The Federal District, the Twelfth stella

DECEMBER: The Federal District, the Twelfth Stele

(First Image: the city between illusion and reality)

It is once again dawn when the hand and eyes touch the calendar. On top it says "December," and, below, "Mexico Federal District."

Not without effort, cloud and stone ascend from the land of Zapata to the Federal District limits. The early morning cold greets them when they reach Malacachtepec Momozco, which is what the ancient ones called Milpa Alta. The rebel resistance of the inhabitants of this land led, in 1529, to the Royal Court recognizing their communal property and their right to elect their leaders. The history of struggle continued until 1914, when the zapatistas ratified the Plan de Ayala at the Oztotepec barracks, and it continues. Fancied by the powerful, these lands were defended by their inhabitants throughout the 20th century. And the dawn of the 21st century is shining its light on Milpa Alta residents doing the same thing that they have been doing for 500 years: resisting.

Organized around the Community Property Delegation of Milpa Alta and Annexed Towns, the settlers of this region have formed the Front Against Levies and Land Seizures. Through the hand and words of the communal representative for more than 80 years, Don Julian, walks the wisdom of the most early who again carried the two standards: resistance and rebellion. And so the residents of Milpa Alta are replicating the history of resistance against the Spanish crown and recalling, without naming, the recently deceased Ramiro Taboada and the Alliance of the Peoples of Anahuac.

The seizure of lands is something which unites Milpa Alta with a large part of the periphery of Mexico City. Here, and in the entire west flank of the city, reverberates the voracity of those who are Power. The government and the city insist on superimposing their neighborhood councils (with an urban logic) on communal structures (with a campesino indigenous logic). The disjunction of the community is always foreign, although the birth certificate says the opposite.

Following the Chichinautzin sierra and the stretch of highway which batters and divides the peoples of San Mateo Tlaltenango, Santa Rosa Xochiac, San Bartolo Ameyalco, San Nicola's Totolapan, Ajusco and Contreras, in order to connect the Military College with Cuajimalpa, the stone arrives at the latter. Cuauximalpan or Cuajimalpa shelters the so called Desert of the Lions and the Cedar Forest. This forest encompasses 331,433 square meters, and it was purchased in 1982 by Emilio Azca'rrago Milmo, Guillermo Ca~edo de la Ba'rcena and Guillermo Barroso Cha'vez, among others, for the amount of 16 and a half million pesos. Despite the fact that the law prohibits construction for profit, those who are government twisted the law for the benefit of the businessmen.

In the plans of money, the western part of the Federal District will be the headquarters for their dream: living in a North American city. Its name: Santa Fe. And so those areas close to that metropolis of the future are worth gold...well, dollars in fact, because the lands in Cuajimalpa are not sold in pesos, but in dollars. The cloud stops in front of a sign that advertises a flat at a bargain rate price: it costs only $400,000.

The strategy of dispossession has engulfed the Federal District. It is the logic of money which is destroying and rebuilding the environment, like a war. Cuajimalpa, Huixquilucan, La Marquesa, Toluca, Atizapa'n, San Salvador Atenco. Do the names sound familiar? Their common denominator is the war by capital to conquer those lands, but it is also the resistance and rebellion of those who oppose the destruction.

In the north, in the Progresa development, urbanization programs and transportation routes are expelling the residents. In Azcapotzalco, the delegate called Salda~a, who belongs to the PAN (she stated, without any shame, that "dealing with the rabble gives one migraines"), is sacrificing social programs in order to be able to spend more money on election campaigns, and she is making nepotism her government program. Demonstrating that she can emulate the PRIs, the delegate is making the regularization of informal commerce contingent on joining the National Action Party. In addition, the entire delegation is being reorganized so that industry (and not the residents) have all the facilities. The ancient Ferreri'a market is being converted into an industrial plant for maquilas. Highways are being remodeled for the benefit of these industrial plants. The Metrogas company is threatening the lives of residents of the Nueva Santa Marta development who express concerns about the ! security and efficiency of the service they are trying to impose on them. The ejiditarios of San Juan Tlilhuaca are resisting the theft of their lands. In Unidad Cuitla'huac and in Unidad Pantaco, former railroad workers are organizing in order to prevent their being expelled.

The cloud flies high in order to have a better look at Mexico City, now called "the city of hope." Yes, but Andre's Manuel Lo'pez Obrador's hope, the hope of reaching the Presidency of the Republic in 2006.

Although it is assumed that that there are three years until the presidential elections, the 2006 campaign began on the day Jorge Casta~eda G. resigned as Secretary of Foreign Relations and left "for civil society." Se~or Casta~eda counted on obtaining the approval of the US government for his candidacy. The "test of love" was the radical shift in foreign relations, particularly regarding Cuba. After the "Monterrey affaire," the gringos showed themselves to be more than satisfied, and Casta~eda received the recommendation for leaving the cabinet so that he would not have to be subjected to the strain any longer. He can repeat Fox's path from the outside: reaching Los Pinos without a political party, but with friends like Elba Esther Gordillo, and, of course, Se~or Garza, the United States ambassador to Mexico.

In an almost parallel fashion, Marta Sahagu'n de Fox got underway. She is now being torn by competing interests...between her ambition and her witlessness, both of which are now part of the Mexican cunning and which will, most certainly become the stuff of legend. Whatever happens to everyone else, Se~ora Sahagu'n already has - in addition to bad taste in clothes - a government program: converting 80 million Mexicans into grateful beggars.

Even La Coyota, Diego Ferna'ndez de Cevallos, is doing his sums. Although he has been living in Los Pinos since the times of Salinas de Gortari, La Coyota is making financial calculations concerning the profitability of being in Power or behind it. Meanwhile, with the same indecision with which he confronts his closet every morning, the "Mexican psychopath," Santiago Creel, is playing "she loves me, she loves me not" with a flower no one has offered him.

Far off in the distance, and still in line at the starting gate, are: Pablo Salazar M., in Chiapas; Miguel Alema'n Velasco in Veracruz (who, being a bit dim, thought that putting "Valde's" in the letter was a mistake, when it was, in fact, being tactful - since it is better to insult the father than the mother); Murat in Oaxaca and Monreal in Zacatecas.

Madrazo Pintado? He is, perhaps, just beginning to realize that he is presiding over a party that no longer exists (at least not as it did previously, which is why he constantly resorts to nostalgia in his speeches), and, besides, he does not have time to deal with his opponents, since he has to be watching out for the shameless sweet nothings his secretary general lavishes on the first lady.

What? Does "the field look weak?" It's not surprising. The great lesson of the 1994 election (when Zedillo won the Presidency) was that any imbecile whatsoever can be head of the federal executive.

Unlike all his current opponents, Lo'pez Obrador counts among his assets the prospects for a social movement. Knowledgeable about how these movements arise, how they are encouraged, and their leaders' aspirations, Lo'pez Obrador is also familiar with the mechanisms for co-opting and controlling them.

An extraordinarily skillful and pragmatic man, Lo'pez Obrador has envisioned (just as Ca'rdenas Solo'rzano did during his time) heading the Federal District government as being a springboard to the presidency. But there is a fundamental difference with Ca'rdenas: Lo'pez Obrador governs, and is governing, by building alliances and pacts, by co-opting or destroying critics and opponents, by cultivating contacts, by flattering thoughts which might call him into question, and, above all, by being on his best behavior in order to win over that great elector: the power of money.

As head of the government of Mexico City, Lo'pez Obrador is demonstrating that one of the arts of modern politics, the art of deception, is still effective. Especially if one has accomplices as effective as one's rivals: Fox and the PAN. If no one remembers Lo'pez Obrador's false election promise ("for the good of all, first the poor"), it is because Fox's lies have not left room for anything else.

An old fox, Lo'pez Obrador views the carnage inside the PRD from a distance. He knows that a weak political party is a party which cannot be demanding. And, in addition, sheltered behind the image of Lo'pez Obrador, PRD candidates have more assets than debits in the accounting which is to come.

The PAN? Well, now only the PRI is its equal in its nonexistent capacity for mobilization and resistance. Incapable of opposing from below (PAN leaders in the delegations have just discovered that they cannot do mass "pots and pans" demos because their "bases" use microwave ovens), the PAN has resorted to scandals in the press (which already bore them good results with Rosario Robles, when she succeeded Ca'rdenas in the Federal District government). Nonetheless, adept at learning from all sides - even from his critics and opponents - Lo'pez Obrador has withstood the media onslaughts, and he carefully measures out his words and silences.

He has also discovered something which has escaped all the "political analysts," to wit, that slander campaigns in the media reach a maximal point, and, once past that point, they become, without wanting to, unwitting advertising campaigns.

While his detractors were concentrating their efforts on the press, Lo'pez Obrador turned to that ancient corporative structure of the PRI in the Federal District, and he "reoriented" it with added value: the incorporation of the Popular Urban Movement, which once upon a time made the gentlemen of money tremble, and which today stands in line, docilely, for a candidacy which, just look, does not arrive.

Patiently waiting, there is a Roman scales in the seat of Power. On one of the little plates is the Presidency of Mexico. The other is empty. Those who want to buy the position of federal executive must put something of equal or greater weight in the little plate.

If Jorge Casta~eda G. put solidarity with Cuba and the entire Mexican foreign policy on the scales, Marta Sahagu'n de Fox the force of the reactionary clergy and La Coyota Ferna'ndez de Cevallos the power of drug trafficking, Lo'pez Obrador has placed the largest city in the world on the plate.

The power which really matters in modern politics, the power of money, has not yet decided. But not because it is vacillating. It is because it is still reckoning its sums...

