<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
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

Editorial Policy and Disclosures

Narco News is supported by:
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The trademarks "Narco News," "The Narco News Bulletin," "School of Authentic Journalism," "Narco News TV" and NNTV © 2000-2011 Al Giordano


The Zapatista Other Campaign and the Netwar over Defining Atenco

How a Horizontal Communications Network Unmasked Repression and Simulation by the Mexican State and Media

By Al Giordano
First of Two Parts

May 26, 2006

A suspension by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) of its participation in what began as a journey throughout Mexico titled “the Other Campaign” has not stopped nor stalled the rollercoaster ride that so many, including this team of reporters, have been on since January. The atrocities of May 3 and 4 in San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco (and on the way to, and inside, the prisons of the state of Mexico) have ratcheted up the velocity of a movement and also the gravity of the forces that want it stopped.

But nothing stops nor slows the tumult: not assassination, not rape, not brutality, not mass media simulation, not censorship nor terror. Beginning on May 3, the Mexican State of Vicente Fox and his foreign sponsors attacked a concentration of Other Campaign adherents with every weapon and power in their hands. Three weeks later, they have failed: the opposition is still on its feet, drawing support from previously standoffish sectors (mainly those who had placed their faith in Mexico’s upcoming July 2nd “elections,” despite the country’s dark history of electoral fraud that is looming, again, in 2006), and the forces “from below and to the left” have won the battle over defining the story in what has been an apocalyptic media war (a Netwar, or Cyberwar, say the Pentagon analysts over at the Rand Corporation that study things “from above and to the right”).

The media war of the past three weeks has been over how the Atenco blow-up would be defined. In the early days, the mass media had the upper hand and greater firepower: they worked overtime to try and define the seminal moment in Atenco-Texcoco as an attack by hordes of machete-wielding hoi polloi — portrayed as dirty, smelly, anti-social, mercenary, and out of sync with the average citizen’s desire for peace and wellbeing — while their news anchors cheered the supposedly noble efforts by the government to restore law and order.

The mass media — the upper class’ most powerful weapon in the “class struggle” that is waged daily from above — deployed all the arms at their disposal. From their helicopters they filmed a violent confrontation between police and citizens over a battlefield known as the Lecheria-Texcoco highway. From their control rooms — enjoying unparalleled state-of-the-art technology and satellite support — they (selectively) broadcast the conflict live. From their privileged and elite access to the public airwaves, they bombarded the populace with gut-wrenching violent images. The nation was glued to the TV screen.

The atomic image shown over, and over, and over again by the media from above was that of a police officer captured, beaten, kicked in the balls, and dragged and kicked again by a dozen, maybe 20, individuals who were battling against the police for control of the highway. From the desks of the media bosses they wrote a script and repeated it all day and night, cheering on the State to go in there and, by any means necessary, kick some ass and avenge the attack on that cop, to put a stop to what they portrayed as the lumpen machete-sword horde.

But the forces from above made the same mistake they have made so many times before: they lied. They claimed that it had been a protestor’s firecracker that killed a 14-year-old boy. The autopsy later revealed that he was shot at point-blank range with a police bullet. They claimed that the police didn’t carry firearms. Later, photos began circulating of the cops aiming their guns. The mass media were able to hide the rest of the story only for a limited span of time. Within days their authoritarian script was in tatters. As in 1999, when the Mexican national network TV Azteca distorted the shooting death of one of its “reporters,” only for the facts to explode next in the network’s face when it was learned that their man was a narco-trafficker killed for not paying the bills on his cocaine habit, the Atenco story has now mutated into something else altogether.

The Story Is Rape

Atenco — a single word — now stands, in public opinion, for the return of Mexico’s authoritarian state, for the broken promise of its so-called transition to “democracy,” for the jackbooted house-by-house search and the illegal and brutal round-up of dissidents, for their imprisonment for crimes they did not commit. But mainly, after almost three weeks of netwar, Atenco stands, in the hearts and minds of public opinion, for rape.

Atenco now stands for literal rape — by police against women and at least one man — and it also stands for a metaphorical rape of a country’s people, its dignity, its innocence.

And beyond the conscientious revulsion on the part of — here comes that forgotten term, again — Civil Society toward the rape of women by the State, even the less-than-conscious are appalled: They wonder how the State and its media army could not control the story, could not contain the true facts. After all, for those above, is that not their job?

