CHIAPAS 95


Chiapas95 was a series of "lists" which distributed news and debate about Chiapas culled from other lists on the internet and from other sites in cyberspace. These lists were originally maintained and operated as a service of Acción Zapatista de Austin starting in early December 1994. The organization of the actual operations of Chiapas95 evolved over time, eventually involving moderators scattered through cyberspace. These lists are no longer being maintained. After 12 years of daily work reading, selecting, sometimes reformatting and posting material for distribution to those concerned with and in active support of the struggle for democracy in Mexico, a sharply declining demand for the products of this work, along with dramatically improved sources of information being generated in Chiapas and Mexico more generally led to the editors redirecting their efforts elsewhere. This website has been retained, however, because it contains a variety of information and materials that continue to be of either historical or on-going interest. (A little more background.)
The amount of information being generated in this period of continuing low intensity warfare against campesinos in Chiapas is substantial. Chiapas95 passes on information in Spanish and English and sometimes in other languages as well. The list is aimed at activists and scholars around the world who are involved in mobilization about these and related issues and who need a steady flow of information about the struggles in Chiapas and connected events, e.g., solidarity actions elsewhere in Mexico and around the world.

The information posted to Chiapas95 includes:


Chiapas95-lite, Chiapas95-english and Chiapas95-español

Because many find that the flow of information is greater than they either want or can handle, we also offer the main list: Chiapas95 and three alternatives: Chiapas95-lite which provides a reduced flow of information and Chiapas95-english and -español which provide even smaller flows. While we post to Chiapas95 everything we think could contribute to developing analyses and strategies of struggle in support of the pro-democracy and liberation movements, we restrict postings to Chiapas95-lite to those which deal strictly with Chiapas and/or the Zapatistas (who have begun to move out of Chiapas and carry their word and their struggles to others in Mexico and beyond). Chiapas95-lite thus excludes such postings as those dealing with peasant struggles in Guerrero, bus driver battles in Mexico City, economic reports on the debt crisis, etc., that are not related to struggles in Chiapas and/or the Zapatista movement. We restrict postings to Chiapas95-english and -español to only those postings that deal with Chiapas and/or the Zapatistas and are written in the respective languages.

NEW!To Subscribe to One of the Chiapas95 Lists

Go to: https://utlists.utexas.edu/sympa/ where you will find a list of the listservs available on the Univerity of Texas servers.
(Please note: although the Chiapas95 lists operate using software installed on a University of Texas server, they are not official
operations of the University of Texas. They are organized and maintained by Harry Cleaver, a faculty member of that institution.)

Under "Mailing List Categories" click on "Academic".

Within the list of listservs you will find the four Chiapas95 lists:

chiapas95
ch95-lite
ch95-en
ch95-es

Clicking on the title of the list to which you wish to subscribe will take you to: the utlist's webpage for that list where you will see, on the left:

Subscribe
Info
Contact owners
Archive
Post
RSS

Click on Subscribe to subscribe.

An examination of the utlists' webpage will give you further information concerning your subscription.


Chiapas95 Archives

Until April 2007 the postings to this list were placed in an archive in chronological order - in monthly folders for easy access. More recent archives are accessible through the utlists website linked above in the section on subscribing.


Zapatistas in Cyberspace

In response to meetings at the Intercontinental Encuentro held in Chiapas in the Summer of 1996, those of us who managed Chiapas95 discussed with others on the Net the creation of a Red Intercontinental de Communicacion Alternativa (RICA), an Intercontinental Network of Alternative Communication against Neoliberalism and for Humanity. As a step toward that network we surveyed the resources currently available in cyberspace that concern the Zapatistas and the struggles for democracy in Mexico. The results of that survey are presented in a document called ZAPATISTAS IN CYBERSPACE: A Guide to Analysis & Information. We try to keep this page up-to-date but are usually behind the fast changing evolution of the web. This document contains hotlinks both to relevant sites on the Web and to various papers which have sought to evaluate the evolution of these struggles. For a further collection of documents on this subject see the material gathered together below in the section on Zapatistas in Cyberspace.

Cyberspace and the Zapatista Rebellion

Photo of Good Government Junta office with satellite uplink dishes

This Chiapas95 webpage is one moment of a much more general phenomenon: the use of cyberspace in the mobilization of solidarity, both in Mexico and internationally, for the Zapatistas and the movement for democracy in Mexico. Not surprisingly there have been a number of debates in cyberspace about the meaning and usefulness of this new form of political activity, and a slowly emerging literature analysing its nature and significance. We have drawn together a variety of postings to Chiapas95 and some other related materials which bear on this issue, beginning with an early piece that Harry Cleaver wrote back in February of 1994 drawing attention to this new dimension of struggle. He later completed another overview, based on another year's involvement in this work and more extensive reading of those who are studying us. This second piece is called "The Zapatistas and the Electronic Fabric of Struggle."

