News!! GIAP abre, opens, commence, apre CASA GIAP.

En pleno corazón de San Cristóbal de las Casas, GIAP (Grupo de Investigación en arte y política) abre CASA GIAP, un espacio con 4 habitaciones y un mini departamento con cocina. La casa tiene biblioteca, sala de trabajo, cafetería, terraza y está pensada para residencias de acádemicos y artistas que necesiten pasar una temporada en Chiapas. Además de ser un adecuado lugar de alojamiento, los huéspedes-residentes pueden contar con asesorías, charlas y actividades organizadas por GIAP.

Para mayor información, por favor escríbanos a correogiap@gmail.com o al enlace abajo. También estamos en airbnb en los siguientes perfiles

PERFIL 1

PERFIL 2

In the heart of San Cristóbal de las Casas, GIAP (Research Group in art and politics) opens the doors of CASA GIAP, a space with 4 rooms and an apartment with kitchen. The house has a library, a working space, a coffee corner, a terrace and it will host research residences for academics and artists who are wanting to know the city and the region and do fieldwork in Chiapas. While disposing of a comfortable living and working space , the resident-guests can count on consultancies, talks, and activities organized by GIAP.

For more information, please send us an email (correogiap@gmail.com). We are also on airbnb with these two profiles

PROFILE 1

PROFILE 2

 

 

 

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Neo Zapatismo y Era Post Soviética: una conexión estética.

Chto Delat

Chto Delat: New deadline #17. Escuela de arte comprometido. Julio 2016. Fotografía cortesía de los artistas.

El interés y curiosidad que causa el movimiento zapatista en la Rusia de Putin es un tema interesante de abordar: básicamente y a grandes rasgos, se trata de cómo el Zapatismo puede estar inspirando a diversos grupos y colectividades que intentan darle un nuevo sentido a las ideas de comunismo y socialismo, después de la experiencia soviética, y en la urgente necesidad actual de recuperar lo mejor de ese período en una dinámica contemporánea que presenta otros y nuevos desafíos. Re pensar el socialismo en un país que vivió estrepitosamente la caída del bloque soviético y navega hoy con relativo éxito en las aguas turbias del neoliberalismo, suele ser tarea para titanes, de esos que saben trabajar como hormiguitas.

La cronología de la inspiración zapatista en Rusia comienza el año 2002 con la publicación del libro “Otra revolución. Los zapatistas contra el nuevo orden mundial” de Oleg Yasinsky, periodista ucraniano residente en Chile. Le sigue la edición el año 2005 de “Subcomandante Marcos. La cuarta guerra mundial”, del mismo autor. Ambos libros traducen e introducen una serie de comunicados de la Comandancia del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, y fueron por mucho tiempo prácticamente la única fuente de consulta y aproximación al movimiento indígena de Chiapas disponible en ruso.

Varios años después estas publicaciones sirvieron de base para el trabajo que los documentalistas de San Petersburgo, Elena Korykhalova y Oleg Miasoyedov, desarrollaron en Chiapas desde fines del 2012 y hasta principios del 2014. Ellos armaron el segundo punto de esta cronología de la inspiración: el documental “Las personas sin rostro”, que relata no sólo la historia de la insurgencia armada sino sobre todo y principalmente la organización práctica de la autonomía actual en las comunidades zapatistas.

Ese documental, que combina entrevistas, relato y animación informativa y pedagógica, ha sido proyectado con éxito en el circuito de cines independientes de Rusia atrayendo un público motivado por las ideas y propuestas del zapatismo; entre ellos se cuentan algunos miembros del colectivo de arte Chto Delat, quienes inspirados a su vez por todas estas informaciones del zapatismo (tanto de Yasinsky como de los documentalistas) organizaron su primer viaje a Chiapas en abril de 2016.

Chto Delat llega para (sin saberlo a priori) completar esta trilogía de la aproximación rusa al zapatismo aportando algo diferente: un elemento estético y poético que completa las informaciones y análisis certeros de Yasinsky y la pedagogía autonomista de Korykhalova y Miasoyedov. El ingreso de este factor, el arte como vehículo de la poética política y puente estético de la praxis autónoma desde Chiapas hacia Rusia, es posible de visibilizar a partir de Noviembre de 2017 con la exposición en el MUAC de Ciudad de México, “Cuando pensamos que teníamos todas las respuestas la vida cambió todas las preguntas” y la película “Acercamiento lento al Zapatismo”, presentada (además de Ciudad de México) en Cideci Unitierra de San Cristóbal de las Casas. Ambas operaciones artísticas surgen a raíz de la visita a Chiapas donde Chto Delat conocieron comunidades zapatistas, visitaron Acteal y tuvieron la extraordinaria oportunidad de realizar la primera entrevista al Subcomandante insurgente Moisés en calidad de jefe de la comandancia del EZLN[1]. Estas experiencias fueron posteriormente trabajadas y desarrolladas en colectivo por el grupo y en una sesión de verano de la Escuela de Arte Comprometido que ellos mismos organizan desde 2013.

Chto Delat

Chto Delat: New dealine #17. Escuela de arte comprometido julio 2016. Fotografía cortesía de los artistas.

