|English | Español||February 19, 2018 | Issue #41|
At the Zócalo, May 1st, Marcos Warns the Rich: “We’re Taking Everything!”
The Other Campaign Arrives at the U.S. Embassy, Adding Itself to the Boycott in Support of Mexican Migrants
By Bertha Rodríguez Santos
“If they are going to kill us with hunger, better we die for something worthwhile,” said Magdalena Garcíá to the multitude from the Other Campaign
Foto: D.R. 2006 Enlace Zapatista
One of the points set forth during the Other May 1st, was the construction of a leftist, anti-capitalist workers organisation, independent of charro leaders (who are at the service of the working government), and of the political parties; and under the condition that it be an organisation that worked congruently with the ideas set out by the Sixth Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle, whose representative, the Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, tours the whole country in order to join all the struggles at a national level.
From 8:00am, the centre of the Mexican capital became the bridge through which thousands of workers passed. The reasons that launched the workers into a march were diverse. The first group was that of the corporate workers who belonged to the Congreso del Trabajo (CT) (Workers Congress) and the Confederacion de Trabajadores de Mexico (CTM) (Confederation of Workers of Mexico)– who during decades have been the main pillars of the powers that control the country. Before, in the service of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in its Spanish initials) and its business allies, and now directly under the service of the patrons of the National Action Party (PAN)- as well as to all the unions who are allied unconditionally to the working governments.
These contingencies were integrated by adult workers, dressed in an array of uniforms, most of the employees of public offices and many of which, year after year, are forced to march under the threat of being suspended from their work for 15 days without wage. This is to say that they do not march for conviction but rather as a requisite in order to keep their jobs, positions which, in times of unemployment and misery, are highly appreciated.
Hours later, once the Plaza de la Constitución emptied, these workers gave their places to the “independent” workers, amongst them the workers of the Sindicatio Unico de Trabajadores de Ruta Cien (SUTAUS) which brings together public transport drivers, and also civil servants of the Federal District government, headed by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), amongst many others.
Year after year, the workers of Mexico march in order to commemorate the heroism of the Chicago martyrs, who were murdered because of their demands to the bosses with regards to their eight-hour working day and poor working conditions.
In this Other May 1st, aside from it being an act of shame and disgust regarding the labour policies at work in the country, Subcomandante Marcos announced the growth of a national movement that will “expel from this country… the great capitalists, including -of course- the American capitalists,” as he warned in his communiqué, which he read in front of the US Embassy, before marching though the streets of the city.
Accompanied by the peasants of the People’ Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT in its Spanish initials), ex-migrant workers who are members of the National Assembly of Braceros 1942-1966 (ANB), and workers of the different industries in Mexico, as well as indigenous, peasants, students and young people of different libertarian expressions, the Delegado Zero welcomed the adherents to the Other Campaign, the migrant workers and “the North American people.”
“We are here, in front of the diplomatic representation of George W. Bush’s government, but not of the north American people,” he said enthusiastically pointing to the building that embodies such power “it has seeded death and destruction in the whole planet.”
He made reference to the building that represents the greed of the great capitals that want all the Mexican earth and sky. The office from which the main issues of the Mexican government are decided…the office that directs the executive, legislative and judicial powers in Mexico…the office of the government that in a few years has managed to turn the American flag into a symbol of arbitrariness, despoliation, authoritarianism, humiliation, scorn and death,” he said.
He added that the American government “converted the tragedy of the September 11th attacks into an alibi” to justify the war on Iraq, as well as hostility towards Cuba and Venezuela.
In this office – he continued – is the representation of the “government that maintains an illegal, illegitimate and inhumane blockade against the heroic Cuban people… that seeks to have direct interference in the sovereign decisions of the Latin American people, particularly, the people of Venezuela.”
In name of the Zapatistas based in Chiapas, the Delegado Zero sent two messages. The first he directed at the men and women that have had to emigrate “forced, by the economic conditions of the country, and for who being Latin means living not only exploited but also under racism.”
