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2003-08-13

The Zapatistas Form New Autonomous Governments; Marcos Calls for Civilian Not Military Rule

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The Zapaistas announced their plan for indigenous self-rule and said they would withdraw their fighters from roadblocks across the region and stop charging travelers to pass through the territory they control. We go to Chiapas to speak to Luz Ruiz of the Chiapas Media Project and we hear excerpts of Subcomandante Marcos and Comandante Fidelia played and spoken at this weekend’s "encuentro." [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript

In decisions that could have far reaching consequences, the Zapatistas have declared political autonomy in 30 municipalities in the Southern Mexican region of Chiapas.

The Zapaistas announced their plan for indigenous self-rule at their annual "encuentro" this past weekend.

The Zapatistas also said they would withdraw their fighters from roadblocks across the region and stop charging travelers to pass through the territory they control.

While most of the Zapatista leadership attended the gathering, the group’s chief spokesperson Marcos was not in attendance.

In a five-minute record, Marcos called for the creation of five new "good government" boards called "caracoles" to oversee five different regions where the autonomous municipalities are located. He also said these "caracoles" would be ruled by civilians not the military wing of the Zapatistas.

The Mexican government hailed the announcement and have announced a breakthrough in its long standoff with the Zapatistas.

We are going to begin by listening to a portion of the pre-recorded statement from Marcos and then we will go to Chiapas for a live report.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now! as we move to southern Mexico. Decisions that could have far reaching consequences. The Zapatistas have declared political autonomy in 30 municipalities in the Southern Mexican region of Chiapas. The Zapatistas announced their plan for indigenous self-rule at their annual encuentro or gathering this past weekend.

Zapatista said they would withdraw fighters from road blocks across the region while most of the Zapatista leadership attended the gathering, the group’s chief spokesperson, sub-Comandante Marcos was not there, though he did send a five minute recording. He called for the creation of five new good government boards called "caracoles" to oversee five different regions where autonomous municipalities are located. He also said these "caracoles" or good government boards would be ruled by civilians not the military wing of the Zapatistas. We’re going to hear an excerpt of that tape translated by our producer. Stay with us.

“The Zapatista Army of National Liberation cannot be the voice of he who governs or the government even if he who governs, governs obeying and is a good government. The EZLN speaks for those of below for the governed, for the Zapatista people who are their heart and blood, their thought and path, y su eamino.

We shall be ready and waiting to defend them, that is why we are the Zapatista Army. The guardians and heart of the people. And so from here on I shall no longer be the spokesperson for the rebel Zapatista autonomous municipality. They already have someone who speaks and speaks well for them.

In my role as military commander of the Zapatista troops, I am informing you that as of now the autonomous counsel will not be able to have recourse to the military forces for government work. They should there for try very hard to do as all governments do, that is to have recourse to reason and not to force in order to govern. Armies should not be used in order to defend. Not in order to govern. An army’s work is not to be a police force or public ministry.

Consequently as our comandante should inform you all those checkpoints and control points shall be withdrawn which under autonomous authority our forces have been maintaining along the roads and highways as well as the collecting of taxes from individuals.

AMY GOODMAN: And that is a recording of sub-Comandante Marcos, the recording that was played at the gathering this weekend in Chiapas the Zapatista gathering. It was translated by Lenina Nadal, our producer. We’re joined on the line by Luz Ruiz, of the Chiapas Media Project in Chiapas right now. You were at the gathering. Can you describe it?

LUZ RUIZ: Hi. Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us.

LUZ RUIZ: He is the member of the Chiapas independent member which translates to the media center but, yes, I was present this weekend and it was a pretty festive, pretty emotional moment where more than well close to 10,000 people gathered from the communities, from different states here in Mexico and also from the international community. So it was a very emotional moment there for everybody that has been supporting and believes in the causes that the ECLN has brought up in the last ten years that they have been public and verbal.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the women Zapatistas who spoke?

LUZ RUIZ:Yes. The women Zapatista that spoke were three. And in a very emotional, very energetic and speech was comandante, because he specifically addressed men saying that this time the Zapatista women are not going to ask permission to the men to respect them.

AMY GOODMAN: Luz, I wanted to play an excerpt of Fidelia. "Even today there are many places in Mexico where women are abused, unappreciated, exploited, and they say that we’re not worth anything. That we don’t have any rights. But today the time has come, we will do it because it’s an obligation."

AMY GOODMAN: That was comandante Fidelia speaking this weekend at the encuentro or gathering in Chiapas. I want to thank Luz from the media project.

That does it for the show. If you like to get copy you can call 1-800-881-2359. You can go to our website sign up for our daily digest, thousands have people have by going to www.democracynow.org. It also shows links to all the different organizations that people that we have shown to.

I’m Amy Goodman.


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