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After the horrendous massacre in Chiapas

After the horrendous massacre in Chiapas
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Sometime between the autumn of 1993 and the winter of 1994 the Zapatista Army of National Liberation barricaded itself in the most inaccessible depths and in near by areas of the Lacandona Forest which lies adjacent to the Mexican region of Chiapas, and from there issued a challenge, non-violent at least, to the ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), of President Zedillo.

At the time, in the absence of a solid programmatic platform founded on Marxism, we anticipated that the movement led by the subcommander Marcos would exhaust itself in a tiring and sterile scrimmage with its opponent, exchanging, editing, and renewing various constitutional proposals directed to protect on paper the interests of the Tzotzil Indians whose rights had been regularly violated for centuries. Such was the case as proposals were advanced and contested by one side or the other to the point of a breakdown of negotiations played out against a background of approaching presidential elections in which the self-styled leftist party led by Cardenas was expected to emerge victorious.

Our expectations were borne out. Having already transformed itself into a National Liberation Front to deal with the seducing demands of a legal dialogue, the Zapatista Army in a reprise of its military stance returned once again to its barricaded positions in the forest. The initiative for a broad-based armed struggle passed from a naive, reformist rebel group to an expert and calculating governmental element representing the interests of an old and hated landowner class and the class of young industrial entrepreneurs who had matured in the shadows of the new commercial exchanges with the US and, more recently, with the free trade between the former two and Canada.

Behind a facade of pacifistic democratism, and aided also by a truce conceded the Zapatistas isolated in their forest, this governmental element proceeded not only to consolidate its dominant position, but to heavily arm death squads with the purpose of controlling the Indios with force, a policy not averse, as denounced by the European spokeswoman of the Zapatistas, Danielle Mitterrand in «Corriere della Sera», to recruiting famished young Indios who could with a sufficient sum of money be induced to turn on their own kind. There is an adage in the south of Mexico, «when an Indian puts on a uniform, he becomes a White Man.» In these dramatic and squalid circumstances, last December there occurred the horrendous massacre in the Indian village of Acteal. A death squad killed with impunity and unhesitatingly 45 Indians in cold blood who were involved in prayer. The atrocious bloodletting delivered an «eloquent» and unmistakable warning to the population of the entire region, and elicited no response from the Zapatista National Liberation Front or, for obviously more profound political reasons, from its alleged ally, the democratic left that was deeply involved in a parliamentary race with the government. There wasn't even an outpouring of the masses onto the streets, a demonstration demanded by two Mexicans of great repute!

As was so easily foreseen, behind the pretext of insuring peace the national army extended its power over a larger territory, which had the effect of forcing the Zapatistas ever more on the defensive.

We are not indifferent to the tragedy. In the most brutal fashion it confirms what we have always maintained: in a society divided deeply by classes, where the upper will do all in its power to uphold by hook or crook its ferocious rule, it is not on the terrain of democratic compromises - even if backed by the threat of guerrillas who live under the illusion of achieving victory through agreements with their counterparts - that the oppressed and exploited will liberate themselves and, in liberating themselves, free all of mankind from the yoke of capital, thus avenging the myriad of innumerable victims of a dictatorship masked and concealed by the fictions and tinsel of a direct or indirect democracy.

The very Indians of Mexico, as well as the oppressed of all lands, should not expect that liberation will come from a more-or-less announced «rebellionism» caught up with the fancy of a guerrilla movement. That is possible only from a revolutionary party which embraces and coordinates all the potential for a final liberation found amongst the wage earners and desperate of the entire planet, and mounts an assault against the citadels of capital.

It is with a deep determination to achieve this goal that we add our not seemingly but patient contribution of theory and practice, day after day.

Source: «Internationalist Papers», N.7, May 1998

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