The cloud continues its flight. Down below, the Guerrero development can be seen. There, on August 3, 1911, the maestro Manuel Espero'n was born. He not only created the song "I Will Not Return," but he also produced many of Pedro Infante's (and Jorge Negrete's) best songs, among them "Amorcito Corazo'n," which is still whistled in carpentry shops in Mexico City. Along with Enrique Granados, Ernesto Corta'zar and Octavio Paz, the maestro Manuel Espero'n composed the music for a film which was produced in 1943 by Aguila Films and Oscar Dancigers, directed by Jaime Salvador, and starred Jorge Negrete, Mari'a Elena Ma'rquez, Julio Villarreal, Frederico Pi~eiro, Miguel Angel Frei's and Felipe Montoya. The title? "The Rebel."

With that title, and a debt of honor satisfied, cloud and stone raise up in order to draw near other parts of Mexico City.

This city presents an illusion. It appears to be inhabited by broken-down automobiles, by sterile shopping centers, by news programs that are torn between lies and facile scandal (although sometimes they are combined), by television programs which reward the ridiculous on primetime, by swift convoys replete with bodyguards transporting officials or magnates who are not going anywhere, but who are moving because they believe it is necessary to remind the city that they exist.

Mexico City. A multitude of cities in transit to other cities (at their own, and always external, rate). A city which has lost its capacity for being astonished in the face of cynicism and corruption. A city which is, nonetheless, caught in a state of undress by the dawn. A city which everyone has wanted to tame, to domesticate, to kill. And which nonetheless continues rebel, indomitable, unpredictable. Because this city has the virtue of being a light sleeper. And it wakes up quickly if its own, or a distant, misfortune clouds the days and nights which illusions conceal.

But now, at this hour of the dawn, it appears empty...

Where are those who make it run? Where are those who nurture it, give it light, color, rhythm, life?

Where are the brothers and sisters who, generously and unconditionally, turn their hearts and eyes to those who, like them, are the color of the earth? Where are those who, in March of 2001, heard in the Zo'calo that "Do not allow another dawn to break without that flag having a place for those of us who are the color of the earth."

Where is the rebel city in solidarity?

Where the social movements which incorporate and shelter the resistances and rebellions which emerge all over from the Mexico of below?

Where are the humble people who, having little, give everything to the one who needs it?

The cloud looks and the stone looks. They look and, looking, they find. Scattered and fragmented, not because that is their fate, but because that is how they are born, rebellion and resistance are sheltered in those who, being below, do not matter to those who are above.

They find it difficult to get their bearings, but, looking above and looking below, stone and cloud are learning to distinguish between the lights and the mere reflections provided by a puddle of dirty water.

That still pale light, for example, is going to great efforts to build an alternative culture which is, by definition, critical, and which is constructing its questions with ingenuity and imagination. And their colors are many. From the rainbow which, sometimes in clerical garb, is demanding not only free sexual preference, but also the right to be without masks or closets. To those who join Machete and Art in order to give voice and ear to the marginalized. To those cultural groups and spaces which, outside official circuits, are exercising the old and forgotten right to learn and to teach, enjoying and coexisting, like in that auditorium where Alicia contemplates us through the looking glass.

It is night now in the city.

On a corner, an anonymous voice is proclaiming: "In the beginning there was the word, and the word was made Word and, in order to make the world run better, the Word was made...rock and roll," and then, for lack of a guitar, the orator frets his gum with his teeth, and now one can distinctly make out that tune which goes "Papa was a rolling stone." And, swinging their hips with a rhythm that would be loved at any table-dance, cloud and stone continue, "like a rolling stone," to seek and find more lights.

There, constantly escaping from schemes and budgets, the young are making their dress, their dance and their speech a continuous '"performance" that repeats rebellion. And there are the Goths, the street, the punks, the skins, the metalheads, the skaters, the ravers, the rockers, the many names with which the young clothe themselves. And in that way they are defending an identity which is stolen from them by a society which criminalizes, even more than their clothing or the cut or color of their hair, their age.

And, speaking of youth and of rebellion, there are the lights of the UNAM, the UAM, the ENAH, the Poli, the UPN. How hurt they are, how wounded. Forgotten, yes, but not defeated. Hardly a "Wait for me man I swear no way because it's just rotten oranges, and take a break, and if you've got the coin, get a sandwich and a drink and give it to the compa~eros and I'd like to speak and the table just kidding, and it's passed without any motions and it's incredible but everyone seems to be listening and then a young person without rebellion is like, how can I tell you man?, like a dance without music? a sandwich without ham? a table without an assembly? a flyer without a cause to give it life? a rally without banners?...or better yet, like a book with no one to read it, to underline it, to summarize it-and-personally-critique-maximum-two-pages-your-name-and-number-on-top-and-now-we're-going-or-we're-coming-to-page-69-because-everyone-his-way-or-wha! t...?"

