Last summer, the nature of the Zapatista struggle has changed. The Zapatistas are known as the “first post-modern revolutionaries”. They have struggled for the rights of ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals, transsexuals and the poor in Mexico.
During the past 22 years, the main achievements of the Zapatistas have been on the local level. Some 2000 communities in Chiapas have organised in about thirty autonomous municipalities and 5 autonomous regions. The autonomous authorities on these three administrative levels “lead by obeying”.
De Zapatistas are opposed to a leading elite, against technocracy and to a revolutionary vanguard. Their alternative is a system in which all strategic decisions are made directly by the population. Leadership is not about the person, but about the position. When a autonomous administrator doesn’t fulfil his or her task according to the will of the people, he or she is immediately replaced by the people. Civil authorities fulfil their role for a year and after that period, they are replaced to prevent possible clientelism and corruption. Last year the Zapatistas published an assessment of their own achievements and fallacies: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/Homepages/Faculty/Cleaver/leerunvideo.html
The Zapatistas oppose rigid ideology and dogmatism. They do not present a blueprint for revolution. This is reflected in the principle of “progressing by asking questions”. Progress is achieved little by little and after each small step, new questions are raised. This can be seen as a reaction to the grand theories like communism, capitalism and other ideologies that do not tolerate dissent.
Last summer, the Zapatista movement gained national relevance when it announced the creation of a national movement “from below and from the left”. This movement has to be horizontal and aimed at voluntary consensus. In the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the Zapatistas explain how they see Chiapas, Mexico and the world: http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/auto/selva6.html
In this document, known as “La Sexta”, the Zapatistas criticize neoliberal free trade and the Mexican three party-system. They do not see the difference between the leaders of the different parties. “Because we believe that a people which does not watch over its leaders is condemned to be enslaved, and we fought to be free, not to change masters every six years.”
The Zapatistas propose the creation of something “very otherly”. This summer they announced the creation of “the Other Campaign”. A very otherly campaign that does not want to take power, but tries to organise from below and from the left to create an alternative for the allegedly corrupt Mexican political system. At this point, some 900 Mexican organisations and 2000 individuals have joined the Other Campaign.
The Zapatistas played an important role during the emergence of the anti-globalist movement. Their call for a international alternative media network played an important role in the creation of the Indymedia network. Two intercontintal encounters in 1996 and 1997 in Zapatista territory were followed by numerous national, continental and intercontinental social fora.
This month, the Zapatistas have called for a intercontinental encounter with movements from the left and from below. All around the world, meetings will be organised to prepare for this encounter. During this period everybody can voice their support, advice or opposition to the shape and content of this encounter and of a international network to help “struggles and resistances for humanity and against neoliberalism throughout the world”. You can find the announcement here: http://zaptranslations.blogspot.com/2005/11/ezln-2-communiques-new-website.html
From the small, colourful threads of local resistance, the Zapatistas aim to weave a grand tapestry of rebellion. Together.
There will be a website on which the preparations around the world will be coordinated. http://zeztainternazional.ezln.org will launched on November 30th. All organisations from below and from the left are called upon to organise local meetings. The Zapatistas, if invited, will try to send a delegation to listen to the discussions and to report on the preparatory meetings back home in Chiapas. If the period of consultation is finished within the coming seven months, the Zapatistas propose that the Intergaláctica will take place in july of 2006.