Interview with Subcomandante Marcos: “The conflicts already exist. The Other Campaign makes them visible.”
Delegate Zero Says That Change Must Come, but That, with the Other Campaign, it Will Be Non-Violent
By Hermann Bellinghausen
May 11, 2006
In the first media interview that he has given in five years, delegate zero expresses his belief that change must come, but that, with the Other Campaign, it will be non-violent.
Mexico is in the middle of a profound crisis, in which the entire ruling class has stopped representing society, and this vacuum is being filled, quite clumsily, by the massive media conglomerates who aren’t even prepared for the task.
“Before, the ruling class governed the media, then later in the period of crisis, it governed with the media, and now it is governed by them. In other words, no mainstream media outlet is going to permit that the ruling class step out of line,” said Subcomandante Marcos in an extensive interview with La Jornada, the first he has given in five years.
He believes that none of the presidential candidates offer a solution to this national crisis. Madrazo proposes an impossible return to the criminal past; Calderon would establish fascism, and turn the army and police loose on the streets; and Lopez Obrador proposes a state that serves capitalism (even though he’s supposedly from the left), establishing a new authoritarian structure that will not resolve the problems of those “at the bottom.”
Marcos sees the situation as unsustainable, one in which all of them will fail, sooner rather than later. He insists that the Other Campaign is civil and non-violent; that change is inevitable, but that is has to be non-violent.
He also challenges the suggestion that, where ever Marcos and the Other Campaign go, conflicts emerge. “The conflicts already exist. The Other Campaign makes them visible.” He denies that he was a catalyst for the events in Atenco. If that were the case, the resistance “would have gone better,” he commented sarcastically.
Instead, he says, the electronic media egged on the use of force and constructed a version that the people from below weren’t about to believe.
There are those who say that the Other Campaign is playing into the hands of the right; that it is sabotaging the leftist option for the presidency, meaning López Obrador. Is there truth in that, or what is the Other Campaign looking for?
First of all, it’s not true that lots of people see AMLO (López Obrador) as a leftist option. The Other Campaign, in criticizing the political class, is looking up from below. It says, these are the problems, this is the system, and the ruling class always turns out to be linked to that injustice, to that destruction, to that crime, to that repression; and it doesn’t matter which political party we are talking about.
We pointed that out in Yucatan with the National Action Party; in Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Veracruz with the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). We gave names, here they are, from such and such party. But since the media only wants to stick it to López Obrador, they only come away with the criticisms of AMLO, omitting the rest.
But when the Other Campaign kicked off in January, AMLO and the PRD were perceived as its main targets.
The EZLN has always been linked to the PRD, and has had to clearly demonstrate its distance. This isn’t only about the PRD. This is about the entire ruling class. Because there has always been a differentiation; the ruling class is criticized, but the PRD sets itself apart from that. As far back as 1994, it wasn’t even the PRD, it was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.
Well, with him there was a relationship, in 1994.
Yes, but when Cardenas came to Chiapas, he was set apart, and the criticisms were directed at the PRD. That relation has always existed; now it’s about including all of the ruling class in our criticism, even the PRD. We had to clarify that, because things were different before. We always made that distinction, these ones no, these ones could be, these ones maybe.
We had to make it clear that the entire ruling class was part of this game, and that you could make endless distinctions, but in the end, nothing translated into a real political proposal. What difference does it make if Calderon is a potential Hitler and Madrazo is a criminal and López Obrador is a cheat; if one of them steals and the other one doesn’t? What difference does it make if, in the end, the process of destroying our country is the same? It doesn’t translate into a concrete difference. So when the Other Campaign says “we are going to look towards below,” then what is happening up above becomes of secondary importance.
Before deciding to look below, there was an evaluation of what is happening up above, and one could say “well no, the EZLN or Marcos hold a grudge for what happened with the indigenous law.” It wasn’t just the indigenous law, it was also everything that happened afterwards, the way laws are passed by majority; some of them get a little coverage in the newspaper, like the Televisa Law, but others don’t. But the laws that fundamentally threaten national sovereignty have all been passed unanimously by all the political parties.
So what use is it to point out that AMLO is honest, that he doesn’t steal money (although his group does), and that the other one is with the shameless right, and that other one with the moderate right, and that other one with the shameful right? What use is it if, in the end, we are in this crisis?
We have said before that, in the old days, all the political power was concentrated in the presidency, but now that we are in this national crisis, due to the advances of neo-liberalism, the ruling class has been destroyed, displaced.
The most important thing to understand: we have had to specifically distance ourselves from the PRD, because historically, we made that distinction with the other parties. This didn’t change the fact that, when López Obrador was going to be stripped of his immunity and power, we opposed that and called for mobilizations against it. We opposed it because of what it represented, we opposed it on ethical grounds. We disagree with these people, but we also disagree with what was being done to them. That was our position on the desafuero, because one thing is one thing, and another thing is something else. In this case, they were trying to remove him from the game.”
But a lot of people insist that those with all the money want to get AMLO out of the way. They don’t want him in power because they see him as a threat to the capitalist hegemony. And that’s why there are those who insist that any attack on AMLO favors the right.
