“I came to Zapatismo when it had gone out of fashion”: Diego Enrique Osorno

The journalist, who is a contributor to MILENIO, talks about ‘En la Montaña’, the work in which he documents his trip with the EZLN and for which he was awarded the Anagrama de Crónica Prize

Vincente Gutiérrez

Diego Enrique Osorno (Mexico, 1980) won the Anagrama Prize from Crónica/Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation with ‘’En la Montaña’’, a book about his experience with the Zapatista movement from its beginnings to the present.

En la Montaña is a chronicle conceived in 2018 after a series of interviews in the mountains of Chiapas with several of the commanders.

“I came to Zapatismo, to cover it, when it had gone out of fashion. Zapatismo, between 1994 and 2001, was a movement that was highly attended, reviewed, and followed very much in Mexico and around the world. I arrived in Chiapas for the first time in 2003, when it no longer had, let’s say, that radiation, and since then I have not stopped covering Zapatismo,” he says in an interview with MILENIO.

“It is, to a large extent, a movement that has allowed me to maintain hope in the midst of all the barbarism that we have experienced in Mexico throughout this 21st century. The book, in a certain way, is also an attempt to relate the Zapatismo that I have known and reported on,” comments the journalist, who is a contributor to this newspaper.

“The book includes the trip on La Montaña, a ship named after the Zapatistas to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 2021, but it is also a trip through Zapatismo throughout these 30 years, it is not just a maritime trip, also one at ground level,” he says.

“And without a doubt I am the worst sailor in history because I don’t know how to swim and that is largely the fault of my Monterrey origin, although I always clarify that I am more ‘montane’ than ‘regional’. But I accepted for Zapatismo, to tell the story and be a witness to that great event, not only of Zapatismo but of the indigenous Mayan peoples. I jumped into the sea with them too.”

The log

The documentary La Montaña (2023) directed by Osorno was also born from this experience, a cinematographic log of the maritime trip made to Europe in the midst of the pandemic by a delegation of rebellious indigenous peoples from Chiapas.

Across several installments, he has recounted this trip in MILENIO under the name “Journalistic Log. The Journey of the Seed”, but he clarifies that the book contains other material: “I have not stopped addressing this reality in the spaces I have, but the book has a broader and more specific vision.”

“I came to Zapatismo when they were beginning to implement their autonomous system of government, after all the political parties betrayed them, including the supposed left that governs the country today, which probably saw that by recognizing the indigenous rights that the Zapatistas demanded there would be the possibility of a dispute in the absurd electoral world and they betrayed these agreements.”

He comments that in light of this, “they implemented a very rich life, challenging the barbarism that we have and were making a transformation, from that guerrilla group that we met in 1994 to a peaceful and extremely creative civil group, capable of not only invoking force but above all the organization and art to resist in an increasingly difficult context, not only in Mexico but also in Chiapas.

“What they have been able to build with organization, creativity and many sacrifices is a reference today,” says the journalist.

Grateful and committed

Osorno says that this New Year’s Eve he was in a Zapatista community where they celebrated the 30th anniversary of the beginning of their movement:

  “It is impressive to see how, in the midst of the degradation and decomposition that Chiapas is experiencing, Zapatista youth can continue to have a quality of life and an orientation that is difficult to find in other non-Zapatista communities and towns in Chiapas, let alone in the rest of the country.”

About the award, he comments: “I greatly appreciate that the manuscript has been distinguished by the jury with this opportunity to tell a pulsating story that some seek to bury in the mud of forgetfulness. I feel grateful and committed to this journey.”

The jury reported: “Far from stopping at documenting the route map of this Zapatista ship, Osorno takes this trip as a starting point to detail more precisely what it was, what this movement was and what it represents.”

Original article published by Milenio on January 29th, 2024. https://www.milenio.com/cultura/diego-enrique-osorno-habla-sobre-el-trabajo-por-el-que-gano-el-premio.
Translated by Schools for Chiapas

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