Zapatistas celebrate 10 years of autonomy with ‘escuelita’| ROAR + message from OWSZapatista and SupMarcos

Post image for Zapatistas celebrate 10 years of autonomy with ‘escuelita’
following is an email from comrade OWSZapatista and attached is the last
communiqes from SupMarcos…

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.

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.

It was 10 years ago when the Zapatistas announced that they don’t need
anyone’s permission to be autonomous, and started to work on what for
them constitutes liberty and autonomy. And now, 10 years later, on
August 8, 2013 the Zapatistas invite the world to a three-day fiesta
to celebrate the ten years of Zapatista autonomy, in the five
caracoles in Chiapas!

And not only that. When the fiesta is over, in one of the very few
public initiatives they have undertaken since the Sixth Declaration of
the Selva Lacandona (La Sexta) in June 2005, and since the start of
the Other Campaign (La Otra Campaña) in January 2006,  the Zapatistas
now invite the world to an initiative that they call “the Little
School of Liberty according to the Zapatistas”.

For this Escuelita, around 1.500 activists from all over the world
have been invited to visit Chiapas and study the Zapatistas’
experiment with autonomy through lived experience. The teachers will
be the Zapatista communities themselves, which will host each and
every student in their lands, one with every family, and let them
experience what it is like to be member of the Zapatista Bases of
Support; in other words, what it’s like to be a Zapatista.

There will be students from five continents. Some of the countries of
origin of the students in the course, Freedom according to the
Zapatistas, include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, the United States of America,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia, the
Spanish State, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, the Basque Country,
United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, India, Iran, Sri
Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Canary Islands.
The furthest point of origin of students is Sri Lanka, which is more
than 17 thousand kilometers from Zapatista territory. Then follows
India (more than 15 thousand kilometers away), Australia (more than 13
thousand kilometers away), and new Zealand (more than 11 thousand
kilometers away).

More than 30 students have PhDs in various fields, while more than 50
are professors and researchers in various universities. Some 200
students will also attend the Little School through video conference.
Just like the Zapatistas did in the years of the Global Justice
Movement, with their Encuentros in their territories, now, in the
years of the Real Democracy Movement, they again invite the world to
come and see what autonomy and freedom looks and works like for the
Zapatistas.

“What for?” some may ask. “The Zapatista example is one that cannot be
followed everywhere: we don’t live in the jungles of Chiapas to create
rebel armies and autonomous communities,” others say. You may have
heard these arguments before, as have I. Well, the answer is simple:
the Zapatistas never projected themselves as the one and only example
to be followed. They have constructed a world in which they have
realized their own vision of freedom and autonomy, and continue to
fight for a world in which other worlds are possible.

That’s the world they invite us to experience. And, on the last day of
theEscuelita, the Zapatistas will tell the students: “the school is
over, what are you still doing here? Go back to your lands!” After
all, “We didn’t invite you in order to recruit you, train you,
un-train you, program you, or, like they say, “reset” you. We have
opened a door and invited you to come in and see our house, to see
what we have constructed with the help of people all over the world…
The outcome of the Escuelita is not militancy, belonging, submission
to command, nor fanaticism. What follows the Escuelita is something
that you, and only you, can decide… and act upon.”

In the next days, ROAR will keep you updated on the fiestas and the
Escuelita. For those of you who would like to be part of it, the
Zapatistas are organizing another course, in December-January
2013-’14, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the original
Zapatista uprising of January 1, 1994. Those interested to participate
in person or through video conference will find information on how to
do so on Enlace Zapatista.

Vale. Salud y hasta la próxima.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: OWS Zapatista <owszapatista@gmail.com>
Date: 7 August 2013 19:09
Subject: Corrected typo (sorry) Fwd: Zapatista Freedom School to
Implement a Language Justice Program! Starting next Monday!
To:

Ø  The Zapatista School to implement a language justice system –
students will know how ii is to live in the language of a conqueror.
There will be simultaneous translation from a Mayan language into
Spanish.

Ø  Their government system to be against dogmatism: “What you will see
here works for us now. New generations will build their own paths, in
their own ways and their own times. A concept of freedom does not
enslave its future inheritors” their collective speaker says.

Ø  The “Freedom According to Zapatistas” School is coming up this
Monday August 12! Occupy Wall Street people are invited to watch it
online in two different schedules for people who work at night!