That’s not so: the country’s most powerful man, Carlos Slim, is now saying that he is going to bring baseball to Mexico City and not just soccer teams, and AMLO prides himself on having a good relationship with Slim.”
But the media…
That’s another problem. The electronic media don’t want to lose what was handed to them when we entered this national crisis. Before, the ruling class governed the media, then later in the period of crisis, it governed with the media, and now it is governed by the media. In other words, no mainstream media outlet is going to permit that the ruling class step out of line. They have to be obedient, stick with the line that the media has established. And if AMLO or Calderon or Madrazo or Patricia Mercado or Dr. Simi, if any of them step out and try to make decisions without the media, they will be reeled in. And that’s why we see this process of the media trying to wear AMLO down.
Are they taming him?
Yes, they are breaking him in; him and the rest of the ruling class. They aren’t just afraid of a leftist position, they are afraid of any position that doesn’t follow their rules, and what AMLO is saying is “I’m going to manage everything, including the media.” Lopez Obrador is offering a “new administration,” and it’s the most advanced political position that exists right now, at the top, but you wouldn’t know it because he’s too busy playing the electoral game just like the others.
I mean, if Madrazo is proposing an impossible return to the past, the only thing he’ll do is insure that the country finishes destroying itself. Calderón is proposing the “heavy hand,” fascism, letting the army and police loose on the streets, governing with the repressive force of the state and not with laws or anything else, even though he calls them laws.”
Well, with the laws they are making…
Lopez Obrador’s proposal is the creation of a new State, because the old one already destroyed itself. He’s not talking about going back to the PRI State, to populism and all that. He’s saying things are so bad, that we need something new, but something that doesn’t shake the foundations of capitalism; a modern state that doesn’t cut a new path; it’s the same proposal that Lula made in Brazil. But capital says that there’s no problem; the gringos, who are the ones who run this country, the US State Department says that there’s no problem; the banks say there’s no problem; Slim says there’s no problem. The ones saying that there’s a problem are the media because this one isn’t behaving. They’re afraid of having alienated him so much that he feels strong and begins to get away from them. And that’s where this whole game with the polls comes in.
But since the attempt to strip Lopez Obrador of his immunity…
That (the “desafuero”) gave him more power. I mean, the thing that most promoted AMLO was the desafuero.
They were attacking him. It didn’t have the desired effect, but they were attacking him.
The thing is that the media don’t have the same strength that they used to. As part of this explanation of how the ruling class came to be in crisis, the media are now occupying a space that they didn’t occupy before and they aren’t even prepared for it. So what they are doing is embracing the ruling class, and they are going to go down with it. At the moment that the ruling class loses its authority and legitimacy, the media that are embracing it are also going to lose their credibility and go down with it.
What is happening with Atenco?
It’s a perfect example. I was watching the television, listening to the radio, and the message was “eliminate them.” In the march, we started out from Chapingo with a thousand people, and we arrived in Atenco with five thousand. Where did those four thousand people come from? They were people from there. There weren’t any opposition protests. Just the opposite, these were protests in support: let’s go, there’s no reason to be left behind. We had already seen this with the 2001 march, when the media was talking about peace and who knows what else, and the people started coming out to greet the EZLN and the indigenous, contradicting the media.
When they embrace the ruling class, the media abandon their critical, questioning stance, which is something that all media should have. The media instead become nothing more than an exchange of opinions. Now political columnists just comment on what some other media outlet has said, and not on what is happening. Until we reach a point where reality is reinvented, as has been the case with Atenco.”
But Atenco was real. The media showed real images and it was a very serious situation, there was a lot of violence; lots of people suffered and a whole town was attacked.
No. It unfolded like this, because I saw TV Azteca and listened to the radio. When the first confrontation started, I mean when the police started to get out of hand, TV Azteca started to say “how can this be happening; send in the police.” They were clamoring for there to be an attack against Atenco. But of course, the attack unfolds, and as soon as images start to appear in the electronic media, all we see are images of people from Atenco beating up police, and no images of what the police were doing. The fact that the media were egging on the repression was never addressed. The anchors were saying, “We can’t allow our people to see this (even though they were the ones transmitting the images), the authorities have to intervene and use whatever means necessary to restore order.” They had been reading letters from their viewers that said “how can you say that? If the police go in things will get even worse.” So they stopped reading letters on the air, because they all challenged what they were saying.
When they started to talk about Ignacio del Valle and the other compañeros from Atenco saying “They are just a violent gang of agitators,”’ and who knows what else, at that point they were only showing images of them as the aggressors, and none of what happened later. After this fear campaign, came the march from Chapingo to Atenco. There comes a time when even the media have their limits. People say, “they’re the same ones who humiliate me.” In other words, who are they going to convince that they should feel sorry for some cop who got beat up, when it’s the cops who steal from them, beat them, and rape them?
But it’s said that, since we are now in a democracy, the police are responding to legitimate governments, and therefore, we have to be on the side of the police and against the violent people of Atenco.
Up above they say that, but not down below. What legitimacy can police from the state of Mexico, or from Mexico City, possibly have? They haven’t done a single thing to benefit the community. Everyone in Mexico, down below, they all know that. That’s why the police forces keep getting reinforced, because they are becoming weaker and weaker.
It has also been said that the conflict in Atenco was egged on by Marcos
If it had been an organized resistance, it would have been well executed. There was a critical image in there, of people kicking a cop.
The response is, “These people are angry and out of control.” That means it wasn’t organized; someone could have said, let’s grab him, tie him up, and take him away. They could hand him over, keep an eye on him, or whatever. But what’s the point of kicking him?
In the case of the Los Sauces Gorge (Cuernavaca); we stopped the eviction; in the case of La Parota, we stopped it; in the case of the gas station in Cuautla, it was put on “standby.” And in many other places where we have gone, places where not a single candidate has gone, nothing has happened. Or if something has happened, it was because there was already an organized response to a conflict. It’s not true that wherever I go, I’m provoking conflicts. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be here talking, we’d be talking in Chapultepec castle.
One current of opinion argues that the Other Campaign doesn’t exist, that Marcos has lost importance. And that Atenco has now brought it back to life, has breathed life back into Marcos and the Other Campaign. Now that it’s in the media, it actually exists. Before, the Other Campaign wasn’t in the media, so it didn’t exist. Now it is, now Marcos got his.
What did I get?
According to the media, you got to be in the media.
But if all the media are against us, why would I want to be in the media if they are only going to come out against me?
Aren’t they punishing the Other Campaign in Atenco?
I’ll tell you who they are punishing: López Obrador. I’ll tell you what happened. The Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) did what all adherents to the Other Campaign do, they came out in support of someone other than themselves. There are always those who show up with their chants, they sing some songs, and they leave. Now in the case of the flower sellers, they went and had a meeting in Atenco and they spoke and said, this is what the PRD government wants to do to us.
The compañeros of the FPDT advised them to dialogue. So they tried. They sought out the mayor, to ask him not to kick them out, to ask him to give them a space. He wouldn’t meet with them, he threatened to have them removed, and the compañero Nacho and the rest of them did what they’ve always done: they got together and joined the flower sellers, and they carried their machetes with them, because they always do, just like we always cover our faces. Waiting for them, either because he was paid, or because he’s an idiot, was the mayor of Texcoco. He came up to the flower sellers and to Nacho’s group, and he threatened to have them removed. There weren’t very many of them, but the mayor says on the radio, “I asked for the support of the state police force.” The people back in Atenco find out that their compañeros have been surrounded and they start to blockade roads, so their compañeros can go free.
All of this happens with a PRD mayor, who is supposedly leftist, democratic, and the country’s salvation. The police arrive to remove them, and they keep pushing, all the way into the town, and the people there react, they fight and drive them back. Next comes the fear campaign. “Get rid of them, how could this chaos be happening.” And that’s when the police come in with extreme brutality, and the spin becomes that it’s the people’s fault, and who knows what else.
Now finally they are changing their tune, saying that the violence came from the police, not from the people, that there were women raped, children disappeared (I have their names, children under five years of age).”
They haven’t talked about that.
Well, supposedly there were some children not accounted for, they haven’t shown up, and one of the mothers who we talked with in Atenco says that one child is in Almoloya. She says he’s there and that he was severely beaten.
So then they say, “Well, if this is about Atenco and the PRD, then it’s about López Obrador.” None of the three campaign teams cared that there were deaths, that people were shot and raped. They just capitalized on it for the elections. So López Obrador’s campaign team tells him, “Wash your hands of this, you didn’t have anything to do with it.” He didn’t even say that the police behaved badly or that the situation was bad. “They aren’t your people, don’t say anything.” It doesn’t matter that women were raped, that people died, that human rights were violated. The other candidates were told, “You have to say that, yes, this how things have to be handled.” And Calderon and Madrazo decided to do just that.
That’s the direction of things, against the PRD, against AMLO. The silver bullet is this: if we hang Atenco on Lopez Obrador, we’ll bring him down in the polls. And since all of the ruling class agrees that the polls decide, not the ballots, then that’s what has to be done.
Lopez Obrador included.
He’s the one who started it.
And so when things reach this point, there is a march that Marcos appears in together with the Sixth Commission, with the Other Campaign, that is against the current of the media and the political class. And there is a change in the candidates’ statements, now for all the politicians it’s “Marcos this, EZLN that, are they going to take advantage of this situation, and whatever else.” And that is when Marcos says “I’m going to stay and do what I haven’t done until now: give interviews.”
That’s what got them all riled up. Now they’re going to try to mess with us, except for López Obrador, who says, “no, not me.” But Calderón and Madrazo say, “no, apply the law. Apply the COCOPA law.” They didn’t care what else was happening, as long as it didn’t appear in the media. If now all that is going to come out in the media, it will demonstrate the crisis among the political class, the lack of ideas. “It will be the end of us,” they think.
Published in Spanish Tuesday, May 9th, 2006
Click here for Part II of this interview
Click here for Part III
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