ricardo dominguez on Tue, 11 May 1999 21:05:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Zapatistas: Let the Apple of Civil Society Fall Upwards

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

  Let the Apple of Civil Society Fall Upwards

...The Zapatista Specialty, Opening Spaces and Convoking Actors

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent
La Realidad, Chiapas,  May 9

        The meeting with civil society - in which the
National Consulta convened by the EZLN played
the starring role - with representatives from
this organization, in the Aguascalientes of this
community, marked the reappearance of
Subcomandante  Marcos, following 2 years
of not having been seen in public.

With the proposal of "the apple falling upwards,"
thanks to a bizarre physics explanation, the rebel
military chief - as an assistant would later
say - "dignified the 'bite'" in a country where
the 'bite' is synonymous with corruption and
the worst of things.

Marcos' reading, in front of the 1500 participants,
flanked by a hundred tojolabal, tzotzil, tzeltal and
chol zapatista delegates, was also an
unusual meeting of zapatista support bases from
all the indigenous regions of Chiapas.  From Tila
and Chenalho, from Morelia and San Andres, La
Garrucha and the border area, all together in La Realidad.

Strung together between apple quotes from Garcia Lorca,
Subcomandante Marcos severely questioned President
Ernesto Zedillo's - "the king of grey humor" - government
and commented severely on the performance by the
country's three main political parties.  In response to "the great
collective" the EZLN referendum created, Marcos launched
an attack on the moral caliber of the PRI's, and
used Salinas, Zedillo, Labastida and Villanueva
as examples, saying that this is not the means through
which Mexico will be able to accomplish it, but it will
rather be through the good taste of the "apple with
much weight" that civil society will make
fall upwards, with the "tender bite" of their
selfless participation.

Accompanied also by Comandante Tacho, who
declared this meeting open yesterday at "7:28
southeastern time," and by Major Moises, Marcos
was seen for the first time by many of the participants,
who had not met him in person.  They were, in general,
 people new to these matters, not activists
and, in general, with scant formal political experience.

But these people had already been initiated with
the National Consulta, and they were ready to do
 "new politics," as many of the brigadistas present

Moises would say to the people:  "We can only thank you,
here we are continuing and we will continue.  From
here we are remembering those who
did not come.  Everyone made their sacrifice."

Now, civil society is the invitee.  Or, said in another way,
 it came to return the visit.

And everyone is happy, these and those, equally,
and quite ready to listen and to agree, so as not
to lose the momentum.

A Society that Meets Itself

"I saw it with my own eyes," said a tojolabal campesino,
with his face covered, in front of hundreds of persons,
specifically, the house of Los Chopos, that is, the
rockers streetmarket of El Chopo.  There, the
zapatista delegates promoting the Consulta, met the
gang kids, the punks and the street kids.

"They explained to us that they write on the walls,"
he recalls, one of the fantastic meetings thousands
of them experienced all over the country,
between the indigenous of the EZLN and Mexicans
of all kinds.

A street kid had just spoken, who came here
from Mexico City with just the clothes on his back
 and no money at all.  "I am an outcast," he had said a
minute before, in urban "Indian" speech, in front of the
participants from the table from the central region, in
this second meeting between civil society and the EZLN,
following the National Consulta.

"They dress differently, and their hair is really something
else, but they did participate," the zapatista delegate
continues to remember.

Saturday afternoon, and until nightfall, the people
are divided up into five working tables that take in
the 1500 participants in the meeting (among them,
brigadistas from all over the country, members of the
state coordinating groups and zapatista delegates from
the five Aguascalientes), who evaluated the Consulta
and prepared themselves to talk about what would
come next.

All of those gathered here represent a small confirmation
of what had been the original citizens mobilization, in
order to ask the people what they thought of the situation
and of the problems of the indigenous peoples.

They all share a modest pride in the gesture, they get
along together quite well.  This is perhaps the most
cordial meeting of all, and, in some ways, the most plural,
of civil society, who now accompanies zapatismo in all the
states of the Republic.

For example:  students of various kinds have always
come to these meetings, but it is the first time that is
their identity, rather than as conventioneers, caravan
members, camp participants or peace band.  A month
and a half from the National Consulta, it now makes
sense to have a special table for the students.

