C.Rodriquez:San Andres VI: The Balance Shifts, Sep 12

Jim Jaszewski jjazz at freenet.hamilton.on.ca
Wed Sep 13 20:52:00 MDT 1995

=09At the end of the piece there's a call for an action in=20
Washington D.C. in October:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 16:52:44 +0000
From: CECILIA RODRIGUEZ <moonlight at igc.apc.org>
To: ncdm-ally at igc.apc.org, ncdm-usa at mcfeeley.cc.utexas.edu,
    chiapas-l at profmexis.dgsca.unam.mx, reg.mexico at conf.igc.apc.org,
    ncdmusa at conf.igc.apc.org
Subject: San Andres VI: The Balance Shifts, by Cecilia Rodriguez

Title: San Andres VI: The Balance Shifts, by Cecilia Rodriguez

-------------- Enclosure number 1 ----------------
San Andres VI- The Balance Shifts
by Cecilia Rodriguez

National Center for Democracy, Liberty, and Justice

       "Lies, deceits, falsehoods; none of this wiII achieve any
thing. The lies, the threats , the accusations can only bring us to defeat=
and take us down the wrong road. Only the truth which walks in our heart ca=
lead us to a just and dignified peace."

                                               Comandante David
                                          Zapatista Delegation-CCRI-CG

Historically, the peace talks achieved a duration of seven days.  The
government delegation
appeared  together with the Zapatistas for a photo opportunity.  They
also  responded to a Zapatista proposal with applause.

And  the  traditional  indigenous discretion born  of  500  years  of
resistance  received  these historic firsts with  measured  optimism,
and a skepticism born of too many betrayals.

Standing and waiting through a diligent rain which soaks through  the
most impermeable
material,  the  observers and the civilians who stand  in  the  peace
cordons watch incredulously.                                       Can it
be  that  the  talks which have been stalled for months will  produce
tangible progress? Is it possible
that  a  day will be possible whose dawn will bring the beginning  of
the end to this terrible siege?

The  long  nights shifted between those where stars were  visible  in
the sky and a fog so thick  that it erased everything in view.


With  a  massive  force of volunteers, little  or  no  money,  and  a
timeline  of  approximately 8 weeks, the plebiscite of the  EZLN  was
the  most numerous in Mexico's history; 1,088,094 ballots.   It  gave
voice  to  what the Mexican government had hoped would be  silent  or
non-existent; national public interest and sympathy with the  demands
of the EZLN.

The  EZLN  celebrated  the  accomplishment with  a  party;  Zapatista
style.  A  meeting  where the official results of the  Consulta  were
reviewed  was held in a small village reached by vehicles  eventually
left  in the mud. The rain did not stop until the ground was a  large
brown  puddle.  The  speeches reviewed activities  in  the  different
states and internationally.

Later the crowd from the cities swarmed into a medium-sized building.
At 9 p.m. it settled into an awed silence as the masked Zapatistas
crowded into one end of the room.
"We had prepared a special program but you arrived very late" said one
of them.  "Now we want to ask your permission, shall we present the
program or are you alI going to leave?"
The audience stayed and the Zapatistas presented 3 folkloric dances
and 3 songs. Then the party went on, because the room was warm and the
applause was loud. More folkloric dances were presented with Fin del
Olvido introduced by a masked young woman strewing flower petals on
the dirt floor. Then the audience began to present poems and songs.
Their voices filled with emotion, their faces wreathed in smiles.

It was hard to tell who had received the best gift; the results of the
consulta presented to the Zapatistas or the sight of masked young men
and women who for the moment sang and danced. The party continued
until midnight. It celebrated life in the midst of death,  the joy of
struggle, the warmth of companionship, the certainty that in spite of
alI the media clamor to the contrary, a process had just begun.

The government of course argues that the Consulta did not result in
the numbers expected, that it did not ask whether the EZLN should lay
down its arms, nor about the ability of the EZLN to represent the
people of Mexico.  Miraculously however, the talks  which the
Zapatistas had called exhausted, continued for an historic seven days.

If extremes are the only viable justification for change in society,
then Mexico certainly qualifies. Even Zedillo's State of the Union
address could do little to hide the savagery of  present economic
policies.  There about 8 million people in Mexico's informal economy,
5 million more who earn only one-third of what is considered necessary
to support a minimum standard of life. In order to have a minimal
response to the need for jobs Mexico's economy must grow by 4% per
year. In Mexico City, 70,000 children under the age of 5 suffer severe
malnutrition, a number which has been multiplied six times over the
past 20 years. Only one-fifth of the 670,000 people who are over the
age of 65 have a pension.  Steel and autoworkers in Mexico must work 2-
2.5 hours to earn enough to buy a two pound chicken (in the US they
only have to work about 9 minutes to buy a chicken). In 1995, Mexico
recorded 9,712 cases of cholera with 110 deaths, and 38 cases of
hemorrhagic dengue so far.

In 1995 Mexico will pay out $57,756,000 dollars on its foreign debt,
which is  a number 204% higher than everything paid from 1821-1976 on
foreign debt. Certainly the achievement of a social transformation
capable of altering these statistics will be a difficult painful and
long process, something which the  Zapatistas clearly understand.

The review of the litany of human suffering through numbers can
sometimes elicit a human response.  The numbers at the opposite pole
are even more dramatic. There are numbers with many zeros to represent
the wealth of select individuals who remain power to the brutal
detriment of millions.  Shock, dismay, tension, empathy; these are the
emotions necessary to elicit the attention or the media, the gut
reaction of the majority of the public.

