Proposal for FZLN Presentation to the Encuentro by Civil Society Against the War and Repression and for Democracy

June 2000

The existence and continuation of the war against the zapatista indigenous is more than a short-term event. Because they are the group most strongly opposed to the regime's anti-democratic nature and authoritarianism, they have become the primary objective for elimination, through the exercise of that most cruel political practice: the war of extermination. This has been a constant over the last six years, and the operatives are a handful of technocrats and those federal army generals who have sold themselves to them, betraying their people.

Over the last days, an open escalation of the war has begun, and, since the zapatistas have not been able to be defeated politically, a definitive military strike has been decided upon. It is necessary to come to terms with the fact that they will be continuing, then, against the poor of the countryside and the city.

There is nothing left for the neoliberal program, if it wants to survive. The poor are an obstacle. Especially those who resist their policies.

There has been a news blockade concerning war activities over the last few days. Even so, there are sufficient indications, if one cares to see them. There has been a growing tendency, however, to refuse to see the reality and to want to see war as only a possibility. This is a typical phenomenon in response to extraordinary circumstances. It is understandable that the war would cause it, but it would be a serious error to become paralyzed. That is precisely the government's intention. We do not have to wait for large massacres in order to mobilize. Why wait for ten or twenty Acteals? Sooner or later, the assassination of hundreds of zapatista indigenous will come crashing down on us, and it will have a profound impact in the consciences of the excluded of the entire world. By preparing a response now, by employing a strategy that will dismantle the war, it will be more difficult later, and it will cost more lives and effort, to stop it.

It is essential that we not only mobilize, but also that we remain organized. We cannot ease up in response to a political class who see their end in government close at hand. They have said it in many ways: they have no thoughts of leaving power peacefully. This means they will cause the greatest possible damage, and they will prevent democracy from taking root in the country. That would keep them from winning the government again, which they continue using in order to enrich themselves and to favor the groups of capitalists who have known only how to exploit the people and to loot the wealth of Mexico.

It is necessary to be aware of the fact that there are many of us, throughout the country, and in various forms, who are the objects of repression and low intensity warfare. We are part of a whole that has become, for the neoliberal technocrats, a military objective. The struggle against war and repression and for democracy has today become the last front of defense against the annihilation, not just of zapatismo, but of many activists for human rights and democracy. Even so, the fact that the government has opted for open war also means that it is at its lowest level of credibility and legitimacy, and at its highest level of corruption. It is in such a state of deterioration that it has lost its hegemony and control over its own means of reproduction. That is why it is resorting to soldiers and paramilitaries. It believes that is the only way in which will it be saved and in which it will be able to continue in power.

War as a political strategy in this context aspires to achieve different objectives: 1) to strike forcefully against the political object, zapatismo, which could convoke and draw together social forces which would emerge after the election euphoria is over, and once disillusionment has set in upon seeing that neither Fox nor Labastida are going to change neoliberal policies; 2) to provoke chaos in the southeastern states and the Gulf of Mexico in order to facilitate the implementation of fraud in all its guises, and to guarantee Labastida's "winning" the election, despite everything; 3) to create so much uncertainty and fear that the number of people voting is inhibited, making the manipulation of votes easier; 4) to mitigate the radicalism of those political positions taken by different groups of intellectuals, academics, journalists, professional politicians, business elites and religious persons against the PRI, since that could lead to a majority vote against Labastida.

For all these objectives, the strategy is - through the extermination of the EZLN, by definitively striking at it - to avoid the spread of the example of doing and understanding a new kind of politics. In order to achieve this, solidarity with the indigenous peoples must also be stopped, and the protest must not become national. To defeat zapatismo militarily and to dilute their national strength. It is within this context that the annihilation of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, the CCRI, which is the EZLN comandancia, is being contemplated.

Accompanying the government's war strategy is State terrorism. The utilization of the army and the war against zapatismo represents the possibility of reestablishing political and economic control. The logic is that of a modernization which dictates the elimination of those social groups who have neither the capacity, nor the desire, to consume the products offered by the neoliberal market.

Given this perspective, it is necessary to warn that the compa~eros and zapatista brothers, and the communities which are their support bases, are going to resist and to withstand the war, at the cost of their lives. We have no doubt as to their capacity for struggle and resistance, of their decision to die for a new, democratic Mexico, with justice and liberty for all Mexicans. That is why we should not wait until massacres take place. Responding and organizing now, in order to stop the war, will be easier than stopping it later.