Ø  Still don’t know how to access online next Monday? Want to go to
Chiapas for the next cycle of workshops in December? Write to us at
owszapatista@gmail.com for more information. (We don’t want your
money, your vote or your admiration. We are not seeking to control
you. We are just a source of information about Zapatistas.)

“Your Reality will be your Test”

The Zapatista Freedom School will implement a language justice system
– students will know how it is to live in the language of a conqueror,
without understanding it (just as immigrant workers in the US!).

Each student arriving to the autonomous communities in Chiapas will be
assigned one family to stay with for a week. He/she/he-she will taken
care of, fed and shown the everyday life of an autonomous Zapatista
family. However, the student will not be able to understand what the
family is saying, because they don’t speak Spanish. They speak in one
of the Mayan languages.

Their teacher “Votán” (meaning “guardian” in Mayan) will be their
translator. “Your female/male/femalemale guardian will also be your
simultaneous translator who doesn’t need batteries. Because here, as
far as it is possible, you will be spoken to in our native languages.
Only your female or male guardian “Votán” will speak to you in
Spanish. This way you will experience what happens when an indigenous
person tries to speak in a dominant language. The fundamental
difference is that here you will not be treated with disdain or
mockery for not understanding what is said to you or for
mispronouncing words”, Subcomandante Marcos says.

“In the meeting that you will attend with your classmates in the zone,
you will not be able to ask questions directly to the teacher; rather,
you will ask your female or male guardian “Votán” and they will
translate the question for the teacher, who will respond in their
mother tongue and your guardian will translate back to you. You will
of course be left with the doubt as to whether your question was
adequately translated and if the answer you got is the same as that
which the teacher gave. But, isn’t that exactly what an indigenous
person is subject to with a translator in the government courts of
justice? This way you will understand that what they call “equality
under the law” is just one more monstrosity of illegitimate justice in
our world. Where is the legal equality if the translation of things
like ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘justice’ are made with the same
words of those who want to enslave, dispossess, and disappear us?
Where is equality if accusation, trial, and sentencing is made by a
legal system that, in addition to corrupt, is imposed in the language
of the Ruler? Where is justice in a system whose judgment is based on
the premise of cultural dispossession? That is why the school will be
like this. That is why the guardian will have this purpose. Because…
They are us… Your Votán is a wide collective voice concentrated in a
person. He or she will not speak as an individual. Each Votán is all
of us Zapatistas.”

The “Freedom According to Zapatistas” School is coming up this Monday
August 12! Occupy Wall Street is invited to watch it online in two
different schedules for people who work at night! If you need more
information, write to us at owszapatista@gmail.com

Below please find the complete English translation on the last
Zapatista communiques about the upcoming “Little School”

—————–

VOTÁN II.

The Guardians.

July of 2013.

Now we want to explain to you how the little school will work (the
list of school items you’ll need, the methodology, the teachers, the
course subjects, the schedules, etc.), so the first thing is…

What you will need.

The only thing that you need, objectively, to attend the Zapatistas’
little school (in addition to being invited, of course, and your one
hundred pesos for the book-DVD packet), is the willingness to listen.

So there’s no reason to heed the advice or recommendations of those
people, however well-intentioned, who say that you need to bring this
or that equipment, based on the fact that “they have been in
community.”

Those who really have been in community don’t go around bragging about
it, and they also know well that what one truly needs is to know how
to look and listen. Those who have come to community to talk (and to
try to tell us what to do, or to offer us charity in the form of money
or “wisdom”) have been and will be many, too many. And those who have
come to listen are very few. But I’ll tell you about that on another
occasion.

So you don’t need to buy anything special (I read that someone only
had some old tennis shoes to bring, that’s cool). Bring a notebook and
a pen or pencil. It is not mandatory that you bring your computer,
smartphone, tablet, or whatever you use now, but you can if you like.
There won’t, however, be a cellular signal where you will be. There is
Internet in some “caracoles” (Zapatista autonomous communities,
meaning snails-conchs which is the symbol of Mayan time and the spiral
of History),  but its speed is, how shall I put it, a little like
“pegassus,” Durito’s mount [a turtle]. Yes, you can bring your
whatever-you-call-it that you use to listen to music. Yes, you can
bring a camera and a recorder. Yes, you can record audio and take
photos and video, but only according to the rules, which Sub-Commander
Insurgent Moisés will tell you about. Yes, you can bring your teddy
bear or equivalent.

