Stop the War on the EZLN

By Gilberto López y Rivas

One of the characteristics of the current government of the 4T is to neither listen to, much less attend to the serious allegations related to the reactivation of paramilitary groups in Chiapas, like those that belong to the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (Orcao), who, on the 22nd of August looted and burned the facilities of the New Dawn of the Rainbow Center of Commerce in the autonomous municipality of Lucio Cabañas (Ocosingo). In addition to this provocation, several groups, also identified as paramilitary since the 90’s, like Paz y Justicia [Peace and Justice] and Chinchulines, that once again have carried out all kinds of aggression in various regions of Chiapas, and in particular, in the municipalities of Tila and Aldama. In recent weeks, through networks and various local and national media, statements of support for the EZLN have been circulated, one of which, Stop the War against the Zapatistas, has been signed by hundreds of organizations, academics, artists, and solidarity networks from 22 countries. (https://alto-a-la-guerra-contra -lxs-zapatistas.webnode.mx/).

The attack of August 22nd against the Zapatista support bases forms part of a continuous strategy of counterinsurgency carried out by previous governments against the Mayan Zapatistas, one that the Miguel Augustín Pro Juárez Community Action Group and Human Rights Center, two decades ago qualified as a “wholesale war of attrition,” conceived in the U.S. counterinsurgency manuals as a succession of small operations that suffocate the enemy in political, economic and military spheres, avoiding to the extent possible, spectacular actions that would draw the attention of the press and international public opinion. (Now they bet on exhaustion. Chiapas: Psychological foundations of a contemporary war, 2002.) In this type of war, the role of paramilitary groups is fundamental. According to one of the Sedena manuals of irregular warfare, this not only has to do with taking water from the fish (support bases of the insurgency), but also to introduce more aggressive fish to the water, that is, those paramilitary groups with military organization, equipment and training, to which the State delegates the fulfillment of missions that the armed forces cannot openly carry out without implying a recognition of their existence as part of the monopoly of state violence. Paramilitary groups are illegal and unpunishable because it is convenient to the interests of the State. That which is paramilitary consists, then, of the illegal and unpunishable exercise of the violence of the State, and the covering up of the origins of this violence. As in previous governments, which were openly neoliberal and counter-insurgent, the Fourth Transformation continues saturating the so-called “theater of war.” Zósimo Camacho maintains that today the greatest number of active military personnel can be found in Chiapas, which are, to use a metaphor, the anvil that maintains the security fence around the zone of conflict, with its barracks, garrisons, convoys, intelligence agents, aerial and terrestrial surveillance, etc. while the paramilitary groups, continuing the metaphor, are the hammer that strikes the people with actions like those of August 22nd, trying to introduce terror, creating conditions of expulsion and displacement of indigenous communities, joining up with civil authorities, both military and police, to pinpoint the internal enemy that refuses to follow the logic of capital, with its little mirrors of progress, development and precarious employment.

Jointly with the actions of the paramilitary groups, the campaign on social networks and communication media has intensified against the Zapatista mayans, with grotesque infusions, like that the territory of the EZLN is controlled by a cartel of drug trafficking, that supplies high-powered weapons to the insurgent group, the same that are rigorously analyzed with information and refuted in depth by Luis Hernández Navarro in an interview that Ernesto Ledesma Arronte carried out on his program RompeVientoTv (https://wwwyoutube.com/ watch?v=gdDNI9m_8).

Unfortunately, and in unison with this campaign, a very worrisome statement from the head of the Federal executive branch, took place in his morning conference on August 28th, in which he tried to stigmatize and criminalize the work of advocates and defenders of human rights, journalists, academica and representatives of the indigenous communities in opposition to the so-called Mayan Train, one of the signature megaprojects of the developmentalist territorial reorganization, which the Zapatista Mayans also confront. With this declaration, the government of the Fourth Transformation jumped aboard the old counterinsurgency train of its predecessors. 

This piece was originally published in Spanish in La Jornada on September 4, 2020. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2020/09/04/opinion/017a2pol This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.