Monday, May 14, 2007

The Zapatistas Movement; A revolution to make revolutions possible

I read the article on the Zapatistas movement, The Zapatistas and the International Circulation of Struggle: Lessons Suggested and Problems Raised. The article raised the poetic and romantic nature of the movement. The movement rejected the dominate revolutionary strategy of usurping the state power and promotes the anarchist ideal of autonomous community organizing. This movement is about the self-determination of the indigenous people of the world to take control over their lives. It is a model that many revolutionary youths in the first world have tried to accomplished, activating community members to solve community problems through programs such as Food not Bomb (which provides food for homeless population in the community, it is deemed illegal by the government, I wonder why) and Cop Watch, a program for citizens to monitor police authority and make sure that they are treating people justly.

While there are many romantic ideas about the revolution, there is still a lot of problems that exist within the movement. One of which is the female representation in the movement. It is crucial for revolutionary groups to fight the oppression from within. The women caucus model seems to be making progress and this model is followed by many organizations in the first world. One person I came across on the Zapatistas website was Ramona. She is a comrade of Marco and she represented the Chipas community during a meeting with the Mexican Government. She was a key figure in the movement to represent the indigenous women's voice. After 10 years of combating liver cancer, she passed away in 2006. I found this story very inspiring. It is apparent that Subcommandante Marco is an educated, fair skinned intellectual, I think the fact that the movement is not only about his words but also the voices of the indigenous people shows us that another world is possible.

Internet has also played a huge role in the uprising. It is amazing how they have utilized international support to the movement, which was largely successful. It forced the Mexican government to engage in conversation with the Zapatistas in good faith. I also think that it is kind of sad that the indigenous movement cannot really achieve full self-determination; the movement still relies heavily on international supporters from the first world. It is ultimately this power structure that hinders the self-determination of the movement; ironically, the Zapatistas won some substantial victories through international support. Does the third world liberation movement have to rely on the support from industrialized countries to succeed? I really hope not.

The use of internet also made me question who this Marco is. He is obviously knowledgeable about the media and the political climate of industrialized countries. he showed tremendous understanding of the media and how to manipulate it (His picture is even on Marie Claire, a fashion magazine). He was also successful in defining the anti neo-liberalism movement and sparked a tremendous victory in Seattle, Cancun, Geneva and Montreal to shut down the WTO IMF and world bank. The Zapatistas were successful in defining the struggle, and pushed for the 21st Century version of the class struggle from below. The movement objected the traditional Marxist approach and proposed a new idea of international solidarity that overcome class divisions and also linked the traditionally conflicting movements (the labor and the environmental) to fight a common enemy.

We all know that we are not operating in a vacuum. While the Zapatista and the global anti-capitalist movement has made some tremendous victory in the past decade, the ruling class will and can react quickly to this strategy. The Us government in response to the popular uprising has been negotiating bilateral "Free trade" treaty, which makes movements such as one against WTO harder to crystalize. It is hopeful, though, to see that organizers from around the world are fighting the same fight. The South Korean laborers and farm workers are militant as usual and have been staging tremendous protest to shut down bilateral negotiations that exclude the affected communities from the bargaining table. I think it is a good time for us to reevaluate our strategy and to keep the momentum rolling.

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