EZLN: Interview with Marcos/2 (La Jornada 8/26) (English)
Harry M. Cleaver
hmcleave at mundo.eco.utexas.edu
Sat Aug 26 20:23:36 MDT 1995
This posting has been forwarded to you as a service of Accion Zapatista de Austin.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 10:47:47 -0500
From: CECILIA RODRIGUEZ <moonlight at igc.apc.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list <ncdm-usa at mcfeeley.cc.utexas.edu>
Subject: Part 2: Interview with Marcos (La Jornada 8/26)
-------------- Enclosure number 1 ----------------
La Jornada August 26
Marcos: To power, the civil society
Carmen Lira, writer, part 2, Somewhere in the Lacandon jungle, August
Marcos was going full speed, he'd gone a while without taking a drag on his old
In excellent humor, he played, posed for the photographer, and made fun, even of
himself: "Now everyone knows that I am a mamon, no?"
But he also analyzed, improvised, proposed:
"We must organize the world (the country) in another way!...and quickly, see!" --he
says, while he snapped his fingers.
"Because we have to change everything..before the end of the century".
--In less than five...?
--We are in a hurry, all of you aren't?--he interrupted, with irony.
--But do you think that the Zapatistas and the road that they have chosen is the
future of the country?
--No: the future of Mexico is not a ski-mask, nor a weapon...but neither is it a necktie
and a diploma from a foreign university.
"This mercantile criteria that they have learned in their advanced studies abroad,
from De la Madrid to Zedillo, and those who will come later--the businessmen who
administer countries instead of businesses or as if they were businesses--this is who
has been applying this political lesson, with the consequential results, in Mexico.
But in addition, this political class creates a parallel economic class, of businessmen
and bankers who think alike. Take a look at, for example: How could the Mexican
bank be so stupid as to commit suicide with these usurious conditions that they have
imposed and that have generated the most important social movement, in my way of
thinking, of 1995, which is El Barzon, which is not indigenous, nor working class, nor
Marcos does not hide his admiration for this movement, and again asks:
"How is it possible that the stock market could animate--with the conditions that it
imposes--a movement like that, and do what no one else has been able to do--
except fascism--which is to mobilize the middle class against the government and, in
this case, against the stock market. Really, it takes being really stupid."
No--he insisted in his proposal--"for this reason I tell you that the future is in a new
--What will arise from where, if everything is in crisis?
--What is in crisis is the system, the government, the old things and the
anachronous ways of doing politics. But the nation can survive with a new pact, with
a new political class, and with new forms of doing politics.
--And the push? From where will come the push?
--It is not going to come from the left or the right. The right is going to again present
another revolution but this time it is going to put the Great Inquisition or an
--It will come from the social sector, whose political participation is what has
characterized the last decade of the century in Europe, in the United States, and in
the case of Mexico, during 1994-95, but that has its antecedents in 1985 and in 88.
In 85 it was more than a land movement for Mexico, and in 88, which we did not
know how to view it as an opportunity, and thus letting go by, what we know
consider was an historic opportunity.
Marcos admitted the lack of capacity of his organization to "read" what was
happening in 1988, with Cardenism; he regrets it because he says that perhaps,
they, the Zapatistas, could have done something to help so that as a result at that
time the country could have taken another direction.
And talking about the social "awakening" of 85, especially in the first hours after the
earthquake, during which the people mobilized themselves, governed themselves,
"A great social movement, without organic direction, about very specific simple
demands, with creative forms of struggle, in large part as a response, as a rejection
of the traditional forms of doing politics of the left or the right".
--And won't your proposal have to do with the dream of self-determination of 1968?
--Yes and no. I believe that what we are proposing is just the stage before that of
--But if you are proposing something completely different from what rules the world
now, and that the strongest impose...
--Yes. It is like the antithesis of neo-liberalism: a broader social participation that
makes itself political, which is to say, the civil society becomes the political society,
without having necessarily to go through the traditional forms of making politics.
--Or in other words, in one way or another, the society stops turning over the
government to a representative, and assumes the responsibility of governing. In
subversive words: the civil society takes over the government, takes power and
gives it to someone. But it warns this someone that if he or she doesn't work, he or
she will go.
"This is where the indigenous people of Chiapas have what I call a world proposal:
we organize the world in this way, we exercise power, we give it to someone, but we
continue being vigilant of that person, and when he or she doesn't work, we take him
or her out. That's what is done in the indigenous communities."
--And if what they are proposing doesn't work?
--They are clear about this and say: Perhaps what we are proposing will work or
perhaps it won't. We don't know, but what we do know is the other--what is there
today--doesn't work. Because, look: how is it possible that after 20 centuries, the
world--with neoliberalism--takes a step back of 300 years?
"And what is worse still for us: the government's proposal in the dialogue at San
Andres doesn't want to go back 300 years, but rather 500 years! It wants to finish
the Conquest of Mexico, not like the North Americans did, annihilating the
indigenous. No they go beyond what General Custer did. They--the government--
are planning to continue a process of absorption and destruction of what is
indigenous: their culture. That's the genocide, not in assassinating the indigenous,
but in making them stop being indigenous. How so? By attacking their customs,
their forms of government...in this sense they are more reactionary--or more
revolutionary, according to the new political language".
--In this new world that you talk about, where does the EZLN fit?
--The EZLN has to disappear as such. It is part of the old, of what has to disappear.
Don't forget that we are an army willing to die, but also willing to kill. In the new
society that is going to be created, this does not have reason to exist.
No, he restated assuredly, the new world will not include the EZLN, it will include
--So the EZLN is not planning to take power?
--No--he responded, and in response to my gesture of incredibility, he further
"We have come to realize that the problem is not that of taking power, but rather
who exercises it. We could say: we are overthrowing the PRI, and now the
Zapatista Party of National Liberation is in power. As President, Marcos. As
Secretary of the Government, some one bland: Tacho, he says with sarcasm; for
Secretary of Foreign Relations, a great diplomat: Moises; Education for Heriberto;
for Secretary of Women's Action, Eva, in the end..."
Marcos amused himself, distributing roles.
It is perhaps for this reason--the lack of interest in power--"that the word of the
Zapatistas has been well received in other countries across the globe, above all in
Europe. It has not just been because it is new or novel, but rather because it is
proposing this, which is to say, to separate the political problem from the problem of
taking power, and take it to another terrain."
--A more plural terrain, a more altruistic one. Where they do not jockey for positions
of power, since you are not going to be able to hold onto power illegally. And so, in
this new terrain, to construct something new, something where the ideas of the
Zapatistas would have to be diluted or transformed in such a way that it would be
irreconcilable." But this, he stated firmly--"has to happen also with the Party-State,
with the other traditional political parties, and with all of the traditional forms of doing
--And so, what is the EZLN going to be?
-- Our work is going to end, if it ends, in the construction of this space for new
political relationships. What follows is going to be a product of the efforts of other
people, with another way of thinking and acting. And there we are not going to work;
instead, we would be a disturbance.
(translated by Cindy Arnold, National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice)
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