ricardo dominguez on 21 Aug 2000 14:36:50 -0000

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<nettime> Fw: The zapatistas are indeed speaking,Aug 20

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
Sunday, August 20, 2000.

The Zapatista Are Indeed Speaking

* Neil Harvey *

To the consternation of some observers of the conflict in Chiapas,
Subcomandante Marcos has remained silent regarding the July 2 elections. 
He is criticized for his extensive communiques, postscripts and etceteras,
and now he is being recriminated for his mute response to Vicente Fox's
victory and the candidates for Alliance for Change.  It appears that
Marcos cannot win.  If he speaks, he is a genial imposter.  If he remains
silent, he is a self-marginalized intransigent.  But who has the right to
ask Marcos to present himself in a manner which most suits one?  What
really disconcerts Marcos' critics is not that Marcos has remained silent,
but rather that he has not agreed to speak in the terms of the Fox
transition.  The fifteen minute solution is not going to happen, not
because Marcos is intransigent, but because the Fox team has still not
grasped the magnitude of the conflict in Chiapas, nor does it understand
that zapatismo is more than Marcos. 

Reducing the solution to a problem of contact between Fox and Marcos is
worrisome, because it is an attempt to ignore the history of the San
Andre's dialogues, in which the EZLN consulted with its support bases in
the communities and with broad sectors of civil society and was
represented not by the person of Marcos, but rather by its indigenous
comandantes and delegates.  If the Fox team really wants to know what the
zapatistas are thinking at this moment, it would be enough to visit
Chiapas, to see the level of militarization and paramilitarization which
exists.  To learn the problems of the displaced in depth, to recognize the
willingness to participate in the elections, if, that is, the forces of
the old regime respect them.  To speak with the indigenous women who
suffer sexual harassment by the "forces of order."  To help those who are
building, from the communities, the defense of human rights.  That would
be the most important step in the building of democracy in Chiapas. 

Ever since July 2, these grievances, demands and desires have been present
in the actions and the words of many indigenous in Chiapas, and not just
among the zapatistas.  A few examples will suffice:  the denuncias against
the practice of vote buying on July 2.  The dislocation of indigenous in
El Parai'so, municipality of Yajalo'n, perpetrated by the Peace and
Justice paramilitary group.  The slow reaction by the police forces to
that attack. 

The threats of similar dislocations in various other places in the state,
most notably in the Northern region.  The slander against observers of the
August 20 election.  The denuncia (a year ago now) by the indigenous of
the Amador Herna'ndez ejido that the military base established in their
community is illegal and should be removed.  The ongoing demand for
liberty by the indigenous who are still imprisoned in Cerro Hueco jail for
political reasons.  The yearning that - with the change at the national
level - a new opportunity is presenting itself to respond to these
grievances and demands, but also the uncertainty as to whether or not the
new leaders will have the capacity and the will to make these dreams a new
reality for Chiapas and for the rest of the country. 

Zapatismo is present, but not in the submissive, marginalized or exhausted
way that some think or perhaps want.  Nor is zapatismo reducible to the
figure of Marcos.  And so, if it is a question of building peace with
dignity and justice (both fundamental elements for democracy), Fox's team
will have to make a greater effort to listen to the zapatistas as and how
they are, and not force them to speak in the terms which most suit the new
political elite.  Dialogue is the only path for achieving this end, which
requires, as basic pre-conditions, demilitarization and the creation of
new channels of mediation. 

The zapatistas are speaking.  Will they be heard? 

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