the Disillusioned kid: Red Alert
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Friday, June 24, 2005

Red Alert

The Zapatistas are a movement originating in Chiapas, Southern Mexico. In 1994 they launched an uprising against the Mexican government demanding autonomy and rights for the indigenous people who make up their key constituency. Since then they have been a huge influence on the "anti-globalisation" movement and radical groups around the world. They have communicated with the world through the often poetic communiques of the balaclavered Subcomandante Marcos.

While they have attracted massive amounts of support throughout Mexico and from abroad they have also attracted the ire of the Mexican government who have attacked their strongholds and supported paramilitaries seeking to undermine and/or destroy the movement and the communities from which it draws strength. On June 19 the Zapatistas issued a communique announcing that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (or Ejercitio Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, EZLN) had declared "general red alert" throughout rebel territory. This was followed by a further communique explaining some of the reasons for the red alert. The underlying reason apparently being that they had received evidence of a forthcoming government assault. Justin Podur has also posted a partial translation of an article offering a number of possible reasons for this suspicion.

Later, Irlandesa who transaltes most of the Zapatista communiques posted a "letter of explanation" on her blog. The letter offers some further insight into developments in the region and thanks those around the world who have supported the movement. Despite the tone, Marcos insists that it "is not a letter of farewell".

It is difficult if not impossible to speculate with any degree of certainty on the likely turn of events, but it is clear that the Zapatistas are taking the threat very seriously. They seem confident that they will be able to continue the struggle regardless of what the Mexican government throws at them. Announcing "that conditions are in place to continue leading the zapatista struggle even if it were to lose – be it through jail, through death or through forced disappearance – some or all of its publicly known current leadership..." Nevertheless those of us in the wider world should not be silent. As Pranjal Tiwari notes, "international solidarity is one of the main reasons their communities have been able to survive. The more noise we make outside, the more chance we have of averting a potential disaster in the region."


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