ricardo dominguez on Mon, 24 Mar 1997 19:09:50 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Re: Zapatistas/Part 1

Run for the Border: The Taco Bell War

          "General Diaz's ideal was the petrification of the State... a
              death's head had taken the place of the living man..." 

                      - Francisco Bulnes, The Truth about Mexico

              Jan. 1, 1994. Ejercito Zapatista de Liberation
              National, the EZLN, take over San Cristobal de las
              Casas, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas and Altarmirano
              without firing a single shot in order to defend the
              rights of the indigenous communities of Chiapas. 

                   The temporal fractalization of dead capital
                   has allowed a spasm of micro-invention to
                   emerge and flicker in the liminal-space of the
                   Lacandona jungle; occurring somewhere between
                   the imaginary borders of the American hologram
                   and the real Taco Bell power of
                   neo-liberalism's NAFTA: the Zapatistas. In the
                   Lacandona, a jungle in delirium, floats a
                   temporary construction of plant, flesh, and
                   circuits that is attempting to play out a
                   rhizomatic disturbance, an "ante-chamber" of a
                   "revolution that will make revolution
                   possible..." The Zapatistas are not the first
                   postmodern revolution, but the last; they are
                   a vanishing mediation between the breaking
                   mirror of production (dead capital) and the
                   shattering of the crystal of
                   (de)materialization (virtual capital). 

              Jan. 3-10, 1994. The Mexican army counter-attacks
              aggressively and kills about 159 people, 427 people
              disappear, and close to 30,000 civilians are

                   The Zapatistas (re)historize the site of
                   indigenous singularities within the
                   hyper-deformations of the Mexican party-state,
                   the PRI (The Revolutionary Institutional Party
                   that has ruled Mexico for over 60 years) and
                   the so called defenders of the "civil society"
                   sector, PROCOMPO and the National Solidarity
                   Program. Both of these elements dream of
                   balancing the rupture that is Mexico with a
                   neo-liberal free-zone of supply and demand, a
                   dream that can never be realized under the
                   signs of virtual capital. 

              Jan. 8-12, 1994. Civilian demonstrations demand "Stop
              the massacre!" President Salinas orders a unilateral
              cease fire. 

                   "We believe that revolutionary change in
                   Mexico will not be the product of action in a
                   sole arena. In other words, it will not be, in
                   a strict sense, an armed revolution or a
                   peaceful revolution. It will be primarily a
                   revolution which results in the struggle of
                   different social fronts, with many methods
                   within different social forms, with different
                   degrees of commitment and participation. And
                   its results will be, not a party organization
                   or alliance of victorious organizations with
                   its specific social proposals." 

              Mar. 23, 1994. Luis Donaldo Collsio, PRI candidate for
              the presidency, is assassinated in Tijuana during a
              political rally. Jun. 11. Salinas picks Zedillo to
              head the PRI presidency. Aug. 8-9. The Zapatistas, in
              conjunction with the National Democratic Convention
              leaders convene at Aguascalientes in the jungle of
              Chiapas. Over 6,000 representatives arrive. 

                   The Zapatistas are an inappropriate/d gesture
                   that moves outside of the modernist narratives
                   of "REVOLUTION" and towards a zig-zagging
                   process that is inclusive of many methods. It
                   seeks to hinder the type of coagulation that
                   vanguard and collective political action has
                   historically called for: the imposition by
                   violent or peaceful means of a new social
                   system by a single social entity. What has
                   been fashioned is a decentralized force
                   against the rule of the Party-State. 

              Dec. 12-19, 1994. As the peso falls the EZLN breaks
              out of the encirclement by the Army and moves "into
              freezones," effectively occupying 28 villages &

                   Chiapas is a counter-effect, an armed aporia,
                   that has come from below and accelerated the
                   multiplication of contestational gestures,
                   that have now moved away from questions of
                   reform and liberation to questions of direct
                   action as survival and resistance. Here in the
                   Lacandona surplus flesh gnaws at the dreams of
                   virtual capitalism, exemplifying that,
                   "mirrors are for cutting," and "crystals are
                   for shattering... and crossing to the other

                   The Zapatistas run between walls of Third
                   World starvation and the high-speed backbone
                   of digital culture. From the Lacandona jungle
                   they hail us daily, using a PowerBook, a
                   modem, and a small satellite dish. Using these
                   three elements the EZLN have moved to the
                   forefront of what David F. Ronfeldt, a Rand
                   Corporation security expert, has called
                   "netwar". This dangerous "destabilizing" force
                   enables marginalized groups to enter into the
                   nomadological arena by utilizing e-mail. The
                   Rand Corporation feels this kind of power
                   could make Mexico ungovernable, claiming that
                   "the risk for Mexico is not an old fashioned
                   civil war or another social revolution,"
                   Ronfeldt notes. "The risk is social netwar."
                   (Joel Simon, Pacific News Service, Mar. 20,
                   1995.) The Zapatistas are hybrid real/net
                   warriors who are developing methods of
                   electronic disturbance as sites of invention
                   and action. 

              Jan. 31, 1995. The Clinton Administration's call for
              the rescue of the Mexican economy via a $40 billion
              bail-out rejected by the U.S. Congress; forced Clinton
              to turn to the special fund of 20 billion in the
              Federal Reserve of with other funds made available by
              the IMF and the G-7 nations for a $50 billion bail-out

                   "The government will need to eliminate the
                   Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective
                   control of the national territory and security
                   policy... While Chiapas, in our opinion, does
                   not pose a fundamental threat to Mexico's
                   political stability, it is perceived to be so
                   by many in the investment community," states
                   Chase Manhattan Bank in the Jan. 13th
                   "Political Update on Mexico," which was passed
                   on to "CounterPunch" by a banking insider.
                   With this update, the neo-liberal agenda
                   (de)masked not only the "face?" of
                   sub-commandante Marcos, but the fundamental
                   purpose of the NAFTA agreement. Chase, of
                   course, was under no illusions that the
                   December crash of the peso was prompted by the
                   Zapatistas. It was fully aware that the
                   implosion of the Mexican economy was the
                   product of an overvaluation of the peso,
                   orchestrated to enable U.S. investors to
                   convert their killings on Mexican Bonds into
                   dollars - the always/already of neo-liberal

              Feb. 9, 1995. Zedillo orders the Army to launch an
              offensive in Chiapas aimed at taking over all the
              indigenous territory, as well as communities occupied
              by the Zapatistas, and apprehend the leaders of the
              EZLN. This offensive includes the detention of people
              in Mexico City, Chiapas, and Veracruz accused of being
              Zapatistas; almost all of whom were not. 

                   "The EZLN does not want war, but it will not
                   turn over its weapons... We are prepared to
                   respond, but for now, in the near future, the
                   order is to resist (combat), so it is clear
                   that the one who wants war is the government
                   and not the Zapatistas. We want dialogue, but
                   not like this, surrounded." Suddenly
                   Zapatistas are everywhere and nowhere, they
                   are everyone and nobody, the PRI follows its
                   orders from Wall St. and begins the hunt. 

                   In the jungle almost ten thousand people hide
                   and consider the proper method of drinking
                   one's piss, or is it "better to drink someone
                   else's?" As the days pass and starvation
                   grows, an abundance of liquid shit flows out
                   of the Zapatistas: they are surprised that the
                   PRI army with its U.S. donated equipment (for
                   the Drug War) can't smell them as they pass by
                   in the jungle. 

                   The Zapatistas are an excremental force that
                   criss-cross the wired world as base matter. A
                   kernel of the real that cannot be eliminated
                   or flushed out. They remain unmoved in the gut
                   of Mexico, in NAFTA, and in the neo-liberal
                   databody. Here the flesh still struggles
                   against the recombinant speed of the virtual
                   will by becoming something else: Blockage. A
                   hyper-blockage that does not seek the
                   elimination of dead capital, the utopian crash
                   that neo-luddites desire, or the netopian
                   apocalypse of extropian implosion (the
                   complete downloading of humanity into the

                   Instead, the Zapatistas, play within the
                   fractures and fissures of these models,
                   forcing the spew to backup until these
                   organs-without-bodies begin to taste their own
                   waste. Even the virtual tongue must think
                   twice before eating its own sacrifices from
                   the digital toilet bowl, and in that moment of
                   reflection, a voice calling for dialogue to
                   invent something unnamed maybe briefly heard.
                   A call to an impossible possibility. 

              Mar. 22, 1995. Communiques from Subcommandante Marcos
              reappear, calling on the PRI army to leave the Indian
              villages as a preamble to moving from an "epistolary"
              dialogue to face-to-face talks with the government,
              and calling for such talks to be held in Mexico City.
              Zedillo rejects the proposal, but appears to be open
              to some type of talks being held. 

                   "Bankrupt factory owners are finding
                   themselves marching arm-in-arm with bankrupt
                   peasants. And in between is a large chunk of
                   the middle-class..." (John Rice, Associated
                   Press, Mar. 20, 1995). The bail-out forced
                   Zedillo to order astronomical increases on the
                   interest rates for loans, mortgages and the
                   time-payments of goods such as cars and TVs:
                   key sites of desire for the Mexican
                   middle-class. Former interest rates of 20% and
                   30% rose to 70% to 80% in a matter of hours.
                   To the already poor, about 41 million in
                   number, this meant little; they never expected
                   anything from NAFTA. But to the middle-class,
                   it meant an end to the carnival of the Salinas
                   miracle bubble, an addicts dream, and the
                   start of a class scrabbling for a little
                   Prozac to control the spasms of this
                   Zedilloshock economy. 

                   The neo-liberal will to virtualize Mexico has
                   dismantled the "productive apparatus;" labor
                   has come to an end in a society where there
                   was no labor to begin with. It has intensified
                   inequalities, diminished savings, as well as
                   decreased the number of multimillionaires from
                   24 to 12. The virtual economy does not need
                   millionaires to function, it does not need a
                   middle-class; the only thing it needs now from
                   late-capital is a tactical model of rapid
                   speculation, hyper-transactions, and digital
                   acceleration. Only a few bodies are really
                   needed for this new social contract: perhaps
                   just Newt and a few of his boys. 

              Apr. 24, 1995. Peace talks between the Mexican
              government and the Zapatistas were reactivated on Apr.
              23, and then recessed the next day. The Zedillo
              government says it will not withdraw its troops from
              Indian communities, while the Zapatistas say there can
              be no peace until they do. Talks are to resume on May
              12, after the indigenous leaders have consulted with
              their communities. 

                   "Having now a collective name, we discovered
                   that death shrinks, and ends up small on us.
                   The worst death, that of oblivion, flees so
                   that the memory of our dead will never be
                   buried together with their bones. We have now
                   a collective name and our pain has shelter.
                   Now we are larger than death..." So reads the
                   memo from the indigenous communities of
                   Chiapas on Mar. 12, 1995. It calls for an end
                   to a society that has always stood before a
                   "mirror of pain," and for a sovereignty that
                   will represent this 40% of the Mexican
                   population. As for many indigenous peoples,
                   sovereignty over land is a contradiction in
                   terms, since the whole earth belongs to no
                   one, and is to be shared by all. But there is
                   a strong sense of primordial right to the land
                   based on tenure and working it. Indeed, this
                   was the definition of Mexican land within the
                   ejido (communal land) philosophy as stated in
                   the Mexican Constitution - NAFTA did away with
                   the ejido under Salinas. With the end of what
                   little constitutional rights were promised,
                   there was only one choice possible - armed
                   resistance. It was not the first time this had
                   to be done, it will not be the last. 

                   Over 230 different languages have gathered
                   together to speak as a singularity (Mexico has
                   the largest population of Indigenous people in
                   the Western hemisphere), and call for a hybrid
                   autonomy for themselves and the landless
                   campesinos. Here in this liminal-land a new
                   viral revolution has arisen, an electronic
                   cell, that is willing to confront virtual
                   capital at its own game: netwar. The people of
                   Chiapas will use any media-system to speak for
                   dialogue, and to push the PRI party out of the
                   loop. "Dialogue by any means necessary!" 

              Jun. 1, 1995. Summer is wet and hot, dialogue opens
              and closes, opens and closes, it becomes a long ride
              on a merry-go-round. Nothing seems to work. Pan
              (National Action Party) wins some elections. They are
              a fundamentalist right-wing party, a Jurassic party.
              For the Zapatistas, this means things are going from
              bad to worse. 

                   The Zapatistas decide to call for an
                   international consultation concerning 5

                   "Do you agree with the principal demands for:
                   land, housing, jobs, health, education,
                   culture, information, independence, democracy,
                   liberty, justice and peace?" 

                   The Zapatistas consider these demands basic
                   human needs and the question "refers to the
                   need for a new social pact." The EZLN argues
                   that if these demands reflect the will of the
                   majority of the Mexican people, "then the
                   economic direction of the country should be
                   redefined such that a fundamental objective is
                   the satisfaction of these needs. 

                   "Should the different democratizing forces
                   unite in a broad-based opposition front to
                   struggle for the 13 principal demands?") 

                   Collaboration has always been part of the
                   process that the Zapatistas have worked with.
                   The question is really about putting a face on
                   a civil movement, a movement "that has no
                   defined face or clear political project yet
                   has a capacity for indignation and imaginative
                   responses that surpass the great personages of

                   "Should a profound political reform be made in
                   terms which guarantee: equity, citizenship
                   participation (including the non-partisan and
                   non-governmental), respect for the vote,
                   reliable voter registration of all the
                   national political, regional, and local

                   According to the Zapatistas, this question is
                   about the necessary pre-conditions for
                   peaceful political struggle. The lack of these
                   conditions obliges citizens to take up the
                   clandestine and illegal struggle, or adopt
                   skepticism and apathy. 

                   "Should the EZLN be converted into a new
                   independent political force?" 

                   "Should the EZLN unite with other forces and
                   organizations to form a new political

                   According to the Zapatistas, "The fourth and
                   fifth questions are mutually exclusive. To say
                   'no' to both means that one is saying 'no' to
                   the question of whether the EZLN should make
                   itself a political force... To say 'yes,' then
                   one still has to ask whether it should be done
                   alone... or should it unite with other forces
                   in Mexico... We are not asking if we should
                   incorporate ourselves into one of the existing
                   political forces... because we do not feel
                   represented by any of the existing ones."
                   Further, "we are not asking if we should
                   disarm or not... Nor are we asking if we
                   should become a political party, as this is
                   only one of the many forms that a political
                   force can take. Until now the EZLN has only
                   called for organizing and struggle for
                   democracy, liberty, and justice. But as it is
                   clandestine and armed, the EZLN has not
                   organized. We are not a political force. We
                   are a moral force or a catalyst of new
                   organizing forms... Our opinion is listened to
                   by many people, and perhaps, followed. 

                   But it is not translated into an organization.
                   Perhaps our role is only to point out the
                   scarcities and open space for discussion and
                   new participation. Perhaps that is our
                   historic role. Or perhaps, the time has
                   arrived for the Zapatista word not only to
                   move people or create consciousness: perhaps,
                   the time has arrived for the 'organizing' to
                   be Zapatista as well. This is what we are

                   The Zapatistas are a virtual dialogue about a
                   specific form of flesh: the indigenous
                   communities. These communities have become a
                   mutating site for a world that has no single
                   form, with a will to become something the
                   world has not yet dreamed of. They call for
                   the end of Man and the beginning of a people
                   who are no longer bound by the mirror of
                   production or the revenge of the crystal. 

                        Aug. 27, 1995. On this Sunday the
                        people voted, the slips were in glass
                        boxes all over Mexico. Some were in
                        "plain sight" of government police.
                        Voting was heavier in "indigenous"
                        areas. On the 28th, 41% of the votes
                        had been counted: 95% said "yes" to
                        the 16 demands of the Zapatistas, 56%
                        thought that the EZLN ought to form a
                        separate political party, "and by a
                        small majority, voters rejected
                        sharing control of the party with
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