Other things that might be useful: a flashlight; your toothbrush and a
towel (if you want to bathe and it is possible to do so); at least one
change of clothes, in case you get covered in mud; your medicines, if
they are necessary and a trained capable person has prescribed them; a
plastic bag for your identification and money (always keep these
things with you—we will only ask you for your identification at
registration, to see if you are really you); another plastic bag for
the study materials you will receive here; you should also put your
(under—if you use it—and outer) wear in plastic bags.

Remember: you can bring as much stuff as you want, but everything you
bring you will have to carry yourself. So none of this “I’m going to
take the piano just in case I have time to practice my
do-re-mi-fa-so-la.” And no, you can’t bring your Xbox, ps3 wii, or
that old Atari console.

What is in fact essential to have, you cannot buy. It is what you
bring already incorporated within your person and can be found, if you
start at your neck, below and to the left.

Okay, having clarified that, I will here list what you do need to
attend the little school in community. Without the following
requirements, YOU WILL NOT BE ADMITTED:

-Disinclination to talk or to judge.

-Willingness to listen and watch.

-A well-disposed heart.

Your race, age, gender, sexual preference, place of origin, religion,
scholarliness, stature, weight, physical appearance, equipment, “long
experience” on Zapatismo, or what you wear or don’t wear on your feet,
none of that matters.

The Scholarly Space and Schedule.

According to the Zapatistas, the place of teaching and
learning—school—is the collective. That is, the community. And the
teachers and students are those who make up the collective. All of
them. So there is no teacher, but rather a collective that teaches,
that demonstrates, that trains, and in it and with it—a person who
learns and, at the same time, teaches.

So when you attend your first day of class in community (this will be
different if one is taking the course another way), do not expect to
find yourself in a traditional school. The classroom that we have
prepared for you is not a closed space with a blackboard and a
professor at the front of the room imparting knowledge to the students
who he or she will then evaluate and sanction (that is, classify into
good and bad students), but rather, the open space of the community.
And this community is not a “sect” (here Zapatistas, non-Zapatistas,
and, in some cases, anti-Zapatistas live together), nor is it
hegemonic, homogeneous, closed (here people from different calendars
and geographies visit all year around), or dogmatic (here we also
learn from Others).

So you are not coming to a school that operates on the traditional
schedule. You will be in school every hour of every day during your
stay here. The most important part of your time in the little
Zapatista school is your living experience with the family with whom
you will stay. You will go with them to get firewood, to the
cornfield, to the river/stream/spring, you will cook and eat with them
(of course, you will only eat what doesn’t harm you or go against your
convictions—for example, if you are vegetarian or vegan, they won’t
give you meat, but please let us know beforehand because the compas,
when they are happy with a visit, often cook chicken or pork, or the
community or autonomous municipality or Good Government Council might
take one of its collective cows and make a stew for everybody), you
will rest with them, and, above all, you will get tired with them.

All in all, during these days you will be part of an indigenous
Zapatista family.

And that is the reason why we can’t accept people coming with their
camping tent or RV. That is why there is a limit on the number of
people who can come. Because many people do indeed fit on these lands,
but under the little Zapatista roofs only a few fit. If you want to
camp, to live close to nature or its bucolic equivalents, fine, but
not here on these dates.

So you won’t be living with your gang, group, or collective. Nor with
other “citizens” [like city-dwellers]. If you come with your family,
partner, or your not-so-much-a-partner, you can be together if you
like, but no one else. None of this “all of us who came from
such-and-such place are going to get together to hang out or talk or
sing around the campfire or whatever.” This you can do in your
geographies and calendars. You (or you and your family, or partner, or
not-so-much-a-partner) are coming here to participate in the daily
life and knowledge of the indigenous Zapatista people, and, of course,
the daily life of non-Zapatista indigenous people.

The Zapatistas are a people that have the particularity of not only
having challenged the powerful, nor only of having maintained their
rebellion and resistance for 20 years. They also, and above all, have
managed to build (in conditions which you will become personally
acquainted with) the indigenous Zapatista definition of freedom: to
govern and govern ourselves in accord with our ways, in our geography
and our calendar. Yes, this part about “our geography and our
calendar” defines a considerable distance between ours and other
projects. We warn you that this is not only not a model to follow
(some things have worked for us and some things haven’t), a new
evangelism, or a new fashion for export; it is also not a
“construction manual for freedom.” It is not that for the other native
peoples of Mexico, much less for all of the peoples who struggle in
all of the corners of the world.