He spoke for the Mexicans, indigenous and mestizos that suffer a “mixed-up and brutal” system; for the “Chicanos that live, work and struggle, without losing memory north of the Rio Bravo.”
“For those who here were given names… — as the powerful feels ‘disgust’ at the existence of the ones from below— names like nacas, Indians, lice-ridden, dirty, ugly, evil. For those who, there, in the supposed nation of liberty, democracy, and justice without distinction, they are referred to with their racist equivalents: beaners, brownies or aliens.”
“Up there and to the right, the White House and the Capitol rush to approve a legal package that will allow the legalization of a reduced number of workers in return for the violent expulsion of the majority.”
He added that the American government is increasing the number of immigration agents along the frontier, and plans to build a 12km wall along the border as well as 10 new prisons. They also demand, he said, that all those who wish to remain learn English, pay a fine of ten thousand dollars and join the military service “which means that many of those who are currently undocumented will be sent to die in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the near future, Iran and North Korea.”
“The struggle of the undocumented workers in the US, in particular that of the Mexicans, is totally just, and at the same time reveals the hypocritical character of capitalism, our enemy,” summarized the rebel leader. He then announced: “Migrant compañeros y compañeras in the US, indigenous, men, women, children, elderly, as well as Zapatistas from the EZLN, let us support this struggle. We add ourselves to the boycott against all American products that circulate throughout Mexican land.” Straight afterwards, he called upon the Mexican people “and all the adherents of The Other Campaign” to support such a boycott.
He also directed himself to the American people that had mobilized in support of the indigenous Zapatista communities since 1994. This call was also for the ‘descendants’ of Emma Goldman, John Reed, Ethel y Julius Rosenberg, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Mumia (Abu Jamal), Leonard Peltier, the Indian people of the US with whom links of pain and rebellion join us, and to the whole Chicano community, to support this fight.
To them he said “We are the ones who make up The Other Campaign, and we are struggling so that in our land and under our skies there exists, for all, housing, land, work, food, health, education, justice, democracy, independence, information, culture, freedom, respect towards the rights and culture of the indigenous peoples of the country, and peace. We are fighting for another Mexico, one that does not force its workers to leave everything and go to a foreign country in search of a life that is impossible to attain here.
The second message, said Marcos, is to George W. Bush: “We are warning you that in Mexico there is already another way, one we are building… this national movement will overthrow the bad governments; we will also expel from our land the rich, who have turned not just people into merchandise but also our land, our water, our forests, our biodiversity, our history and our culture.”
He continued: “This is why we will expel form Mexico the great capitalists, including the American capitalists. In our skies the Star-Spangled Banner will not fly. In our skies our tricolor flag with its eagle on a cactus fighting a serpent, will fly again with pride. Too bad, get packing!” These words were followed by applause and approval. In the midst of supporting chants, music, slogans, applauses and shouts of “viva!,” the colorful and manifold march unwound – like a giant snail that stretches its body to the sun- through the streets of Reforma, Juárez and Madero, until it arrived to the Zócalo.
The creativity, color and noise that the youth produced made the streets shine, as Subcomandante Marcos would mention towards the end of his speech in the Zócalo.
The members of several Magonista collectives (who have taken their name from the anarchist revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magón), carried great banners which vindicated the rights of the people.
Students of the National History and Anthropology School (ENAH) as well as students of the UNAM’s Department of Philosophy and Letters were mounted on stilts, turning into “giants” who moved to the rhythm of the drums and tambourines. One of them personified an elf dressed in green, red and black; another was dressed in the Cuban flag; others were wearing ski masks or bandanas such as those used by the indigenous Zapatistas.
Between the sea of people, the indigenous people that make up part of the Masahua Movement in Struggle for Water, workers of the Federal District with The Other Campaign; the National Union of Uniroyal Workers; young skinheads (who, as opposed to the common perception in the US, are not ultra-right); and anarchists, communists of all tendencies, student collectives and neighbors, cultural groups, individuals without organizations, the self-employed and workers in general roamed the streets. An army of cameramen, photographers and reporters of all possible media organizations also made themselves present.
