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Part Four: Four Fallacies

(Fallacy: deception, fraud or lie with which one attempts to harm someone)

There have been, and there are, others, but there were four primary fallacies brandished by intellectuals of the right, judges, legislators and officials in order to oppose the San Andrés Accords, the Cocopa legislative proposal and the putting into practice of those accords by the zapatista indigenous communities with the creation of the caracoles and the Good Government Juntas in August of 2003.

Like latter day fortune-tellers, at that time they predicted the disintegration of the Mexican State, the creation of a State within another State "for" Marcos (that was the title of an August 2003 edition of the newspaper owned by Ahumada, paradoxically called El Independiente), an increase in inter-community conflicts and the violation of individual human rights through the exercise of collective rights.

According to this, the EZLN was preparing a political-military offensive, which included an attack on the federal army barracks located in the San Andrés municipal seat and other similar nonsense. They grew alarmed, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the PFP were alerted, weapons were readied, as were arrest warrants, police operations, money for buying silence and words. They made statements which they contradicted moments later, and then they contradicted themselves again (regardless of what might be said of anyone else, the champion was, and is, Santiago Creel). They hysterically exchanged rumors disguised as intelligence reports and intelligence reports disguised as rumors. During that period, the Mexican Southeast was just a few words away from once again turning into (as in 1994, as in 1995, as in 1998) a scene of combat.

But there was someone, from above but from outside, who said no, that it was a political initiative, not a military one, and it was nothing other than putting into practice what the federal government and the EZLN had agreed to in February of 1996, but 7 years later.

Someone else recommended letting them do it, waiting for the failure and preparing the "I told you so" along with the military advance by the federal Army on zapatista positions.

What I'm recounting actually took place at the meetings of Vicente Fox' cabinet in the months of July and August a year ago.

As is obvious, they decided to wait for us to fail. And, as always when they make a political or military calculation about us, they failed.

Not only did we not fail: in addition to significantly improving the living conditions of the indigenous peoples, we now have practical arguments which can serve as contrast in order to refute the fallacies that formed the basis for the rejection of the Cocopa Law.

Disintegration of the State?

A few years ago, a member of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, that body which hands out impunity to the powerful (but written in legal terms), argued its position against the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights in this manner: "The Mexican State will break apart, there will be many countries in one land and there will be individual laws everywhere. In summary, the country will be balkanized."

One might think he was referring to drug trafficking and its ties to officials and judges, but no, he was speaking of the advisability of recognizing the existence of the Mexican Indian peoples, that is, of recognizing their collective rights.

With the creation of the caracoles and the Good Government Juntas, the zapatistas decided to put the San Andrés Accords into practice and to demonstrate, in action, that we wanted to be part of Mexico (of which we were not a part without ceasing to be what we are).

One year from the creation of the caracoles and juntas, the country is indeed disintegrating, but not because of indigenous autonomy. It is because of a real internal war, through the ruthless destruction of its foundations: sovereignty over natural resources, social policies and the national economy. These three bases - the ones which, among others, were destroyed in the secessionist and imperial wars - are now being dynamited by the three federal branches.

Sovereignty over oil and the creation of energy, to give one example, is one of the objectives of the constitutional reforms which are pending in Congress. Social policy (or the State of Social Well-being) has become something laughable: the agencies in charge of this arena are nothing but institutions of charity and handouts, and the victories of the workers are being tossed out through secret pacts accompanied by strident media campaigns (the IMSS case, to cite a recent one). The national economy ceased being one some time ago, and it turned into the "chagarrización" of survival. The national productive capacity is a pile of industrial scrap and nostalgia, business is monopolized by large transnational companies, the banks are saturated with foreign capital and the ups and downs of financial speculation are driven by global, not national, variables.

Translating: fewer, and more precarious, jobs; more unemployment and underemployment; high prices; low salaries; what we can produce is bring imported; production is for a global market - of which we are just a macroeconomic variable - and not for domestic consumption. Poverty now affects not just workers, but also small and mid-size businesspeople, and the Mexican rich are now fewer in number but richer.