In addition, take careful note, we are defining a time. What you will
see here works for us now. New generations will build their own paths,
with their own ways and their own times. A concept of freedom does not
enslave its future inheritors.

For us, this is freedom: to exercise the right to construct our own
destiny, with no one that rules over us and tells us what to do or not
do. In other words: it is our right to fall and pick ourselves back
up. We know well that this is built with rebellion and dignity,
knowing that there are other worlds and other ways, and that, just
like we are building ours here, others are going about building their
identity, their dignity.

During the week that you live with the Zapatista communities, you will
only twice go to a meeting in the Caracol with all of the students of
the zone that you are assigned to. In this meeting, where many
different colors and ways from many different calendars and
geographies will meet, there will be a teacher dedicated to trying to
respond to any questions or doubts that have come up during your stay.
This is because we think that it will be good for you to hear the
doubts that arose for someone from another country or another
continent, another city, another reality…

But the most fundamental part of the little school you will learn with your…

Votán.

Over the course of a few months, tens of thousands of Zapatista
families have been preparing to receive those who come to the little
school in community. Along with them, thousands of women and men,
indigenous Zapatistas, have become a Votán, simultaneously individual
and collective.

So you should know what role the Votán will play, because the Votán
is, as they say, the backbone of the little school. It is the method,
the study plan, the teacher, the school, the classroom, the
blackboard, the notebook, the pen, the desk with an apple, the recess,
the exam, the graduation, and the cap and gown.

A lot has been written and said about what Votán (or “Uotán”, or
“Wotán”, or “Botán”) means. For example, that the word doesn’t exist
in the Mayan language and is just a misunderstood or badly translated
version of “Ool Tá aan,” which would be something like “The Heart that
Speaks.” Or that it refers to an earthquake; or the growl of the
jaguar, or the beating of the heart of the earth, or the heart of the
sky, or the heart of the water, or the heart of the mountain, or all
this and more. But, as in everything that refers to originary peoples,
these are versions upon versions from those who have tried to dominate
(sometimes with knowledge) these lands and their inhabitants. So,
unless you have interest in contemplating interpretations of
interpretations (that end up ignoring their creators), here we refer
to the meaning that the Zapatistas give to the Votán. And it will be
something like “guardian of the heart of the people,” or “guardian and
heart of the earth,” or “guardian and heart of the world.”

Each of the little school students, regardless of their age, gender,
or race, will have their Votán, a guardian (or guardiana) [feminine].

That is, in addition to the family with whom you will live for those
days, you will have a tutor who will help you understand what,
according to the Zapatistas, freedom is.

The Guardians [masculine and feminine] are people like all common
people. Only these are people that rebelled against the powerful who
exploited, dispossessed, disrespected, and repressed them, and they
are people who have given their life to that rebellion. Despite this,
the Votán that we are does not preach the cult of death, glory, or
Power, but rather walks through life in a daily struggle for freedom.

Your personal Votán, your female or male guardian “Votán”, will tell
you our history, explain who we are, where we are, why we fight, how
we struggle, and alongside who we want to struggle. They will talk to
you about our achievements and our errors, study the textbooks with
you, resolve any doubts they are able to (and for when they are not
able, we have the larger meeting). They are the ones who will speak to
you in Spanish (the family with whom you live will always speak to you
in their mother tongue), they will translate for you what the family
says, and will translate to the family what you want to say or know.
They will walk with you, go to the cornfield or to bring firewood or
water with you, they will cook and eat with you, sing and dance with
you, sleep near you, accompany you when you go to the bathroom, tell
you which bugs to avoid, make sure you take your medicine; in sum,
they will teach and take care of you.

You can ask your Votán anything: if we are really the offspring of
Salinas, if SupMarcos is dead or just tanning himself on a European
beach, if SubMoy is going to show up at some point, if the world is
round, if he or she believes in elections, if he or she is for the
Jaguares [Chiapas’ Mexican professional league soccer team], etc. etc.
In contrast to other teachers, if your female or male guardian “Votán”
doesn’t know the answer, they’ll say “I don’t know.”

Your guardian “Votán” will also be your simultaneous translator that
doesn’t need batteries. Because here, as far as it is possible, you
will be spoken to in our native languages. Only your female or male
guardian “Votán” will speak to you in Spanish. This way you will
experience what happens when an indigenous person tries to speak in a
dominant language. The fundamental difference is that here you will
not be treated with disdain or mockery for not understanding what is
said to you or for mispronouncing words.