The young people, who are recyclable garbage for the system during every election. The young people, who carry their distrust as IDs. The young people, who refuse to buy a life with the false coin of cynicism. The young people, fodder for jail, for raids, for beatings, for rapes, for contempt, for humiliation, for lies, for death. The irreverent young people, uncompromising...invincible as long as they do not forget that a young person without rebellion is...what can I say, bro?...

The early morning advances, and the unclad city begins enrobing itself in the modest apparel of the street vendors.

Determined to build an honest way of life, small shopkeepers in the streets and the markets must not only put up with the police and the inspectors. But also with the large shopping centers which, knowing that the vendors' merchandise is better in quality and price, are employing all their resources in order to eliminate them and to drive them into indigence or crime.

There one can see Viana, which, of course, does not sell the most cheaply. Further along is Wal-Mart, Se~ora Sahagu'n's accomplice in deceiving consumers. In addition to robbing them through the prices and the quality of their products, Wal-Mart is snatching centavos from those who fall into their nets. The propaganda says that those centavos (which turn into millions as the days and clients accumulate) are for education, but they are, in fact, for the Let's Go Mexico Foundation, that Super-Department of State led by Marta Sahagu'n de Fox.

Between the big shopping centers and the little corner stores, it is the little corner shops and grocers which are better and cheaper (and much more honest).

If cloud and stone have any memory of what solidarity is with the unknown in misfortune, it is among the poorest and most persecuted people in this city. Stall holders, taxi drivers, truckers, prostitutes, waitpersons, fighters (for free struggle and for life), criers and boxers, fire-swallowers/clowns/corner windshield cleaners, homosexuals, transvestites, transsexuals, sellers of ice cream, sandwiches, hot dogs, milkshakes-a-pecan-one-please-I-won't-charge-you-today-who-knows-madame-sir-just-this-once-I'm-offering-you-this-opportunity-take-it-10-pens-10-import-quality-just-10-pesitos-next-stop-station-Indians-greens-tiruri...

Why, at the hour of need, is it the ones who have the least who give the most? When hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes paint the earth of the humble with misery in any part of Mexico, it is the poorest people who stand in line at the collection places in order to donate the rice, beans, oil and salt which they are undoubtedly lacking at their own table. While in the charity telethons, the powerful are handing out checks with many zeros and no dignity.

The humble give what they have, stone and cloud reflect, and the powerful give what is left over, what is in their way, what is already used, the expired, the unusable.

The stone walks. The cloud flies. How many cities concealed by this city! How many of them have the dignity which the powerful lack!

And how many cities within this city are plotting and greasing the wheels of crime! But we shall be visiting them tomorrow. They are undoubtedly concealing more than they reveal...

(To be continued)

Marcos on the 12th Etapa:DF/Part 2
DECEMBER: the Federal District, the Twelfth Etapa

(Second Image: Mexico DF, the December of Acteal, or Why the Basque Question)

Stone and cloud continue traveling throughout the city and those projects which, one can see, are geared towards raising up another city for the powerful, one which will subjugate the other cities.

In order to ensure this, Lo'pez Obrador has imported from the chaotic and brutal north the so-called Zero Tolerance Plan (and, along with it, comes Robo Cop Giuliani and his praetorian guard). The plan is based on an article by criminologists G. I. Kelling and J. Q. Wilson, from 1982: "Broken Windows." According to the article, there are circumstances which are favorable for the appearance and development of crime: "There is an abandoned lot, weeds grow, someone breaks windows, adults no longer scold children for making noise, and the children, their adventures thus encouraged, become rebellious, families move out, garbage begins piling up, people begin drinking in front of stores, a drunk falls on the sidewalk and he can stay there until he recovers, beggars go around bothering passersby, and if there are beggars, tomorrow the thieves will arrive, and then the murderers."

Did you follow the logic? With this "impeccable" reasoning, the police do not go after big criminals, but instead they go after children and young people who could turn into beggars and drunks, who could, in turn, become thieves and murderers. If you find some similarity with the "preventive war" doctrine which is fueling the Bush-Blair-Aznar war against Iraq, it is because you are not thinking well, since this is the "city of hope." Although, of course, individual rights will be reduced with this plan, conservative thinking will be advanced and all neighborhood solidarity that does not involve Public Ministry will be suspected of being "organized crime."

What it ultimately involves is building a "security fence" around the city of Power, a "preventive fence" which must, in order to fulfill its task, exclude or confine the poor of this city, who are the ones which make the metropolis live and run.

Along with this one, Lo'pez Obrador is working on another project: an agreement with the big money of industry and commerce. In order to obtain their blessing, the head of the Government is offering up a city under social and police control, and one which also has the necessary infrastructure for the new metropolis, where the rich will not be the ones on top, they will be the only ones.