The Chiapas Photographs of Scott Sady

We are delighted to be able to resurrect Scott Sady's webpage on Chiapas. Scott is a professional photographer and his webpage wraps commentary and explanation around a series of photographs taken between 1994 and 1998 - the first four years of the Zapatista rebellion. For those who have followed that rebellion and how it has changed the world, many of the subjects captured will be familiar. There are a few, however, that are unique. These include a series of children working in the amber mines of Chiapas - a subject we've not seen treated anywhere else. As he notes on the first page, much has changed since these pictures were created but they provide a vivid reminder and evocation of those years and the people whose uprising ignited a new wave of struggles in Mexico as a whole and inspired others in struggle around the world.

*NEW!* A New Book: Conversations with Durito

This new book, titled Conversations with Durito: Stories of the Zapatistas and Neoliberalism is a compilation of over 40 stories about or by Don Durito de la Lacandona, Subcommandante Marcos' friend and advisor: a knight-errant beetle. The collection was compiled and edited by the Acción Zapatista editorial collective, some of the same folks who have brought you this webpage. The Durito stories are published within the entire communiqués in which they originally appeared and are introduced and footnoted by the editors. They are also beautifully illustrated with both black and white drawings and full color illustrations, most prepared specially for this volume. Enjoy.


From Red Alert to the Other Campaign

In the summer of 2005 the Zapatista communities consulted on, decided and launched a new phase in their struggles for autonomous self-determination and in their relationships with the rest of Mexico and the world. In June the EZLN announced a "Red Alert", closed the Caracoles (regional governments) and withdrew from the public eye for a series of internal community discussions about the status of their struggles and ways of moving forward. The result of those consultations was the public issuance of The Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, the ending of the Red Alert and the reopening of the Caracoles.

The Sexta, or Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle announced the opening of a new initiative on the part of the Zapatista movement: a new effort to reach out to others in Mexico and beyond to accelerate the organization of new forms of grassroots politics aimed at finding alternatives to the existing corrupt professional politics that passes for "representative democracy" in Mexico and ultimately changing the Mexican Constitution to recognize those alternatives.

The proposal for how to set about this new initiative that was laid out in the Sixth Declaration was for 1) a series of meetings among those who are interested to prepare for the launch of an "Other Campaign" and 2) the launching of that Campaign that would involve Zapatistas spreading out across Mexico to catalyze discussions and accelerate self-organization at the grassroots. Six large-scale preparatory meetings were then held in various Zapatista communities in August and September with different kinds of people invited to and participating in each meeting. After those meetings the Zapatistas organized a First Plenary Session of the emerging Other Campaign the weekend of September 15-16, 2005. At the end of that session, the Zapatistas announced their preliminary plan for implementing the next stage: a chronology and itinerary for meetings across most of Mexico to begin in January 2006.

At each step of these new initiatives the Zapatistas have issued communiqués and other accounts documenting their thoughts and their discussions with others. Although most of this material is available through the website of the EZLN, we are also making it available here in easily accessible forms. We encourage everyone dedicated to the revolutionary transcendence of capitalism to examine, study and respond to these materials. This new Zapatista initiative is raising, once again, fundamental questions about "what is to be done?" at this point in our struggles, about how to go beyond mere resistance to capitalist exploitation and repression to think about what would be, and how to organize, real alternatives to the ways capitalists have structured political life to insure their own control and to exclude actual democratic self-determination.

The materials of the Other Campaign are being assembled here. They are being posted as we have the time to prepare and upload them.

Reading A Video:
A Communique in Eight Parts

August 20 - 28, 2004 the Zapatistas released an eight-part communique whose primary, though not unique, purpose was to give an account of the movement's experience with the new forms of self-organization implemented about a year earlier - the ones sketched in "From Aguascalientes to Caracoles" below. In the various moments of this communique Marcos describes both the successes and the failures/challenges they have experienced in the various communities and with the various new institutions, such as the Good Government Juntas. He also illustrates their experiences by relating a number of episodes and situations they have been dealing with.