Aside from the old slogans, during the march, new phrases erupted such as: “If Zapata lived, there would be no migrants! Supporting the migrant, the struggle is constant! Look ahead, look ahead with Comandante Marcos!”
The placards and banners expressed: “The worker’s struggle has no borders!” “Long live the workers rebellion in Sicartsa! (Siderúrgica Lázaro Cárdenas-Las Truchas en Michoacán)!” Others asked for “punishment to those guilty for the deaths of women in Coahuila and Sicartsa!”
In fact, one the gravest complaints from the workers —adherents to the Other Campaign— was the repression suffered through physical violence (bullets) this past April 21st against workers of the Lázaro Cárdenas-Las Truchas steel mine, in the state of Michoacán — where two miners died and many other were injured as a result of the intervention by police who were there to end a strike that the workers had been holding for several weeks — as well as the tragedy last February in the Pasta de Conchos coalmine, in the state of Coahuila, where 65 miners died as a result of an explosion whose the remains have not yet been recovered…
Passing by the Cuiltáhuac monument, the strikers in front of the march were faced with nine naked women dancing over drums. Behind the great sculpture, dozens of men, only wearing underwear, formed lines. These men and women, members of the Movement of 400 Villages, from the state of Veracruz, have installed, since the 15th of April, a camp on the side of this avenue, and began showing their bodies in protest of the “abuses” carried out against them and demanding the intervention of president Vicente Fox.
One of the flyers handed out to the passers-by clearly expresses their demands to the federal executive to abide by the signed agreements with its government in relation to “support for the development of our communities, and so that the illegal depravation of freedom, displacement from our lands, violations of court orders and even a murder committed against us by former governors Dante Delado, Patricio Chirinos y Miguel Alemán, so that they will not remain impugn.”
“Justice, justice!” shouted the naked women, while the contingent in which Subcomandante Marcos walked, moved between a multitude of people. The guerilla leader only shook their hands.
Further ahead, Marcos —who walked escorted on both flanks by ex-laborers of the Union of Campesinos Emiliano Zapata (UCEZ) of Michoacán and protected by the peasants of Atenco with their machetes aloft, as well as a nurtured human wall that walked forming a chain with their arms— listened to different shows of support.
As he passed the front of the Palace of Beaux Arts, several older women, young women and girls shouted: “¡Maaaar-cos!,” with a view to get his attention and be welcomed by him. One could only catch a glimpse of Marcos’ smile through his ski mask as he waved left and right. A young, gorgeous, brown-skinned woman asked her friend, “have you seen what beautiful eyes he has?” The atmosphere took on that of the Red Carpet, and a star-like glaze formed over the insurgent leader.
Through the streets, couples of all ages walked arm in arm; a musician with shouldered guitar carried in tow his mascot. Other dogs marched with their t-shirts in support of ‘la otra’: the Other Campaign.
The youth stood out for being the most creative. Some of them carried a large turtle with a red bandana, declaring themselves in defense of the national resources; others performed, in a moving theatre, a satire of the mass media conglomerates; a young man carried on his stomach a television box and one of his friends was being whipped by a skeleton, as a metaphor of the torture and manipulation that the massive, commercial media represent.
Once the Great Latin American Tower and the Palace of Beaux Arts had been crossed, there were hundreds of people anxiously awaited the passing of the guerilla leader. Many parents carried their children on their shoulders; one father pointed to his son “There he goes son, he is the one with the pipe,” as the child tried to look beyond the herds of people.
In between applauses and raised fists, people shouted: “We are going to vote for you, bro!” And others “Lets go for them Marcos, lets break the ass of the political system!”
After two hours, the march arrived at the great plaza of Mexico City. Amongst “Viva!” chants —for the National Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN in its Spanish initials), to Marcos and The Other Campaign—Delegado Zero was received by a sea of cameras, tourists, curios people and representatives of the media. Several women mounted their boyfriend’s shoulders in an attempt to get a good photo.
Following several minutes of waiting for all the members of the contingent to enter the Zócalo, Arnulfo González Nieto, general secretary of the National Workers Union of Uniroyal (property of the French business Michelin, the largest tire maker in Mexico, who have repressed and fired hundreds of workers with the complicity of the CTM), read the agreements that arrived on 29th April, to one thousand three hundred workers of 23 states of the Mexican Republic during the National Workers Meeting.
In these agreements, as was later reiterated by Ofelia Olivia, member of the workers of the Mexican Institute of Social Security, they have been threatened with the privatization of this governmental agency, and they call for the “construction of a peasant and city worker’s organization created from below, anticapitalist, antipatriarchal, that will fight for the appropriation of the means of production that is independent of the union leaders, of the State and of the political parties.”
They also announced the II National Worker’s Encounter to take place during the second week of August, and they promised to show solidarity with all the resistance struggles in the country that are against capitalism, specially in the case of the Pasta de Conchos miners, of Coahuila and Sicartsa, in Michoacán.
They will also support the miners of Guanajuato; those of the San Javier mine in San Luis Potosí, where the owners aim to shut down this source of income; the workers of the San Luis Potosi Glassworks that are immersed in a battle against union control; the indigenous struggle in Mexico City against the local government of the PRD in order that they be allowed to sell their merchandise; the workers of Volkswagen that denounced the violation to their rights by their bosses; construction workers; democratic teachers in search of better salaries; General Motors in San Luis Potosí; retired pensioners from the rail lines after the privatization of the trains; Ocotlán, Jalisco, and other employees of public dependencies and private enterprises.
A worker with Teléfonos de México (Telmex), owned by Carlos Slim Helú —the third richest man in the world according to Forbes— accused Slim Helú of accumulating his fortune through “a gift” form the former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. He claimed that Slim Helú wants to be the richest man in the world through “stealing form us with high tariffs… with the support of the union spire that has been repressing workers for the past 30 years imposing ‘boss policies’.”
For these reasons, the employee sent a message: “to Carlos Slim, Francisco Hernández Juárez (leader of Telmex Union) and president Vicente Fox: we will defend with our lives our Collective Work Contract, we will not allow a contract that pretend to annual the collective worker’s rights,” he warned.
For her part, Madalena García, a Masahua Indian, after narrating the difficulties that women street vendors face in the Federal District (Mexico City), such as being discriminated, sleeping in parks, being evacuated from the places where they sell; assured her support for the Other Campaign and the pacifist civil movement that looks to change the country from its core. “Even if we die of starvation, she added, it is better to die for a cause.”
Speaking before the multitude made up by around 40,000 people in the Zócalo, Marcos reiterated the compromise that has resonated in his tour of the country. “till the death if necessary.” He repeated this phrase and said that this is what he had heard, from the indigenous Zapatista rebels in 1992, during the anniversary of “500 years of colonization of our lands by the Spanish.”
These same words were heard when the indigenous town of Chiapas “decided to raise up in arms against the supreme government.”
These ideas have been pronounced in different ways by thousands of peasants, workers and other social sectors ‘from below’, during the tour of The Other Campaign. This is why, Marcos said as he pointed to the National Palace and upwards “the one who is up there will exit, and the one over there will do too. They will exit, we will beat them and Zapatistas usually fulfill their word.”
He continued to state that this is the phrase that he has heard from the peasants affected by governmental projects such as Procede y Procecom (which facilitate the sale of lands that until recently could only belong to peasants of the community), and for which they have been pushed to the precipice.
These programs have despoiled people from their lands, the same ones that belonged to their ancestors and that “should belong to their children.”
He confirmed that he has seen indigenous peoples being despoiled from their communal lands by businessmen and members of political parties. He commented that when the indigenous people arrive to the cities to sell their products, police despoil them through physical violence, cold water and insults ¨regardless of whether the government belong to the PRI, PAN or PRD.”
He considered that it was “the same story, same depreciation of our language, culture, color; to the way in which we are who we are.”
The same has been heard from the youth, men and women, who are persecuted by the police because of the way the dress, wear their hair and because of the music they listen to.
“We have heard —he added— women of all sizes say ‘we are tired of being considered an object that has to be hit, to persecute, to sell, to humiliate and to kill’. ‘Till death if necessary” he continued.
Delegado Zero detailed that the employees of the maquiladoras (assembly plants), who work 12 to 16 hours for 45 pesos (around US$4.00), have reiterated these ideas; the small businesses also added that the governments of the PRI, PAN and PRD with the police have despoiled them “so that the city does not look dirty, and so that the big shopping centers –Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Comerical Mexicana, Soriana and all the other similar shit- can have their luxurious clientele without their smell being offended by our smell, which is the smell of work.”
He also referred to the “elderly who were sick and tired of enduring a lifetime of work, to then be thrown into a corner as if they were trash, a nuisance, and from up there receive a coin.”
Marcos said that before leaving the mountains of the Mexican southeast in order to promote the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the bosses of the EZLN commanded him to take the following message: “until death, if necessary. Alive or Dead, free or behind bars, disappeared or on the streets, in the mountain, in the river, in the sea, we have come to repeat the same thing to those at the top, to the political greats and the rich: we are going to rip you all to shreds.”
He clarified that the gathering of thousands of people together for the Other May 1st was not a result of commercial advertisements; it was not an “acarreo” (referring to the union practices who hire dozens of buses to transport workers) nor were there any union bosses taking attendance.”
Marcos threw himself strongly against the owners of the great capital, the investors, politicians and land-gatherers. “We are going to take Telmex and Sanborns away from (Carlos) Slim. We are going to take away everything he has so that the workers, telephone workers, and the employees of these businesses will be the ones to manage them. We are going to take the lands away from the landowners so that the peasants can work them, with good prices for their products, without GM, chemicals… to work the way the peasants already work. We will take the schools away from the corrupt, mediocre and idiot functionaries, and will hand them over to the students. We will take the banks from the bankers; we will take the industries from the great businessmen, and we will take the governments away from the bad governors and take them ourselves. Yes we will!”
He also previewed that this May First “the streets will shine again like they did today, with the people from below, with all the will to fight. The fields, mountains and rivers will shine… with rebellious dignity.”
Perhaps motivated by the creativity manifested during the march, Marcos said enthusiastically “this is the other tomorrow. This is the other country that began when thousands of men, women, children and elderly took our fear, turned it into a little ball, and threw it away. We decided to do something for the country, something new that would get rid of those fucking with us.”
“Let the Stock exchange fall. Let only the airline that flies to Miami remain because we are going to change this country,” he stated, as he announced the end of “the capitalist system in Mexico in order to build a new country where everyone is taken into account.”
He said that the hour would come when, as was mentioned during the act, all the political prisoners will have to be liberated from prison, and in their place, exploiters and politicians “will join rapists, drug dealers, assassins (because) they are just like them.”
Marcos suggested that the civil and pacifist uprising that the Other Campaign is pushing will take us to the point where the days in which we arrived at the table and found a big pile of bills will soon come to an end. Like when we come out of a bad dream, we will remember that there used to not be enough money, even for beans, even though we worked day and night.”
“The houses of those on top will be ours, we will have a dignified jobs and just wages; hospitals with medicine and doctors. There will be free and secular education for all.”
He considered that Mexico’s best is now part of The Other Campaign: “sex workers, homosexuals, lesbians, transgender, street kids, small business-holders, informal retailers, Indian towns, peasants without land or in the process of losing it, workers, students, teachers and elderly; the ugly and the stinky. We are the best of this country and this is what we are going to do compañeros,” he concluded.
After chanting “viva!” to the Other Campaign, those present began chanting the Zapatista hymn. A cold rain began to fall and people ran for shelter, while a few chanted the final chorus: “Let’s go, go, go forward/to come out into the struggle ahead/because our nation cried out for and needs/all the efforts of the Zapatistas.”
As the raindrops grew thicker, the Mexican national anthem resonated from the few who had remained, gathered, in the largest plaza of Mexico.
Published in Spanish on May 3, 2006
Translated by Yael Gerson Ugalde
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism