Zapatista rethinking

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jul 30 07:53:52 MDT 2003

A series of Zapatista communiques are online at Harry Cleaver's website:

If you can get past the faux indigenismo, there are some interesting 
signs that this group is trying to evolve past the "civil society" 
paradigm that was put forward in Roger Burbach's post-Marxist defense of 
the EZLN co-authored with Boris Kargalitsky (who subsequently disavowed 
the book).

Communique #6 is most interesting. Despite John Holloway's insistence 
that government is the root of all evil, they are proposing "Good 
Government Juntas". It also appears that the EZLN's honeymoon with NGO's 
is over:

Among the Good Government Juntas' first regulations are the following:

One. - Donations and help from national and international civil society 
will no longer be allowed to be earmarked to anyone in particular or to 
a specific community or Autonomous Municipality. The Good Government 
Junta shall decide, after evaluating the circumstances of the 
communities, where that help most needs to be directed. The Good 
Government Junta will impose the "brother tax," which is 10% of the 
total cost of the project, on all projects. In other words, if a 
community, municipality or collective receives economic support for a 
project, it must give the 10% to the Good Government Junta, so that it 
can earmark it for another community which is not receiving help. The 
objective is to balance somewhat the economic development of the 
communities in resistance. Leftovers, charity and the imposition of 
projects shall, of course, not be accepted.

Two. - Only those persons, communities, cooperatives and producers and 
marketing associations which are registered in a Good Government Junta 
shall be recognized as zapatistas. In that way, persons shall be 
prevented from passing as zapatistas who are not only not zapatistas, 
but are even anti-zapatista (such is the case with some organic coffee 
producers and marketing cooperatives). Surpluses or bonuses from the 
marketing of products from zapatista cooperatives and societies shall be 
given to the Good Government Juntas in order to help those compañeros 
and compañeras who cannot market their products or who do not receive 
any kind of aid.

Three. - It is not unusual for dishonest people to deceive national and 
international civil society, presenting themselves in cities as 
"zapatistas," purportedly sent "on secret or special missions" to ask 
for money for sick people, projects, trips or things of that nature. 
Sometimes they even go so far as to offer training in purported, and 
false, EZLN "safe houses" in Mexico City. In the former case, 
intellectuals, artists and professional persons, and not a few local 
government officials, have been deceived. In the latter, it has been 
young students who have been the victims of the lie. The EZLN is 
emphasizing that it does not have any "safe house" in Mexico City, and 
it does not offer any training whatsoever. These bad persons, according 
to our reports, are involved in banditry, and the money they receive, 
which they are supposedly requesting for the communities, is used for 
their own personal benefit. The EZL:N has now begun an investigation in 
order to determine who is responsible for usurping their name and for 
swindling good and honest people. Since it is difficult to contact the 
Comandancia General of the EZLN in order to confirm whether such and 
such a person is part of the EZLN or their support bases, and whether 
what they are saying is true or not, now they will just have to get in 
contact with the Good Government Juntas (the one in the region where the 
"swindler" says he is from), and in a matter of minutes they will be 
told if it is true or not, and whether or not he is a zapatista. To this 
end, the Good Government Juntas will be issuing certifications and 
accreditations which should, however, still be corroborated.


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