One of the responses by Civil Society to the mega-rape known as Atenco was a benefit concert organized on Monday night in Mexico City by prominent women performers. Between inspiring musical presentations by Julieta Venegas, Jesusa Rodríguez with Liliana Felipe, Astrid Haddad, Patti Peñaloza and Las Licuadoras, Las Ultrasonicas, and others, the actresses and dancers — spearheaded by TV stars Ofelia Medina and Ana Colchero, and director Begonia Lecumberri — shared the words of the women political prisoners rounded up and abused on May 3 and 4.

For the first hours of the event, the portrayals were necessarily as sickening as the harsh reality the women prisoners suffered (such as those reported here and elsewhere in recent days). Then, toward the end of the four-hour concert, attended by 2,000 including Subcomandante Marcos, and which raised more than 100,000 pesos for the prisoners’ defense fund, they read powerfully hopeful excerpts from letters that the women political prisoners had written to their mothers, their sisters, their lovers, their families and friends. Don’t give up, the women urged, from inside the prison walls. Despite what was done to us we’re okay. Keep up the fight.

And so the story of rape that is Atenco becomes, also, a story of survival, rage and defiance, of the unconquerable will of people who fight even when hit hard by all the firepower, repression and sadism that the State has to offer. The State hurt a lot of women and men. But it broke nobody’s will, and especially not that of the movement.

It’s worth noting that the artists’ event was extremely well organized, by volunteers, led by women with open participation by men at the service of their direction. They had at their fingertips all the factual data, testimony, video and audio evidence that the mass media and state have tried to suppress, documenting the rapes and the horror, which they incorporated into the show. They had as much information to share — just 19 days after the violence broke out — as the head of any intelligence agency has today. They had what the Pentagon analysts call “Top Sight.” And they were not alone in achieving Top Sight from below.

The organizers of the concert had the same information now wielded by defense lawyers of the political prisoners. They had the same information that all the “media from below” has culled and reported. They had the same information as that available to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH in its Spanish initials) and by the human rights NGOs that have taken on the case. They had the same information as the military commander of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has received. The horizontal flow of suppressed information — even in spite of the fact that the violent State stole, on May 4th, many cameras and tape recorders, and imprisoned or deported those who had attempted to document the atrocity — has not been successfully blockaded, despite all the best efforts of those above who fancy themselves as controlling it.

The Death of a Myth by a Thousand Facts

The true facts regarding Atenco have sprung up from a thousand corners, and flown toward various epicenters of resistance, which have processed and reported that information and sent it hurtling throughout Mexico and, in many languages, across the world. Protests and events that call attention to those facts have emerged from every Mexican state and city, and from dozens of countries, pushing these suppressed facts into public light, forcing even many Commercial Media to begin to report what previously had been hushed.

And during this short window of time, hardly anybody, among the real people out there, is talking anymore about the selective images that the mass media bombarded us with in the opening hours of the story. What people are talking about is rape and a repressive, authoritarian government that broke its promise of “transition to democracy.” And most of the mass media — with some exceptions that will be outed here for their willful dishonesty and Neanderthal bile (ask not for whom the facts toll, they toll for thee, Carlos Marin) — have been forced to begin to answer the questions that the vox populi asks: Not just whether the police raped women — everybody now knows they did — but, rather, how many, and whether justice will be done to the material and intellectual authors of the crimes.

In the first weeks of May 2006, the system lost another netwar. The consequences of that defeat now embolden and strengthen the Zapatista Other Campaign and related movements from below. The turnabout is also, interestingly, shaking the pillars of the electoral campaign up above for Mexico’s presidency, turning tables on the very motives — conjuring “the fear vote” — that the repressive State had for unleashing the Dirty War of the 21st Century in Atenco.

The Rand analysts wrote, in 1995, responding to the beginnings of the indigenous Zapatista uprising in Mexico:

“Suppose war looked like this: Small numbers of light, highly mobile forces defeat and compel the surrender of large masses of heavily armed, dug-in enemy forces, with little loss of life on either side. Mobile forces can do this because they are well prepared, make room for maneuver, concentrate their firepower rapidly in unexpected places, and have superior command, control and information systems that are decentralized to allow tactical initiatives, yet provide central commanders with unparalleled intelligence and ‘top sight’ for strategic purposes.”

In his 1961 manual, La guerra de guerrillas (“War for Guerrillas”), Ernesto “Che” Guevara wrote: “Someone should be in charge of communications… at times, many lives depend upon timely communication.” (Chapter III, section titled “Industry of War.) But whereas Che argued for total centralization of communications intelligence, the Zapatista Other Campaign took steps from the beginning of the Other Campaign to ensure the horizontal flow of key information.

