Proposal for FZLN (Zapatistas)
Against the War and Repression and for Democracy,
June 19, 2000
Presentation to the Encuentro by Civil Society
The existence and continuation of the war against the zapatista
indigenous is more than a short-term event. Because they are the
group most strongly opposed to the regime's anti-democratic nature
and authoritarianism, they have become the primary objective for
elimination, through the exercise of that most cruel political
practice: the war of extermination. This has been a constant over
the last six years, and the operatives are a handful of technocrats
and those federal army generals who have sold themselves to them,
betraying their people.
Over the last days, an open escalation of the war has begun,
and, since the zapatistas have not been able to be defeated politically,
a definitive military strike has been decided upon. It is necessary
to come to terms with the fact that they will be continuing, then,
against the poor of the countryside and the city.
There is nothing left for the neoliberal program, if it wants
to survive. The poor are an obstacle. Especially those who resist
There has been a news blockade concerning war activities over
the last few days. Even so, there are sufficient indications,
if one cares to see them. There has been a growing tendency, however,
to refuse to see the reality and to want to see war as only a
possibility. This is a typical phenomenon in response to extraordinary
circumstances. It is understandable that the war would cause it,
but it would be a serious error to become paralyzed. That is precisely
the government's intention. We do not have to wait for large massacres
in order to mobilize. Why wait for ten or twenty Acteals? Sooner
or later, the assassination of hundreds of zapatista indigenous
will come crashing down on us, and it will have a profound impact
in the consciences of the excluded of the entire world. By preparing
a response now, by employing a strategy that will dismantle the
war, it will be more difficult later, and it will cost more lives
and effort, to stop it.
It is essential that we not only mobilize, but also that we
remain organized. We cannot ease up in response to a political
class who see their end in government close at hand. They have
said it in many ways: they have no thoughts of leaving power peacefully.
This means they will cause the greatest possible damage, and they
will prevent democracy from taking root in the country. That would
keep them from winning the government again, which they continue
using in order to enrich themselves and to favor the groups of
capitalists who have known only how to exploit the people and
to loot the wealth of Mexico.
It is necessary to be aware of the fact that there are many
of us, throughout the country, and in various forms, who are the
objects of repression and low intensity warfare. We are part of
a whole that has become, for the neoliberal technocrats, a military
objective. The struggle against war and repression and for democracy
has today become the last front of defense against the annihilation,
not just of zapatismo, but of many activists for human rights
and democracy. Even so, the fact that the government has opted
for open war also means that it is at its lowest level of credibility
and legitimacy, and at its highest level of corruption. It is
in such a state of deterioration that it has lost its hegemony
and control over its own means of reproduction. That is why it
is resorting to soldiers and paramilitaries. It believes that
is the only way in which will it be saved and in which it will
be able to continue in power.
War as a political strategy in this context aspires to achieve
different objectives: 1) to strike forcefully against the political
object, zapatismo, which could convoke and draw together social
forces which would emerge after the election euphoria is over,
and once disillusionment has set in upon seeing that neither Fox
nor Labastida are going to change neoliberal policies; 2) to provoke
chaos in the southeastern states and the Gulf of Mexico in order
to facilitate the implementation of fraud in all its guises, and
to guarantee Labastida's "winning" the election, despite
everything; 3) to create so much uncertainty and fear that the
number of people voting is inhibited, making the manipulation
of votes easier; 4) to mitigate the radicalism of those political
positions taken by different groups of intellectuals, academics,
journalists, professional politicians, business elites and religious
persons against the PRI, since that could lead to a majority vote
For all these objectives, the strategy is -through the extermination
of the EZLN, by definitively striking at it - to avoid the spread
of the example of doing and understanding a new kind of politics.
In order to achieve this, solidarity with the indigenous peoples
must also be stopped, and the protest must not become national.
To defeat zapatismo militarily and to dilute their national strength.
It is within this context that the annihilation of the Clandestine
Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, the CCRI, which is the EZLN
comandancia, is being contemplated.
Accompanying the government's war strategy is State terrorism.
The utilization of the army and the war against zapatismo represents
the possibility of reestablishing political and economic control.
The logic is that of a modernization which dictates the elimination
of those social groups who have neither the capacity, nor the
desire, to consume the products offered by the neoliberal market.
Given this perspective, it is necessary to warn that the compañeros
and zapatista brothers, and the communities which are their support
bases, are going to resist and to withstand the war, at the cost
of their lives. We have no doubt as to their capacity for struggle
and resistance, of their decision to die for a new, democratic
Mexico, with justice and liberty for all Mexicans. That is why
we should not wait until massacres take place. Responding and
organizing now, in order to stop the war, will be easier than
stopping it later.