Chto Delat (Qué hacer? en la frase de Lenin) es un colectivo de artistas, coreógrafos y filósofos fundado el año 2003 en San Petersburgo. Y aunque sus preguntas sobre el post socialismo no son nuevas entre ellos (de facto son la médula que articula su trabajo colaborativo) su aproximación al zapatismo ha tenido el efecto de una conmoción espiritual y luego intelectual, profunda. Al punto que reconocen cambios en su manera de pensarse y actuar desde entonces.

Pero más allá de los efectos particulares del zapatismo en los integrantes de Chto Delat, lo que queda por trabajar en adelante es cómo se articularán las poéticas de resistencia y construcción en Rusia con el cuerpo estético-político del Zapatismo. No como copia, como no podría copiarse el modelo autonomista, ni como traslado, como no podría trasladarse ningún proceso político a otro contexto. Y aquí radica un paso fundamental: Chto Delat capturó una esencia zapatista, que es la capacidad de articular lenguajes de diverso origen[2] para crear una estructura semiótica diferente que permite crear y articular ideas nuevas para crear otras políticas diversas a las conocidas. El camino que están empezando es necesario, sobre todo para la articulación entre movimientos, intelectuales, diálogos y reflexiones en la Rusia contemporánea de hoy, donde las informaciones ya disponibles sobre el Zapatismo son ahora estéticamente puestas en un movimiento centrífugo hacia delante. El factor seductor de la post- estética zapatista, de acuerdo al film “Aproximación lenta al zapatismo”, surge cuando el colectivo ha sido capaz en poco tiempo de capturar signos de la cosmogonía zapatista- maya, construir y deconstruir continuamente una secuencia de película donde se metaforiza dentro de un metalenguaje que, creo, pudo y puede ser comprendido tanto por las bases de apoyo indígena como por adherentes a la Sexta del resto del mundo. Ciertos símbolos e imágenes (los títeres y sus recreaciones de seres fantásticos de la selva Lacandona, los pasamontañas místicos con cuernos de toro y lunas, la escena final de navegar en canoa hacia atrás) condensan poderosamente búsquedas y encuentros que trascienden idiomas. Chto Delat estaba buscando mensajeros del Zapatismo y se han vuelto en uno de ellos. Pero a su manera.

 

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Chto Delat: New dealine #17. Escuela de arte comprometido, julio 2016. Fotografía cortesía de los artistas.

 

La originalidad radical de esto es que, si bien otros artistas visuales han acompañado al movimiento zapatista cumpliendo otras funciones para éste (por ejemplo a modo de ilustración de la vida en las comunidades o de la representación de las ideas de autonomía, o divulgando las imágenes y propuestas estéticas que surgen desde el seno mismo del movimiento,) Chto Delat dió un salto hacia adelante capturando una esencia y modelándola para las urgencias de su contexto. Es un proceso estético novedoso por estas características y plantea otros desafíos: ¿Cuál va a ser la relación con lo monumental? ¿Quién será el interlocutor que buscará ser interpelado? ¿Qué hacer con la herencia del arte soviético? ¿Dónde depositarán las nuevas preguntas? ¿Con quiénes se articularán en la rebelión? ¿Cómo se va a navegar?

 

Natalia Arcos

GIAP Grupo de Investigación en Arte y Política

Chiapas, Noviembre 2017.

[1] La entrevista está disponible en youtube y en ella Oleg Yasinsky ejerce de traductor en vivo.

[2] Hemos señalado anteriormente que en la base de la estructura del zapatismo actual se encuentran el lenguaje de guerrillas marxistas latinoamericanas, la cosmogonía maya y probablemente también elementos de la Teología de la Liberación.

Marichuy at the Ballot Box

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Challenges ahead for Mexico’s indigenous presidential candidate

Reblogged from Konkret Media

Alessandro Zagato

@ale_zagato

On the 7 of October, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (also known as Marichuy), the spokesperson for a recently created Indigenous Governing Council (CIG), turned up at the offices of the National Electoral Institute (INE) of Mexico City escorted by a crowd of grassroots organizations and sympathizers. She had come to register as an independent presidential candidate, for the upcoming 2018 elections. “This structure [the INE] is designed for them, not for the people below, not for the working people. But we have still managed to take this first step,” she declared after submitting her application.

To make her candidacy official, María will need to collect 867 thousand signatures distributed in at least 17 states by February 12, 2018. This will entail an exceptional logistical effort from those who are actively involved in the initiative. “How will we do that?” she asked. “According to our style. With the support of our people. Not that different from the way we organize our festivities, when we get ready to receive people from other communities… this is how we are going to proceed.” She also announced that her campaign will not accept a single peso from the INE.

María has no formal political education. She grew up in poverty in Tuxpan, a small indigenous town in the state of Jalisco. From a young age, she was trained as a healer. Now she is the director of a health center that practices and researches indigenous medicine. After the Zapatista uprising of 1994, María became a founding member of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), which the EZLN has integrated into their movement.

She speaks a language that one could describe as sincere and familiar to ordinary people. Her vocabulary does not include specialized or technical expressions; her discourse is never obfuscated by double meanings or rhetorical flourishes, and it is accessible and comprehensible to everybody. In her latest public appearances there was a marked improvement in the rhythm of her speeches, highlighting her ongoing learning process.