In sum, the federal government has relinquished its duties, and the national State is staggering, bludgeoned by those from above, not by those from below.

There is a term for changes as profound as the ones which our country is suffering, when they are done from above and in disregard of any manner of consensus or consultation with those of below: it is called counterrevolution.

The only thing left to do will be to re-found the nation. With a new social pact, a new Constitution, a new political class and a new way of doing politics. In sum, there will need to be a program of struggle, built from below, based on the real national agenda, not on the one being promoted by politicians and the media.

On our side, nothing that has been done, as will be seen here and in a subsequent part, by the Good Government Juntas and by the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities, has contributed to the disintegration of the national State.

A State Within Another State?

He who governs well should govern for all, not just for those who sympathize with him or who are in his organization, nor just for those are of his same race, culture, color or language.

In the zapatista conception, the struggle for inclusion of one is not the struggle for the exclusion of the other. If the existence of the mestizos should not entail the disappearance of the indigenous, our recognition as what we are does not entail the negation of those who are not like us. And that is valid for the indigenous and for the zapatista.

The Good Government Juntas are proof that zapatismo does not try to dominate nor homogenize - under their ideas and in their way - the world in which we live.

The JBGs were created in order to attend to everyone, to zapatistas, to non-zapatistas and even to anti-zapatistas. They were created in order to mediate between the authorities and the citizens, and between authorities and different areas and hierarchies. They have done so, and they will continue to do so. A year ago, on the occasion of the birth of the caracoles and juntas, Comandante David offered respect to those who would respect us. We are fulfilling that pledge.

And so the Good Government Juntas maintain respectful contact with different social organizations, with many of the official municipal governments with which the autonomies share land, and, in some cases, with the state government. Recommendations are exchanged, and they seek to resolve problems through dialogue.

Unlike the federal government, whose "commissioner" is devoted to doing the ridiculous while in charge of the treasury and to issuing press bulletins, the state government preferred not to engage in a media campaign (as regards zapatismo), and opted to give signals and to wait patiently. Knowing that zapatismo's sights are not local, but federal, the government of Chiapas chose to not be part of the problem and to try and be part of the solution.

While some artful dodgers con Don Luis H. Alvarez, convincing him that they have contact with the EZLN, taking money from him and carrying him from one place to the next with the promise that he's going to see "that one" (Marcos), and he tries unsuccessfully to build a PAN "campesino force" by handing out building materials and solar cells, the state government has a real line of communication with the zapatista communities.

On this point, we are not opposed to the Fox government's paying the salary of the self-styled "peace commissioner", but we think they should redefine his work: instead of paying him to seek dialogue with the zapatistas (something which he doesn't do), they should pay him for covering the expenses of anti-zapatistas.

The Good Government Juntas have mediated, along with the state government of Chiapas, in the cases of individuals who were kidnapped by the CIOAC in Las Margaritas, in part of the indemnification of those who were attacked in Zinacantán, in the indemnification of campesinos affected by the stretch of a highway in the Tzeltal selva region, in the problem of the "bicycle taxis" on the Chiapas coast, and perhaps in another which escapes my memory right now. When you consult the individual reports of each Junta, you will see all of that, because nothing is hidden. Overall, there has been a continuous attempt to avoid confrontations among the indigenous.

Currently communications are being maintained concerning the cases of the recent assassination of a support base compañero in Polhó and of the rape of an 11 year old girl in Chilón.

Respecting is recognizing, and the Good Government Juntas recognize the existence and jurisdiction of the state government and of official municipalities and, in the majority of cases, of official municipal authorities, and the state government recognizes the existence and jurisdiction of the JBGs. The Good Government Juntas similarly recognize the existence and legitimacy of other organizations. They respect, and they demand respect.

It is only in that way, by respecting, that accords can be made and carried out.

It took a while, but now non-zapatista and anti-zapatista persons and organizations know that they can go to the JBGs in order to deal with any kind of problem, that they will not be detained (the JBGs are bodies of dialogue, not of punishment), that their case will be assessed and that justice will be done. If someone wants punishment for something, they go to an official municipality or to an autonomía, but if someone wants resolution through dialogue and accord, they go to the Good Government Junta.

