Monday, January 09, 2006


Against the Wall

Zapatistas tour cements shift for indigenous rights

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA CASAS, CHIAPAS, Mexico - Zapatistas began a six-month tour of Mexico with a welcome extended from Tohono O'odham at the northern border, as Mexico's indigenous joined those of Bolivia and Venezuela to lead a continental shift toward support for indigenous rights. Launching the six-month tour of Mexico's 31 states, Subcomandante Marcos, now known as Comandante Zero, embarked on the nationwide tour on a black motorcycle, reminiscent of Che Guevara's consciousness-awakening tour of South America in the 1950s.

''We will listen to people in the places where they work, in the places where they are exploited, where they suffer racism,'' Marcos said as he launched the great ''listening tour'' of Mexico. With its timing, the Zapatista tour, dubbed the ''Other Campaign,'' became part of a wider struggle of the 60 million Indians in Latin America, catapulted by the sweeping reforms of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and the election of an Indian president in Bolivia.

...''The election of Evo Morales in Bolivia and the Zapatista movement are part of an uprising of indigenous people that will change the continent.'' ... ''We should be proud of what they are doing; they should be an inspiration to all Indians in their struggles.''

With the Zapatista movement now more than a decade old, the Other Campaign celebrates the 12-year anniversary of the Zapatistas' emergence from the Lacandon Jungle in 1994. American Indian supporters from the United States have joined the Zapatistas since the beginning. An indigenous human rights delegation - comprised of Tohono O'odham, Yaqui, Dakota and Hopi - climbed to the remote mountain village of Emiliano Zapata in 1995, serving as human shields to protect the Zapatistas from military assassinations.

...Now, American Indians along the U.S. border are e-mailing their welcome to the Zapatistas' tour, slated to arrive in six months at the U.S.-Mexican border. Among them is Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham and organizer of ''O'odham Voice Against the Wall,'' a group that opposes a U.S.-proposed border wall that would slice through O'odham territory on both sides of the border.

... Marcos said the Other Campaign would not end with Mexico's political campaigns targeting the June election. He said when their ''circus'' is finished, the people ''will continue.''


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