The Zapatistas invite 1.500 activists from all over the world to a ‘Little School of Liberty’ in Chiapas to learn from their experiment with autonomy.
(ROARMag) It was 10 years ago, on January 1, 2003, when — having exhausted the road of dialogue with the government as well the one of a “big R” Revolution that would overthrow the Mexican state — the Zapatistas of Chiapas decided to “abandon the politics of demands, and with it, all contact with the state.” Instead, they chose to concentrate on building their own autonomous, horizontal forms of self-government within their own territories and with their own means.
In other words, to ignore the state as an institution and “act as if they had already won”, comrade ‘Bruce Lee’ of the CCRI in San Cristobal declared during the commemoration of the 1994 uprising that “we don’t have to ask the government’s permission to be autonomous.” Or, as Major Infantry Insurgent Moses put it in an interview with Gloria Muñoz:
The dialogue with the government didn’t work but it enriched us, because we met more people and it gave us more ideas. After the “Color of the Earth march” in 2001 we said that with or without a law we were going to build our government the way we wanted.
It was 10 years ago, on August 9, 2003, when the Zapatistas announced the death of the Aguascalientes and the birth of the Caracoles. Five caracoles were created, each with its own Junta de Buen Gobierno (JBG) established within it, responsible for its own Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Municipal Zone (MAREZ). The five caracoles are the following:
- “The Mother of Caracoles — Sea of Dreams” (La Realidad)
- “The Whirlwind of Our Words” (Morelia — 17 de Noviembre)
- “Resistance Until the New Dawn” (La Garrucha — Fransisco Gomez)
- “The Caracol That Speaks for All” (Robero Barrios)
- “Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity” (Oventik)
The municipalities and communities in each zone are not only divided on the basis of geographical criteria but in other ways (like ethnic composition and distance from the caracol) as well. Each caracol has its own autonomous health clinic, normally a primary and/or secondary school, and each of them is also involved in one form or another with one of the five Projects of Zapatismo: health, education, agro-ecology, politics, and information technology.