Given the refusal of the Mexican Government to implement the San Andres Accords - despite the massive mobilization that included the Zapatista march to the capitol and their addresses to the congress - the Zapatistas have ceased trying to work with the government and focused their efforts on building their communities in new ways. This communique gives the most extended account of these efforts available to date.

From Aguascalientes to Caracoles

A series of communiques from the EZLN announcing the end of the Aguascalientes or sites of encounter with civil society that were created after the military destruction of the original Aguascalientes at Guadalupe Tepeyac in February 1995. These communiques explain how the Aguascalientes are being transformed into "Caracoles" - sites both of encounter with civil society and local regional self-governance on the part of the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities. These communiques give an unusual glimpse into the internal politics of the Zapatista communities and an explanation about how they are changing their relationships with their supporters in civil society.

Attack and Defense of Zapatista Support Networks

The cyberspacial networks that support the Zaptistas and the struggles for indigeneous autonomy and democracy in Mexico have been attacked in the pages of Este Pais and Socialist Review 2000 by Judith Hellman. Harry Cleaver wrote a paragraph by paragraph dissection and critique of her attack. Cleaver's piece (that includes the entirety of her article) is called "The Virtual & Real Chiapas Support Networks: A review and critique if Judith Hellman's 'Real and Virtual Chiapas: Magic Realism and the Left' ". Hellman's article can also be found separately on the Socialist Register website in the subpage on the year 2000 edition. After a brief, and very weak, response by Hellman to this critique, the debate continued in the Socialist Register with a further critique of Hellman by Justin Paulson, webmaster of the EZLN Ya Basta! webpage, and her response.

We have also begun to track and politically decipher the thinking, writings and projects of national security analysts vis a vis our activities. What we view as new methods of collaborative self-activity, they view as theatening forms of "netwar" or "information warfare." Reading a recent article in Foreign Policy generated some notes on how the US intelligence community is trying to co-opt our methods for their own purposes: "Reforming the CIA in the Image of the Zaptistas?" We have also been working with ZapNet to craft a webpage on "Information Warfare" as a site to pool some of our research findings and thinking.


EZLN Communiques

animated gif of EZLN flag waving

For the period covered, this set of EZLN communiques is the most complete set that has been assembled
on the Internet. Because most of the communiques issued between January 1, 1994 and August 1, 1995
are included in the book Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution, this set begins with
August 1994. It continues to November 1995. A more up-todate set of communiques are available on
the EZLN Homepage.


SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

2nd Intercontinental Encounter Against Neoliberalism and For Humanity

The 2nd Intercontinental Encounter was organized in Spain at several sites. Background papers for this meeting were prepared and many are available on the Web. We created a web-based interactive foro for discussion of the Encuentro and of the materials associated with it. It was organized as a threaded discussion list. There were also several daily reports filed from Spain during the meetings which created a possibility for those who read the background materials and daily reports to send their reactions, comments and solidarity to Spain.

Centro de Informacion y Analisis de Chiapas (CIACH)

CIACH is a independent organization in Chiapas which publishes a weekly news letter called La Opinion in Spanish and English. It can be subscribed to by sending e-mail to ciach@laneta.apc.org and its archives provide a useful source of information and analysis of events in Chiapas.

Chiapas, And the Women?

The book Chiapas, y las mujeres que? was published in Mexico in late 1994. It came to our attention in 1995 and we organized a team of volunteer translators to bring it to an English audience. This was the only book focused on the struggles of women within the context of the EZLN uprising in Chiapas. We are now making the English translation available, with the permission of the original editor and publisher. A second volume has now been published, so we are only one behind. We hope the availability of this material will lead many more to take into account the extremely important role of women in the campesino and indigenous struggles in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico.

Cholera in Mexico

This set of articles includes both press stories on the current cholera epidemic in Mexico and a series of postings I prepared to provide more in-depth background on the political economy of such epidemics. Of particular note are my 1977 article on the Political Economy of Malaria, the four postings which make up Peter Linebaugh's Lizard Talk and my notes on Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.

Radio Huayacocotla

Although Radio Huayacocotla is located in Veracruz and not in Chiapas, the story of its repression by the government this year is typical of the state reactions generated by the Chiapas uprising. Radio Huayacocotla, which calls itself the "Voice of the Campesino", broadcasts to indigenous villages in the mountains of Veracruz, often in the local languages. In March of 1995, not long after the government unilaterally abrogated the peace negotiations with the Zapatistas, local inspectors were ordered to shut the Radio down. The Radio personnel and its supporters believe that pressure came from local caciques and landlords opposed to this manifestation of peasant self-organization. In the course of their struggles to reopen the Radio, its operators have received indications that the orders to shut it down came from much higher up. As the stories collected here explain, since the shutdown there has been considerable mobilization by the local campesinos in support of the station and the battle for the reopening of the Radio goes on. Some of this history about the shut down is available on the station's homepage and includes one description in English. In June 2003 La Jornada provided more recent information about the work of the station in its weekly supplement Ojarasca. The French journal RISAL has provided a French translation of this article.

PeaceNet's "reg.mexico", an Index to postings

As part of our research and to facilitate that of others we have compiled a complete listing of all the postings that have been made on the PeaceNet conference reg.mexico and are available either in the current series or in the archive of the conference. Reg.mexico dates back to 1989 and thus pre-dates the Zapatista uprising by several years. In the wake of January 1, 1994 reg.mexico proved to be the central conference for PeaceNet users to post news from both Mexico and from the solidarity movement. The archive is thus an extremely useful source for tracking the international circulation of that struggle via cyberspace.

PeaceNet is not, unfortunately, accessible through the Internet. While e-mail can be sent to and received from those with accounts on PeaceNet, others cannot access its conferences (similar to UseNet newsgroups). To do so it is necessary to open an account with PeaceNet (currently about $12.50 a month). Nevertheless, in activist circles many do have an account on PeaceNet or on another of the Association for Progressive Communications networks all of which are linked to PeaceNet.

The Infamous Chase Report

One of the most interesting and effective examples of the use of The Net in the struggle against the Mexican government's repressive actions in Chiapas occurred in reaction to the discovery of a report written for Chase Emerging Markets clients by Riordan Roett. Originally leaked to Ken Silverstein and Alexander Cockburn's newsletter Counterpunch, Roett's report was discovered to call for the Mexican government to "eliminate" the Zapatistas in order to demonstrate its command over the internal situation in Mexico. When their story about this report, and then the report itself, was uploaded to The Net it reached a huge audience. It caught the attention of Republican and Perot opponents of the Clinton Administration's financial bailout of Mexico and of large numbers of Mexicans who were furious about what they saw as a Wall Street hand behind Zedillo's February 1995 military offensive against the Zapatistas. News of the report circulated to France and elsewhere. The result was much agitation and mobilization against both Chase and the Mexican government --mobilization which led Chase to fire Roett and which helped force the Mexican government to halt its offensive in Chiapas. All this as the result of one small act of "guerrilla research" which revealed the inside thinking of a major American bank with extensive interests in Mexico. The postings which have been collected here trace the emergence, development and denouement of this event.

The Peso Crisis

As part of a class that I teach on the "Political Economy of International Crisis" I have gathered together a series of articles posted on Chiapas95 since December 1994 that describe, analyse and illuminate the Mexican Peso Crisis. During 1994 ex-president Salinas kept the peso overvalued and gradually drew down Mexico's foreign exchange reserves to the point where devaluation was unavoidable --Mexico was going bankrupt. The reasons for this economic missmanagement were, of course, political. This set of articles interweaves Chiapas95 postings that deal with the devaluation, the reactions of hot money in foreign exchange markets, the political pressures (especially the EZLN and related struggles), Clinton's $50 billion bailout, Zedillo's new austerity attack on Mexican standards of living, the Wall Street/Chase Manhatten intervention, Zedillo's February 9, 1995 military assault on the Zapatistas, the counterattack by grassroots groups around the world and a number of other interrelated issues. This collection of articles by no means exhausts the material available in the Chiapas95 archives but it does provide a very nice collection for studying the interdependence between international money markets and indigenous and campesino struggles. It also illustrates the spreading conflicts between elite policy makers and grassroots movements which demand voices and roles in determining the direction of social change.

Struggles in Guerrero

The EZLN uprising in Chiapas has encouraged campesinos and the indigenous throughout Mexico to accelerate their self-organization and struggle. The response of the Mexican state has been similar to that in Chiapas: police and military repression. Nowhere has such repression been greater than in the State of Guerrero. Repeated massacres and assassinations have characterized the vicious response of those in power. Chiapas95 has carried postings of these developments, although not as regularly or as completely as it has covered Chiapas. We are collecting a a set of these postings here to help both ourselves and others trying to understand the evolution of these conflicts. For those who would like to look evil in the face, we have scanned in a photograph of the person most responsible --directly or indirectly-- for this repressive violence: the Governor of the State of Guerrero Ruben Figueroa (now removed from office). The postings collected here cover the Aguas Blancas massacre and its aftermath, as well as many other such events and reports. The postings focus on the repression of peasant struggles although there are also materials on political assassinations. The bulk of the material pre-dates the rising of the EPR guerrilla force but most reports, after early July 1996 have been left out of this series. We hope to create a separate file of material specifically on the EPR, its actions, interpretations, etc.

Struggles in Tabasco

Since 1992 Tabasquenos, mostly indigenous rural peasants, have been fighting back against worsening conditions in their communities. For years Petreoleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Mexico's national oil company has altered the way of life of Tabascan subsistence farmers, fishers and oyster farmers. Due to PEMEX pollution of the air, water and soil (123 oil spills in 1995 alone) Tabasquenos have reported production decreases in all major crops and up to ninety percent decreases in oyster beds while suffering from high rates of diseases including epidemic rates of childhood leukemia and cholera.

Tabasquenos have held hundreds of demonstrations including marches to Mexico City and the Tabascan capital, blockades of roads and oil facilities and sit-ins at PEMEX, government and bank offices. Since 1992, after each protest, PEMEX has made minor promises of reform that have gone unfulfilled. Instead of returning significant portions of their profits to affected communities much of PEMEX's estimated $17.8 billion per years now goes to the United States Federal Reserve Banks to repay the February 1995 $20 billion bail-out of speculators in the wake of the "Peso Crisis" (see section above).

Tabasquenos decided that they had had enough after demands from recent negotiations with PEMEX failed to result in any substantial changes in PEMEX-community relations and after protests of a controversial win of a PRI candidate for governor of Tabasco yielded little response. On January 29, 1996 demonstrations at fifty-one oil fields in Tabasco resulted in the blockading of a number of important PEMEX sites. Most notably Campo Sen, the highest yielding oil field in Tabasco, was blockaded by more than two thousand protestors. After days of negotiation, jailings of protestors and violent attacks by a combination of Mexican Army, local police and other police agencies, the peaceful protestors discontinued their actions at the oil fields. However, Tabasqueno struggles have not ceased. Attempts to free prisoners and protests of the 1994 gubernatorial election continue along with the creation of autonomous communities and other strategies of organization and survival.

Many of the important discussions being held in Mexico and internationally concerning the state of Mexico are of direct importance to Tabasco. Recent events in Tabasco illustrate many of the issues raised by the Chiapas uprising including indigenous rights and preservation of culture, land use, electoral reform, neoliberalism (especially the privatization of PEMEX), the role of the United States in Mexico, indigenous autonomy, and government and corporate neglect. Increased military presence in many Tabascan communities threaten an expansion of the low-intensity warfare being waged in Chiapas. The collection of postings gathered here only scratch the surface of this important issue.

Debate on the "Economy" and "Economics"

One of the advantages to "lists" is the forum they can provide for discussion and debate. Chiapas95 does not do this because it was conceived and implemented as a news distribution service. But those of us who manage Chiapas95 DO engage in discussion and debate on other lists from time to time. At Intercontinental Encuentro table on the economic aspects of neoliberalism and the struggle against it and for alternatives, one of the discussions to emerge concerned the critique of both the economy as such and of economics as the bourgeois science of managing and apologizing for the economy. As a participant in that table, Harry Cleaver presented two contributions: a text prepared before the Encuentro on "Neoliberalism: Economic Aspects" --one of a series of seven pamphlets prepared by Accion Zapatista-- and another text prepared for an evening panel discussion called "Economic Policy at the Service of the People (instead of people at the service of economic policy." After the Encuentro these discussions and debates spilled over from friendly into hostile terrain, i.e., the list Mexico2000 among whose subscribers are a number of voluble conservatives and Right-Wingers. Well, discussion among those trying to change the world serves one kind of purpose, debunking and critiquing the ideologies of capital and the arguments of its apologists serves another, so Cleaver spent some time doing just that in a debate over the character of the economy and the nature of economics and the work of economists. The series of contributions to that debate, his and those of the other participants, have been collected here (edited to eliminate useless repetition of prior postings --which are often left hanging and get longer and longer as the debate goes on-- and with subject lines changed to make the flow easier to follow). We hope that the various arguments which have been made will provide both food for thought and perhaps even weapons for similar efforts elsewhere.

Others

Other such regroupings of useful sets of postings are added from time to time. Suggestions, and even collections of postings, are welcome.


You are the visitor since March 29, 2000.
Harry Cleaver (hmcleave@eco.utexas.edu)