Delegate Zero Presents Seven Zapatista Comandantes to the Other Campaign in Mexico City
By Al Giordano, The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico City
October 2, 2006
MEXICO CITY, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2006: Two thousand organizers of the Zapatista Other Campaign convened today in the Pantitlán neighborhood of Mexico City for a conference to “analyze the national situation,” a task made still more complicated nineteen hours earlier when the Mexican Armed Forces conducted helicopter surveillance flights on Saturday over the city of Oaxaca, six hours to the south of the nation’s capital. The flagrant participation by the national army added the specter of military intervention against the very citizenry that the institution is sworn to defend.
The first two compañeros to use the mic had come from that state, where a violent June 14 raid by police against striking teachers – who had been joined in their downtown Oaxaca encampment by indigenous, youth, labor and political organizations, many also adherents to the Other Campaign – was repelled by unarmed civilians and where, for the past 122 days, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca has maintained control of that state capital and scores of other municipalities in the state.
“We are sure that there are going to be many aggressions against us,” Alberto Juan Castillo, known by his Zapotec indigenous name of “Macha” in his town of Union Hidalgo on the Oaxacan Isthmus of Tehuantepec, told the assembled. “We are peaceful and unarmed, but we are going to defend ourselves with all that we have.”
Castillo explained that throughout Oaxaca and other cities, neighborhood residents have erected barricades each night to slow the threatened attack by federal troops against the occupation often called “the Oaxaca Commune” (which has lasted more than twice as long as the Paris Commune of 1871). He noted that during daylight hours the barricades are lifted, but the people are equally prepared and ready to mount a defense against any invading force. “We also think that they will enter other regions, too. In the Sierra region, war tanks have moved in. We ask that you remain vigilant and informed.”
The theme of Oaxaca was a constant throughout the afternoon. “The workers of Oaxaca have risen up,” said Sergio Almaguer Cosío, secretary general of the Mexican Party of Communists at the Mexico City meeting. “The teachers are on strike. The popular organizations fight against the political bosses and the government, represented by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), demanding the destitution of governor Ulises Ruiz. The police say they are ready to intervene at the beck and call of Vicente Fox. The state legislators of the PRI, PAN and PRD parties, their political arguments spent, solicit with anguish the intervention of federal troops to maintain the governor by brute force. But the people have confronted the police and defeated them. They have not been able to dissolve the encampment or the mobilizations. A march of thousands draws near Mexico City.”
Davíd Gonzáles of the UNIOS organization alluded to recent headlines about Oaxaca when he noted that, “they say that only the state may have a monopoly on the use of force… But when those who are dominated rebel, that’s not allowed.”
Speaking on behalf of the seven comandantes of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation also seated in front of the conference under a gigantic tarp shading the participants from a pounding sun, Subcomandante Marcos introduced Delegada Una, Comandanta Grabiela; Delegado Dos, Comandante Zebedeo; and Delegada Tres, Comandanta Miriam, who he said will remain in Mexico City and environs to participate in and widen the fight to free the political prisoners of nearby Atenco. He also presented Delegada Cuatro, Comandanta Gema; Delegada Cinco, Comandanta Hortensia, her daughter Lupita (“Delegada Five and 1/4,” peering out, too, from a ski-mask); Delegado Seis, Comandante David, and Delegado Siete, Comandante Tacho, whom he said would, after this visit to the center of the country, report back to the rest of the Zapatistas in Chiapas. (Errata: Narco News reported yesterday that Hortensia and Lupita would be joining the coming tour by Delegado Zero – Marcos – to Mexico’s Northern States; the Subcomandante’s words today indicate she is heading back to Chiapas instead.)
Today’s conference included much behind-the-scenes organizing for both the efforts to free the political prisoners and the transportation logistics for the upcoming 54-day tour to the US border (Narco News and The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign were among the alternative media and other organizations invited to send representatives on a 42-seat bus that will be accompanying Delegate Zero starting Saturday, October 7; your reporters and filmmakers will be there, and also reporting in advance and behind the tour for the next two months, as well as our news teams in Atenco-DF and Oaxaca, among other parts of Mexico and a country called América), and elaborate analyses of the current political situation in Mexico by Marcos and by political organizations that adhere to the Other Campaign, some of which will be published in full on these pages in coming days. But the light of the continuing struggle in Oaxaca was, perhaps, that which shone brightest during today’s kick-off meeting.
“Oaxaca is not just an emergency,” said Subcomandante Marcos. “It is also an example to follow.”
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