It is necessary to realize that the army is not going to be
able to quickly exterminate the thousands and thousands of members
of the EZLN and the hundreds of thousands who make up the indigenous
communities which support them. And the possibility of the government
extending the actions of war throughout all the land is dependent
on the defeats they experience at this very moment. In addition,
one must warn that the political forces and power groups who have
decided on war are not the only ones in the country, nor do they
have the approval of all international power groups. There is
resistance to these kinds of measures, even within the armed forces.
But, one more time, it must be said, that, if civil society does
not offer resistance, the war could go on for a long time. In
other words, the cost and the number of deaths caused by the regime's
military and paramilitary forces. But the irresponsibility caused
by our not mobilizing immediately, in order to avoid massacres,
will work to the advantage of the criminal government.
One cannot lose sight of the fact that struggling against
the war, and the state's repressive violence, is part of the struggle
for democracy. It is, therefore, a demand and a global questioning
of the regime which civil society organizations, which some parties
and officials and members of the PRI who want peace, are doing.
Illusory Democracy and Repressive Reality
Under current conditions, it is very difficult to successfully
create the simulation between the illusory democracy and the repressive
reality. Opposition parties, as well as intellectuals, will have
to define themselves. We must insist that the struggle against
war and repression is both one of principle and, at the same time,
the struggle for democracy.
There is, most certainly, a problem which must be overcome
if one wants to stop the war offensive. This is the breakdown
and fragmentation among social organizations and movements. But
it is a phenomenon that can be surmounted, and, during these times
in which we are living, it can be achieved very rapidly.
It is also important to take into account the fact that the
decision to implement war requires the willingness of the armed
forces, and their conviction that they are carrying out their
duties. The possibility of the soldiers' weariness must, in this
sense, be considered. On the other hand, those actors who are
facilitating the war must be denounced and revealed, since this
will facilitate the breaking up of the alliances of the technocrats
and the military. They include a group of pro-government environmental
NGOs, the ecclesiastical hierarchy and cacique and business groups
in Chiapas, as well as a group of army officers.
Everything indicates that the government has decided on open
war, and it is hoping that that political act will achieve its
goals as quickly as possible, and without the use of its entire
force. That is why it began with actions that are able to sow
fear and intimidation in the entire population. That single fact
is already an act of repression. One cannot lose sight of the
fact that repression does not always require its enemy's destruction.
It is enough to impose its will.
For a National Front Against the War and Repression and for
Under the conditions described, the relevance of forming an
organization is beyond question. It would be absurd to deny that
that there cannot be democracy with war. And so, the transition
to democracy must include stopping the war. The creation of a
National Front would have to bring together all social and political
organizations and those people and organizations who want peace
in Mexico. It would be a front whose only objective would be that
of stopping the war so that democracy can exist.
This Front would have to be specifically for organizing, in
a unified manner, actions and initiatives against the war, and
it would be respectful of the networks, groups, alliances, coalitions,
coordinadoras, and so forth, who exist today for other struggles.
It is imperative that the objective of this Front not be diluted
with the presentation of other demands. As legitimate as they
may be, they will have no prospects at all if war were to become
widespread in this country. And further, Zedillo's government
would be delighted if a National Front were to emerge with five,
ten or twenty demands, because then it would have room to maneuver,
in order to weaken the struggle against the war. Stopping the
war is foremost.
After six years of low intensity war, we have not been able
make the government carry out the San Andrés Accords, nor
even to remove the seventy thousand soldiers from Chiapas, nor
to keep paramilitary groups from proliferating. That is why it
is the moment for forming a Great Front Against the War and for
Democracy which will become a platform for stopping the war and
for furthering a true transition to democracy. It will promote
political consciousness, and it will be a shield against repression
throughout the nation's lands, for every social group and movement.
The building of this great National Front will have to overcome
one initial obstacle, which is lack of information, since the
government is maintaining a news blockade in order to prevent
knowledge of the war it is waging in Chiapas. A primary challenge
will be linking the thousands of civil society organizations who
are fighting locally and informing them about events and the war
operations against the zapatistas. They will also have to be convinced
that the primary objective is to stop the war. It will be at this
National Encuentro of Civil Society where the decision will have
to be made concerning the plan of action to be carried out immediately.
Originally published in Spanish by the FZLN. Translated by
Central America watch