We are the Zapatista Solidarity Network. We are people living in the WISE Islands (Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England) that have come together in an interest of creating links of solidarity among us, sharing our struggles and resistances in order to create a community following the invitation made by the Zapatistas in The Journey for Life. We are a diverse and new network, and we have been working around the logistics of being able to receive the compas in the Islands.
Anticapitalist, antipatriarchal, antiracist. We stand against the exploitation of human beings at the expense of profit, as we are also against the massacring of our planet for the benefit of the few. We believe, as the Zapatistas do, that another world is possible, one where many worlds fit.
In October 2020, the Zapatistas announced that they would be travelling to the five continents. They spoke to having had survived paramilitary violence, pandemics, megaprojects, lies, and being forgotten, and still they live. Or, they correct themselves, they fight. And so, the time came to meet, talk and listen to those others that also fight and resist. The first stop in this voyage, what they have named The Journey for Life, was set to be Europe. Within Europe, or “Slumil K’ajxemk’op” (“rebel land” as they have renamed it in Tzotzil), one of the stops will be the wrongly called United Kingdom. As the Zapatista Solidarity Network we extended an invitation to the compas to come to the WISE Islands to get to know our struggles. Particularly, we have said that our interest is to share with them conversations about economic and environmental exploitation, meet with trade unions and collectives of racialised works, we also want to share the struggle of food and food sovereignty, as well as the resistance towards mega projects, and speak to experiences of diaspora and internationalist solidarity. We organized a series of Webinars that speak more in-depth about the Zapatistas and their coming to Europe, you can check them out here.
The first group of seven Zapatistas arrived by boat in August, touring through different countries of Slumil K’ajxemk’op. At a later date, mid-September, after many bureaucratic and racist setbacks regarding the issuing of passports, more Zapatistas were able to embark on the Journey. By the name of the “La Extemporanea”, this next group of compas made their way through aeroplane, made up by 28 teams of “Escucha y Palabra” (Listen and Speech), each of 4-5 compas, one team of “Juego y Travesura” (Play and Mischief) and one Coordinating team. La Extemporanea has the capacity to be in 28 corners of the European geography simultaneously. La Extemporanea have now toured through Zone 1 of Europe, and now after reconvening in Viena to reorganize, they set way to Zone 2, upon which one of the stops is the WISE islands. We are thrilled to receive 2 teams of Listen and Speech.
After the end of their time in the WISE islands, the compas will reconvene and reorganise for the next stage of the Journey for Life, the touring of Zone 3. As for us, we would like to further the community that this network created. The invitation the Zapatistas have made through the call for the Journey for Life is not finite; it is not to be understood with an end date, but rather as an invitation to create community in the everyday through the sharing of lived experiences and struggles, and we intend to do just that.
As mentioned, one major issue was the issuing of passports. The Mexican government without reason other that discrimination was refusing the rightful issuing of Mexican passports for the compas of La Extemporanea. Given the mobilization and public shaming of the Mexican government, the compas were able to finally get their passports. However, this delayed the arrival of the delegation and forced every group in the Insubordinate Land to change their plans. Their arrival was expected for the summer and the tour would have been completed before October. Specifically in the planning of the WISE islands, we have had to do particular logistics making sure we comply to covid regulations. Additionally, we have to contextualise a social movement which is particularly exceptional by any standard.
There was no intention of successes, there was intention of conversation and sharing, which has been happening wherever the compas have made their way. Particularly, here in the WISE islands, it has been great that the planning and sorting of logistics for these past 8 months have resulted in the coming together of many collectives and people that share an interest and enthusiasm in making different worlds possible from each of their perspectives and experiences.
Every revolutionary movement learns from the others, while developing and being embedded in its own context and conditions. The Zapatistas refer to this as different calendars and geographies. For this reason there are many differences between the Zapatista revolutionaries in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Kurdistan Freedom Movement, but if we look beyond this we see there is something also deeper – that these are two movements of colonised peoples struggling for freedom, autonomy and a dignified life, that against all odds are developing real alternatives to the State system with their own forms of democracy, rooted in their own calendars and geographies, but with a fully internationalist lens. These are two movements we can learn from and also develop relationships based on a solidarity of respect and mutual learning in our struggle for a better world.
We are now at a moment in history where the options are internationalism or extinction.
We are a Network that came together through the shared interest in the Zapatistas and the excitement that their Journey for Life generated. We are a group of people that find themselves inspired by the Zapatistas and their struggles and invitation to envision a different way of living and existing. Rather than being about individuals, the Zapatista movement is about strengthening communities and growing solidarity among equals, fighting for a dignified life that is only possible in communitarian forms of organisation, where every person counts and no one is left behind. The fact that this event is happening on the 500th year anniversary of the colonisation, makes it all the more powerful.
People can support and get involved by following us on our social media (@ZapatistaSolidarityNetwork on Fb, Twitter and Instagram). These are the channels to be constantly updated about the passing of the compas through the WISE Islands. If there is an interest in being part of the logistics, or if you are a member of any collective that would like to get involved please email us [email protected]. You can also support us by donating to our fundraisers or visiting our shop, where you can donate money and get a reward.
Cover image from @zapatistasolid1 on twitter