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"Even Death If It's Necessary" in Zapatista Campaign

"Even Death if it's Necessary"
The Other Campaign's Challenge to the Rich and Powerful

Hermann Bellinghausen y Emir Olivares

Mexico City, May 1, 2006. — "Even death if it's necessary," is the phrase which Subcomandante Marcos has heard the most in the south and center of the country, expressed by groups most below to repudiate neoliberalism: indigenous, women, campesinos, small business people, workers, children, elders, students, exploited workers. "Even death if it's necessary" was the phrase with which the Zapatista delegate returned, after five years, to the heart of Mexico. Which is the same that he heard in Chiapas before 1994, "when women, men, children and old ones decided to rise up in arms against the supreme government" he recalled, in reference to the Zapatista villages in whose name he arrived here for the commemoration of the "other" May 1st."Look at him, there he goes, between the sombreros of the little old ones," a young man was saying to his girlfriend, both climbed up a post on the Alameda, at the pass of Subcomandante Marcos, who was walking flanked by ex-braceros, fired workers and veteran leaders. A human circle of raised machetes
from San Salvador Atenco was in charge of the Zapatista delegate's security in the nearly two hours which the march between the United States Embassy and the
pavilion in the Zócalo, with its back to the National Palace. And why the "little old ones?" This May 1st was also the recuperation (recovery?) of something that seemed in disuse: the worker mobilization. Today it is no longer now imaginable that the president will call them, not even the puppets who remain, the nation's first worker." Not that he greets any official parade from his balcony in the Palace. No May Day event is "official." In 21st Century Mexico, this day is hidden and quiet.

At noon, in front of the United States Embassy in Mexico, the Other Campaign had realized a meeting in solidarity with undocumented Mexicans in that country. Delegate Zero, from the roof of a truck, read an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist message. An impressive police circle surrounded the Angel of Independence, with anti-riot police and hundreds of capital police agents, who also protect the Embassy, some banks, hotels and other U.S. businesses lo-cated on the trajectory of the march towards the Zócalo. Very significantly, the Madero VIPs (owned by Walmart) had a special guard of agents, with helmuts and acrylic shields and everything. Nevertheless, at no time during the march did anyone "attempt" against the properties. The Undersecretary of capital public security, Gabriel Regino, headed the operation and made a tour througfh the guarded zones to supervise the vigilance. Personally.

In front of the U.S. Embassy, the "representation of the Bush government, but not of the North American people," Subcomandante Marcos directed a message in support of the boycott called for by the undocumented Mexicans and Latin Americans in the United States. He showed the Other Campaign's solidarity with that movement, and invited the peoples of both nations, who supported the Zapatistas since 1994, and the Chicanos, to back up the demands of the migrants and add themselves to the struggle. "As indigenous and Zapatistas we add ourselves to the Boycott against all North American products that circulate in Mexican lands."

Marcos added: "We are struggling so that on our soil and under our skies there will be housing, land, work, food, health care, education, justice, democracy, independence, information, culture, freedom and peace for all. We are struggling for an "other" Mexico, one that will not oblige its workers to leave everything to go to a foreign land in search of the life that is now impossible here."

Around noon, Delegate Zero had made his appearance near the Angel of Independence. The meeting began immediately, and in his speech he pointed out that the migrants contribute to the U.S. economy, also that it is the lack of jobs in Mexico which obliges them to leave their lands and families. He accused the Mexican government of contributing to the U.S. greed and of being a "vassal" of that country's interests. He also classified the modern church as "ambitious," because it seeks its benefit at any cost.

Delegate Zero said that the big foreign, principally from the United States, "have converted into merchandise not only people, but also our land,
our nature, our water, our forests, our biodiversity, our history and culture." Consequently, he exhorted them "to start packing your bags because you are going to leave Mexico; the organized people are going to expel you." He proclaimed that "the muddled stars and stripes will not wave in our skies."

The three-colored banner will be waving again with dignity, with the eagle posted on a nopal (cactus) and struggling against a serpent. Too bad, one must begin to pack."