It is necessary to realize that the army is not going to be able to quickly exterminate the thousands and thousands of members of the EZLN and the hundreds of thousands who make up the indigenous communities which support them. And the possibility of the government extending the actions of war throughout all the land is dependent on the defeats they experience at this very moment. In addition, one must warn that the political forces and power groups who have decided on war are not the only ones in the country, nor do they have the approval of all international power groups. There is resistance to these kinds of measures, even within the armed forces. But, one more time, it must be said, that, if civil society does not offer resistance, the war could go on for a long time. In other words, the cost and the number of deaths caused by the regime's military and paramilitary forces. But the irresponsibility caused by our not mobilizing immediately, in order to avoid massacres, will work to the advantage of the criminal government.

One cannot lose sight of the fact that struggling against the war, and the state's repressive violence, is part of the struggle for democracy. It is, therefore, a demand and a global questioning of the regime which civil society organizations, which some parties and officials and members of the PRI who want peace, are doing.

Illusory Democracy and Repressive Reality

Under current conditions, it is very difficult to successfully create the simulation between the illusory democracy and the repressive reality. Opposition parties, as well as intellectuals, will have to define themselves. We must insist that the struggle against war and repression is both one of principle and, at the same time, the struggle for democracy.

There is, most certainly, a problem which must be overcome if one wants to stop the war offensive. This is the breakdown and fragmentation among social organizations and movements. But it is a phenomenon that can be surmounted, and, during these times in which we are living, it can be achieved very rapidly.

It is also important to take into account the fact that the decision to implement war requires the willingness of the armed forces, and their conviction that they are carrying out their duties. The possibility of the soldiers' weariness must, in this sense, be considered. On the other hand, those actors who are facilitating the war must be denounced and revealed, since this will facilitate the breaking up of the alliances of the technocrats and the military. They include a group of pro-government environmental NGOs, the ecclesiastical hierarchy and cacique and business groups in Chiapas, as well as a group of army officers.

Everything indicates that the government has decided on open war, and it is hoping that that political act will achieve its goals as quickly as possible, and without the use of its entire force. That is why it began with actions that are able to sow fear and intimidation in the entire population. That single fact is already an act of repression. One cannot lose sight of the fact that repression does not always require its enemy's destruction. It is enough to impose its will.

For a National Front Against the War and Repression and for Democracy

Under the conditions described, the relevance of forming an organization is beyond question. It would be absurd to deny that that there cannot be democracy with war. And so, the transition to democracy must include stopping the war. The creation of a National Front would have to bring together all social and political organizations and those people and organizations who want peace in Mexico. It would be a front whose only objective would be that of stopping the war so that democracy can exist.

This Front would have to be specifically for organizing, in a unified manner, actions and initiatives against the war, and it would be respectful of the networks, groups, alliances, coalitions, coordinadoras, and so forth, who exist today for other struggles. It is imperative that the objective of this Front not be diluted with the presentation of other demands. As legitimate as they may be, they will have no prospects at all if war were to become widespread in this country. And further, Zedillo's government would be delighted if a National Front were to emerge with five, ten or twenty demands, because then it would have room to maneuver, in order to weaken the struggle against the war. Stopping the war is foremost.

After six years of low intensity war, we have not been able make the government carry out the San Andre's Accords, nor even to remove the seventy thousand soldiers from Chiapas, nor to keep paramilitary groups from proliferating. That is why it is the moment for forming a Great Front Against the War and for Democracy which will become a platform for stopping the war and for furthering a true transition to democracy. It will promote political consciousness, and it will be a shield against repression throughout the nation's lands, for every social group and movement.

The building of this great National Front will have to overcome one initial obstacle, which is lack of information, since the government is maintaining a news blockade in order to prevent knowledge of the war it is waging in Chiapas. A primary challenge will be linking the thousands of civil society organizations who are fighting locally and informing them about events and the war operations against the zapatistas. They will also have to be convinced that the primary objective is to stop the war. It will be at this National Encuentro of Civil Society where the decision will have to be made concerning the plan of action to be carried out immediately.

Originally published in Spanish by the FZLN ______________________ Translated by irlandesa

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