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(en) Mexico, Chiapas, A Message from Marcos - Zapatista Army of National Liberation August 15, 2004.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 26 Aug 2004 22:16:25 +0200 (CEST)

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Marcos breaks the silence with new communiques detailing
what the Zapatistas have been up to.
Psst!, psst, psst! Is anyone there? Anyone listening? Someone looking?
Even a heart? Vale. Salud and patience, guerrero virtue.
From the mountains of the Mexican southeast. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
P.S. Pardon the interruption, but the fact is we also have a video.
The only problem is that it has to be read (technological limitations of
the rebel resistance), and, that's right, you have to switch channels.
The new communiques included:

* Two Flaws - August 2004 - There are two mistakes which seem to have persisted in Zapatista political
work: the place of women, on the one hand, and, on the other, the relationship
between the political-military structure and the autonomous governments.

* Three Shoulders August 2004 - So we rose up in arms one first
day of January in the year of 1994Éin order to seek another
shoulder which would help us walk, that is, to exist.

* Four Fallacies about the Good Government Juntas - August 2004
These were brandished by intellectuals of the right, judges,
legislators and officials in order to oppose the San Andrés
Accords, and the putting into practice of those accords with
the creation of the caracoles and the Good Government Juntas

* Five Decisions of Good Government August
Marcos details the first year of the Good Government Juntas in
which some internal accords were formalized and new decisions were

Two Flaws

Reading a Video
Part Two: Two Flaws

Okay, fine, I'm being too generous with the mirror. But I'm not
saying that we've only had two flaws, errors or mistakes (they say
"flaws" here) during the first year of operations of the caracoles
and the Good Government Juntas. Instead, there are two
mistakes which seem to have persisted in our political work (and
which flagrantly contradict our principles): the place of women,
on the one hand, and, on the other, the relationship between the
political-military structure and the autonomous governments.

For those who have been in contact with the caracoles or with
the Good Government Juntas, there have probably been many
more mistakes. But some of them, however, are owing to the
dynamic of resistance, while some are errors which are already -
at least tendentiously - in the process of being resolved. Others
are errors which are not errors (they are done deliberately).

There are other mistakes which, I'm not sure, but which might
be owing to something that has to do with war, resistance, the
clandestine. Often someone will come to the caracoles and
attempt to speak with the Good Government Junta, and they
spend a good bit of time waiting to see whether or not they will
be received. Questions are also frequently sent, and the response
never arrives ("they should at least answer that they're not going
to answer," civil society begs-grumbles).

It might sound amusing, but, for someone who has occasionally
crossed an ocean (and not metaphorically) to reach our lands,
there's nothing funny about not being received. I believe it's the
"way" here, but it's already being resolved. Now there is a
committee which &endash; while the Good Government Junta
does their thing &endash; meets with everyone who arrives
(always and when they're not from the federal government). The
"reception committees" (made up almost always of members of
the CCRI) have not been functioning at the same level in all the
caracoles, and more than one person from civil society has been
left waiting. But believe me, we are mindful that this does not
happen anymoreÉor not as often anymore.

On the other hand, it should be understood that we are in a
movement in rebellion and resistance. And, if you add to that
several generations who have been the victims of deception and
betrayals, the natural suspicion in the face of new visitors can be
understood, as well as requests for information and references
which help clarify whether the newly arrived is coming with good
or bad intentions. What some see as bureaucratic tendencies in
the JBG [Good Government Junta] and the autonomous
councils are, in fact, the product of the dynamic of the harassed
and the persecuted.

Another "error" detected by civil societies, and especially by
non-governmental organizations in the communities, is not an

I'm referring to the fact that the members of the Good
Government Juntas change continually. After "rotations" which
last from eight to 15 days (according to the region), the junta is
replaced. Those who are there then return to their work in
autonomous councils, and other authorities come in to run the

"When we've already been dealing with a team," say the civil
societies, "they're replaced with another, and we have to begin all
over again. There's no continuity, because agreements are made
with one junta one week, and the next week there's already
another, different junta." Some don't go into details and posit:
"the Good Government Juntas are chaos."

A "security committee" (a CCRI team in charge of helping the
JBGs in each region) told me: "We're fighting a lot, because
when one team is catching on to what the junta's work should
be, it's replaced by another team, and we have to start all over
again explaining to the new ones. And not just that. Once all the
autonomous authorities have come and gone, lo and behold, the
council changes, and it happens again."

You might say I'm going too far, but the truth is, that's how it's

Obviously the plan isn't for the juntas to be &endash; to use the
term of the civil societies &endash; chaos. The plan is that the
work of the JBGs should be rotated among the members of all
the autonomous councils of each region. This is so that the task
of governing is not exclusive to one group, so that there are no
"professional" leaders, so that learning is for the greatest number
of people, and so that the idea that government can only be
carried out by "special people" is rejected.

Almost invariably, once all the members of an autonomous
council have learned the meaning of good government, there are
new elections in the communities, and all the authorities change.
Those who have already learned return to their fields, and new
ones come inÉand start over again.