Here there are hundreds of university students from
different states, from the UAM, UNAM, UPN,
and even from the Ibero.  They have just finished
holding a kind of assembly until one thirty in the
morning, and then they started singing.

And thus the UNAM strike brought the students
together who share the resistance to privatization
of higher education, in different places of learning.

A retired person from Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas,
at the table for the northern part of the country, recalls,
 in front of brigadistas from the border zone and the
northern states, that, when he learned of the Fifth
Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, he understood
that there would have to be a consulta in support of
the San Andres Accords, still unfulfilled by
the government.  And he ventures his thoughts:

"The specialty of the Zapatista Army is to open
spaces and to convene actors.  By organizing the
Consulta, I discovered that people living three
or four blocks from my house, whom I didn't know,
sympathized like I did with zapatismo in Chiapas."

This man is as representative as all the others, insofar
as he is different.  He seems to have nothing in common
with the trans-border kid dressed in black, who speaks
a very northern Spanish and who wears an earring, or
with the teachers from Durango and Baja California.

"Civil society and the public are still sensitive to
the Chiapas conflict.  The people are also organized better.
The sector with no party affiliation has broadened their
horizon," he celebrates.

He speaks with the educated precision of one who knows
how to read newspapers to his advantage, and he has a
considerable critical sense:

"The EZLN has called on us to make a new kind
of politics, which we still haven't understood.  All
the work fell to us, and we didn't know how to
take advantage of it.  We could have gathered 7
million votes if we had worked longer."

The Chucho el Roto brigade, from the Oriente Prison,
sends word that they were beaten up a month ago
inside the jail, and  Sabas Cruz savagely beaten,
who organized the zapatista Consulta among the
prisoners, where 737 persons participated.  The
brigade of prisoners added a sixth question:  "Do
you agree with paying the 'listado' (the 'bite' in
order to ensure survival in jail).  It was a
powerful 'no,' the wardens didn't forgive the
refusal, and they paid thugs to beat it out of them.

Similarly, members of the Tierra y Libertad Autonomous
Municipality and the human rights defenders imprisoned
in the Cerro Hueco Jail also sent their word, because they
were unable to come due to circumstances beyond their
control.  They embody one of the most unhappy examples
of the betrayal the indigenous have suffered at the hands
of the government in that southeastern state.

How Much is a Lot?

The meeting of those who held the Consulta in the
Pacific coast also revealed the problems and the
"lessons learned" by those involved in the
process.  From Morelia it was reported that
the Lenin student house, the most organized
and the cleanest in the Michoacan capital - whose residents
worked effectively in the zapatista referendum - is
now under a threat of dislocation, and even of physical attack.

Nonetheless, the Utopia collective, from the same
Michoacan capital, celebrates the National Consulta
as a phenomena of great political significance locally
and nationally.  "The representatives were the
representatives themselves," exclaim those from
the Utopia collective in a brief document.

People from the Guerrero mountain and coast recap
how they achieved a peaceful and meaningful process
in the land of the EPR, of militarization and of the
PRD's election protest.  Those from Tierra Caliente as well.

There are representatives from the Primero de Mayo
Inter-Union, the National Indigenous Congress and
the dissident teachers, at the different tables.
There are housewives from Monterrey, Totonaca
comuneros, mixe, zapoteco and queretano young persons.

And there are still more.  How many more, everyone
here goes about verifying.

The almost two thousand persons gathered in
the Aguascalientes seem few to Elsy, as usual.
with her fluorescent green dress and her golden
diadem, and without caring about how interesting
the table was where those from Chiapas and
Oaxaca were talking about the Consulta - this
tojolabal child, 'party girl' as she is, says:

"I want a lot more people.  Enough to fill everyplace,"
and she points straight ahead with her arm.

She was also waiting for the dance that night,
but the tables of brigadistas and zapatista
delegates were in discussion until very late, and
those from the San Jose marimba had already left to rest.

The Aguascalientes dormitories are alight
with photograhic exhibitions of the activities of
the masked ones in the Puebla Sierra, the Potosa
Huasteca, the Texcoco Aguascalientes (the federal entity),
the University of Guadalajara, the Guerrero mountain,
Coyoacan, Jalapa, etcetera.  This does not impress
Elsy, of course.  She wants more.

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