Although the role of spokesman and military commander that Subcomandante Marcos, or “Delegate Zero,” has with the EZLN virtually assures that information flows toward him at maximum velocity from many directions (he serves, among other qualities, as an informational “magnet”), he has demonstrated over the past twelve years, since the 1994 uprising in Chiapas, a high level of skill in processing, analyzing, then broadcasting information he receives via written communiqués, by extemporaneous oration, and through, when convenient, the media.

The Birth of The Other Campaign

When the Other Campaign began to take form last summer (with the publication of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle) and the Zapatistas prioritized the construction of a wider network of civilian forces in resistance throughout Mexico to construct a national rebellion, it was a given, in advance, that the Commercial Media — although they have often seen its spokesman Marcos as a ratings booster — would be a hostile sector. To the extent that, in the past, the Zapatistas had succeeded in utilizing the mass media to the benefit of their goals, another communications path had to be constructed for the Other Campaign.

The mass media would be hostile — and indeed has been — because the Other Campaign is a time bomb for them, too. A national revolt to return the means of production to the workers and to return governance to the people — pillars of the Sixth Declaration — by definition requires taking back the means of communication. It is therefore inherently threatening to media company owners in a way that a regional indigenous rights movement among a population that has neither televisions nor expendable cash was not. The fast growth of a regional Zapatista movement (in Chiapas, with solidarity efforts elsewhere) into a national one and the expansion of the indigenous rights movement to one in which non-indigenous sectors, too, fight for shared goals, places the mass media — undemocratic and capitalist by nature — squarely on the other side of the barricades.

The mass media pride themselves on their skill in dancing with “identity politics” — they are experts in containing such expressions within their minority sectors and in co-opting them into commercial alterna-market niches. But suddenly, when it comes to the Commercial Media, a very different dynamic is at play: the Other Campaign, finally, comes to take their machine — all that state-of-the art equipment, privileged access to the public airwaves, distribution systems; even their helicopters — back into public hands.

Among the first tasks of the Other Campaign was thus to open new channels of communication between the EZLN and others, and to create new flows of information and communication between all the different sectors of adherents. The latter would be no easy task: The Mexican left, as in other lands, has suffered historical divisions, petty rivalries, protagonisms, personality conflicts, and principled disagreements over core matters of philosophy, strategy and tactics. So how to bring it together?

In what was, in retrospect, a masterstroke, the Zapatistas began with the most historically difficult and divided sectors first: the “political organizations of the left” and the “unregistered political parties,” inviting all the rival and marginalized tendencies (Trotskyites, Maoists, Marxist-Leninists, Democratic Socialists, and even Stalinists) around the same table. Hardly anybody had invited any of these groups and groupuscules to any table for years prior. Then, once determining which were willing to put aside their differences and march together (and which were, truly, outside of this year’s electoral campaigns in Mexico), bringing them into the larger soup of indigenous organizations, anarchists, NGOs, alternative media and artistic collectives, democratic unions and workers’ organizations, feminists, gays, lesbians and “other loves,” ex-braceros, youths, and individuals sympathetic but not defined by any of these or other “tendencies.”

A major factor that defined the Other Campaign was its absolute rejection of the institutional political parties (those that, by law, can field candidates) and its resistance to any efforts, specifically, by the center-left PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) to co-opt or make electoral hay of La Otra. A dominant tension of the Other Campaign ever since has come from supporters of the candidacy of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the PRD, many of whom had participated in Zapatista solidarity efforts in the past, and felt that this new initiative was playing into the hands of the right, dividing the left, promoting voter abstention, whatever. This sector included much of the leadership of the Mexico City daily La Jornada, a pro-PRD newspaper, which had published Marcos’ communiqués since the beginning of the 1994 rebellion.

In fact, the Zapatistas had already played a role in defeating President Vicente Fox’s scheme to eliminate López Obrador from the presidential contest, by opposing the slimy “desafuero” plot of Spring 2005. And with their respectful invitation to the lonely political organizations of the left (many of which absolutely loathe the PRD), Marcos and the Zapatistas came to two other conclusions that, as the July 2nd elections in Mexico approach, may even make the difference if López Obrador emerges the official victor. First, they showed zero enthusiasm for proposals that an “alternative candidacy” be mounted for president. Not even if Marcos would be that candidate, said the same Marcos. One standard-bearer of the political left, Edgar Sánchez, who came to the Lacandon Jungle with proposals to mount an alternative candidacy, withdrew his proposal after listening for various weeks to the discussion. And the Zapatistas also rejected many proposals to promote voter abstention, a position that Marcos has repeated all along the Other Campaign trail, making it clear that the Other Campaign doesn’t tell people how to vote or whether to vote — that’s a personal decision, he says. Rather, it is simply not looking above to the electoral system, and is looking, instead, below, to the people who, Marcos says, will topple any government that protects an illegitimate economic system.

The pushing of political parties to the sidelines gave Marcos and the Zapatistas an unfettered path to converse with the most disillusioned and skeptical sectors of the Mexican left; to the people who can’t be controlled, who don’t like to march in formation, sign up for duty, or sublimate their desires to any machine. And also to the people who don’t trust an electoral game that is rigged and dominated by money and media. There is no more difficult sector of people to organize to collaborate together. And in the case of the political organizations of the left — with their isms and ideologies and, in some cases, puritan dogmas — some of these groups (for the Trotskyites it is openly part of their raison d’etre, but the Marxist-Leninists, the Maoists, the Stalinists also do it) have spent a lot of time and resources establishing their organizers inside of democratic unions and other social movements.

Historically, much of the difficulty in jump-starting the Mexican left has been when these various tendencies collide inside other organizations or coalitions. An internecine fight between just two people, say, a Trotskyite and a Marxist-Leninist, or a fill-in-the-blank, has been known to derail entire political projects. But what Marcos has achieved is he’s gotten them all to walk together on a common path. And most impressively, he’s gotten them to do so on a platform that is essentially anarcho-indigenist, which has always been the dominant tendency of the EZLN. He has convinced them to embrace a useful heresy, and one that, ironically, is in their self-interest if they are serious about bringing down capitalism. And so the political organizations of the left signed on to the Other Campaign, maintaining their flavors, and sent delegations along with the caravan that accompanied Marcos on his tour beginning January 1. Some sympathizers complain about the hammer-and-sickle flags, and especially of the poster of Joe Stalin that follows the Zapatista Other Campaign around, next to anarchist banners carried by… sworn enemies of Stalinism! The Zapatista spokesman treats them all with respect, openly, in front of everyone, and has resisted calls by some sectors to censor the expressions of others.

One poignant moment of the Other Campaign came during an April visit to a school in Guerrero where one Marxist-Leninist organization in control tried to ban the flags and banners of another from entering. A young anarcho-punk photographer for the Machearte newspaper — her name is Hash — found herself outside the gates, protesting alongside Stalinists in defense of their freedom of expression. She had gotten to know their heirs of the Soviet boss that once killed or exiled her anarchist predecessors (¡Viva Nestor Makhno!) as human beings and found they were not ogres seeking to harm her. And so there she was, standing up for their free speech. Marcos apparently also weighed on the side of free expression. The meeting — at which he was the keynote speaker — was delayed until the flags were allowed inside.

Anyway, kind reader, you get the point: getting such disparate tendencies to sing in harmony is a feat that has not been accomplished anywhere else on earth in recent memory. But it happened here in Mexico, and this new kind of unity through diversity played an important role during the past three weeks in turning the Atenco story around.

Back to the beginnings, in August: To make the Other Campaign possible, the Zapatistas had to motivate all these sectors (many of which previously refused to talk to each other, or were simply ensconced in their demographic niches or locales) and cause them to do something even harder than talk — to listen to each other. As part of the Sixth Declaration, the Zapatistas invited their Mexican supporters to a series of six meetings last August and September in the Lacandon Jungle to begin planning what was to become the Other Campaign. The weekend-long sessions were less “planning meetings” than marathon listening sessions. Marcos, with a team of masked Zapatistas presented as members the Sixth Commission, listened for more than 100 hours to anybody and everybody willing to express their adherence to the Sixth Declaration. At first the meetings were divided between sectors: First, the aforementioned political organizations, then indigenous organizations, then social organizations, then NGOs, artistic and cultural organizations, then individuals and families unaffiliated with organizations, then a meeting for anyone from any sector that was unable to attend a previous meeting. And on September 15 and 16, the national independence days, they brought all these sectors together for a massive “plenary session.”

Getting the Talkers to Listen

Since everybody wanted to speak their word to Marcos and the Zapatistas, the first success of the Other Campaign was to create the situation in which everybody else would be able to listen as they waited their turns to speak. And to ensure that folks would stick around and do some listening, Marcos gave a speech at the end of each meeting, dropping hints about what the Other Campaign — before it was called that — would look like. There, in Tzeltal indigenous communities without televisions, alcohol, or private hotel rooms, we who attended one or more of those meetings met, listened, ate and lived together with all kinds of people with seemingly different struggles, and found likeminded souls, exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and developed plans and collaboration in and between sectors.

One of the small details that would later make a big difference is that, upon entrance into each of the communities where these meetings took place last August and September, the attendees were each asked for his and her email address. It was specifically on the sign-in sheet. And for those who couldn’t attend the meetings, the offer to “adhere” to the Sixth Declaration was to send an email to Rebeldía magazine, a Mexico City based pro-Zapatista collective, whose participants staffed the sign-in tables a the jungle meetings. From this was constructed a massive, up-to-date, national email list that showed its real muscle in the days after the Atenco atrocity.

In his September 16 remarks to the plenary session, when he announced the six-month tour through Mexico to begin last January 1, Marcos made a statement that he has repeated many times since, but that can be seen in the new light of Atenco:

“We have to prepare ourselves for a mobilization, but we must also prepare, compañeros and compañeras, for repression…. We have to learn to name our prisoners and name the repressions against us. In one of the meetings, someone spoke of the case of the repression in Guadalajara against the altermundista (anti-globalization) activists; the ones who spoke didn’t know the prisoners’ names. This is rather chilling. We, as ‘the other campaign,’ can’t do that; we have to be loyal among comrades and not leave anyone alone or forget about anyone.”

And this is exactly what occurred this month when Other Campaign adherents were arrested, beaten, raped and imprisoned during the conflicts in Atenco and Texcoco.

The frequent infusions of such “one for all, all for one” talk that has been repeated often by Marcos as he traveled through the Mexican Southeast, South and Center this year, have been part and parcel of an effort to remove historic vices of bureaucracy and exclusion from the national Zapatista solidarity efforts. Last year, prior to the launch of the tour, the EZLN dissolved the civilian Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN, in its Spanish initials), which in some of its locales had been more successful than in others in constructing a movement, and in other locales had fallen to a kind of cliquishness practicing age-old vices of trying to control or exclude access to Zapatista solidarity efforts. Perhaps activism’s most lethal vice is the capitalist-style thinking that one’s role in a movement is akin to a McDonald’s franchise. Those who fall to that weakness traditionally panic if they see any similar operation, which they view as a Burger King, setting up shop across the street. It typically culminates in each outfit pointing the finger and accusing the other of selling junk food.

Similar vices had been practiced notoriously by some non-governmental human rights and alternative media organizations in the orbit of the first twelve years of Zapatismo. In efforts to protect the turf or franchise that some activists or organizations seemed to think they owned, it was a regular occurrence that rank-and-file supporters of the movement would have to endure indignities and obstacles at the hands of the aspiring gate-keepers. And on the left, where personal disputes and franchise-wars often fall prey to the disqualification of other individuals or organizations, where smear campaigns play into the hands of still more malevolent counter-insurgency tactics (because speaking ill or falsely in public about compañeros is, by definition, an act of counter-insurgency), the Zapatistas had a key challenge of both clearing away the bureaucratic brush and making room for everybody, large or small, to find and keep a place in the Other Campaign.

Eliminating Bureaucracy

This challenge — to infuse Zapatismo with a stronger dose of inclusion — required the insistence on absolute mutual respect for the autonomy and different tendencies of every group and individual involved and the creation of national, horizontal, communications systems. The grassroots adherents were placed in the position of no longer having to look upwards toward some self-appointed local doorman of Zapatismo (who, in the past, would often claim to be acting on instructions from headquarters, and often falsely so) and to, instead, look to each other, below and to the left.

In three key areas of organization, Marcos cleared the slate, when he said on September 16th:

We propose that there be no special commissions. All they do is duplicate work and create bureaucracies.

In terms of human rights, as far as we can see, we have all the major non-governmental organizations that are experts on human rights in Mexico as adherents to the Sexta. I don’t see why we would have to create another special commission.

In terms of propaganda, we have groups and collectives from whom I was looking at several publications and things they do, and they are really very good, of very high quality and all that. So, I propose also that this be done by each person on his or her own, in his or her own way.

In terms of gender, the compañeras who have worked for a long time in that area should take charge of that. The same for people with other differences who are already working on that. That is, let the Indian peoples, the homosexuals, the lesbians, et cetera, organize themselves.

