Volume 21, Number 3
Tiffany Ten eyck
Worst Places To Be Black
Mass Destruction U.
Global Recession I
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Zapatista Women's Encuentro
Just after midnight on January 1, 2008, the 14th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising began and the caracol of La Garrucha was alive with celebration. We watched from the top of a refurbished school bus as a mass of bodies danced below a sky littered with stars.
The celebration also marked the end of the third Encuentro (Encounter) of the Zapatistas with the people of the world and the first Encuentro of Zapatista women and the women of the world. From December 28, 2007 to January 1, 2008, women from around the world gathered in the mountains and jungles of Chiapas, home to the Zapatistas. Why a women’s encounter? “Because it was time,” repeated the voices of the masked women speaking before an audience of women from Zapatista support bases across Chiapas, as well as from social movements in Mexico and the world.
The revolutionary indigenous movement of the Zapatistas erupted in an armed uprising on January 1, 1994. However, as was heard throughout the Encuentro, “the struggle began before and continued after.” And it is important to remember that in 1993, clandestine Zapatista communities and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), experienced an internal uprising of Zapatista women who implemented the following Revolutionary Law for Women:
- Women, regardless of their race, creed, skin color, or political affiliation, have the right to participate in the revolutionary struggle, in the place and to the degree their willingness and ability permit
- Women have the right to work and receive just pay for their labor
- Women have the right to decide the number of children they will bear and care for
- Women have the right to participate in community affairs and hold political office if they are elected freely and democratically
- Women and their children have the right to primary medical care
- Women have the right to education
- Women have the right to choose their spouses and not to be forced into marriage
- No woman may be hit or be physically abused either by relatives or strangers. Rape assaults and actual rapes will be severely punished
- Women may hold leadership positions in the organization and hold military rankings in the revolutionary armed forces
- Women have all the rights and obligations set by the revolutionary laws and obligations
Zapatista women arrive for plenary session - photo by Tim Russo
Voices from different autonomous Zapatista regions offered testimony of their resistance. Representatives from the Juntas de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Councils), education and health promoters, com- andantas of the EZLN, and support bases of young and old, told how Zapatista communities, and women in particular lived before the uprising and how they live now, how they resist the violence of the mal gobierno (bad government), and what their rights and responsibilities are within their movement.
We traveled to the Encuentro in a caravan of some 150 people from Mexico City organized by Mujeres y La Sexta (www.mujeresylasexta. org). Most of us, like many of the other non-Zapatistas who participated in the Encuentro, were adherents to the Other Campaign, or its international component, the Sexta International. With the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lancandon Jungle in June 2005, the Zapatistas initiated a national plan to unite struggles “from the left and from below.” A delegation of EZLN comandantes traveled across Mexico in 2006 in the first wave of this Other Campaign, to listen to the voices of those who struggle against capitalism and neoliberalism in all its forms and to create new political spaces.
The days were filled with talk of the concrete measures Zapatista women and girls had taken to organize for self-determination, liberty, democracy, and justice in their own communities. Their voices were amplified by reflections of a collective experience. The lessons of the Other Campaign filtered through the plenaries like the fingers of sunlight through the wooden slats. They told us that in order to build a world in resistance, a world in which many worlds fit, we must listen and we must organize. As Comandanta Hortencia said, “To organize, we must identify why and for what.”
Companera representante in the caracol of La Garrucha on December 30th, 2007 - photo by Tessa Landreau-Grasmuck
The voices of Zapatista youth punctuated the plenaries with hope and solemnity. “Without the organization, I would not be alive,” said Marina, a well spoken 8-year-old girl. “I would’ve died of a curable disease.”
Despite the advances made thus far, the compañeras know that there is still a long and difficult road ahead. In the past six months Zapatista communities have faced heightened military and paramilitary aggression. In the conversations held around tables at meal times, people spoke of the recent shift in tactics of governmental repression. Rumors and propaganda incited by paramilitary provocations between Zapatista and non-Zapatista indigenous communities were creating violence and conflict that allowed the paramilitary to appear blameless. National and international civil society whispered of the strategic retreat of the Zapatistas.
“I’m calm in my struggle,” proclaimed Elisa, echoing words repeated often during the Encuentro; “There is no other path.” For those three days, men were given a decidedly secondary role. The com- andantas ran a tight ship in enforcing the rules posted on multiple signs throughout the gathering indicating that men were not allowed to represent or translate or sit inside the auditorium. Instead they were offered the tasks of cooking, childcare, cleaning the latrines, and hauling firewood.
Zapatista women listening during the encuentro - photo by Adolfo Lopez, Chiapas IndyMedia
When asked what non-Zapatista communities could do to support their work, the Zapatista women replied “Organize yourselves.” On the final day, international women responded. Women from the Other Campaign, Via Campesina, and students also addressed the Zapatista women. Letters were read from political prisoners around the world. In the afternoon, Trinidad Ramirez, holding her machete high, spoke for the rebel farmworkers and political prisoners of Atenco. “We are not capable of abandoning our sisters,” she told the crowd, teary eyed with her testimony of trauma and unbreakable resistance.
We watched this collective resistance from the top of our bus on New Years Eve. Midnight was met with silence to honor the fallen martyrs of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The comandancia climbed onto the stage and people took off their hats. Fog swept over the caracol as we sang the Zapatista Hymn and embraced strangers and friends. The dancing picked up again and lasted all night. As the sun came up on another year of struggle, we carried with us a tiny piece of our responsibility to build a better world: to go home and organize.
Tessa Landreau-Grasmuck is a writer and activist from Philadelphia currently working on a children’s book about Mayan spirituality and struggle. Cory Fischer-Hoffman is an organizer with the Student Farmworker Alliance and is working on an MA degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas. Kaya Weidman is a farmer and activist from Upstate New York. Mandy Skinner is on the board of ENGAGE, an organizing network for students.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.