power of the historical owners of San Cristobal, the "puro blanco" direct descendants of the Spanish colonisers, upholders of a Coleto apartheid tradition. Beneath the Palace's gracious colonial columns, a thousand occupiers sleep as if they own the place. The Coletos have fled the palace, and indeed all of the public spaces of San Cristobal. Behind closed doors and barred windows, the town's residents curse the invasion of this horde rebellious savages, shitting and pissing all over their lovely town, bringing dirt and disease from the mountains, infecting everything with their damnable indian filth. A beautiful, free, friendly mood reigns in occupied San Cristobal. The music and the dance and people sharing food and people chatting, smiles behind balaclavas. There are no police and no army and no state presence. Bags are strewn about where-ever without fear of theft. Cigarrettes are shared between strangers. Here there are only companer@s.

The march of the 1,111 began at dawn yesterday with the departure Zapatistas from each rebel village. Each of the 1,111 delegates is sent by their community, to represent the 50, 100, 500 left behind. The delegates converge at their respective Aguascalientes or centers of resistance: La Realidad in the jungle, Morelia and La Garrucha in Las Ca=F1adas, Roberto Barrios in the North, Oventic in the highlands. By late afternoon they have assembled outside San Crist=F3bal, amassed in buses, trucks, jeeps and anything that moves. Joined by several thousand compas from surrounding communities, they begin the momentous march on the town. In orderly files, chanting slogans, the unarmed army descends upon the cobbled avenues. The pavements are lined with cheering onlookers and the marchers are embraced emotionally by thousands more waiting in the Central Plaza. It takes a full half hour for the EZLN to file into the plaza and line up in military formation before the stage. Here they are, men women and children, of all ages, now singing first the national anthem, then the Zapatista anthem.=20 Twelve comandantes, six men, six women, take the stage and officiate the formal ceremony and speeches. Lined beneath the massive cross of Cathederal Plaza, a sea of rebels. "We are here to demand that the government complies with the accords signed in San Andres. We are here to demonstrate that we the people are taking power, and we will no longer be humiliated," said Cmmdte. Isaac. "We are ready to give our blood again if we have to!" says Cmmdte. Zebedeo, and 10,000 Zapatistas soldiers answer with a "Viva La Lucha Zapatista!"

The taking of San Cristobal de las Casas was complete. The Zapatistas had demonstrated the power of the word, backed by the power of the people: because of the democratic space that they have fought to create since the uprising of Jan1, they could come armed not with AK-47s, but with dignity and justness. Sure enough, outside the town, the armed forces were gathered and waiting for their order to move...but not this time. The unstoppable force was marching onto the Capital, like the Zapatistas of 1914, in their name, in their spirit, history and time. =20 It rose above the crucible of San Crist=F3bal, into the dark, uncertain night, the voice of thousands and thousands- "Viva la toma de San Crist=F3bal! Viva el EZLN! Viva la Revolution!"

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