Remember Clinton/Gore where responsible for supporting and
implementing NAFTA. And although Senator Leahy(D) from Vermont
includes good language in the foriegn appropriations act concerning
human rights, they still push huge military spending in the south,
the democrats never followed through on stopping some of the
genocide happening down south with the languauge in that
Just some food for thought here..
Viva ZAPATA......la luchue sigue...ps...brian didn't post this
Not since the Zapatista uprising in January, 1994, has my
hope for radical social change been so reinvigorated as by
the recent uprisings here in the North around the World
Trade Organization, the IMF/World Bank, and the Organization
of American States. It's been all the more disturbing, then,
that the recent flurry of protest and direct action
targeting such global culprits, their policies, and their
trade agreements, has almost nowhere been correlated with
the Zapatistas' highly successful attempt to address
globalism, and NAFTA in particular.
A huge influx of fresh, energetic activists is now filling
the collective "ranks" of progressive and radical social
movements. Unfortunately, it seems few among them have
anything resembling a solid understanding of the Zapatistas,
their plight, their teachings, and their strategy and
Have we forgotten our indigenous neighbors to the South?
Have we overlooked the fact that no one is more responsible
for awakening and inspiring the anti-corporate globalization
movement we're already beginning to take for granted?
Indeed, are we even aware that for the people of Chiapas, as
throughout the Global South, the violence of Seattle is a
I think it's time we begin to seriously revisit zapatismo.
After all, it's primary instruction with regard to North
Americans and Europeans in particular revolves around the
Zapatistas' desperate need for parallel resistance in the
North. They told us early on that without our solidarity
their is little hope of success in liberating their
communities and their cultures from the grasp of
multinational capital and its demand for a docile,
exploitable peasant class in the Third World.
So while we're patting ourselves on the back for successes
in Windsor, Washington and Seattle, we should be looking
south for more lessons, and more inspiration. The Zapatistas
reinvented anti- corporate globalism. We've merely followed
their lead, without crediting them for the shove.
So what are the lessons of zapatismo as they pertain to
First World activists? The first is that solidarity with the
Third World doesn't stop at sending material aid, teachers
or observers to impoverished villages in Latin America,
Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
True solidarity means educating our own communities in the
struggles of peoples throughout the world. It means raising
a consciousness among working people -- especially people of
color and marginalized ethnicities -- that they are not
alone in their experiences of and resistance to class
struggle and racism.
Solidarity also means rising up here at home to raise the
social costs of pursuing such peoples' exploitation -- both
domestically and abroad -- to a level corporations and the
institutional agents which facilitate their pursuits cannot
accommodate. That implies distracting multinational
institutions from their quest for profits by forcing them on
the defensive. It also requires removing the US military
from foreign soil, and extinguishing the funds which equip
the enemies of our brothers and sisters with the requisites
of war. The goal is to send US troops marching North,
homeward, demoralized, eager to lay down their weapons once
and for all.
Zapatismo also teaches us that all resistance must be
informed and animated by deeply-rooted ties to community and
culture. Indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere have
had 500 years to develop cultures of resistance from what
were once cultures of existence, and to define community and
identity in relation to a common oppressor. Most of the rest
of us are only now beginning to form cultural bonds within a
struggle for liberation, and we're caught between two
communities: one in explicit, if periodic, resistance; the
other absorbed and manufactured by the dominant culture.
Finally, Zapatismo teaches us that democracy -- within and
among our movement groups, as well as between them and
"civil society" - - is an integral element of revolutionary
strategy. There's no substitute for participatory leadership
and direction of social movements.
Organizing for truly direct democracy within grassroots
groups is hard enough; more difficult still is the task of
making concrete connections between our movements and the
public they purport to serve and represent. However, if we
are to speak for "the people," we must be embraced and
eventually joined by "the people." The EZLN and FZLN have
had no easy time achieving that end, so we should expect
nothing less here at home. But until we take their cue
seriously, we will be operating bereft of a confident,
coherent vision and without substantial support.
There is plenty more to learn from the Zapatistas and other
Third World warriors around the globe. But if there is any
one lesson with which we cannot dispense, it is that until
we begin looking to and acknowledging the teachings and
solidarity of other incarnations of the anti-corporate
globalization movement, we can expect to be devoured by our
own isolation, ignorance and arrogance.
In addition to being an irregular Commentator, Brian carries
out Interactivity Development and Member Support at ZNet. He
is a member of On the Ground, a direct action affinity group
based in his hometown of Syracuse, NY, and has been working
on Zapatista solidarity since January, 1994.