Yet the silent determination of hundreds of campesinos in the
militarized villages and the patient labor of the Zapatista
delegation go unnoticed, In this age of commercialized emotions. To
understand the trajectory of the Zapatistas requires a different
mindset, one which goes beyond simplistic formulations of power, one
which challenges the distance between many of us and the human
At 2 a.m. when the mist was especially cold and wet I turned to
another international observer and asked, "TeII me something, can you
imagine people in the United States leaving home and family and
standing all night in the rain? What do you think would move people
like this?' "Frankly nothing..  l can't imagine such a thing...maybe
only something which was a direct threat to the well-being of their
families...maybe ."

The Zapatistas have distinguished themselves in history by being
willing to advance it, by allowing and fighting for a democratic space
in which the people of Mexico can re-discover each other and
themselves.  This space was first constructed in Aguascalientes,
Chiapas and carved out of the mountain with loving hands. It was
filled by a people, groping to find a different way, a way beyond
parties,  dogmas, and the socialization of 65 years of centralized
government. The space widened in the simple process of the Consulta,
which gave people basic experience in the vague notion of "democracy"'
that social concept expropriated by demagogues and berated by those
who believe it should be neater and more efficient.

The Zapatistas know that that space will be rarefied if combat should
begin, that to construct  a social vision common to 90 million people
will require much more than bullets and uniforms. It will require
dialogue, the exchange of ideas and concepts, time, experience, and
the growing participation of millions; none of which can be easily
pursued in open combat.   It will require a new consciousness from
those in the civilian and international movement, one which allows new
energy, ideas and methods of work to evolve.

As far as the EZLN is concerned, it is the fact that reason and not
rage or hunger for power dominates their decisions, that the
willingness to sit at the negotiating table exists.  Official
government broadcasts on September 11th announced "  The EZLN and the
federal government have reached their first peace agreement."

For seven days the Zapatista delegates sat at the table for 10-12
hours with the government. Then, in short hurried meetings until 2 or
3a.m., they met with countless delegations from around the country and
the world to share their thirst for justice and a peace with dignity.

What the government claims is their achievement is in reality a
proposal made by the EZLN months ago.  This round established rules
for procedure and a basic agenda for the negotiations  but it is a
misrepresentation to say that a "first peace agreement' has been
reached. It is procedures which has been agreed on by both parties,
subject to change and far from a substantive theme such as a proposal
to reduce military tensions, something which would do a great deal to
re-establish the confidence of the EZLN in the dialogue. Progress is
visible however in the apparent willingness of the government  to
discuss "national" issues with the EZLN, although a specific proposal
from Zedillo was at one point refuted by his own negotiator, Marcos
Antonio Bernal.

The strategy of low-intensity warfare however remains the choice of
the Mexican government and is a preference for the Pentagon as well.
It remains a war of nerves, a war against civilians, a war which the
state-party system continues to wage with impunity.  After the
massacre of 18 campesinos in the state of Guerrero, its people called
for the removal and indictment of the governor.  The PRI announced
there is "insufficient" evidence.  As the elections in Chiapas
approach two incidents in the villages of Tila and Nuevo Limar have
left 4-5 people dead, and dozens of houses burned to the ground by PRI
members and the local police.
The violence promulgated by profound poverty, centralized
authoritarian rule and government-sanctioned repression has not
ceased.  In spite of dozens of government proclamations for peace,
there is little change except cosmetic gestures of reform.

Most of the people of Mexico know this.  At the grassroots, in rural
and urban communities, a fierce, implacable determination grows, a
patient faith, a hope which burns and spreads in spite of all the
propaganda, the terror and the manipulation.  Indeed a process has
just begun.


To  show  our  support for the Zapatistas the National Commission  for
Democracy  in Mexico, USA has a made a call for "An International  Act
of  Resistance in Support of Democracy in the Americas" for October 9-
12  in  Washington  D.C.  The Act is also a call  to  demonstrate  our
outrage  at,  and  rejection of, the neoliberal policies  of  the  PRI
government,  promoted and supported by the government  of  the  United
States.  In addition the Act is a call to express our support for  the
civic  society  which has committed to struggle  for  the  16  demands
proposed by the EZLN and for a dialogue with respect and dignity  that
would create the possibility of a Mexico that is genuinely free,  just
and democratic for everyone.

The fact that the United States government and financial interests are
directly  manipulating events in Mexico implies  that  they  are  also
responsible  for the misery and deaths of the people of  Mexico.   The
participation of the United States in maintaining millions of Mexicans
in  subhuman conditions implies  that those of us who live  here,  who
believe   in   justice,  liberty  and  democracy,  have   an   immense
responsibility to struggle and mobilize against this policy of  hunger
and death.  We can not allow the liberating light that shines from the
mountains of Mexico's southeast to be extinguished.

To do this, we ask that you make every effort to join us October 9-12,
in  Washington,  D.C. in this historic opportunity to stand  with  the
Zapatistas, and to let those in power know that reason and a  peaceful
transition to democracy must remain a viable alternative in Mexico.

                      601 N. Cotton Street, #A103
                         El Paso, Texas 79902
                            (915) 532-8382
                         moonlight at igc.apc.org


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=BA Jim Jaszewski <jjazz at freenet.hamilton.on.ca>                           =
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