Sunday, August 07, 2005

News from the front...and words to remember

[As ever, keep scrolling down for the latest EZLN translations, as well as for more frivolous topics of special interest to the Parlour]

For those of you who have been following events, the first of 6 scheduled meetings was held in Chiapas today. This weekend the invitees were delegates from “social organizations of the left.”

The zapatistas are once again meeting with “civil society,” though I note that that phrase has suddenly disappeared from the page. Perhaps it now feels too broad a sweep, too generic, not fitting for the new chapter. Given how much I adore civility, though, I shall probably miss it.

And I would like to be clear that everything I have to say about these events is based on mainstream media reports - and an increasingly interesting lot it is.

Hints were dropped, and Marcos did indeed show up. According to the excellent wire service, EFE, he spoke for an hour and a half and apparently spent a good part of that time attacking Lopez Obrador [PRD mayor of Mexico City until last week, when he resigned to throw his hat in the ring for the PRD presidential nomination for next year’s federal election].

AMLO, as he’s known, has been the particular object of Marcos’ wrath for some time [I referenced this in an earlier post regarding “naming of names” communiqués].

I understand that this particular issue mightn’t be of huge interest to persons not residing in Mexico, but it’s of tremendous interest there. Lines are being drawn, for better or for worse, and the sea change in the political landscape is already becoming apparent.

There is indeed a gamble at play, risks being taken, as we were warned. AMLO is quite popular and respected by many, both among the base and among the intellectuals [I require a new term for this, really, really, really], including some who had been very long time supporters of the zapatistas.

You can follow this in La Jornada, both in the words and in the positioning of articles.

So, amidst all the many necessary issues, there is the one concerning the tactical consequences of drawing lines while simultaneously broadening the base. And the usefulness of a conscious distinction between various kinds of discourse.

More tomorrow, as I assume we’ll have both Henriquez and Bellinghausen giving us their – distinct – observations on today’s doings in La Jornada.

And on a deeply sad, and oddly contrapositive, note. Robin Cook. I came very close, once upon a time, to writing him a love letter. Not for his wit and brilliance and morality and way with words, but because of what he did, once upon a time.

If you would like to remember some of his words when he resigned the government, just before the bombs fell in Iraq, here they are.


TripleJ said...

Marcos's attacks on AMLO seem starnge to me. From what I have seen, AMLO has done a fair job in DF (I still bear a grudge against him as he stopped me from visiting El Bosque de Chapultepec when I was there last November, but I understand it was with the best intentions).

So honestly, I don't follow what Marcos is so aggro about.

As for Robin Cook, I am also saddened by his sudden death. Unlike Bliar (that's not a typo), he was honest and I admired his resignation over the Iraq invasion, one can only wish there were more politicians like him. Sadly there doesn't seem to be (m)any, and that applies to us downunder as well.

Anonymous said...

"the intellectuals [I require a new term for this, really, really, really"

intellectual elite

Anonymous said...

In reply to triplej, who says "Marcos' attacks on AMLO seem strange to me":

AMLO is going to win the presidency in 2006. Except for the Zapatistas, there is no popular force outside of his campaign network in a position to push him, prod him, keep (or make) him honest. Without such a force, AMLO ends up like Lula of Brazil: impotent, having to pick very small battles to win while giving away the store to the business interests.

As for Irlandesa's questions about how an organization expands its network while simultaneously making sharp definitions, the concept can be found in that recent Marcos communique in which he explained that political parties and candidates, in their effort to include the most, end up excluding the least. The inverse is at work here: by excluding the most (PRD and the political parties) the EZLN is making a space for the least (everyone else).

As for missing the term Civil Society, oh, I think we'll see it again. Marcos has often defined it as "those without a political party." And isn't that precisely what he is defining here again and anew?

fauxtapatio said...

parece que estamos de acuerdo.
as for your earlier post, i would add Bianca Jagger and Tom Morello.

two comments for our anonymous comrade:
--i agree with the essence of the most/least logic, but more important is what you could call greenpartyism, or americanleftantiwarism, where, come election time, there is exactly one tactical role to play: the lizard strategy. the fact that least-bad candidates can count on, if nothing else, not having to compete against an alternative to federal elections entirely is a great motivator to keep speaking from both sides of one's mouth. opposing least-bad engagement seems an excellent strategy for forcing radical innovation. whether any amalgamation of el pueblo mexicano is ready to take on the process made mandatory by the rejection of its antithesis is another matter.
--on an even more speculative note, i think many folks learned about the drawbacks to a toothlessly broad civil society from the failed CND in the mid-90s - a lesson of which most american groups have yet to take note, despite the failures of enormous left coalitions in the last few years. lines must be drawn, positions and values defined, and not everyone will end up with a chair when the music stops.

Anonymous said...

There is another part of this dance that I'm still trying to pin down in my little pea brain...

If, contrary to the current strategy, the EZLN had went the other way, as in "we support AMLO" various things would have happened: The forces of reaction would have screamed "armed terrorists support him!," you'd even see the US Ambassador and the State Dept. worry aloud and disingenuously (a la Venezuela), and you'd see AMLO doing all kinds of verbal gymnastics to show how he differs from EZLN-type thinking.

In other words, is there a kind of skepticism at work here on the part of the EZ? As in, "if we oppose him, we actually help ensure that he gets elected while increasing our power to push him when he does."

The other thing about Marcos' statement yesterday that stood out, for me, was his "indirecta" lobbed toward La Jornada, when he referred to how the 1999 strike at UNAM had been subject of a campaign to discredit it. Since it was principally La Jornada and the group of intellectuals it features that turned most vociferously against the UNAM strike (and on a parallel note, motivated by the strikers' antagonistic stance toward the Cardenas government in DF), it seems that a lot of the talk of "cutting hammock threads and depluming roosters" yesterday was a clear message to LJ which is, in its beginning and end, a PRD newspaper. Interesting...

irlandesa said...

First, and truly, my thanks to the anonymous ones posting comments here - for confirming my leap of faith that there really is, still, some desire for reasoned, informed discussion.
I think this particular debate - on the strategic implications of current tactics [drawing lines; least/worst, etc.] is vital, and not just for Mexico. I had hoped to see more of it in other places as well, though, from some of the words coming out of San Rafael, it sounds as if it is being brought to the table, even if it's not making its way into print.
As for LJ - "mastheads and bylines," as I noted in a much previous post. An interesting balancing act: while El Ruso [and please keep me from ever getting started on him] and La voz de los...are given the occasional op-ed piece - Elena Poniatowska introduced AMLO a couple of weeks ago at his coming-out party. And I could mention a dozen more examples.
I don't know how this particular chaos is going to be resolved, but it's important to remember that LJ has always been the most consistently available vehicle for mass media exposure for the EZ in Mexico. I sense that right now they're taking the same tack that the PRD is in a statement they [the PRD] issued today - it takes 2 to fight, and we're not fighting.

TripleJ said...

In response to "anonymous 1". Firstly I wrote "Marcos's attacks..." not "Marcos' attacks..." (good grammar happens to be dear to me for some weird reason I don't really understand :^)

And secondly, I fail to understand how the Zapatistas can become the party for those without a political party as by definition they still belong to a party. Such an oxymoron this one! :^)

Comrada B said...

When Cook resigned, I so hoped for more resignations and resistance to the Iraq war; not just in Britain, but the U.S. as well. Resistance to it an a large scale sending it's own form of 'shock and awe' to the military regime backing the corporate beast. Maybe G.W. could have announced in his customary lame fashion, via the State Dept. (in much the same considerably lame way the State Dept. took back it's words "Chavez is nothing but a criminal thug." "The U.S. looks forward to working in the future with Mr. Chavez....ha!) and announce to the world, "There were no, er, ARE no WMD's and we withdraw our troops as of today." But then that would be yet another politician admitting 'lies' to the people, for having helped support a handful of corporations to have ever increasing domination of the World. The politician is nothing without his numerous corporate sponsors and elite. Since they took out Saddam, the prolonged occupation of Iraq makes the obvious even more obvious.
Acting like sheep in blind support of any given politician & their promise filled campaigns, historically betray the people, and bring into question the integrity of the support base itself. Why would you not continually question what those running in elections may be doing & who finances them and what those finacial backers are REALLY doing "for the people?" Hasn't history provided a plethora of evidence that our World' leaders need constant surveilence more than anyone? This is important in any country and not just Mexico, who's leaders wish to emulate the evil U.S. time and time again.
In the American arena of politics neither Green's, Dem's or....... Repug(nant) parties have shown deference "for the people" after the election party confetti has been swept up. NOTHING less than a complete cleaning of house, it's intricate network of thug's (overt & covert)and their policies being carried out, would indeed be in order. You will never solve the problems of a given country with a bandaid (ie; giving water and rescue as we do here to those crossing the desert, does not solve the decades long internal problems of the country they flee.)
By no measure do I minimize the human rights abuse record of one country over another. But frankly, the U.S. has just been more adept at covering up of goverment thug's & their 'dirty work' domestically. Mexico does nothing to seek justice against the factory owners that kidnap, torture rape & kill women indiscriminately (OVERT.)The U.S. domestic torture and 'disappearances' domestically are a little known fact. Instead of leaving tortured bodies as a clue for all to see, "crematoriums"were errected in secure places, to cover any sign of torture domestically by conveiniently bulldozing the felled crematoriums, to the memory of thousands of expendables and over decades, nearly since the Korean war (COVERT.)Were it front page news, would the politician of the (given) time, have been elected? Far fethched? Off subject of party politics here? The same applies to the unseen deeds and words of many politicians, AMLO is not immune from such (possible) behavior...and not far fetched when these same politicians have control of the lives of the people they govern.
In the U.S. as with many countries no matter what a given party or what it's candidate promises, the unethical policies continue. The VOICE of BIG MONEY, being loudest over election time din, should be outlawed. We would all at least start an election on even terrain.
The 'interconnectedness' of this World is the key here. The electoral vote in the U.S. is a sham of the first order, put on by a handful of rich-white-men only, in the guise of a free democratic election "for the people." There has yet to be a 'party' that has taken control from the military and corporate puppet masters.
Thusly, I empathize with Marco' wrath and frustration. In my oppinion the words of the EZLN eco the frustration of the Worldwide struggle (name a venue, there's a struggle,) and always over "power." When group's merge in an electoral campaign, voices and issues important to the people get diluted, and I don't care what public statements have been made recently, infighting for power DOES ensue ("my issue is more important than your's...maybe next meeting, sit down, please.") Thus, nothing accomplished for common good of all.
The blind support (without severe scrutiny) of any political candidate, no matter how much reform they promise (and they DO promise,) is opposed to the 'interconnectedness' of us all. The decisions of one country affect another without fail. The Worldwide struggle DOES consist of two distinctly opposing mindsets. Looking at our future, from party lines, only weakens the electorals so-called platforms to a most microscopic veiw of the world, and neagtes that 'interconnectedness.' The naive electoral in their Jezebel dance, sacrafice the greater whole (in many cases) for the momentary gratification of wailing "Our candidate won!" Nevermind the candidates ethics and true motivations.
Time is imperative and we the little people outnumber the globalists in their 'delusions' of seizing power.
The line has been drawn in the sand (of the World,)in the deadly game of ever aspiring to mimic neo-colonial nations v. pro-humnanity.

Comrada B

Anonymous said...

LJ has another important stake in not picking a fight with the EZLN: In a word, "circ" or circulation.

Here's the inside dope.

On a normal day, La Jornada sells between 40,000 and 45,000 copies.

When LJ puts a Marcos communique on page one, its circulation goes up, often to more than 60,000.

But to those with long memories who remember certain unfortunate comments by LJ founder Carlos Payan accusing the EZ and Marcos of a "polpotiana" (or of Pol Pot type behavior, in a reference to the Cambodian ruler) some years back, and a few other similar tantrums (remember the case of the "edited" EZ communique? or the time that Jaime Aviles' - (excluse the Western Hemisphere use of the apostrophe after the S, please) - column was "disappeared" for having countered the polpotiana statement, there are fractures and faults under the surface.

That said, I generally like LJ's coverage of things zapatista, especially Bellinghausen's deep tissue work. And one must also keep in mind that Marcos has cultivated good relations with the newspaper in the past (remember his 20th birthday greeting communique to the newspaper?), but I do think he was saying, in sum, "hey, don't mistreat us like you did the UNAM strikers, or things could get rough."

irlandesa said...

You know, I remember the Pol Pot comment well - I even referenced it in the post previous to this one ['dog days']. But it really was Lopez y Rivas who made it, and I translated the EZ rebuttal. LJ, of course, chose to publish it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Irlandesa, you are almost always correct about everything, and I respect (as do we all) you greatly for your hard work and your historic memory, but Gilberto López y Rivas (who was a member of the Cocopa during this incident but who...) was not the perp on the polpotiana berrinche. It was indeed don Carlos of Tlayacapan, then Senator and chairman of Cocopa...

To wit: a memory refresher, with link provided...

La Jornada 22 de noviembre de 1998

Pasan ``por alto'' el agravio del viernes, pero Payán solicita a Marcos una explicación sensata

Andrea Becerril, enviada, y Elio Henríquez, corresponsal, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chis., 21 de noviembre

¤ El senador del PRD, Carlos Payán Velver, anunció que analiza su permanencia dentro de la Comisión de Concordia y Pacificación (Cocopa), ya que no está de acuerdo con la actitud ``antidemocrática y polpotiana'' que han asumido los delegados del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) hacia esa instancia legislativa....

SO, TO BE FAIR, it was not "El Ruso" (although I think that is a very funny nickname for him!)


- Anonymous again

irlandesa said...

Mil gracias!
God knows, I have the translations on a CD somewhere, but they're rotten with viruses. I shall trust to your links.
And, since we are clearly of like bent, El Ruso is, in fact, self-styled as such and someone else [do you remember a certain Spanish former "rock star" cum sociology "student" cum Aguascaliente creator who suddenly appeared one day, only to end up having his name, ever so briefly, on a certain masthead of current fame?]. Though it would indeed be a damn fine nom de plume for L y R, as well.