She repeatedly explained that the movement selected her as an individual candidate only to comply with electoral law, which does not allow a fully assembly to register. However, the movement firmly rejects an individualist conception of politics, and she emphasized that “the Council will always come first.” Any decision or declaration issued by María will be the result of a collective discussion and the expression of popular will. Not only will the CIG follow the seven principles of mandar obedeciendo (ruling by obeying)[1] that underpin autonomous government in Zapatismo, but it will also attempt to apply them to the functioning of the state.

The conformation of the CIG still needs to be completed. So far, it comprises 141 members (concejales) representing 35 indigenous groups based in 62 regions. The initiative plans to eventually cover 93 regions. The idea is that the Council will operate as an intermediate space between the state apparatus and society, between the government and the organized people affiliated with the CNI.

Using this strategy, the indigenous movement of Mexico intends to use or “occupy” the electoral deadline as a means to set off a widespread process of articulation of autonomous and grassroots organizations at the national scale, aimed at radically transforming a highly corrupt political system from the bottom up. The CNI and the EZLN present this as an openly anti-capitalist project with four principal goals:

  1. Bringing to an end widespread/structural violence. In Mexico, constant low-intensity warfare has turned into a form of governance facilitating processes of accumulation by dispossession (predominantly of land and natural resources) and producing a passive, fragmented, and confused type of subjectivity that is conducive to corporate profit-making. Between 2007 and 2014, at least 164,000 people were murdered, and about 25,000 are currently reported missing (desaparecidos).
  2. A new environmental approach respecting “Mother Earth” and indigenous people’s dignity. Because of recent constitutional reforms, it is estimated that a quarter of the national territory (more than 50 million hectares) has been leased to international extractive companies.[2] The impact of these developments has been particularly harmful for territories that are legally organized under collective forms of tenure and mainly (but not exclusively) inhabited by indigenous groups.
  3. Confronting patriarchy and macho culture and working toward a society shaped by gender equality. “Women live in a condition of oblivion and marginalization, especially when they are indigenous and poor. The time has come to fight for our rights, to get ready and rise up”, declared María after submitting her application to the INE.
  4. A widespread process of decolonization of Mexican society and statehood, with the ultimate goal of inclusion, respect, and legitimation of indigenous forms of life. This is a task that María de Jesus has referred to as the “reconstitution of our people, who have been under attack for centuries. The time has come” she observed, “to find a new configuration for us to keep existing.”

From the 13th to the 19th of October the CIG and its spokesperson toured Chiapas to meet the authorities of the five regions that comprise the Zapatista territory. This was a symbolic act expressing a continuity with the struggle of the EZLN. However, it cannot yet be considered as part of María de Jesús Patricio’s electoral campaign. Indeed, as the result of a decision to be fully independent from the state, the Zapatistas have no voting credentials. From the beginning of this initiative, the EZLN has declared that it would not take part as voters. So their mobilization in the electoral process would be paradoxical, like the participation of milicianos armed with wooden rifles in the 1994 uprising, whose sacrifice became a statement of war and revolutionary commitment, and played a decisive role in that conjuncture.

Between November and December, María de Jesús Patricio will visit dozens of indigenous communities around the country. Political powers and lobbies have already begun to test their boycott mechanisms, from the repeated technical failures of the application designed by the INE for the collection of signatures to the actual breakdown of the telecommunication services in the areas where María was meeting the Zapatista authorities. “No obstacle or trap will make us move a step back,” declared María. The indigenous movement’s challenge to the Mexican political system has just started.


  1. These are the 7 principles: Lead by Obeying; To represent – not replace; To work from below and not seek to rise; To serve – not self-serve; To convince – not conquer; To construct – not destroy; To propose – not impose. ↩︎
  2. See Toledo Victor, Garrido David, and Barrera-Bassols Narciso. 2015. “The struggle for life. Socio-environmental conflicts in Mexico”. Latin American Perspectives 204, Vol. 42 – 5: 133-147. ↩︎

Anatomy of a Disaster

Reblogged from Konkret Media, a new independent media platform from Los Angeles

konkretAlessandro Zagato @ale_zagato

Photo reportage by Francisco Lion

“By removing rubble they want to disarticulate popular solidarity”: The earthquake aftermath in Mexico City

The earthquake that hit Mexico City and the wider region on September 19 was not as strong as the one that occurred on the same day in 1985, but it was the most devastating the city has seen since then. While the official death toll has reached 370 and thousands of people are still sleeping in their vehicles or in one of the emergency shelters erected across the city, the popular mobilization that followed the tremor continues to grow and evolve.

Young people have systematically transformed their leisure spaces into hubs of solidarity. They organize the collection and distribution of goods to the affected areas. Some of them offer free psychological support. Many are opening their own houses to the displaced.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, volunteers across the city worked together to clear rubble in search of survivors. Neighbors continue to provide one another with basic goods. Bikers and cyclists deliver messages and supplies, and restaurants give away food and access to the internet. Trucks full of carpenters and workers reach the affected areas.

From day one, ordinary people have spontaneously taken control of the situation. “After that building collapsed, neighbors got together and started removing the remains piece by piece. We also got organized to bring water, food, blankets and whatever else was needed” one resident explains.

mexico-city-earthquake

At the same time, the army has been gradually taking position, forcing civilians to step back. On the first night, heavily armed military units lined up and surrounded a number of collapsed buildings, preventing the people from getting closer. “We are now in charge,” they declared. Politicians, public servants, and police officers are trying to take control of the situation—but popular resistance is firm.

“Why should people who arrived first and spent all night volunteering be forced to leave?” asks one volunteer. Civilians are challenging the legitimacy of state agents who arrived late and show little commitment to the cause. “Where were you before?” a young man asks the officer who is pushing him away.

On the radio, authorities have requested that people not get involved and instead leave relief efforts to the authorized personnel. Critics targeted Graco Ramírez, a member of the ruling PRI and governor of Morelos, after he ordered “the end of the rescuing operations” just twenty-four hours after the earthquake. Typically, search and rescue efforts continue for a minimum of three days after a disaster of this magnitude.

The army and government response serves only to increase the suspicion that their aim is to disarticulate popular mobilization in order to preclude conditions that might lead to a mass movement like the one that followed the 1985 earthquake.

Even the authorities’ decision to use heavy digging machinery is controversial. “Those who pretend to give us orders have no clue of what they are doing” is a sentiment shared by many topos, the famed volunteers who led rescue operations in 1985. “The army is employing heavy machines to accelerate the process, but they refuse to collaborate with us in the rescuing operations because that’s not their priority”.

mexico-city-earthquake-night

The topos recommend a strategy that allowed them to rescue people for 15 days after the 1985 earthquake. It consists of opening breaches through the remains of the buildings, making use of still intact structures like elevator ducts or load bearing walls. This allows rescuers to reach areas where people may still be alive. “Heavy machines could kill them,” the topos warn.

Moreover, a serious investigation should look for causes and responsibilities before the demolition of collapsed buildings takes place. Hashtags like #RescatePrimero (rescue first) and #NoMaquinaria (no machinery) are currently gaining traction on social media.

Mainstream media outlets are trying to impose an artificial and openly ideological narrative that often has only a tenuous relationship to facts. An illustrative example is the coverage of the tragedy that hit the Enrique Rébsamen School, where 21 children and 4 adults died. On the morning of September 20, Televisa (a national TV channel) began disseminating the illusion that a primary school girl trapped under the building could still be saved.

“We found a girl who is still alive. But a big effort will be required because the operation is highly risky,” a police officer told a Televisa reporter.

For nine hours, the live broadcast of the operations captivated millions of Mexicans awaiting a miracle in the midst of the tragedy. The coverage resembled a reality show; cameras, microphones, and drones were deployed to cover every single detail of the process.

A teacher confirms that the girl attended primary school. A soldier says that he saw her asking for water and moving her hand. Other media outlets reveal that the girl is twelve years old. The presenter constantly calls for hope, repeating the slogan “fuerza Mexico” (go Mexico) as a mantra.

Frida Sofía (the name given to her by the media) was never found. In fact, no girl with that name was ever part of the school’s register. At 5 AM Televisa announced that the rescue operation was suspended. Civil rescuers were removed from the area – and nobody ever mentioned Frida Sofía on Televisa again.

The cynical reality show manufactured to hypnotize the public and manipulate their emotions was also an attempt to conceal the increasingly acute polarization between organized sectors of civil society and a profoundly unpopular government.

Now, three weeks since the earthquake, the popular movement is reflecting on duties and goals for the upcoming months. Numerous open assemblies are taking place across the country. With so much governmental inconsistency, it is clear that a population with an outstanding capacity for self-organizing will provide the foundation for what comes next.


This is the first installment in an ongoing series from Alessandro Zagato on the ground in Mexico. You can follow Alessandro on Twitter at @ale_zagato

Anatomía de un Desastre

Reblogueado de Konkret Media una nueva plataforma bilingüe de medios libres con base en Los Ángeles

konkret1

@ale_zagato

“Con la retirada de escombros quieren desarticular la solidaridad popular”: Las secuelas del terremoto en Ciudad de México

TRADUCIDO POR: Inez Roig Vega

FOTOREPORTAJE: Francisco Lion @Francisco_LionX

El terremoto que azotó a Ciudad de México (y otras regiones) el 19 de septiembre no fue tan fuerte como el que tuvo lugar el mismo día en el año 1985, pero ha sido el más devastador que la ciudad ha visto desde entonces. Con una cifra oficial de hasta 369 muertes y con miles de personas aun durmiendo en su vehículo o en alguno de los albergues de emergencia erigidos a lo largo de la ciudad, la movilización popular que siguió al temblor continúa creciendo y evolucionando.

De manera sistemática, los jóvenes han transformado sus espacios de ocio en focos de solidaridad. Han organizado la recolección y distribución de bienes de las áreas afectadas. Algunos están ofreciendo apoyo psicológico gratuito. Muchos están abriendo las puertas de sus propias casas a los desplazados.

Inmediatamente después del terremoto, muchos voluntarios a lo largo y ancho de la ciudad han trabajado juntos retirando escombros en busca de supervivientes. Los vecinos siguen proporcionándose bienes básicos entre ellos. Los ciclistas van de un sitio a otro llevando mensajes y provisiones; y los restaurantes están donando comida y ofreciendo acceso a Internet. Camiones llenos de carpinteros y trabajadores siguen llegando a las zonas afectadas.