From the start of the Other Campaign a new, refreshing, value was placed on each adherent — organization or individual — for taking autonomous initiative, for not waiting for permission from any centralized group before deciding to act. By May of 2006, in the aftermath of Atenco, the results can be seen in each of the sectors mentioned by Marcos last September: the various human rights organizations set to work, immediately, to document the atrocities of Atenco and locate more than 200 political prisoners, with no visible squabbling between them; the alternative media networks, which have coexisted on the Other Campaign caravan through so many towns and cities, have calmed down from a history previously stained by one sector lecturing the other about how to do its work, with each now suddenly reporting and broadcasting the news in its own style and form; and, as was seen in the fast and successful organization of a benefit Monday night bringing attention and solidarity to the women political prisoners and the crimes against them, an ad hoc group of women artists was able to put together an event that was politically and financially important.

The communication between the sectors is instant: the women’s event utilized the data collected by Other Media and human rights groups for its script and informational literature; the human rights groups have received direct audio and video footage from the Other Media networks, and the human rights attorneys’ costs will benefit from the fundraising by the women; the Other Media report the statements, new information, and poetry in its broadest sense (“words that cause action,” Raoul Vaneigem defined it) that both sectors develop. In many cases, there are members of one sector that also participate in another. After many months of the Other Campaign, people from diverse sectors know each other, are familiar with each other, exchange cell phone calls and text messages. The fraternal words, compañero, compañera, have regained meaning. Important information spreads like lightning in many directions all at once. In many cases bonds of solidarity and friendship — which is to say, sufficient trust to collaborate — have formed. All of this — not just sharing of email addresses — facilitates a kind of instant “top sight” for communicators of different tendencies and organizations.

And then there is Marcos. As the Other Campaign tour was warming up, he got a public email address: delegadozero@ezln.org.mx. He sometimes even responds, or sends out queries. He has a weblog. It posts audio and photos from Other Campaign events. It has links to some of the very busy Other Media sites, to videos that adherents and others post to YouTube, to photos that anybody can publish on Flickr, to Technorati’s search engine on the latest mention of La Otra Campaña by any weblog in Spanish (and so many of the local Other Campaign groups throughout Mexico and the world have recently put up their own weblogs)… It has an open comments section where anybody can publish and where new information comes forward that can then be corroborated or questioned. And so the Other Campaign communications system has become a multi-headed monster in the eyes of those who would try to silence and censor it: a nightmare for those who seek to control information flow.

So when Other Campaign adherents were attacked and imprisoned in Texcoco and Atenco, the networks jumped into action. In a little more than two weeks, they changed the focus of the story from what the mass media and State wanted it to be and brought public opinion to the story’s authentic essence: the atrocities committed by a repressive regime, and the human face of those who that State victimized and raped.

Within the horizontal networks, there are all kinds of organizations and individuals. Some, like the EZLN itself, are hierarchical. Others restrict themselves to organizing within their sectors (workers, farmers, women, youth, etcetera). Some are more akin to the mobile units that the Rand corporation worries have an advantage over State power: tightly knit, loyal to each other — war machines outside the State, termed Deleuze and Guattari — they move, many sets of feet, eyes, ears and tongues, as a unit, with speed and precision. They have, many of them, achieved “top sight.”

On the morning of May 4, in Atenco, the Mexican State set out to dismember the Other Campaign networks. It hit the densest concentration of the participants of these networks — people from every sector went to Atenco in solidarity with the townspeople — with the maximum violence and censorship that State could conjure. And the State failed.

Still, there are those — mainly supporters of López Obrador’s presidential campaign — who say that the events of Atenco and the Zapatista Other Campaign in general have played into the hands of the electoral right. That the violent explosion in Atenco awakens the fear vote, and that this benefits the National Action Party (PAN, in its Spanish initials) candidate Felipe Calderón. They cite Calderón’s supposed lead in public opinion polls after three years in which López Obrador was shown in the lead by as much as 18 percentage points. The objective fact is that, if one believes the polls (grain of salt offered here), the reported slide of López Obrador began prior to the violence in Atenco.

Tomorrow, in part two of this series, we will examine the view from above, the July 2nd presidential election in Mexico, the electoral polls and another kind of poll, from below, that reveals why the Other Campaign has already won.

Click here for Part II of this story: The Zapatista Other Campaign vs. Mexico’s 2006 Presidential “Election”

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