The acting prophecy of the Zapatista communities

Victor S. Quintana

Photo: Radio Pozol

The EZLN did not listen to the song of the sirens. Good thing. Ever since it emerged there have been those who suggested that it should become a political party or seek popularly elected posts, allying itself with one of them. That would have been the path of attrition, perhaps of decomposition. It is a good thing that the EZLN did not choose to seek the high places, but to return to the earth, from where it draws all its strength, like the giant Antaeus fighting Hercules.

It is good that the Zapatista communities have opted for resistance to preserve their existence, for them and for those who resist throughout the world. The Zapatista communities have not taken power, as some would have wished. But they have developed another kind of power, a power built from below, with the people.

A power that we could call prophetic. An acting prophecy that has two dimensions: denunciation and proclamation. On the one hand, it is a living denunciation of the processes, forces and relations of dehumanization. Of everything that leads us to the multiple crises of humanity that we are living.

An active opposition, in deeds and in words, to the devastation of Mother Nature, to political power as a weapon of domination, to the falsehoods of governments, to the massacres of communities, such as that of Acteal, to predatory capitalism, to individualism that crushes the community and the person, that prevents the construction of solidarity; to consumerism; to the neglect of the other, of others, and especially the weakest; to the infiltration of drug trafficking and “authorized crime,” as Father Gonzalo Ituarte says, into the territories of the native peoples; to militarization, colonialism, machismo and classism that really exist, in everyday relationships, not only in books and theoretical discourses.

This daily denunciation of the communities later, in the communiqués of the EZLN and in the words of the different stages of Subcomandante Marcos, Durito, Galeano, Captain Marcos, becomes a voice that cries out from the jungle, from the periphery of the planet. The other side of the Zapatista living prophecy is the proclamation.

It is a matter of executing, of living, of making present the other world that one dreams of possible, of cultivating it every day to then announce it with the word. It is the daily construction of utopia. To make real what Luis Hernández Navarro points out: agrarian reform from below, autonomy, self-defense, and self-management.

The community construction of another form of power linked to compassion and love, of a social movement not aimed at taking political power, but at changing society. They have shown this in their way of organizing, from the good government councils to the caracoles to their new proposal of participation and self-determination from below, where the defensive military has been giving way to the participatory civilian.

Raúl Romero in an excellent text ( has just pointed out one of the prophecies made by the Zapatista communities: that is “where little girls can play free.” A utopia of conviviality that contrasts with the feminicidal terror that fills the streets of the most globalized cities in our country, such as Ciudad Juarez.

Construction of spaces of participation and difference for all, production for the community with total care for the commons: nature, water, biodiversity. This practical announcement of the real possibility of a different world that the Zapatista communities offer us is neither solemn nor grandiloquent; it is full of ingenuity, creativity, festivity, and playfulness, to the rhythm of cumbia and salsa.

It is a prophetic practice in continuous transformation; he admires how what some scholars consider “traditional society” has such a capacity for evolution and change, for responding from its values and principles to the challenges and threats posed by globalization. Of continuous creation of a new culture.The Zapatista prophecy in its double dimension of denunciation and proclamation, in deeds and in words, is one of the simple ways, from the periphery, by which consciousness is entering history. It is not through the states, nor through the think tanks, but through the little guys, the discarded, as Pope Francis would say: the originary peoples, like those of Chiapas, of the Amazon; the negated peoples like the Kurds or the Palestinians, the repressed sexual identities, the movements of women, of young people, of the defense of the commons.

It would seem that, to a global society, self-absorbed by its technical-scientific advances, turned in on itself, narcissistic, fleeing towards escape and pleasure, which is rushing us towards climatic and civilizational catastrophe, the memory and the presence of communities like the Zapatistas would repeat to our ears every day memento humanitatis: remember humanity, that it is the relationship of care with all beings that humanizes us and makes hope possible. For all this, thanks to the Zapatista communities.

Original text published in La Jornada on January 11th, 2024.
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Want to receive our weekly blog digest in your inbox?

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top