Desde el primer día, la gente corriente ha tomado espontáneamente el control de la situación. “Después de que aquel edificio se derrumbase, los vecinos se juntaron y comenzaron a retirar los restos pieza a pieza. También nos organizamos para traer agua, comida, mantas y cualquier otra cosa que hiciera falta” explica un residente.

mexico-city-earthquake

A su vez, el ejército ha ido tomando posición poco a poco, forzando a los civiles a retroceder. La primera noche, varias unidades militares fuertemente armadas se alinearon para rodear un conjunto de edificios derrumbados, impidiendo que la gente se acercara. “Ahora nosotros estamos al mando” declararon. Los políticos, los funcionarios públicos y los agentes de policía están tratando de tomar el control de la situación – pero la resistencia popular es firme.

“¿Por qué tienen que forzar a irse a los que llegaron primero y pasaron toda la noche trabajando como voluntarios?” pregunta un voluntario. “¿Dónde estaba usted antes?” le pregunta un hombre joven a un policía que le está apartando.

En la radio las autoridades han pedido a la gente que no se involucre y que, en cambio, deje las iniciativas de socorro al personal autorizado. Graco Ramírez, miembro del partido en el poder PRI y gobernador de Morelos, ha sido blanco de las críticas al haber puesto fin a las operaciones de rescate” tan sólo veinticuatro horas después del terremoto. Normalmente, las operaciones de búsqueda y rescate se prolongan hasta un mínimo de tres días después de un desastre de estas magnitudes.

La respuesta del ejército y del gobierno sólo aumenta la sospecha de que su objetivo es desarticular la movilización popular para impedir la posibilidad de que las condiciones actuales lleven a un movimiento popular masivo como el que siguió al terremoto de 1985.

Incluso la decisión de las autoridades de usar maquinaria pesada de excavación es polémica. “Aquellos que fingen darnos órdenes no tienen la menor idea de lo que están haciendo” es una opinión compartida por muchos topos, los afamados voluntarios que dirigieron el rescate en 1985. “El ejército está empleando máquinas pesadas para acelerar el proceso, pero se niegan a colaborar con nosotros en las operaciones de rescate, porque esa no es su prioridad”.

mexico-city-earthquake-night

Los topos recomiendan una estrategia que les permitió rescatar a gente durante 15 días después del terremoto de 1985. Consiste en abrir brechas a través de los restos de los edificios, haciendo uso de estructuras que han quedado intactas, como conductos de ascensores o muros de carga. Ello permite a los rescatadores llegar a áreas donde aún puede haber gente con vida. “Las máquinas pesadas podrían matarlos” alertan los topos.

Además, debería llevarse a cabo una investigación seria para determinar las causas y responsabilidades antes de que tenga lugar la demolición de edificios derrumbados. Hashtags como #RescatePrimero y #NoMaquinaria están ganando relevancia en las redes sociales del momento.

Los principales medios de comunicación están tratando de imponer una narrativa artificial y abiertamente ideológica que con frecuencia sólo tiene una relación vaga con los hechos. Un ejemplo ilustrativo es la cobertura de la tragedia que asoló al Colegio Enrique Rébsamen, donde murieron 21 niños y 4 adultos. La mañana del 20 de septiembre, Televisa (una cadena de televisión nacional) comenzó a difundir la ilusión de que una niña de primaria atrapada bajo el edificio aún podía ser salvada.

“Encontramos una niña aún con vida. Pero salvarla requerirá un gran esfuerzo porque la operación es muy arriesgada” comentó un policía a un reportero de Televisa.

Durante nueve horas, la transmisión en directo de las operaciones cautivó a millones de mexicanos que esperaban un milagro en mitad de la tragedia. La cobertura parecía la de un reality show; cámaras, micrófonos y drones cubrían cada detalle del proceso.

Una profesora confirma que la niña iba a la escuela primaria. Un militar dice que la vio pidiendo agua y moviendo la mano. Otro medio informativo revela que la niña tiene doce años. La presentadora invoca constantemente a la esperanza repitiendo el eslogan “fuerza México” como un mantra.

Frida Sofía (el nombre dado a la niña por los medios) jamás fue hallada. De hecho, ninguna niña con ese nombre había figurado nunca en el registro de la escuela. A las 5 AM Televisa anunció que la operación de rescate había sido suspendida. Los rescatadores civiles fueron apartados del área – y nadie más volvió a mencionar a Frida Sofía en Televisa.

El cínico reality show fabricado para hipnotizar al público y manipular sus emociones fue también un intento de esconder la cada vez más aguda polarización entre sectores organizados de la sociedad civil y un gobierno profundamente impopular.

Ahora, casi dos semanas después del terremoto, el movimiento popular está reflexionando sobre sus funciones y objetivos para los próximos meses. Numerosas asambleas abiertas están celebrándose en todo el país. Con un gobierno tan inconsistente, está claro que una población con una excelente capacidad de auto-organización proporcionará la fundación de lo que vendrá después.


