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Time to Act

Posted by Fredsvenn den januar 7, 2008

The threat is real and immediate. We need to act. It may be too late. Very little time is left and there is very little margin for maneuver. It is not time to be speculating about the potential effectiveness of what we need to do. We need to do it.

Under no circumstances will the Zapatistas cede their lands, territories, terruños (as don Andrés would say). For them, as for all Indian and peasant peoples, land and territory are more than work and sustenance: they are also culture, community, history, ancestors, dreams, future, life and mother, as was restated by comandanta Nelly on the 25th of April of 2007.

That is the magnitude of the current provocation: the attempt to hand over Zapatista land to others, by means of legal and illegal tricks, by police and paramilitary actions, will not be tolerated. It will have its proper response. And that is what we have before us: actions whose consequences are barely conceivable. We need to let the whole world know what will be the magnitude of this conflagration and what will be the reach of the national and international reaction provoked by the aggression against the Zapatistas. While we cannot entertain much hope*due to the irresponsibility and cynicism of those who continue playing with fire in a dry field*we must unleash the pertinent mobilization: if that is not able to stop them, it will be a preview and a trial-run of the mobilization that we will need to organize if they dare to provoke the disaster.

The current blindness of those who are organizing the conflagration [el desaguisado] seems to be due to a mistaken calculation: the isolation of the Zapatistas, the recent rejection expressed by several sectors that had for years supported them or at least been sympathetic, the indifference that in part comes from their continual marginalization and dismissal in the media*

Two years ago, when the Sixth was launched and the other campaign was proposed, I extensively discussed the risks they implied. I wrote that it was not an exaggeration that the Zapatistas posed that they could lose all they had gained thus far, and I warned about some of those risks: «The political parties and their associates, sympathizers, or allies may resent, to an excess, this initiative of the Zapatistas, and use their financial, media, and social resources to try to isolate and marginalize them, weakening the support they have obtained thus far. In other words: they will intensify the actions they have carried out for a decade without success.»

«Many sympathizers, who in the end amount to supporters of a Zapatismo that they understand as the expression of marginalized indigenous groups struggling against a bad government, may step aside, disconcerted, when the anticapitalist nature of the Zapatista struggle becomes crystal clear, without room for confusion.»

«The core of the so-called Left, among whose militants abound those who are obsessed with the conquest of power, may now proceed to their habitual bloodthirsty attacks and counter-attacks against those on their own side. Some will convert the Zapatistas into the main enemy. We can already see this propensity in some of the reactions to the Sixth, first in the guise of the ‘disillusioned’ who try to rationalize their abandonment of what they understood as zapatismo, and then among those who were always ‘outside,’ with some reservations, and who now can comfortably express themselves as ‘in opposition.'»

«The risk is, in sum, that the Zapatistas will end up alone, isolated, and thus exposed to extermination. They are fully conscious of this possibility. I think that they have taken this initiative despite such risk because they trust in the strength of what they have knit together at home, because they want to be fully consequent with themselves, and perhaps because they had no other alternative. The current circumstance demands action.»

I include this lengthy citation to underscore that the risks taken on by the Zapatistas were necessary. They have nothing to do with the attitudes, real or supposed, of the sup, nor with all the pretexts that have been used against the Zapatistas.

The powers-that-be may be making their calculations and speculating about the opportunity. I cannot avoid an analogy, though it may be disproportional. Ulises Ruiz calculated that the teachers of section 22 were isolated, that they would find only indifference or rejection from the population, and that he could repress them without major consequences. We now know well the consequences, we know how this provocation enflamed Oaxaca. But we also know, unfortunately, that he has remained unpunished. There is no lack of some insane person that may try something similar in Chiapas.

What this irresponsible calculus may produce is almost unthinkable. It is time to wake up and act in consequence. It is time to fight by all the means available to each to stop it.

In the jungle there is a smell of war and the smell is extending over all the country. Generated from above, only from below can that apocalyptic gunpowder be made wet.

Gustavo Esteva

(translated by Conrad Herold)


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