Upon Delegate Zero's passage along the Paseo de la Reforma, Avenida Juárez and calle Madero, numerous people were adding themselves (to the march) shouting chants in support of the EZLN. The Federal District's Secretary of Public Security reported four thousand attendees in the crowd in front of the U.S. diplomatic headquarters, and it rated at eight thousand the number which arrived in the Zócalo. Notwithstanding that, it is calculated that at least twenty-five thousand (25,000) people congregated at the gangplank in the Zócalo.

In his speech, the Zapatista delegate pointed out that "the adherents to the Other Campaign have decided to join our struggles, not for a change of government but to overthrow it; not to ask them that the rich go away, but to get them out of the country." And he sentenced: "The Zapatistas are accustomed to fulfilling our word."

He said that on his toure throughout the country the Other Campaign has listened to the voices of campesinos deceived by governmental programs to dislodge them from their lands, the same lands which belonged to their ancestors and which "ought to be for their children." He pointed out that he sees the indigenous peoples dislodged from their communal lands by empresarios and officials of all political parties. He added that when the indigenous arrive in Mexico City to sell their products, they evict them with kicks and buckets of cold water, and they receive insults, "whether the PRI, PAN or PRD govern," because we're dealijng with the same scorn for our language, culture, color; for the way that we are." And these indians have said: even death if it's necessary."

Delegate Zero denounced that youth are persecuted by the police and seen with distrust because of their style of dress, of combing their hair, of speaking and for the music to which they listen. As to not call him a liar, at the end of the march, the capital police detained two young people who participate in the Other Campaign's Karavan (Yazmín Núñez Hernández and Arnoldo Gómez). The police took them to the local Police Station 50, and they were freed later.

In his speech in the Zócalo, Marcos was adding: "We have listened to women of all sizes saying 'we are tired of them considering us an object which must be beaten, above which they must satisfy themselves, which they must pursue, which they must sell, which they must humilliate and which must be killed.' Up to death if it is necessary, said these women." The female employees who work 12-16 hours for less than 50 pesos a day have also uttered that phrase. Likewise the small businesspeople evicted by PAN, PRI and PRD governments "so that the city doesn't look dirty, so that the big shopping centers - Sam's, Wal-Mart, Comercial Mexicana, Soriana and whatever they call themselves, so they can have their luxury clients without offending their sense of smell by our odor, which is the color of work."

Subcomandante did not forget the elderly, "tired and fed up from an entire life of work, of struggle, and thrown into a corner as if they were a disturbance, a piece of garbage, and from there above maybe they will give them charity."

He indicated that before beginning the trip through the country as part of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle's first stage, his bosses in the EZLN told him that he should carry that message: "Until death if it is necessary. Alive or dead, prisoners or free, disappeared or in the streets, in the mountains, in the rivers or in the sea, we are going to repeat the same thing to those up above, to the grand politicians, to the grand wealthy ones.

We are going to make little pieces of all of you," he concluded.

Delegate Zero launched himself against the owners of big capital, the politicians, those who monopolize land: "we are going to take Telmex away from (Carlos) Slim. We are going to take away everything he has, and the workers, the telephone operators, the employees of those businesses are going to manage it. We are going to take away the land from the landholders and the campesinos are going to work them at good prices for their products, without
genetically-modified organisms (GMO')s, without chemicals, like we campesinos work the land itself... We are going to take the schools away from the corrupt, mediocre, idiotic officials that they have and we are going to deliver them to the university students. We are going to take the banks away from the bankers; the big industries away from the big owners and we are going to take away the bad governments away from the rulers and we are going to take ours!

Delegate Zero confided that the streets of Mexico "will shine again as they shine today" with those from below, the humble ones, the common people, with sexual workers, homosexuals, lesbians, transgenders, children and street workers, small tenants, informal and market businesspersons, with Indian peoples, campesinos, workers, students, teachers and elderly. Because the ugly ones, the stinky ones are here in the Other Campaign. This country's best." From many unions, guilds and the Republic's different state entities they came to shake up the dust on May Day, with a bi-national edge and a renewed independent accent.

[Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Mexico City, Tuesday, May 2, 2006. Translation: Red Star Rising]