More Conflicts?

The JBGs' actions are already beginning to produce effects in the Autonomous Municipalities and in the official ones. There is less recourse to the use of force or to the exchange of hostages for social problems among groups, communities and organizations, and an ever increasing use of dialogue. In this way it has become evident that many cases are not confrontations between organizations, but individual problems which are presented as organizational ones.

The most important thing we have is our word. That is what the moral authority has been built upon, the authority of a movement which seeks, not without setbacks, a new way of doing politics. Previously it had been taken as a given that any attack which occurred had a political origin, the denuncia was issued and demonstrations were held. Now there is first an investigation to see if something was caused for political reasons or if it was a criminal act.

In order to accomplish this, the JBGs maintain a channel of communication, through the Department of Indian Peoples, with the government of the state of Chiapas. When an attack takes place against zapatistas, and there is no contact with the aggressors in order to determine the reason for the problem and to try to reach an agreement through dialogue, the Good Government Juntas advise the autonomous authority to open an investigation. At the same time, they turn the facts of the case over to state officials. They do not resort to denuncias, demonstrations or reprisals as long as no clarification of the matter has been determined.

If the matter is not political, and it's criminal, they wait a reasonable amount of time for state justice to take action. If they do not, then zapatista justice goes into action.

In those cases which have been presented thus far, the justice system of the government of Chiapas has been notable for its slowness and inefficiency. It would appear that the Chiapas judicial apparatus is only expeditious when it is punishing the political enemies of the state government. In the case of the Zinacantán officials, whose crime was flagrant and documented, the state government limited itself to helping with the indemnification of the aggrieved. As far as determining who was responsible for the attack and prosecuting them legally, there has been nothing up to now. And in the case of Chilón, where an 11 year old girl was raped in the context of a confrontation between zapatistas and non-zapatistas, the differences over the origins of the confrontation have been sorted out, all the information on the rapists have already been handed over (including the medical analysis which confirmed the rape of the girl) to the proper authorities...and nothing (at least as of the day I'm writing this). The rapists are still free, despite the fact that they do not have the support of the organization to which they belong (which distanced itself from the incident).

Nonetheless, it must be said that the most important attacks suffered by the zapatistas this year have not come from the federal Army, nor from the state Public Security police (concerning the paramilitaries, the possible political causes in the case of a compañero assassinated in Polhó are currently being investigated).

Paradoxically, the most serous problems and attacks which have occurred this year have been with organizations and governments affiliated with the PRD: the official CIOAC of Las Margaritas region and the official municipal president's office of Zinacantán (of the PRD). In both cases, zapatistas have suffered attacks. In Las Margaritas, compañeros were kidnapped, and in Zinacantán they attacked a peaceful demonstration with firearms.

The official CIOAC of Las Margaritas region (I make the distinction because there have been understandings and mutual respect with the CIOAC in other municipalities) only wants to maintain its corrupt status within the municipality and have its leaders continue to be supported by the official authorities.

In Zinacantán, the PRD government planned and executed an ambush which left several zapatistas with gunshot wounds. Plunged into the "video crisis," the national PRD maintained a complicit silence, and it only just began a process for removing the municipal president from the PRD. In select PRD circles it is said that that was the price the zapatistas paid for not supporting their party in the elections. That is the platform that they will be promoting nationally in 2006? Beatings and bullets for those who don't unconditionally support the PRD? It's a question.

With other organizations with whom there have been, and are, contentions - and with whom things had been previously resolved through the logic of "there's a problem, I'll grab one of yours, you grab one of mine, we'll exchange them, and the problem will stay the same" (or "get a lot of people together, I'll get some others, we'll beat each other up and then the problem will stay the same") - they are now seeking to talk, to learn about both sides' versions, to reach an agreement. Like that, without confrontations or kidnappings. Problems have been resolved in this manner with organizations such as the ORCAO, ARIC-Independent, ARIC-PRI, the CNC, and many others which are present in the lands where the JBGs operate and where their influence extends.

