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Democracy Now:Zapatistas Form New Autonomous Governments

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003
The Zapatistas Form New Autonomous Governments; Marcos Calls for Civilian
Not Military Rule

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The Zapaistas announced their plan for indigenous self-rule and said they
would withdraw their fighters from roadblocks across the region and stop
charging travelers to pass through the territory they control. We go to
Chiapas to speak to Luz Ruiz of the Chiapas Media Project and we hear
excerpts of Subcomandante Marcos and Comandante Fidelia played and spoken at
this weekend¹s "encuentro." [Includes transcript]
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In decisions that could have far reaching consequences, the Zapatistas have
declared political autonomy in 30 municipalities in the Southern Mexican
region of Chiapas.

The Zapaistas announced their plan for indigenous self-rule at their annual
"encuentro" this past weekend.

The Zapatistas also said they would withdraw their fighters from roadblocks
across the region and stop charging travelers to pass through the territory
they control.

While most of the Zapatista leadership attended the gathering, the group's
chief spokesperson Marcos was not in attendance.

In a five-minute record, Marcos called for the creation of five new "good
government" boards called "caracoles" to oversee five different regions
where the autonomous municipalities are located. He also said these
"caracoles" would be ruled by civilians not the military wing of the
Zapatistas.

The Mexican government hailed the announcement and have announced a
breakthrough in its long standoff with the Zapatistas.

We are going to begin by listening to a portion of the pre-recorded
statement from Marcos and then we will go to Chiapas for a live report.


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TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now! as we move to southern
Mexico. Decisions that could have far reaching consequences. The Zapatistas
have declared political autonomy in 30 municipalities in the Southern
Mexican region of Chiapas. The Zapatistas announced their plan for
indigenous self-rule at their annual encuentro or gathering this past
weekend.

Zapatista said they would withdraw fighters from road blocks across the
region while most of the Zapatista leadership attended the gathering, the
group's chief spokesperson, sub-Comandante Marcos was not there, though he
did send a five minute recording. He called for the creation of five new
good government boards called "caracoles" to oversee five different regions
where autonomous municipalities are located. He also said these "caracoles"
or good government boards would be ruled by civilians not the military wing
of the Zapatistas. We¹re going to hear an excerpt of that tape translated by
our producer. Stay with us.

³The Zapatista Army of National Liberation cannot be the voice of he who
governs or the government even if he who governs, governs obeying and is a
good government. The EZLN speaks for those of below for the governed, for
the Zapatista people who are their heart and blood, their thought and path,
y su eamino.

We shall be ready and waiting to defend them, that is why we are the
Zapatista Army. The guardians and heart of the people. And so from here on I
shall no longer be the spokesperson for the rebel Zapatista autonomous
municipality. They already have someone who speaks and speaks well for them.

In my role as military commander of the Zapatista troops, I am informing you
that as of now the autonomous counsel will not be able to have recourse to
the military forces for government work. They should there for try very hard
to do as all governments do, that is to have recourse to reason and not to
force in order to govern. Armies should not be used in order to defend. Not
in order to govern. An army's work is not to be a police force or public
ministry.

Consequently as our comandante should inform you all those checkpoints and
control points shall be withdrawn which under autonomous authority our
forces have been maintaining along the roads and highways as well as the
collecting of taxes from individuals.

AMY GOODMAN: And that is a recording of sub-Comandante Marcos, the recording
that was played at the gathering this weekend in Chiapas the Zapatista
gathering. It was translated by Lenina Nadal, our producer. We're joined on
the line by Luz Ruiz, of the Chiapas Media Project in Chiapas right now. You
were at the gathering. Can you describe it?

LUZ RUIZ: Hi. Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us.

LUZ RUIZ: He is the member of the Chiapas independent member which
translates to the media center but, yes, I was present this weekend and it
was a pretty festive, pretty emotional moment where more than well close to
10,000 people gathered from the communities, from different states here in
Mexico and also from the international community. So it was a very emotional
moment there for everybody that has been supporting and believes in the
causes that the ECLN has brought up in the last ten years that they have
been public and verbal.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the women Zapatistas who spoke?

LUZ RUIZ:Yes. The women Zapatista that spoke were three. And in a very
emotional, very energetic and speech was comandante, because he specifically
addressed men saying that this time the Zapatista women are not going to ask
permission to the men to respect them.

AMY GOODMAN: Luz, I wanted to play an excerpt of Fidelia. ³Even today there
are many places in Mexico where women are abused, unappreciated, exploited,
and they say that we're not worth anything. That we don't have any rights.
But today the time has come, we will do it because it's an obligation.²

AMY GOODMAN: That was comandante Fidelia speaking this weekend at the
encuentro or gathering in Chiapas. I want to thank Luz from the media
project.

That does it for the show. If you like to get copy you can call
1-800-881-2359. You can go to our website sign up for our daily digest,
thousands have people have by going to www.democracynow.org. It also shows
links to all the different organizations that people that we have shown to.

I'm Amy Goodman.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, call
1 (800) 881-2359.

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