These are the steps: first, it is noted that it is necessary to stop the construction of housing in delegations in the DF periphery. Then it is stated that it is essential to repopulate delegations in the center. The Historic Center board is immediately created, headed by Carlos Slim Helu'. Then, three mega-projects are promoted: the "financial corridor" (Reforma), the Alameda project and the Historic Center project. Finally, it is announced that Carlos Slim is buying up land and old buildings throughout this area. And so low cost housing will stop, under the pretext that it is no longer possible to continue growing towards the periphery. At the same time, three delegations will be models of what the Global City will be. The level of investments, education, medical services, communications services, and, of course, public security, will be in great contrast with the rest of the delegations.

Carlos Slim Helu', the richest man in Mexico and in Latin America, is not behind all of this, but in front of it. In a kind of unauthorized biography ("Carlos Slim. Retrato ine'dito." Ed. Oce'ano), journalist Jose' Marti'nez Mendoza (who previously wrote a biographical sketch of Carlos Hank Gonza'lez) presents a profile of Se~or Slim, who prides himself on being a self made man, a man who has carefully cultivated the image of having started at the bottom. But he is probably referring to the bottom floor of his mansion, because Slim entered the list of great millionaires after having bought Tele'fonos de Mexico (Telmex) for 400 million dollars, when its value was 12 billion dollars. Who was the seller? Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Ever since 1984 - when he became associated with other businesspersons in Libre Empresa SA (LESA), which would buy para-state businesses - Slim has been working "amicably" with politicians. And afterwards he did not limit his circle to PRIs, but ! broadened it to include PANs and PRDs, critical intellectuals and artists, media directors.

Sharing the same intelligence and pragmatism, Slim and Lo'pez Obrador quickly "clicked" in a way that is unusual between politicians and businessmen. But they both know that theirs is not friendship. They are neighbors in Cuicuilco, they have common interests and, as dealers, they feign cordiality while zealously reviewing their accounts and, at the end of every meeting, look in their wallets to make sure nothing is missing.

There are not a few intellectuals and politicians who pride themselves on having a friendship with Carlos Slim Helu'. Some of them boast of "advising" the most powerful gentleman in Latin America. But Se~or Slim does not have "advisors" nor "friends," he has employees. It is just that some of them don't know it.

One of them is Se~or Felipe Gonza'lez Ma'rquez, the former president of the Spanish government and currently escort of big European money. Se~or Gonza'lez makes frequent trips to Mexico in order to share with his "friend" Slim his taste for good food, growing bonsai, photography and billiards. But it was years previously, in 1995, and through Slim Helu', that Felipe Gonza'lez, as president of the Spanish government, became "friends" with another person: Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leo'n. In order to arrive at that time period, let us first visit the immediate past:

In the month of September of 2002, hours prior to the ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation on the indigenous counter-reform being made public, the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) learned what the ruling would be and its meaning: the three branches of the Union had joined together in order to decree the definitive cancellation of the path of dialogue and negotiation as a solution for the zapatista uprising.

We began working on one of the options which we had been considering since the end of 2001: attempting at an international level what had failed at the national level. And so the EZLN would send a delegation to Europe, for the purpose of appealing to international organizations and, supported by those in Mexico and in the world who sympathize with the indigenous cause, attempt to achieve the recognition of indigenous rights and culture. It was to be a march similar to the one in 2001, but with a fundamental difference: in the 2001 mobilization, the EZLN had limited itself solely and exclusively to the indigenous issue. In the international march, that issue would be linked with struggles which exist throughout the world, in particular with those which have to do with the recognition of differences, resistances and rebellions, and most especially with opponents to the preparations for war which were already getting underway against Iraq.

We had thought that Europe would be a land where international warmongering could be counterposed, removing its logic, and this could radiate to the rest of the world. It was not that we felt we had the ability to cause this international movement, but that it would be possible to contribute, along with other forces which were already active in social Europe, to getting something up and running. We had thought that it would be the opportunity for participating more directly in the building of a world where all worlds fit. In sum, we would not be going to Europe "on our best behavior," our words would be those of rebellion. The problem, of course, was how, and when, to go. That is where we were when, on November 2, 2002, the Day of the Dead, a person made contact with the Comandancia General through a messenger.

In compliance with what had been agreed, we were not able to say much about this person, only that he was quite close to the circles of political and economic power between the years of 1993 and 1996. After laying out the conditions as to discretion and secrecy, the person's message stated, more or less, that he had information which might be useful to the EZLN. And now I am citing verbatim: "If you are interested, let me know. It has to do with Acteal." It was not the first time that dissident people in the government had sent us information, sometimes true, sometimes false, and so we ordered him to say that he could send us what he knew. This is what he revealed:

In the months following February of 1995, after the failure of Zedillo's betrayal of the EZLN, along with the military offensive which accompanied it - and the theater of Rau'l Salinas de Gortari's detention having been exhausted - Generals Rena'n Castillo (military chief and de facto governor in Chiapas) and Cervantes Aguirre (Secretary of National Defense) were insisting on the need to activate paramilitary groups in order to confront the zapatistas (Rena'n Castillo had studied with the North Americans, and Cervantes Aguirre was enjoying a torrid honeymoon with his US counterpart, and so the option known at that time as "Columbia" had the backing of the North American State Department).

Zedillo however, was not done deciding. In that same year of 1995, an individual from the Spanish government appeared. A "close friend of the President," said the one who had passed us the information, "who attended meetings which were not strictly social, but where matters of State were touched upon."

At one of those meetings, Zedillo commented on the zapatistas and the problem represented by doing away with them, since they had public opinion on their side. The individual from the Spanish government said that what he had to do then was to destroy the legitimacy of the zapatistas, and then strike. Zedillo reminded the individual about the history of February 9 and its consequences. The Spaniard clarified that he was not talking about that, but that, if the zapatistas were fighting for the indigenous, he had to make it look as if they were fighting against indigenous. In Spain, said the one from that country, we have created some groups in order to counteract the Basque independence movements. Zedillo said that he knew about the GAL (Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups) and that there had been an investigation in order to determine governmental responsibilities in the kidnapping and assassinations of ETAs. The Spaniard was not embarrassed, and he pointed out that killing ! and kidnapping assassins was not a crime, but a favor done for society. He added that the GAL had done other things, such as carrying out attacks which were later attributed to ETA. Zedillo asked whether the king knew about that. The Spaniard responded: "The king knows what suits him, and he pretends he doesn't know what doesn't suit him." He added that nothing had happened, just a few days of scandal in the press and now, since no one was going to delve more deeply when the dead are terrorists, that there are serious decisions which must be made for reasons of State.

Zedillo pointed out that that was of no use here, because the zapatistas were not terrorists. "Make them terrorists" the Spaniard said, and continued: "What you have to do is to create an armed group of indigenous, have them confront the zapatistas, they fight, there are dead, the army comes in and establishes peace among all of them, and there you are." The Spaniard went on: "We could lend you a hand with some advisors, some experience. Of course we hope for some cooperation from your government in exchange, like the extradition of ETAs who are living in your country." Zedillo said that he wasn't certain they were members of ETA. "That's not a problem," said the Spaniard. "We're in charge of what they are." The Spaniard added that his government could also help the Mexican government in commercial negotiations with Europe, and he ended his argument with a sentence: "Come on, Ernesto, if we Spanish are experts in anything, it's in exterminating indigenous."

That is the information which we received. The rest could be quickly inferred: Zedillo ordered the activation of paramilitary groups, the Spanish government gave advice and the Mexican government increased the extradition of alleged ETA members.

On December 22, 1997, a paramilitary group headed towards confrontation with zapatistas. The zapatistas withdrew in order to avoid a clash among indigenous, and they warned non-zapatistas about the threat. Las Abejas, unarmed and confident that nothing would happen to them because they were neutral, stayed. The carnage began and ended, while police officers and soldiers waited patiently to go in and "establish peace" in the "confrontation" between indigenous. The truth was discovered almost immediately thanks to the media. The news went around the world and shook every noble human being. In Los Pinos, Zedillo only repeated: "Why children and women?"

With the blood of Acteal still fresh, interviewed by Mexican journalist Luis Herna'ndez Navarro (La Jornada, March 10 1998), Felipe Gonza'lez had this to say about the killings: "That always creates a tremendous commotion. We live in that media globalization which causes a stir. Mexico has the nobility which means that something like this is an explosive new story and it creates concern. Much more serious situations in other areas don't merit newspaper front pages, or they don't manage to cross those barriers of communication." And so everything is a problem of exaggeration by the media...

Was Felipe Gonza'lez Ma'rquez the person who talked to Zedillo about GAL, paramilitaries and the extradition of Basques? Was it someone from his government? Some recollections torn from the pages of previous calendars:

1995: In Spain, the Conflicts Tribunal authorized Felipe Gonza'lez' government to not turn over documentation tied to the Anti-Terrorist Liberation groups. Founded on July 6, 1983, the GAL were responsible for more than 40 attacks resulting in 28 deaths, between 1983-1987. In October of 1995, Ernesto Zedillo met privately with Felipe Gonza'lez in Bariloche, Argentina, during the fifth Latin American Summit.

In 1996, January: Those accused of carrying out the "dirty war" against ETA complain that the entire matter of the GAL is a conspiracy aimed at "defeating" the then President Felipe Gonza'lez. The PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) keeps Jose' Barrionuevo, former Minister of the Interior - indicted, along with former Secretary of State Security, Rafael Vera, for his terrorist activity - on their list of candidates for deputy. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leo'n travels to Spain on his first state visit to that country.

