There are many challenges ahead for la Otra Campaña (the Other Campaign — internationally known as the Zezta) in Mexico in 2007. In addition to planning gatherings in July and October, the EZLN and those working on la Otra seek to strengthen relationships of those who work together, as well as define and refine the Zapatistas’ struggle against Plan Puebla Panamá (PPP). PPP is a huge development plan to link the nine southern states of Mexico (Puebla and points south) with all of Central America into a colossal free trade zone. PPP includes building new energy and transportation infrastructure and easing travel restrictions between countries to promote trade. The scheme will destroy rain forests and displace indigenous peoples — all against the will of local people.
One of the most important projects of the la Otra in 2007 is a global meeting of indigenous people scheduled for October 12 in northwest Mexico. Subcommandante Marcos stated: “We invite the indigenous people of Canada and the United States and we invite the indigenous people of South America and Central America, and we will go to every part of the continent in this indigenous region in the northwest to say: We are here! and We recount our history! It does not matter whether we are recognized or not, because we recognize ourselves.”
October 12 is celebrated by some as “Christopher Columbus day.” It was chosen for the meeting so that indigenous people of all the Americas “will come to say that, after 515 years, they did not conquer us, nor did they discover us. We still continue to exist here.”
Mexico is boiling with hot blood. 2006 started with the launch of the Otra Campaña in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. The planned route for Delegate Zero (Subcommandante Marcos), was throughout all of Mexico, to listen and to connect the struggles and acts of resistance that are common in communities throughout Mexico. He sought to establish networks of solidarity in communities beyond Chiapas. The first stage of establishing these networks was for the Zapatistas to share the experiences and challenges they faced on their path to autonomy.
The Otra Campaña tour has only been honestly covered by independent media. However, the independent media mission has not just been to report on the Otra Campaña, but to accompany a process of teaching and sharing the use of technology as a tool of communication between communities, and therefore a tool of resistance. Mass media, like TV Azteca and Televisa, have persisted in the misrepresenting and attacking of the Otra Campaña and the Zapatista struggle. Only independent media has told the truth about the rape, arrest, injury, murder, and disappearance of comrades who have defended their struggles.
In response to the government repression in San Salvador Atenco, the Mexican media tried to weaken the Otra Campaña by describing the violence with qualifiers like “isolated incidents” in reference to the flower vendors in Atenco. But what else is happening in Atenco? The international airport construction project, the freeway construction project, and other projects such as dams are underway. This is happening to create an infrastructure for commercial development throughout the United States, Mexico, and Central America, via Plan Puebla Panama.
PPP does not benefit the communities that it crosses through. In the Otra Campaña’s travel through Guerrero in La Parota, Delegate Zero mentioned that the conflict between those against the dam and the communities of farmers of Atenco are connected, and are part of the Otra Campaña. This is a key point to understand — in no way are these “isolated insurrectionary movements”. Rather, these struggles have something in common, they are parts of the resistance against the realization of the PPP.
The Mexican government knows perfectly well which places are going to be points of resistance to PPP. Zapatismo has stretched the ties of solidarity between these communities and their struggle. Because of this, the government wants to dismantle these networks and all resistance — disappearing the people who resist, taking to prison the youth that are part of the struggle and calling them terrorists.
In 2006 the government of Vicente Fox was part of the transition to the extreme right in Mexico. The new PAN government of Felipe Calderon will work directly for the neoliberal projects that integrate commerce between the United States and the Americas. And it is no secret that Felipe Calderon will work under the direct influence of the extreme right in Mexico: the Yunque, which is a secret organization with a right-wing profile.
The activist movement works hand in hand with the Otra Campaña to work in different locations to unify resistance between different locations against neoliberal projects in Mexico. During these years, the activist movement has fortified itself with the indigenous cosmovision (i.e. understanding of heaven and earth); we have filled our movement with the spirit of the land; we have dressed ourselves with the weavings made by indigenous hands. This is not just to work closely with indigenous people — the movement has learned the autonomous form of indigenous communities, the idea of dialogue and the “voice for those that have no voice”.
“With regard to modes of communication, it is very different when one only has the rich and the government, but when we have it ourselves, we transmit and publish that which strengthens indigenous communities, that which fortifies the resistance and autonomy of the indigenous community, because with those independent media that we have in autonomous regions and municipalities, has served to orient, educate, inform and animate the people.” Oventik, 2007.
The challenge faced by the Otra Campaña is acquiring and distributing resources for the next meeting between all indigenous people between Alaska and Patagonia who will meet on October 12. October 12th is a day in which our indigenous communities fell under the yoke of the invaders. This is the next phase of the Otra Campaña, and it is the purpose of our resistance because we seek to oppose ourselves to the culmination of Plan Puebla Panama, which wants to consume all resources on indigenous territories. We seek solidarity, so we can have representation for all indigenous communities at this meeting, and so that the Otra Campaña goes forward!
With regard to communication modes, “Otra” communication forms — independent modes of communication — were critical to the APPO’s resistance in Oaxaca. The people should liberate their voices, and those who make this independent media have the responsibility to propagate and share these techniques and tools so that communities can make their own free media.
For more information, check: enlace zapatista enlacezapatista.ezln.org., Zezta internacional, www.zeztainternazional.org, Centro de Medios Libres vientos.info