If this is analyzed in depth, it will be seen that it is a process
where entire villages are learning to govern.

The advantages? Fine, one of them is that it's more difficult for
an authority to go too far and, by arguing how "complicated" the
task of governing is, to not keep the communities informed about
the use of resources or decision making. The more people who
know what it's all about, the more difficult it will be to deceive
and to lie. And the governed will exercise more vigilance over
those who govern.

It also makes corruption more difficult. If you manage to corrupt
one member of the JBG, you will have to corrupt all the
autonomous authorities, or all the rotations, because doing a
"deal" with just one of them won't guarantee anything
(corruption also requires "continuity"). Just when you have
corrupted all the councils, you'll have to start over again, because
by then there will have been a change in the authorities, and the
one you "arranged" won't work any longer. And so you'll have to
corrupt virtually all the adult residents of the zapatista
communities. Although, obviously, it's likely that once you've
achieved that, the children will have already grown up and then,
once againÉ

We are well aware that this method makes it difficult to carry out
some projects, but, in return, we have a school of governance
that will, in the long run, bear fruit in a new way of doing politics.
In addition, this "error" has allowed us to fight any corruption
that might arise among the authorities.

It will take time, I know. But for those who, like the zapatistas,
make plans for decades, a few years isn't much time.

Another "error" which isn't an error, is when someone goes,
sometimes, to the Good Government Junta in order to ask for a
statement of support for a movement or for an organization, and
the petition isn't granted. This is not because the junta isn't
interested in supporting or participating. It is simply owing to the
fact that these actions do not pertain to the Good Government
Juntas since they involve all the zapatista peoples, not just those
who are within the jurisdiction of a junta, and the JBGs cannot
assume representations which do not belong to them. In
addition, most of the time the requests or invitations are made to
the EZLN, but the EZLN is one thing, and the juntas are
another. So don't get upset, we're all learning.

Contrary to what might be thought, those errors which are our
responsibility are the ones which are the most difficult to resolve.

I said, at the beginning of this second part of the video, that one
flaw which we have been dragging along with us for some time
has to do with the place of women. The participation of women
in the work of the organizational management is still small, and it
is practically nonexistent in the autonomous councils and the

While the percentage of female participation in the Clandestine
Revolutionary Indigenous Committees is between 33 and 40%, in
the autonomous councils and the Good Government Juntas it is
less than 1% on average. Women are still being ignored in the
naming of ejidal commissioners and municipal agents.
Government work is still the prerogative of the men. And it's not
that we're in favor of the "empowerment" of women, which is so
fashionable up above, but that there are still no spaces for women
who are participating in the zapatista social base to be reflected in
government positions.

And not only that. Despite the fact that zapatista women have
had, and have, a fundamental role in the resistance, respect for
their rights continues, in some cases, to be just words on paper.
Domestic violence has decreased, it is true, but more through the
limitations on alcohol consumption than through a new family
and gender culture.

Women are also still being limited in participating in activities
that involve their leaving the village.

It is not something written or explicit, but the woman who leaves
without her husband or children is viewed and thought of in a
bad light. And I am not referring to "extra zapatista" activities,
where there are severe restrictions which also include the men.
I'm talking about courses and meetings organized by the EZLN,
the JBGs, the Autonomous Municipalities, the women's
cooperatives and the villages themselves.

It is a shame, but we have to be honest: we still cannot give a
good report regarding women, in the creation of conditions for
their gender development, in a new culture which acknowledges
their capacities and aptitudes that have purportedly belonged
exclusively to men.

Even though we are aware that it will take a while, we hope some
day to be able to say, with satisfaction, that we have achieved the
disruption of at least this aspect of the world.

Only in that way will it all have been worthwhile.

What the EZLN has indeed contributed (bad, for certain) to the
communities and their autonomy process, is the relationship of
the political-military structure to the autonomous civil

The idea we had originally was that the EZLN should accompany
and support the peoples in the building of their autonomy.
However accompaniment has sometimes turned into
management, advice into ordersÉand support into a hindrance.

I've already spoken previously about the fact that the
hierarchical, pyramid structure is not characteristic of the
indigenous communities. The fact that the EZLN is a
political-military and clandestine organization still corrupts
processes that should and must be democratic.

In some juntas and caracoles the phenomenon has arisen of
CCRI comandantes making decisions that are not theirs to make
and involving themselves in problems with the junta. "Govern
obeying" is a tendency that continues to run into those walls
which we ourselves have erected.

These two flaws need our special attention and, obviously,
measures to counter them. We cannot blame the military
encirclement, the resistance, the enemy, neoliberalism, the
political parties, the media, or the bad mood that tends to
accompany us in the mornings when the skin we desire isn't

There. I was as brief as possible because one must be as succinct
in accepting one's errors as expansive in their solutions.

Vale. Salud and I understand that you still don't understand.
That's why I began with "patience, guerrero virtue."

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, August of 2004. 20 and 10.

P.S. Or could it be that you find us nicer when we're quiet? No
way, we say what we think and what we feel. And how many
persons and organizations can you say that about?

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

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