A group of Palestinian activists, writers and educators issued a statement last week condemning a lethal attack on a Zapatista community in Chiapas, southern Mexico.
The paramilitary attack on the village of La Realidad left one teacher dead, an autonomous school and clinic destroyed and fifteen Zapatista activists wounded, the statement says.
Sent to The Electronic Intifada, the statement draws an explicit parallel between Palestinian and Mexican indigenous struggles: “we understand that our brothers and sisters in Chiapas are struggling against a Nakba in a fight not just for themselves, but for all of humanity.”
The Nakba is the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, which began when Zionist militias expelled some 750,000 Palestinians from their land.
Chiapas state is home to the Zapatistas (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional), a mostly indigenous Maya liberation movement that has enjoyed global grassroots support since it rose up against the Mexican government in 1994.
The movement became iconic within the global anti-capitalist movement of the late 1990s, with the masked image of spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos smoking his pipe becoming famous the world over.
As Jimmy Johnson and Linda Quiquivix reported for The Electronic Intifada last year, the Mexican state and Israel have worked together on security coordination at the level of police, prisons and technology. Mexico has also bought Israeli weaponry.
Israeli personnel were sent into Chiapas in response to the 1994 Zapatista uprising for the purpose of “providing training to Mexican military and police forces.”
The statement characterizes the attack as “only the latest orchestration by the Mexican government at the service of neoliberalism, continuing the further theft of Mexico and the final expulsion of the country’s indigenous people from their land.”
It draws parallels to the European colonization of the Americas with the European Zionist colonization of Palestine, stating: “the world that began to be built on October 12, 1492 is the one that made possible May 15, 1948, and it has all been catastrophic for humanity.”
The Zapatistas are “a dignified threat to this new face of colonialism” and so “we call on all dignified Palestinian organizations, communities, collectives, and individuals in struggle to denounce these attacks against the Zapatistas as an attack on us all.”
The statement concludes by quoting words of solidarity that Subcomandante Marcos issued in 2009 during Israel’s brutal “Cast Lead” massacre in the Gaza Strip, which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead.
“The Nakba in Chiapas: Words from afar in the black room of death”
Not far from here
in a place called Gaza
in Palestine, in the Middle East
right here next to us,
the Israeli government’s
heavily trained and armed military
continues its march
of death and destruction.
– Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos Chiapas, Mexico
May 15, 2014
To the family of Compañero Galeano
To all the wounded
To the Junta de Buen Gobierno in La Realidad
To the Juntas de Buen Gobierno
To the Sixth
To Palestinians in Palestine and the shatat
Over the past several days, we have been hearing the news coming out of Chiapas, Mexico, and our hearts are heavy. It reports on a recent paramilitary attack against our indigenous Zapatista brothers and sisters on May 2nd in the community of La Realidad. The attack left their autonomous school and clinic destroyed, fifteen Zapatista compañeros wounded, and Galeano, a teacher in the Zapatistas’ Little School, brutally murdered.
We understand that this was not a confrontation between two armed groups, but an attack by armed paramilitaries against unarmed Zapatista civilians. We also understand that the attack was only the latest orchestration by the Mexican government at the service of neoliberalism, continuing the further theft of Mexico and the final expulsion of the country’s indigenous people from their land once and for all. The Zapatistas are a dignified threat to this new face of colonialism, and those ruling from above know it.
The tactic has become one of the Mexican government’s favorite over the past twenty years: arm, fund, and organize paramilitary groups whose members come from other indigenous communities in Chiapas to then fabricate the lie that these are intra-community conflicts. The mainstream media then doesn’t have to work too hard in its manipulations. In this case, the paramilitary group the government sent in to attack our Zapatista brothers and sisters goes by the name of CIOAC-Histórica, and it was assisted by the Green Ecological Party (PVE) and the National Action Party (PAN) – two political bodies in Mexico currently helping manage the further plunder and destruction of the country.
So in listening to the news coming out of Chiapas, what we understand above all, is that while the names may change, the death and destruction remains the same.
“The underground rivers that crisscross the world can change their geography, but they sing the same song.”
Neoliberalism, colonialism, occupation…
We did not have the honor of knowing Compañero Galeano, but we think that maybe we did not need to. We are hearing that he lived for us, and that he fell while fighting for us. What else is left to know? Galeano was our brother, our father, our friend… Galeano was our teacher.
What Galeano taught is what Zapatista men, women, youth, and elderly teach every day: That the world that began to be built on October 12, 1492 is the one that made possible May 15, 1948, and it has all been catastrophic for humanity. This is a world that requires the annihilation of those of us who refuse to live by its designs, and the only way for us to win this fight, the Zapatistas teach us, is by creating the world anew and together. The world anew, as they say, “where many worlds fit.”
So today, on this May 15, on this 66th year of our catastrophe, of our “Nakba” as we call it in Arabic, we understand that our brothers and sisters in Chiapas are struggling against a Nakba in a fight not just for themselves, but for all of humanity. And so we stand with them in dignified rage, reflecting on how the crime against us in Palestine is one that many more around the world continue to experience 500 years on.
We gather our voices today in strong condemnation of the murder of Compañero Galeano, the attack on La Realidad, and all aggressions against our Zapatista brothers and sisters in Chiapas. And we call on all dignified Palestinian organizations, communities, collectives, and individuals in struggle to denounce these attacks against the Zapatistas as an attack on us all. While we know that our words cannot bring back Galeano’s body, and that they may not heal the wounds of the injured, what we do know, what we can in fact say is true, is what Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos once took the time to say to us:
words from afar
might not stop a bomb
but it is as if a crack
in the black room of death
and a tiny ray of light
From Palestine and the shatat, from below and to the left:
- Palestinian alumni of the Little School’s first grade course, “Freedom according to the Zapatistas”
- Palestinian Youth Movement – U.S. Branch
- Amal Eqeiq
- Shadi Rohana
- Ahmad Nimer
- Salma AbuAyyash
- Hazem AlNamla
- Hazem Jamjoum
- Ahmad Lahham
- Faris Giacaman-Taraki
- Yara Kayyali Abbas
- Nada Elia
- Remi Kanazi
- Murad Odeh
- Randa Wahbe
- Thayer Hastings
- Isshaq AlBarbary
- Mezna Qato
- Natasha Aruri
- Dena Qaddumi
- Budour Hassan
- Shireen Akram-Boshar
- Linah Alsaafin
- Vivien Sansour
- Nura Alkhalili
- Deema Alsaafin
- Omar Jabary Salamanca
- Annemarie Jacir
- Will Youmans
- Raya Ziada
- Alaa Hijaz
- Lucy Garbett
- Hala Turjman