Esta es la primera entrega en una serie de artículos por Alessandro Zagato sobre México. Pueden seguir a Alessandro en Twitter: @ale_zagato

The popular movement and the electoral strategy. An indigenous candidate for Mexico

Reblogged from Libcom.org

Author: Alessandro Zagato

@ale_zagato

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The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) took a surprising twist to their history back on 10 October 2016, one which could yet shape the future of Mexican politics. Together with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), which they are integrated with, they announced their intention to nominate an indigenous woman as an independent candidate for the upcoming presidential election in 2018 – “an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, who speaks her indigenous language and knows her culture”. However, they immediately made clear that this initiative would not follow a conventional course. Instead, the indigenous movement of Mexico intends to use the electoral deadline as a means to set off a widespread process of articulation of autonomous and grassroots organizations at national scale, aimed at transforming the political system from the bottom up.

The EZLN gave birth to this idea but the CNI is implementing the proposal after it was approved by a massive grassroots consultation that covered the entire country between October and December 2016, involving 523 communities from 25 different states and of 43 ethnic groups.

The Zapatista leadership sees this strategy as a means to awakening a “sleeping force”. They refer to all those groups that have embraced autonomy – completely or partially, in the countryside and in the city – a fragmented universe that does not attract sensationalist chronicles. Based on an investigation by the Ibero-American University of Puebla, Víctor Toledo (2016) estimates that in just five Mexican states there are more than a thousand autonomous projects, ranging from the Zapatista Caracoles to indigenous organic coffee cooperatives, self-defense groups, and self-managed communities.

This constellation follows a political “paradigm of living” (paradigma del habitar – Fernandez Savater 2016) which is grounded in day to day life, and which can be heightened, starting from the strengths it holds. It is not a matter of inventing something new, but of empowering and to some extent reconfiguring what already exists.
“May the earth tremble at its core” states the conclusive document of the fifth national congress of the CNI jointly signed by the CNI and the EZLN. It calls “on all the indigenous people and civil society to organize to put a stop to destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by connecting ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.” The final paragraph proclaims the will to construct a new nation by and for everyone, by strengthening power below and the anti-capitalist left.

The proposal has generated surprise. After the announcement, in a plenary session where it was strictly forbidden to take any video or audio, Subcomandante Galeano (military leader and spokesperson of the EZLN – previously Marcos) encouraged the attendees to “take the idea of subversion seriously and turn everything upside down, starting from your own heart”. That counterintuitive idea offered indeed an unprecedented possibility to the indigenous movement and beyond. However, it also needed (and still needs) time to be properly processed by many activists and sympathizers.

On the one hand, this initiative takes place in a conjuncture that many see as unfavorable. There is indeed a generalized and growing distrust in the electoral procedure, especially in a country like Mexico where results are often decided by vote buying and fraud. Moreover, Latin America is experiencing an apparent downturn of the so-called “pink tide” – the wave of progressive governments that shaped the region since the early 2000s. The current right wing counteroffensive seems to call for grassroots resistance rather than electoral engagement. This is the argument of intellectuals like Raúl Zibechi and George Ciccariello-Maher, who argues that the choice today is increasingly between la comuna o nada, the commune or nothing. On the other hand, the electoral proposal is counterintuitive and somehow contradictory to many Mexican filo-Zapatistas due to the critical position that the EZLN have traditionally held towards elections, prompting their adherents to go instead for independent organizing and autonomy.

Nevertheless, an electoral victory would not be the main goal here. “Have no doubt, we are going for everything, because we know this might be the last opportunity” has declared the CNI. Their strategy will consist in actively interfering in (or “occupying”) the electoral procedure and turn it into the possibility for a generalized process of organization and emancipation – “a nonviolent uprising, the last one in the history of the indigenous peoples of Mexico” foresees Filo, a CNI member, in a prophetic tone.

In the meantime, the Indigenous Government Council (CIG) – one of the most intriguing developments of this initiative – is slowly taking shape. The Council operates like a national assembly of the representatives (more than hundred people – half of them are women) of all the groups composing the CNI. It should grow as an intermediate space, a hybrid body situated between the state apparatus and society, between the government and the organized groups spread over the national territory.

The CIG epitomizes a decentered conception of political representation that rejects concentration of power into the hands of a single individual. It reflects the structure of many organized indigenous communities. “We reject an occidental individualist conception of politics” has argued a CIG delegate. The council operates based on the the rule of mandar obedeciendo (“ruling by obeying”), an oxymoron reflecting the ambivalent nature of power, which shapes autonomous self-government in Zapatismo. The challenge will be now to apply this principle to the functioning of the state.

The spokesperson for this network – and presidential candidate – is María de Jesús Patricio, known as Marichuy, an indigenous Nahuatl woman born in Tuxpan, a small town of the state of Jalisco where she grew up in poverty. “We had to propose one individual candidate” a council member argued “simply because the national law does not allow registering a full assembly or a council … Thus we are registering our spokesperson in order to comply with the Electoral Law, but the council will always come first”.

María directs a health center in the Calli neighborhood of Tuxpam since 1995, where indigenous medicine is practiced and researched. “Through the health center we defend traditional medicine, indigenous territories, and the mother earth based on an anti-capitalist approach and the libertarian struggle of the indigenous people”. Having directly experienced from a young age poverty and oppression, María de Jesus was deeply inspired by the Zapatista uprising of 1994. And she became a founding member of the CNI.

