(eng) Irish anarchist in Chiapas

Mon, 18 Mar 1996 18:37:04 +0100

paper of the Irish anarchist
Workers Solidarity Movement

Irish delegation visits Mexican rebels

AS AN IRISH DELEGATION visits Mexico to better its
knowledge of the struggle there and to express solidarity with
the Zapatista EZLN rebels, Shane O'Curry of the Irish Mexico
Group reminds us that the struggle continues.

"As representatives from Ireland took part in celebrations on
the second anniversary of the uprising in Chiapas, the EZLN
went in for more talks with the government. Elected
delegates from Zapatista communities have been
participating in the 'National Dialogue'. This dialogue with
the delegates was agreed to by the government after it failed
to crush the uprising in February 1994.

"The February offensive had proved too costly in terms of
publicity because of the litany of human rights abuses
committed by the federal army. The ruling elite, conscious of
the damage this was doing to Mexico's image as an investor-
friendly market, opted for the softly softly approach.

"This is not to say that human rights abuses have stopped in
Mexico. In October 1995 Cecilia Rodrigues, an American
national working to co-ordinate international solidarity with
the rebellion, was kidnapped and subjected to multiple rape.
Despite a press conference subsequently held by her in the
United States, this drew little attention from the world's
press. This stresses the importance of public interest and
agitation to stop the situation from sliding back into
unrestrained repression.

"Despite the repression the Zapatistas remain unequivocal in
their opposition to NAFTA and the US dominated neo-
liberal economic order. NAFTA, they remind us, is a death
sentence for the poor and indigenous of Chiapas and all of
Mexico. Opening the economic floodgates to US and
Canadian capital will wash away what precious little land
they have left.

"The rebel army which draws its numbers from the very
poorest is ill-equipped and receives no outside financial help.
This is in sharp contrast to the 40,000 American-equipped
federal troops still deployed in the region. But the Zapatistas
have on their side the terrain and the support of their
communities. They also have the support of the millions of
Mexicans tired of electoral fraud, government corruption and
of paying the price of the economic crisis created by the
country's rich.

"The Zapatistas' strength also lies in their absolute
commitment to grassroots democracy. This is what allowed
them to successfully and credibly hold a National
Convention for Democracy (CND) in rebel-held territory last
year. This was attended by thousands (the 'official' figure
cited by spokesperson Marcos at his inaugural speech was
"one fuck of a lot of people") representing peasants, trade
unions, churches, Non-Governmental Organisations, and so

"Although the Zapatistas' political programme calls for land,
justice and democracy, at the CND they refrained from
making political demands, preferring to let the forces
attending the conference determine the agenda. This is in
line with their stated belief that the revolution must be
social, not one that can be determined alone by the outcome
of an armed insurrection.

"They share this anti-elitist view with Anarchists; not
surprising perhaps considering the Zapatista tradition is
influenced by the writings of Mexican Anarchist Ricardo
Flores Magon. As an Anarchist he believed in the right of
the oppressed to defend themselves and their gains through
violence if necessary, but stressed the importance of the social
revolution involving the participation of all, if real change is
to be achieved. The Zapatistas' commitment to the will of
the people may prove to be their only ace as they go in for
this round of talks."
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