Sign indicating the entrance of Zapatista rebel territory. “You are in Zapatista territory in rebellion. Here the people command and the government obeys”.
Reblogged from Libya 360
While the front pages and TV news reports in Mexico are full of accounts of ghastly levels of corruption and violence that would have boggled the imagination of the most jaded pulp fiction writer, in every corner of the country there are spaces where “you breathe a different air,” as the saying is here.
On the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas, famed colonial center of the southern state of Chiapas, on the wooded campus of the Indigenous Center for Comprehensive Training (Spanish acronym: CIDECI – follow the link to learn more about this remarkable alternative university) over a thousand people from all over Mexico and beyond are attending a weeklong seminar “Critical Thinking Confronting the Capitalist Hydra.” It was conceived and organized by the Zapatistas, the Chiapas-based armed insurgency that has converted itself into one of the most extraordinary experiments in regional autonomy and self-sufficiency in the history of social movements in Latin America. Along with masked members of the Zapatista army, rural peasant farmers, high school and college students, activists, teachers, artists’ collectives, members of various social and political formations like the National Indigenous Congress (Spanish acronym: CNI) are spending the week listening to a wide-ranging number of presenters from Mexico and abroad with expertise in key areas where the “hydra” now dominates: finance, government, agriculture, social welfare, communications, race and gender relations, science and technology.
And, true to the comprehensive vision of human discourse that is modern day zapatismo, they are also hearing from poets, artists, writers, historians, philosophers. The attendees pack the seats of the large auditorium and spill into the corridors and outside into the shaded walkways that surround it, using all the various ways we now have of capturing information, with an avidness and level of impassioned curiosity that would warm the heart of any college professor used to declaiming to a bored and distracted student body.
The analysis so far has been relatively concordant and not surprising: a litany of the human and ecological disaster that capitalism has wrought (not just in Mexico, but of course that is the primary focus here). The Spanish word “despojo,” which has only a much weaker equivalent in English, “dispossession,” recurs in so many presentations that it is clearly seen as one of the most fundamental characteristics of the system. “To be stripped violently of everything that sustains you” would be closer to the real meaning of this word. That is the key experience of capitalism’s innumerable losers: the mass of humans without power or privilege, and the living world.
Read more here: original article
Photo credit: “Zapatista sign” by Paolo Massa (‘phauly’) – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons