The Narco News Bulletin

"The name of our country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Marcos on the Media

From the June 19, 2000 Communiqué on the Mexican Elections

Second of Ten Declarations

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Second: In this election process it has been evident that the place of the citizen as voter is not respected. In its place has been the media, markedly the electronic media, who have owned the singer's voice. The indiscriminate use of "polls," many of them conducted without the least bit of scientific rigor, have displaced the citizen voter as elector. Now it doesn't matter to dispute an election at the ballot box, but rather to win it or lose it in the headlines of the written press and the newsmakers of radio and television.

The citizen doesn't make his decision in front of the distinct political options, but rather in front of the media, and the image that they present of the political proposals. "Modernity" has not meant for our country the passage to democracy, to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The exercise of political power has not passed from the political class to the citizens, but rather to the publicists, editors, anchors and commentators.

If sometimes it is said that governing can happen through the media, today this has been inverted so that now one is governed (and the government is disputed) in and by the media, the substitution of the citizen by the radio and the TV. This is not democracy. It is virtual government and the virtual change of government. The government palaces, the legislative halls and the polling places are already not in their real homes, but rather in news programming.

On this stage where the nation is substituted for the "rating," is where the electoral contest has fundamentally been offered. Save some honorable exceptions, the candidates for the presidency have led their efforts (and their economic resources) almost exclusively to the terrain of the media. Beyond the obvious profits, the media has obtained a political role that surpasses many of its prerogatives and, above all, its capacities.

It's clear that the opportunity of the political parties to make their positions known through radio and television is an important advance in democratization. And it's laudable that the parties take advantage of it.

The problem is that, more than a few times, this coverage is not fair (the official party demolishes the others in times and in stellar hours), and it is not a political position that is broadcast, but rather they opt for scandal, insult, defamation or banal gossip. More still, very often the communicator becomes the judge of what he communicates, and "decides" what and how he is going to inform.

As has been signaled by various workers in the press, the role of the media is not that of voter, but of communicator. To not understand that or not to work in congruence with that, has proved more than one to commit lamentable excesses.

The media in Mexico now have a more determinant role in national life. It's fair to recognize that not only has the irresponsibility of some of its members increased in the new character of their profession, but also that more than a few have grown in their independence, their critical spirit and their honesty. Still, the responsible attitude in the electronic and written press has not come from the majority of them.

This is not about putting aside the media or silencing them as a way to avoid the substitution of the citizenry's decision, but rather of returning the right of the citizens and the political organizations to fairness, truth, honesty and responsibility by the communicators in the political arena.

The citizen has a right to truthful, opportune and complete information. There is no law that guarantees this, nor agency that defends or monitors its compliance.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas reaffirm one of the points of our fight: The right to information and culture.

Translated from the original Spanish by Al Giordano of The Narco News Bulletin

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Authentic Journalism Enters the 21st Century