Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fourteen Years Ago: ¡Ya Basta!

The First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle:

We are a product of 500 years of struggle: first against slavery, then during the War of Independence against Spain led by insurgents, then to avoid being absorbed by North American imperialism, then to promulgate our constitution and expel the French empire from our soil, and later the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz denied us the just application of the Reform laws and the people rebelled and leaders like Villa and Zapata emerged, poor men just like us. We have been denied the most elemental preparation so they can use us as cannon fodder and pillage the wealth of our country. They don't care that we have nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a roof over our heads, no land, no work, no health care, no food nor education. Nor are we able to freely and democratically elect our political representatives, nor is there independence from foreigners, nor is there peace nor justice for ourselves and our children.

But today, we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

We are the inheritors of the true builders of our nation. The dispossessed, we are millions and we thereby call upon our brothers and sisters to join this struggle as the only path, so that we will not die of hunger due to the insatiable ambition of a 70 year dictatorship led by a clique of traitors that represent the most conservative and sell-out groups. They are the same ones that opposed Hidalgo and Morelos, the same ones that betrayed Vicente Guerrero, the same ones that sold half our country to the foreign invader, the same ones that imported a European prince to rule our country, the same ones that formed the "scientific" Porfirsta dictatorship, the same ones that opposed the Petroleum Expropriation, the same ones that massacred the railroad workers in 1958 and the students in 1968, the same ones the today take everything from us, absolutely everything.

To prevent the continuation of the above and as our last hope, after having tried to utilize all legal means based on our Constitution, we go to our Constitution, to apply Article 39 which says:

"National Sovereignty essentially and originally resides in the people. All political power emanates from the people and its purpose is to help the people. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government."

Therefore, according to our constitution, we declare the following to the Mexican federal army, the pillar of the Mexican dictatorship that we suffer from, monopolized by a one-party system and led by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the maximum and illegitimate federal executive that today holds power.

According to this Declaration of War, we ask that other powers of the nation advocate to restore the legitimacy and the stability of the nation by overthrowing the dictator.

We also ask that international organizations and the International Red Cross watch over and regulate our battles, so that our efforts are carried out while still protecting our civilian population. We declare now and always that we are subject to the Geneva Accord, forming the EZLN as our fighting arm of our liberation struggle. We have the Mexican people on our side, we have the beloved tri-colored flag highly respected by our insurgent fighters. We use black and red in our uniform as our symbol of our working people on strike. Our flag carries the following letters, "EZLN," Zapatista National Liberation Army, and we always carry our flag into combat.

Beforehand, we refuse any effort to disgrace our just cause by accusing us of being drug traffickers, drug guerrillas, thieves, or other names that might by used by our enemies. Our struggle follows the constitution which is held high by its call for justice and equality.

Therefore, according to this declaration of war, we give our military forces, the EZLN, the following orders:

First: Advance to the capital of the country, overcoming the Mexican federal army, protecting in our advance the civilian population and permitting the people in the liberated area the right to freely and democratically elect their own administrative authorities.

Second: Respect the lives of our prisoners and turn over all wounded to the International Red Cross.

Third: Initiate summary judgments against all soldiers of the Mexican federal army and the political police that have received training or have been paid by foreigners, accused of being traitors to our country, and against all those that have repressed and treated badly the civil population and robbed or stolen from or attempted crimes against the good of the people.

Fourth: Form new troops with all those Mexicans that show their interest in joining our struggle, including those that, being enemy soldiers, turn themselves in without having fought against us, and promise to take orders from the General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.

Fifth: We ask for the unconditional surrender of the enemy's headquarters before we begin any combat to avoid any loss of lives.

Sixth: Suspend the robbery of our natural resources in the areas controlled by the EZLN.

To the People of Mexico: We, the men and women, full and free, are conscious that the war that we have declared is our last resort, but also a just one. The dictators are applying an undeclared genocidal war against our people for many years. Therefore we ask for your participation, your decision to support this plan that struggles for work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace. We declare that we will not stop fighting until the basic demands of our people have been met by forming a government of our country that is free and democratic.


General Command of the EZLN

Thus began a new chapter in the struggle against the neoliberal leviathan that our political and corporate masters were (and still are) constructing. The Zapatistas would become inspiration for numerous actions in the intervening 14 years, including the Seattle uprising against the WTO in 1999.

Currently I am reading Anthony J. Hall's The American Empire and the Fourth World. His characterization of the current endeavors toward globalization (that lovely neoliberal buzzword) is one of a continuation of what was started in 1492 when Columbus reached an island in the Bahamas in search of wealth and power, was preached and practiced by the Puritans in New England, and then gained momentum in the aftermath of the Declaration of Independence in what is today the US. Currently, to put it in Hall's words:
The fundamentalist aim of the neo-liberal crusade is to replace multicultural pluralism and biodiversity with an expanding civilization of possessive individualism and commodified monocultures.
One theme that seems to thread its way through Hall's narrative is that of frontier. In the late 18th century, the Frontier may have been just west of the 13 colonies. Today, that frontier can be found in the Middle East, those indigenous civilizations that manage to survive and thrive in spite of the efforts of empire builders, and of course in the genetic codes of living beings. The frontiers vary, but the struggle hasn't changed much at all. The mass displacement that is occurring in the aftermath of NAFTA and similar such agreements amounts to a sort of ethnic cleansing; the replacement of diverse varieties of plantlife with genetically modified seeds results in ecocide; the corporate patenting of the genomes of various plants and herbs without the consent of the peoples who have relied on those very plants for centuries or millennia is something of a replay of Papal and royal decrees to divide up and possess land that had belonged to indigenous peoples. As Lord Cutler Beckett from those Pirates of the Caribbean films might say, "it's just good business."

And so it goes. The planet continues to be treated to a narrow form of "democracy" which generally means occasional albeit empty voting rituals while a fortunate few divvy up the spoils, and in which those who do not conform to the corporate sheen of the New World Order must inevitably face extinction. And yet...one must wonder just how inevitable. The cornerstone of the current predatory capitalism is that of continuous growth, and that growth must be somehow FUELED. As I write this, there is good reason to believe that the sort of growth that our leaders have assumed as a given cannot continue as their economic and political machine runs up against tangible limits.

It's late. We'll merely say, to be continued...

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