In her first press conference (May 2017) she remarked that the aim of the indigenous coalition is not to collect votes or achieve power positions. “Our engagement” she said “is for life, for organization, and for the reconstitution of our people who have been under attack for centuries. Time has come to find a new configuration for us to keep existing.” She suggested that this is also an invitation for all oppressed sectors of society to “join the struggle and destroy a system that is about to exterminate us … This is a real alternative to the war that we are experiencing”.

A tension this initiative will need to address, is that for a project going far beyond the 2018 electoral deadline, the symbolic weight and historical momentum of proposing (for the first time ever) a female indigenous candidate for presidency are there and need to be considered. Even more after the recent earthquake that revealed, once more, governmental incompetence and inconsistency, the egalitarian agenda of the EZLN-CNI could resonate among sectors of the population who are not organized or politicized, but who would be happy to be governed by somebody like María de Jesús Patricio.

At the time of writing, the campaign for the presidential election has just kicked off. For María to be able to participate in the electoral process almost a million signatures distributed in at least 17 states will need to be collected and submitted to the National Electoral Institute. This calls for an exceptional logistic effort. Furthermore, many members of the organizations composing the CNI are not even registered citizens, and they have no voting credential. This is in some cases due to marginalization. However, this is mainly the result of a choice to be fully independent from the state.

Perhaps the electoral mobilization of these anti-citizens will play a key role in the strategy adopted by the CNI-EZLN – as the participation of unarmed soldiers was symbolically fundamental in the 1994 uprising. As always when it comes to Zapatismo, one needs to be prepared for the unexpected. A delegate of the CNI observes that “in 94 nobody could imagine autonomous schools, hospitals and Caracoles”. Today it is impossible to foresee how things will develop. For this campaign to be successful the coalition will have to mobilize non-indigenous sectors of Mexican society, including students, peasants and workers.

Bibliography

Ciccariello Maher, George. 2016. Bulding the Commune. Radical Democracy in Venezuela. London: Verso
Fernández Savater, Amador. 2016. “Del paradigma del gobierno al paradigma del habitar: por un cambio de cultura política”. El Diario 11 March. http://www.eldiario.es/interferencias/paradigma-gobierno-habitar_6_491060895.html
Toledo, Victor. 2016. “México: la rebelión silenciosa ya comenzó”. La Jornada, 13 September. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/09/13/opinion/016a2pol

Alessandro Zagato
@ale_zagato

“Spokesperson for the people and candidate for the media”: An indigenous woman for the 2018 presidential elections in Mexico

Reblogged from Focaal Blog

Alessandro Zagato

María de Jesús Patricio, known as Marichuy, is an indigenous Nahuatl woman born on 23 December 1963 in Tuxpan (“land of rabbits”), a small town located in the south of the state of Jalisco, where she grew up in a condition of extreme poverty. She is mother of three. As a child, she spent time observing older women from her family practicing traditional medicine. They were performing rituals and preparing oils and medicaments to heal people in their community. Over the years, she became a practitioner. In an interview of some years ago, (Tukari 2010: 12) she recalls that a mentor once warned her not to profit from her ancestral knowledge, because “the light protecting you would extinguish,” he argued, and she would no longer be effective as a healer. Her wisdom increased significantly as she started giving workshops around the region. Since 1995, María directs a health center in the Calli neighborhood of Tuxpam, where indigenous medicine is practiced and researched. Since then, she has received several public recognitions for her work, which focuses, she argues, in healing the community rather than just individual diseases. “Through the health center we defend traditional medicine, indigenous territories, and the mother earth based on an anti-capitalist approach and the libertarian struggle of the indigenous people” (University of Guadalajara 2015).

Marichuy (photograph by Las Abejas de Acteal)

The Zapatista uprising of 1994 inspired her deeply. Seeing people coming from an even poorer area of the country rising up in arms against oppression motivated her political engagement. That same year, her community was invited to participate in a national indigenous forum organized by the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) in San Cristobal de Las Casas (Chiapas), and her people sent her as a delegate. María immediately associated with the other members of that network, which since then became her space of action and organization. Within the forum, she has raised awareness on gender equality and the fundamental role played by women in the urgent task that native groups in Mexico refer to as the “full reconstruction of the indigenous peoples of the country.” In March 2001, when the EZLN occupied the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies to defend the San Andrés Agreements,[1] she intervened with a powerful speech on the indigenous people’s struggle for equality.

On Sunday, 28 May 2017, in the auditorium of the CIDECI (Earth University) of San Cristobal de Las Casas, packed with 1,480 delegates of the CNI (National Indigenous Congress) and invitees from across the country, in an atmosphere charged with excitement and momentum, María was unanimously designated as the spokesperson for the newly confirmed Indigenous Government Council (CIG), a national assembly of 71 delegates representing around 93 indigenous communities and organizations. With the full support of the EZLN (who actually conceived of this initiative), Maria will run as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country in the 2018 elections representing the CIG and the EZLN. She will act as the spokesperson for this network. “We had to propose one individual candidate,” argued Mario Luna Romero, leader of the Yaqui Tribe (Sonora) during the first press conference of the CIG, “simply because the national law does not allow registering a full assembly.”