In February: Jaime Iribarren, parliamentary representative of Herri Batasuna, is detained, accused of having burned a digging machine. Also detained at that time is Jon Idi'goras, Batasuna leader, on the orders of Judge Baltasar Garzo'n, who wanted to tie him to the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) organization. Part of Idi'goras' "criminal" record is having sung a nationalist song during a visit by King Juan Carlos to Guernica in 1981. A video circulates in which ETA members suggest a negotiation proposal with the Spanish State. Felipe Gonza'lez rejects polls which show the Popular Party (PP) leading the PSOE. In March, Gonza'lez' PSOE loses the elections to Aznar's Popular Party. Spanish singer Raphael expresses his hopes for Aznar: "I'm certain that he will know how to do justice to Franco's memory."

July of 1996: Spanish justice condemns Jose' Koldo Marti'n Carmona, deported from Mexico in November of 1995, to 122 years in jail. Along with Lourdes Churruca, Koldo was accused of three attacks which did not produce any victims. During the same time period, three young Basque persons were tried for having set fire to a police van. The sentences requested for them ranged from 111 to 592 years in prison.

This same year, the book "Rolda'n-Paeza, the Swiss Connection," was released, by journalist Juan Gasparini. The book revealed certain aspects about corruption inside Felipe Gonza'lez' government, especially as concerns Luis Rolda'n, the former director of the Guardia Civil. Among the corrupt businesses is the Siemens company. One of their lawyers, Ulrich Kohli', in addition to selling anti-personnel mines to Saddam Hussein, laundered money for the Salinas de Gortari family. Felipe Gonza'lez comes to the defense of his "friend," Carlos Salinas de Gortari, praising his policies.

1998, July: Jose' Barrionuevo and Rafael Vera, tied to the GAL, are sentenced to 10 years in prison. During the trial, Felipe Gonza'lez appears as a witness, and he alludes, on various occasions, to reasons of State as justification for specific serious decisions in critical situations.

In March of 1999, a news photo (La Jornada. Pedro Valtierra) shows Zedillo greeting Felipe Gonza'lez, under the complacent gaze of former Israeli prime Minister Shimon Peres.

In October of 2000, Zedillo dines with Felipe Gonza'lez in an upscale restaurant in the Polanco district, in Mexico City.

On October 25, 2001, journalist Rau'l Trejo Delarbre, in "Society and Power," points out that PRISA (Spanish) and Televisa (Mexican) have formalized the entry of Spanish money into Mexican radio. In attendance are President Fox and the presidents of Televisa and PRISA, as well as Carlos Slim Helu', Felipe Gonza'lez Ma'rquez and Lino Korrodi, thus violating Article 31, Section VI, of the federal law. Also present was Juan Luis Cebria'n, author of the book on Felipe Gonza'lez, The Future Is No Longer What It Was, and chief executive of PRISA.

In February of 2002, Zedillo makes his second official visit to Spain. During dinner with Aznar, Zedillo recalls his meeting with the current president of the Spanish government in late 1994, and he expresses gratitude for Spain's help in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations between Mexico and the European Union. The king and Aznar express their thanks to Zedillo for Mexico's "collaboration" in the extradition of alleged ETAs.

Throughout Ernesto Zedillo's administration, 1994-2000, various Basque citizens were deported to Spain, accused of belonging to ETA. Amnesty International has testimony that they were tortured.

In December of 2002, Judge Baltasar Garzo'n comes out in defense of the king, Felipe Gonza'lez and Jose' Mari'a Aznar, whom he practically describes as "national heroes of democracy."

In February of 2003, Aznar travels to Mexico in order to meet with Vicente Fox. The media puts out that the trip is owing to the fact that the Spaniard will try to convince the Mexican to support the war in Iraq. The truth is otherwise: Aznar is coming to Mexico in order to convince Fox to not let the zapatistas travel to Spain.

(Information taken from the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, 1996-2003, journalists Pedro Miguel, Luis Javier Garrido, Marcos Roitman, Kyra Nu'~ez, Jaime Aviles, Armando G. Tejeda, Rosa Elvira Vargas and Luis Herna'ndez Navarro. News agencies: AFP, ANSA, EFE, Reuters, IPS, AP).

Having gathered this information, the EZLN decided that the project of going to Europe should begin on Spanish soil and touch on the Basque Country issue. They thought in that way to posit the obvious questions which would evolve from this and the responsibilities of the Spanish government.

Thus is answered the question which so many people asked: "Why is the EZLN getting involved in the Basque Country issue?" It was the Spanish government that involved the Basque issue in the indigenous struggle in Mexico, not us.

We zapatistas then considered it our duty to go to Spain, in order to demonstrate to the king, to Felipe Gonza'lez, to Jose' Mari'a Aznar and to Baltasar Garzo'n, that they were lying about the "if the Spaniards are experts at anything, it's at exterminating indigenous," given that we are still alive, resisting and rebel.

