<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Showdown In Cuernavaca: The Zapatista Other Campaign Occupies a Construction Site

The State Police – There to Arrest Protestors – “Ran Like Hens” When Authorities Learned that Subcomandante Marcos Was Coming

By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Morelos

April 10, 2006

CUERNAVACA, MORELOS, MEXICO; APRIL 10, 2006: Forty state troopers — armed with helmets, shields, billy club, ten horses, and heavy artillery — came, this morning, to one of Cuernavaca’s ritziest streets. Their intent: to remove a small group of environmentalists who had chained themselves to trees. The protestors oppose the construction of a shopping mall and a new highway over a small gorge at the end of the cul-de-sac named Acapatzinco Corner. At eleven a.m., a court order that had stalled the toppling of 200-year-old trees was to expire. The police — in this state where violence against social fighters is sacrament — brought two ambulances with them as an indication of how they thought the story would go.

Environmentalists chain themselves to a tree in Cuernavaca.
Photo: D.R. 2006 Sarahy Flores Sosa
On the other side of the city, in the indigenous stronghold of Ocotepec, Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos — halfway through his six-month tour of all of Mexico — made a telephone call to Authentic Journalist Hermann Bellinghausen of the daily La Jornada informing him of the invasion. Together with photographers Victor Camacho and Moyses Zuñiga, and reporter Karla Garza Martínez (collaborator of the Other Journalism as well as other independent media organizations) they arrived at the scene of the crime and began taking interviews, photos, and video (coming soon to an Other Screen near you).

Somewhere in the bowels of Mexican intelligence agencies the phones lit up like a Christmas tree: Marcos had notified the 55 members the alternative media and others in the caravan that travels with him that he was suspending a meeting with supporters this morning in Tetelcingo, Morelos, and that everybody should head for Acapatzingo: on this 87th memorial day of the assassination of General Emiliano Zapata Salazar, the revolutionary for whom Marcos’ Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) is named.

Suddenly, the riot cops, the mounted police, and the ambulance drivers received a communication that Marcos was coming.

“They ran like hens,” explained one of the environmentalists later this morning, still chained to a tree.

“The Other Campaign saved us,” said another tree-hugger to the Other Journalism.

Cuernavaca — a city that bills itself as “the land of eternal spring” — has suffered grave water and environmental problems related to its rapid, unplanned, growth, left in the hands of the “free market,” especially since the Mexico City earthquake of 1985 when many of those could afford to leave the nation’s capital relocated a short distance to the south, here. Throughout his visit to this state that began on Friday, Marcos has heard from many citizens in different communities but with a common problem: the disappearance of forests (and with them, water supplies) and complaints that the “development” and “progress” praised by politicians and businessmen have only brought more poverty, environmental destruction and human suffering.

The video footage taken by Authentic Journalist Karla Garza Martínez reveals a sudden about-face, at 10:40 a.m., by the more than 40 state troopers present. They hauled ass onto the backs of their pick-up trucks, mounted their horses, and hurried towards a nearby police academy, pursued by the reporters, chasing them in a jeep.

Shortly thereafter, Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos, accompanied by seven vehicles, including that of eight reporters of the Other Journalism, left his base in Ocotepec. Down the road, in front of the Latino University of Cuernavaca, they were joined by dozens of vehicles from the caravan, who had returned from Tetelcingo (where the Zapatista delegate was scheduled to meet with allies) in a hurry. Down the “Highway of the Sun” that connects Mexico City with Acapulco and runs through Cuernavaca, the caravan proceeded, dogged by four SUVs of the Federal Preventive Police and various unmarked police cars. At the exit marked “Los Tabachines” the caravan got off the highway, turned right, and after a couple of kilometers arrived at the end of the cul-de-sac.

The pipe-smoking masked man known as “Delegate Zero” jumped out of his vehicle, followed by a swarm of photographers, videographers, reporters and supporters, and joined the occupation. Without saying a word, he listened to the protestors, and then got back in his van.

Word spread: “Marcos isn’t leaving until there is a court order that cancels this project,” said various members of the Other Campaign organizing committee of the state of Morelos and various colleagues from the Caravan, too. The morning meeting in Tetelcingo already suspended, the 4 p.m. meeting scheduled in the city of Cuautla — where General Zapata is buried — was suspended, too.

Farmers from San Salvador Atenco arrive.
Photo: D.R. 2006 Nives Gobo
By four p.m. supporters from across central Mexico began streaming in to join the occupation… Adolfo Gilly from Mexico City… Evita Castañeda, widow of social fighter Efren Capiz from the state of Michoacán, with other members of the Indigenous National Congress, the machete-sword-wielding rebels from San Salvador Atenco, who had chased the government away in 2003 and protected their town from an international airport… The residents of Tetelcingo and Cuautla and other Morelos towns… peasant farmers, urban workers, students, teachers, youths and elders, men and women, and the ghost of a slain general — some say he rides a white horse still, today, through the mountains of Morelos — yet to be avenged all converged on this street in few hours.

Suddenly, the end of this cul-de-sac in an affluent neighborhood of Cuernavaca became Ground Zero for the Other Campaign. On this day when hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Mexicans living and working in the United States have taken to the streets, so have the Mexicans back home. This is already not about two stories, but one. Zapata lives, today, in the streets of the USA, and up a cul-de-sac of Cuernavaca.

Marcos and the Zapatista Other Campaign have thrown the gauntlet down to the state and its private-sector sponsors. Not content to merely run off 40 state troopers, the rebels demand cancellation of the construction project, the road, the shopping mall. At nightfall, the Subcomandante addressed the mass of people who had gathered to join in the defense of the gorge.

“We have to make the blood of Emiliano Zapata boil anew in our veins,” said Marcos, “like him, not to seize power, but to rise up from below, with the humble and simple people, building a movement that defeats the evil governors, cleans our country of these capitalist criminals, and begins the construction of another homeland, another country, another Mexico…”

“Today, as the Other Campaign, we say to you that we need Emiliano Zapata to return and walk with us, that we need to rise up against the wealthy and he who serves them, that we need to take back with our hands what is ours.”

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America