The CIG will therefore act as an intermediate institution, a hybrid body situated between the state apparatus and society, between the government and the organized people adhering to the CNI. It epitomizes a decentered conception of political representation that rejects concentration of power into the hands of a single individual. “We reject an occidental individualist conception of politics,” argued a delegate. Any act or declaration issued by the candidate will be the expression of a popular will—and it will follow the rule of mandar obedeciendo (“ruling by obeying”) shaping autonomous self-government in Zapatismo.

The adoption of this strategy as a means to open a new cycle of struggles in Mexico was announced by the CNI-EZLN in October last year during the fifth national congress of the CNI. “May the earth tremble at its core” is the heading of the manifesto issued during that gathering. The document (EZLN 2016a) calls “on all of the indigenous people and civil society to organize to put a stop to destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by connecting ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.” The final paragraph emphasizes the will to “construct a new nation by and for everyone, by strengthening power from below and the anti-capitalist left.”

The proposal came up as a huge surprise for people within and outside the indigenous movement. It immediately produced astonishment and a heated debate. Right after the announcement, Subcomandante Galeano (previously Marcos) encouraged the attendees to “take the idea of subversion seriously and turn everything upside down, starting from your own heart.”

The proposal was a real blast. On the one hand, it offers a mind-blowing possibility to the broad indigenous movement of Mexico. A member of the CNI prophetically claims this will be “a nonviolent uprising, the last one in the history of the indigenous peoples of Mexico.” However, it also needed (and still needs) time to be properly processed. And there are several reasons for this.

“Elections” is a particularly controversial topic among Mexican activists. The political subjectivity that the EZLN has tried to promote among its members, allies, and followers is radically heterogeneous to the state and its procedures, especially elections. Even in recent times, the comandancia of the EZLN has repeated that “as Zapatistas, we don’t call for people not to vote, nor do we call for them to vote. As Zapatistas, every time we get the chance we tell people that they should organize to resist and struggle for what they need.” “Our dreams don’t fit in your ballot boxes,” they insist (EZLN 2016b), suggesting that their revolutionary project goes far beyond the governmental logic.

Although they have never explicitly called for abstention, at least since the rupture of the San Andrés Agreements, the approach chosen by the Zapatistas is framed by the idea of “autonomy.” The noncompliance by the national political system has pushed the EZLN towards “auto-applying” the agreements in their own territories, and on their own terms. Over the years, autonomy became an axiom for the multiplicity of organized realities spread over the Mexican territory.

Furthermore, many members of these organizations are not even registered citizens, and they have no voting credential. This is partly because of the oblivion to which national politics has condemned many groups living at the margins. Nevertheless, this is also the result of a choice to be fully independent from the state.

Some commentators are ironically asking how these anti-citizens will vote. Definitely, their mobilization in the electoral process will be paradoxical. Symbolically, they remind of those milicianos of the EZLN who fought the Federal Army with wooden rifles in 1994, whose image resonated around the globe. The contribution and sacrifice of those rebels was a statement on war and revolutionary commitment. They represent the often “illogical logic” followed by the Zapatistas, a movement that was able to creatively transform revolutionary warfare into an imaginative and essentially peaceful political process. What I am suggesting here is that even with the current electoral initiative, one must be prepared for the unexpected.

Another critical point is the unfavorable conjuncture in which this initiative is taking place: a context shaped by a generalized discredit in the electoral option. The power of national governments, including those that are less aligned with the logics of global capitalism, does not seem strong enough to change things in a single nation-state—particularly in Latin America, where the apparent downturn of the “pink tide” (the cycle of progressive governments that have shaped the region since the early 2000s) is giving rise to a new wave of free-market ideology (see the Focaalblog feature). Arguably, times are calling for resistance rather than electoral engagement.

However, the primary aim of the initiative of the CNI-EZLN is not an electoral victory. Elections are just being used as a frame, an expedient, a vessel, a launch ramp from where to open unprecedented political possibilities. In her first press conference, María de Jesús Patricio remarked that the aim of the indigenous coalition is not to collect votes and achieve power positions. “Our engagement,” she said “is for life, for organization, and for the reconstitution of our people who have been under attack for centuries. Time has come to find a new configuration for us to keep existing.” She added that this is also an invitation for all oppressed sectors of society to “join the struggle and destroy a system that is about to exterminate us . . . This is a real alternative to the war that we are experiencing.”

We know that for the indigenous candidate to participate in the electoral process, almost a million signatures distributed in at least 17 states must be collected and submitted to the National Electoral Institute. This calls for an extraordinary collective and logistic effort. Mexico has around 125 million inhabitants, out of which 11 million recognize themselves as indigenous. The signatures obtained in the communities of the CNI—EZLN will not be enough. A key factor for the success of this campaign will be the coalition’s capacity to mobilize nonindigenous sectors of Mexican society.


Alessandro Zagato is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Egalitarianism project at the University of Bergen. He is currently conducting fieldwork among rural communities in the south of Mexico. He has recently edited (with Bruce Kapferer) The Event of Charlie Hebdo: Imaginaries of Freedom and Control (Berghahn Books, 2015).


Notes

[1] The San Andres Agreements on Indigenous Rights and Culture were signed by the Mexican government and the EZLN in February 1996 as a commitment to modify the national constitution to grant rights, including autonomy, to the indigenous peoples of Mexico.