We would not have been able to provoke a massacre in Spain, but we could provoke a debate. And so we thought up the An Opportunity for the Word initiative. There was, in addition, the problem that the Basque issue was considered taboo among progressive forces, and it could only be touched upon in order to condemn ETA's terrorism, carefully ignoring two things: one, the State terrorism, and the other, that ETA is not the only force fighting for the sovereignty of Euskal Herria.

We were not unaware of the fact at that time that touching on the Basque issue could cause uneasiness, but we believed that it was our duty to do so. In addition, the zapatistas had other questions which were waiting to be answered. On November 17, 2002, in the presentation of the Mexican magazine, Rebeldi'a, we warned about the duty, and we hinted at where our word was going to be directed. Days later, we launched a provocation whose principal objective was Felipe Gonza'lez. We failed to provoke Gonza'lez, but, in his place, wounded in the ego, fell Judge Baltasar Garzo'n. The letter to the Madrid Aguascalientes noted that the zapatistas intended to go to Europe and to touch on the Basque issue. Later, what happened, happened.

The EZLN never proposed mediating the Basque conflict, let alone telling the Basques what they should or should not do. We only asked for an opportunity for the word.

Our proposal may have been stupid or nai:ve, or both, but it was never dishonest, nor did it mean to be lacking in respect. That is not our way.

That was the zapatistas' intention, without deceit or back room agreements. We had thought to make the information which we had received public as we moved along through the legal demands in front of international bodies.

That is why, faced with the criticisms which we received from all sides - regarding why we were getting involved in something of which we were unaware - we responded that we knew more about the Basque issue than many people thought, to wit, the Basque Country-Chiapas connection, that is, the connection between the terrorism of the Spanish State and of the Mexican state, international terrorism in fact.

We are revealing what we know at this time because we have "decided to cancel our trip to the Iberian peninsula."

Our initiative was honorable and honest (we have our own history as moral guarantor), but it was quickly enveloped in the condemnation and lack of understanding from those who call themselves progressives, who, pressured by the media, did not want to wait to see the de'nouement. For them, we have only heart-felt reproach and nothing more, because malice is not fueled against those who, while capable of being petty, have been generous on other occasions.

The right did their work, and it benefited the proposal, since, by demonizing it and demonizing us, it was made known, and an unprecedented debate was provoked.

>From the side of the "left," someone dared, in a despicable and petty manner, to suggest that the EZLN's distancing itself from ETA had been a condition of the Spanish government for allowing the trip by the zapatista delegation to Iberian lands. Our distancing ourselves from the terrorism of the left is not new, it goes back to the founding of the EZLN, almost 20 years ago, and even earlier.

If we must refrain from participating in the An Opportunity for the Word encuentro, it is not because the criticisms, reproaches or petty accusations are keeping us awake. It is because we cannot, in terms of our own ethics, participate in an encuentro which does not have the support of ALL the nationalist forces of the Basque Country, and which runs the risk of turning into a tribunal which judges those who are not present, instead of being a space for discussion and reflection on the paths of the Basque Country.

The responsibility for not having managed to convene the Basque forces is solely and exclusively that of the EZLN, in particular of he who is their spokesperson: Marcos (without military rank, for those who do not like that). Our words (our way, as we say), instead of convening, wounded many honest and noble people in the Basque Country. Although that was not our intention, that is what happened. We truly regret it.

We wish to sincerely apologize to all those persons in the Basque Country whom we hurt. Hopefully someday you might honor us with your forgiveness, because forgiveness among brothers does not disgrace.

Regarding the challenge to debate which was made to us by Judge Garzo'n, we have waited enough time. Judge Garzo'n, despite being the challenger, has preferred to remain silent. He has, thus, demonstrated that he is good for interrogating tortured prisoners, for being photographed with victims of terrorism and for engaging in self-promotion campaigns for the Nobel Peace Prize, but that he does not dare debate someone who is halfway intelligent. And not because one might be more skillful with words, but because Garzo'n throws down laws when there is a lack of reason. Previously we had accused Garzo'n of being a grotesque clown. It isn't true. He is just a windbag and a coward.

We would especially like to thank the organizations of the Basque independence left, Herri Batasuna and Askapena, who were the only ones which responded positively to our initiative (or at least the only ones who let us know), as well as those people, individually or collectively, in the Basque Country, in the Spanish State, in Italy and in Mexico who received our proposal with interest and honesty.

Perhaps some day our words will learn to reflect the affection, the respect and the admiration we feel for the Basque people and for their political and cultural fight.

Perhaps someday that encuentro might take place, and, giving the word a chance, the paths might meet to the tomorrow of independence, democracy, liberty and justice, which the Basque people, and all the peoples of the world, deserve.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, February 24, 2003.
Day of the Mexican Flag.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
Translated by irlandesa 

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