some thoughts on the Zapatistas

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Thu Jun 13 08:53:33 MDT 1996

Louis (P) writes:

>The Zapatistas have much to teach us in this direction [forging
international ties]
> Marxism has a tendency to try to categorize new phenomena in the terms of
the past.
>Thus the Zapatistas become either just another Latin American guerrilla
>group or a Havelite exercise in the politics of "civil society". Wouldn't
>it be better to see them on their own terms and absorb the positive
>lessons of internationalism and militancy that they can offer?

Louis (G):

Fine, Lou.   I think the Zapatistas have done an admirable job of winning
international support.    It would have been even better had they bothered
to win the support of the Mexican working class.    Opposition to NAFTA is
the one solid plank of the Zapatistas.    The rest of their program, which
resonates nicely with leftists in foreign countries,  contains little of
relevant interest to Mexican workers.   In April, the government approved a
12 per cent rise in the minimum wage (to less than $3 a day), while
simultaneously raising the price of staples like milk and corn tortillas up
to 30 per cent.    The tendency among the Zapatista leadership is to dismiss
these bread and butter issues as "urban" problems not directly linked to the
struggle in the countryside.    If someday we are to perform a post-mortem
on the Zapatistas, it may well be that its inability to mobilize and unite
with the Mexican working class will be listed as the primary cause of death.

Still, my main criticism, as you know if you bothered to read my post
carefully,  was directed at the corrupt, hidebound official trade unions
like the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and its ancient leader,
Fidel Velazquez.   I hold no brief for them, nor for the radical face of the
bourgeois-populist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) led by
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas.   In fact, it is precisely the nature of these two
institutions that render the EZLN's transformation into a political party
(Zapatista National Liberation Front, or FZLN) into a petty farce.   It is,
far from a "new force", merely the well travelled "third road" that has
already led to a dead end in El Salvador and Nicaragua and elsewhere.

ouis Godena

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