News and Analysis: December 24, 2012 - January 6, 2013


On December 30, the EZLN issued a formal communique outlining their broad strategic focus for the immediate future and two public letters, representing the movement’s first public comments in a year and a half.  The declarations follow historic silent marches by 40,000 Zapatista support bases in five major population centers in eastern and northern Chiapas on December 21.  The declarations are available in Spanish and English at

The communique opens with a brief review of Zapatista successes over the years: “we have significantly strengthened and improved our living conditions. Our standard of living is higher than those of the indigenous communities that support the governments in office, who receive handouts that are squandered on alcohol and useless items.”  For a movement that passed quickly in the early 2000s from du jour to passé in the mainstream media, casual followers of Zapatismo may find this claim surprising.  But after institutional politics were largely closed off to the movement by the passage of a toothless version of the San Andres Accords in 2001, Zapatismo turned inward, focusing on self-implementation of the Accords.  The results are impressive – autonomous self-government, a primary and secondary education system that covers the entirety of Zapatista territory, and a self-financed medical system recognized for its efficacy, even by opposition party members in Chiapas.  Slowly but surely, Zapatismo has become a sustainable force focused on the basic needs and political organization of tens of thousands of indigenous families.

The second half of the communique outlines in broad brush strokes a strategy for coming years, including a renewed commitment to the National Indigenous Congress and the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona and expanded relationships with indigenous and Left movements throughout the hemisphere.  More detailed plans are promised in the immediate future.

While the communique offers pointed criticism of the “bad government” and institutional politics in general, there is also recognition of a changing of the guard as the PRI reassumes power, after 12 years of PAN rule.  In this moment of transition, the Zapatistas present the political class with a challenge:  “it’s up to the federal, executive, legislative and judicial governments to decide if they are going to continue the politics of counterinsurgency that have only resulted in a flimsy simulation clumsily built through the media, or if they are going to recognize and fulfill their commitments by elevating Indigenous Rights and Culture to the level of the Constitution as established in the San Andrés Accords signed by the Federal Government in 1996, which was at the time led by the very same political party that today occupies the executive office.  It will be up to the state government to decide if it will continue the dishonest and despicable strategy of its predecessor, that, in addition to corruption and lies, used the money of the people of Chiapas to enrich itself and its accomplices and dedicated itself to the shameless buying of the voices and pens of the communications media, sinking the people of Chiapas into poverty while using police and paramilitaries to try to brake the organizational advance of the Zapatista communities; or, if instead, with truth and justice, it will accept and respect our existence and come around to the idea that a new form of social life is blooming in Zapatista territory, Chiapas, Mexico. This is a flowering that attracts the attention of honest people all over the planet.  It will be up to the municipal governments if they decide to keep swallowing the tall tales with which anti-zapatista or supposedly “zapatista” organizations extort them in order to attack and harass our communities; or if instead they use that money to improve the living conditions of those they govern.  It will be up to the people of Mexico who organize in electoral struggles and resist, to decide if they will continue to see us as enemies or rivals upon which to take out their frustration over the frauds and aggressions that, in the end, affect all of us, and if in their struggle for power they continue to ally themselves with our persecutors; or if they finally recognize in us another form of doing politics.”