Unlike in previous years, conflicts between communities and between organizations in the lands of the Good Government Juntas have diminished, and the crime rate and impunity have been reduced. Crimes are resolved, not just punished. If you do not believe me, consult newspaper records, in the courts, in the public ministries, in the jails, in the hospitals, in the cemeteries. Compare the before and after and come to your own conclusions.

Justice A La Mode?

Good government does not seek to grant impunity to those who sympathize with it, nor is it made for punishing those with conflicting ideas and positions. In other words, it should not act like the federal government, which gives impunity to criminals because they're from PAN (Estrada Cajigal, for example) or because the PRI made a deal (Luis Echeverría, for example), and attempt to punish one of their adversaries (López Obrador) and leave him out of 2006.

The laws which are in force in the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities are not in contradiction with the elements of justice which govern the state and federal systems, but in many cases they complete them.

I said that good government is not for granting impunity to their own and punishing the others.

As an example, and in illustration, I have a copy of the official letter issued by the Autonomous Municipal Court of San Juan de La Libertad, Chiapas, dated August 19, 2004, directed to the constitutional government of the state of Chiapas and with a copy to the municipal president of Chalchihuitlán and to the municipal court of Chalchihuitlán. The text serves as argument (I have respected the original writing):

"C. Fulano, EZLN support base, 17 years old, from Jolik'alum, municipality of Chalchihuitlán, Chiapas, was brought before the authorities of these autonomous bodies and before the authorities of the municipal court on August 14 of this year by the local authorities of that community, who, having committed a common crime on August 13 of this year, when C. Zutano of the National Action Party (PAN), having left his house in order to make some purchases at the market in Jolitontic, and upon his return, as he was walking along the path, met this young man Fulano hidden in the scrub, armed with a single shot 22 caliber rifle who attempted to fire upon C. Zutano from a distance of 5 meters, but the weapon was no longer of any use.

"Now appearing before the autonomous municipal judges, the young man Fulano stated that the complainant himself, C. Zutano, had caused the beginning of this provocation when he had cut down 300 high quality coffee plants belonging to the young man Fulano, and for that reason this young man had been angry for a year. The autonomous judges characterize what C. Fulano has committed as a serious crime under revolutionary zapatista order and discipline. On this matter we confirm his immediate detention, for which there exist facts which prove the elements that make up this type of crime. However, at the moment of detention of the guilty party, the complainant, C. Zutano, left, escaping from the municipal judges, refusing to testify as to the beginnings of this matter, as if he were the one guilty of this incident. The autonomous authorities are able to resolve any kind of issue or common crime. At this time, C. Fulano is punished by deprivation of liberty (...) C. Fulano's weapon is in the hands of the autonomous authorities of San Juan de la Libertad. The weapon is in bad condition since it does not function reliably, and it will be destroyed."

Collective Rights Versus Individual Rights?

I imagine that there are, or will be, legal studies which demonstrate that there is no contradiction between the recognition of the two. We are speaking now about what we see in reality and about what we are practicing, and we are open for anyone to come and corroborate whether the exercise of our rights as Indian peoples are violating any individual right.

Collective rights (like the decision as to the use and enjoyment of natural resources) are not only not in contradiction of individual rights, but they allow them to be extended to everyone, not just to a few. As will be seen in the part about the advances that have been made, there has been no increase in the violation of individual human rights in zapatista territory. What has indeed increased are better living conditions. The right to life is being respected, as is the right to religion, to party affiliation, to liberty, to the presumption of innocence, to demonstrating, to dissent, to being different, to the free choice of maternity.

This year, instead of involving ourselves in a discussion of legal terms, we zapatistas have chosen to demonstrate in reality that the flag of the recognition of the rights of the Indian peoples, raised by the Mexican indigenous and many others along with them, does not entail any of the dangers which were argued against them.

The disintegration of the Mexican nation is not evolving on zapatista lands. On the contrary, what is being created here is a chance for its reconstruction.

(To be continued...)

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, August of 2004. 20 and 10.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa