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The new structure of Zapatista autonomy

Following their statement dissolving their autonomous government, the Zapatistas have released another statement:

Brothers, sisters, comrades:

I am going to try to explain to you how we reorganised the autonomy, that is, the new structure of the Zapatista autonomy. I will explain more to you later in more detail. Or maybe I won’t explain more because practice is what matters. Of course, you can also come to the anniversary and watch the plays, songs, poems and the art and culture of this new stage of our struggle. If not, Tercios Compas will send you photos and videos. At another time, I will tell you what we saw, good and bad, in the critical evaluation of MAREZ and JBG. Now I’ll just tell you how it looks. Here it goes:

First – The main base where autonomy is sustained, without which the other structures cannot function, is the Local Autonomous Government, LAG [GAL for its acronym in Spanish]. There is a GAL in each community where Zapatista support bases live. The Zapatista GALs are the core of all autonomy. Autonomous agents and commissioners coordinate them and are subject to the assembly of the town, ranchería, community, area, neighbourhood, ejido, colony, or however, each population calls itself. Each GAL controls its autonomous organizational resources (such as schools and clinics) and the relationship with neighbouring non-Zapatista brother towns. It controls the proper use of the pay and also detects and reports mismanagement, corruption and errors that may exist. It is attentive to those who want to pass themselves off as Zapatista authorities to ask for support or aid that they use for their own benefit.

So, if before there were a few dozen MAREZ, that is, Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities, now there are thousands of Zapatista GALs.

Second – According to their needs, problems and advances, various GALs are convened into Collectives of Zapatista Autonomous Government, ZAG [CGAZ for its acronym in Spanish], and here discussions are held and agreements are made on matters that interest the convening GALs. When they so determine, the Collective of Autonomous Governments calls an assembly of the authorities of each community. Here, the plans and needs of Health, Education, Agroecology, Justice, Commerce, and those needed are proposed, discussed and approved or rejected. The coordinators of each area are at the CGAZ level. They are not authorities. Their job is to ensure that the work requested by the GAL is deemed necessary for community life, such as preventive medicine and vaccination campaigns, campaigns for endemic diseases, courses and specialized training (such as laboratory technicians, x-rays, ultrasound, mammograms and those that we learn on the way), literacy and higher levels, sporting and cultural events, traditional festivities, etc. Each region or CGAZ has its directors, who are the ones who summon assemblies if there is an urgent problem or one that affects several communities.

That is to say, where before there were 12 Good Government ‘Juntas’, now there will be hundreds.

Third – Next, the Assemblies of Collectives of ZAPATISTA Autonomous Governments, ACZAG [ACGAZ for its acronym in Spanish], which are what were previously known as zones. But they have no authority and depend on the CGAZ. And the CGAZ depend on the GAL. The ACGAZ convenes and presides over zone assemblies, when necessary, according to the requests of GAL and CGAZ. They are based in the caracoles but move between regions. In other words, they are mobile, according to the town’s demands for attention.

Fourth – As will be seen in practice, the Command and Coordination of Autonomy has been transferred from the JBG and MAREZ to the towns and communities to the GAL. The towns govern the zones (ACGAZ) and the regions (CGAZ); they must be accountable to the towns and must find a way to meet their needs in Health, Education, Justice, Food and those that arise due to emergencies caused by natural disasters, pandemics, crimes, invasions, wars, and the other misfortunes that the capitalist system brings.

Fifth – The structure and disposition of the EZLN have been reorganized to increase the defence and security of towns and mother Earth in the event of aggressions, attacks, epidemics, invasion of companies that prey on nature, partial or total military occupations, natural catastrophes and nuclear wars. We have prepared so that our towns survive, even isolated from each other.

Sixth – We understand that you may have problems assimilating this. And that, for a while, you will struggle to understand it. It took us 10 years to think about it, and of those 10 years, 3 to prepare it for its practice.

We also understand that it seems to you that your thinking is scrambled. That is why it is necessary to change your channel of understanding. The present step can be understood only by looking far away, backwards and forwards.

We hope you understand that it is a new structure of autonomy, that we are just learning and that it will take a while to get going well.

In reality, this statement has only the intention of telling you that Zapatista autonomy continues and advances, that we think it will be better for the towns, communities, places, neighbourhoods, colonies, ejidos and rancherías where they live, that is, the bases of Zapatista support. And that it has been their decision, taking into account their ideas and proposals, their criticisms and self-criticisms.

Also, as will be seen, this new stage of autonomy is made to confront the worst of the Hydra, its most infamous bestiality and its destructive madness: their wars and business and military invasions.

For us, there are no borders or distant geographies. Everything in any corner of the planet affects, concerns, worries, and hurts us. To the extent of our minimal strength, we will support human beings in distress regardless of their colour, race, nationality, belief, ideology and language. Although we do not know many languages ​​or understand many cultures and ways, we know how to understand the suffering, pain, sorrow, and proud rage the system provokes.

We know how to read and listen to brothers’ hearts. We will continue trying to learn from them, their stories and their struggles. Not only because we have suffered from this for centuries and know what it is like. Also, and above all, because, for 30 years, our fight has been for life.

Indeed, we have made many mistakes in all these years. We will surely do more in the next 120 years. But we will NOT give up, we will NOT change path, we will NOT sell out. We will continually review our struggle, its times and ways with a critical eye.

Our eyes, ears, heads and hearts will always be ready to learn from others who, although different in many things, have our same concerns and similar desires for democracy, freedom and justice.

And we will always seek the best for our people and our sister communities.

We are, therefore, Zapatistas.

As long as there is at least one man, one woman, one ‘otroa’ Zapatista in any corner of the planet, we will resist in rebellion; that is, we will fight.

See it for yourselves, friends and enemies. And those who are neither one thing nor another.

That is it for now.

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

Insurgent Subcommander Moisés

Mexico, November 2023.

More than 500, 40, 30, 20, 10 years later.

P.S.- Here, I leave you a drawing to see if you understand it a little.

Image: Matthew T Rader / / CC-BY-SA / Zapatistas Territory sign in Chiapas, Mexico

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