Zapatismo Today and the Anticapitalist Struggle

by Magdalena Gómez

The voyage across the sea of Zapatista delegation Squadron 421 undertaken this past May 2nd from Isla Mujeres on the ship re-christened for its international tour as La Montaña, destination Port of Vigo in Galicia, Spain, obeys a clear line publicly maintained by the EZLN since the first of January, 1994. It was preceded by an assessment of the global circumstance that has provoked the pandemic we are still living in, that which, together with the viral threat, has also caused isolation, despite the efforts deployed to the effect that the lock-down does not shut you up. 

Without setting aside the root cause and origin of the climate change phenomenon caused by the devastating deployment of capitalism that razes both nature and life, to point out one of its catalyzing elements. The first analyses about the Zapatista initiative translate the statement of subcomandante Galeano: a mountain sailing against the grain of history, as an inverse voyage across the Atlantic of the one made by the invaders, the so-called conquistadors, more than 500 years ago.

And here the first counterpoint is given : we don’t accept, they have pointed out, that the indigenous peoples were defeated, much less conquered; we continue living, fighting and resisting. As such, the Zapatistas reject any such plea for pardon. “For what would Spain ask our forgiveness? For having given birth to Cervantes, León Felipe, García Lorca, Picasso, the Republic and the exile from the Republic of Mexico, among many others?” … a position that contrasts with the current line of the so-called 4T. They will be in Madrid the 13 of August of 2021, subcomandante Moisés stated in a communiqué, 500 years after “the supposed conquest,” and there they will speak to “the Spanish people” – “not to threaten, insult or reproach, nor to demand that they ask for our forgiveness. Enough of toying with the distant past to justify, with demagoguery and hypocrisy, the crimes of today. He pointed out that on this tour, they are neither seeking difference, nor superiority, not confrontation, and much less pardon and pity. We will go to find what makes us equal.”

This axis of the Zapatista struggle was expressed in the First Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, known as the Intergalactic, carried out in August of 1996 in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, which 3,000 people from 45 countries attended. Since then, many of them have maintained a connection of close relationship and support with the EZLN.

Among many dimensions of this initiative is the decision to acknowledge them in their nations. This is the meaning of their claims that they are travelling to see their old alter-globalist acquaintances, that today (as they have always been) are tireless fighters against fascism, generous organizers of migrants, vital builders of new ways of urban coexistence, brave trade unionists in a precarious labor world, and seasoned topplers of statues of slave traders and colonialists.  

As the magazine Ojarasca pointed out, “they are going to the Europe of below, attentive to exiles and involuntary nomads, to the critical autonomies, to the radical rejection of environmental destruction, to the anticapitalist with their national governments, be they the dented crowns of Spain and the United Kingdom, the right-wing republics of France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, or the dictatorship of Turkey. They are going, that is, to the Europe of the migrants themselves. 

The indigenous squadron that now crosses the Atlantic is not going to meet the comfortable citizens of the old and indeed, already decrepit world, albeit still rich, unequal and powerful. They go to meet with the true autonomists, with those that resist, with the youth that want to learn from the news of the New World, that the new generation of Zapatista support bases brings them. It is the multiplication of the Marichuy effect in the elections of 2018, in its moment considered symbolic, but that today casts a shadow of authenticity and dignity over the electoral and partisan pantomime of 2021.” (May, No. 289)

With this gaze and understanding, it remains clear that the much-repeated arguments against any Zapatista initiative are unfounded. In 1994, they said that the rebellion impaired the triumph of Salinismo in the implementation of NAFTA, later they said he was the person that was appeasing them, and now in recent times, since 2006 all of their strategies, according to paranoia, are aimed at affecting the current occupant of the Presidency of the Republic. The Zapatista movement has placed its efforts into promoting anti-capitalist organizing and now it is doing it on a global scale. What impact will it have? That depends largely on the circumstances of the organizations and collectives in their respective nations. 

This article was published in La Jornada on May 11th, 2021. This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.

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