There might be laughter, yes, but out of sympathy for your effort to
understand and make yourself understood. And note, your Votán will not
only translate words, but also colors, flavors, sounds, entire worlds,
that is, a culture.

In the meeting that you will attend with your classmates in the zone,
you will not be able to ask questions directly of the teacher; rather,
you will ask your female or male guardian “Votán” and they will
translate the question for the teacher, who will respond in their
mother tongue and your guardian will translate back to you. You will
of course be left with the doubt as to whether your question was
adequately translated and if the answer you got is the same as that
which the teacher gave. But, isn’t that exactly what an indigenous
person is subject to with a translator in the government courts of
justice? This way you will understand that what they call “juridical
equality” is just one more monstrosity of justice in our world. Where
is juridical equality if the translation of things like “freedom,”
“democracy,” and “justice” are made with the same words of those who
want to enslave, dispossess, and disappear us? Where is equality if
accusation, trial, and sentencing is made by a juridical system that,
in addition to corrupt, is imposed in the language of the Ruler? Where
is justice in a system whose judgment is based on the premise of
cultural dispossession? That is why the school will be like this. That
is why the Votán will have this purpose. Because…

They are us.

Your Votán is a great collective concentrated in a person. He or she
will not speak as an individual. Each Votán is all of us Zapatistas.

A few weeks ago, Subcomandantes Moisés and Marcos gave the
responsibility of spokesperson to thousands of indigenous Zapatista
men and women to hold for the days of the little school. During those
days in August (and later next December and January), the EZLN will
speak through their voice; through their ears the EZLN will listen;
and in their heart will beat the great “we” that we are.

So during the days of the Little School, you will have a teacher who
is nothing more and nothing less than the maximum Zapatista authority,
the supreme head of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation: Votán.
And the Votán will also be in charge of…

The Children.

One guardiana for each child/student who is a minor (12 years old or
younger) will accompany the mother and/or father all of the time,
helping to take care of the child, making sure they don’t get sick,
that they take their medicine, that they play, learn, and are happy.
If the child knows how to read, the guardiana will study our textbook
with the child, and tell stories of how the indigenous children lived
before the uprising and how they live now. They will tell terrible and
marvelous stories, and jokes, and maybe even sing the children the
song about “the moño colorado.” And if the children misbehave, they
will tell them not to act like that, because if they do SupMarcos will
come with his great big bag of cookies and won’t give them even one,
even if they are animal crackers, and that the great Don Durito of the
Lacandón will not tell them the story of how he fought, all by
himself, against 3.141592 toothless dragons, nor the marvelous story
of Lucezita and the Cat-Dog that, they tell me, leaves Ironman,
Batman, The Avengers, Spiderman, X-Man, Wolverine, and anything else
that comes out, in the dust.

All of the children, with the family members that accompany them, will
be assigned to the zones closest to

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, under the best conditions we can offer.
They will have specially prepared lodging with their mother or father
so that they do not get cold or wet if it rains. There will also be
compas present who know about health and first aid. And in the case of
an emergency, two ambulances and two other vehicles will be available
24 hours a day to take the child to the city if a doctor is needed, or
to get medicine if needed. If it is necessary for a family to return
to their own particular geography before the school is over, we have a
small economic fund to help them with their tickets or gasoline.

In short, the children will have very special treatment. But neither
they nor the adults will escape the…

The Test.

It is the most difficult test you can imagine. It does not consist of
a written exam, a thesis, or multiple choice questions; and there
won’t be a jury or a council of judges with university titles to grade
you.

Your reality will be your test, on your own calendar, in your own geography, and your council of judges will be… the mirror. There you will see if you can respond to the only question on the final exam: what is freedom according to you and yours?
-*-

Vale. Cheers and believe me, I say out of my own experience, what one
certainly learns best here is to ask questions. And it’s worth it.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

SupMarcos.

Mexico, July of 2013.

5 thoughts on “Zapatistas celebrate 10 years of autonomy with ‘escuelita’| ROAR + message from OWSZapatista and SupMarcos

  1. Pingback: Zapatistas celebrate 10 years of autonomy with ‘escuelita’| ROAR + message from OWSZapatista and SupMarcos – www.reinform.nl

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