We do indeed support the UNAM strike movement


To the national and international press:

Ladies and gentlemen:

The text is off concerning our position on the latest events. In case they get dumped on the internet or you leave them in your house, we are at least letting you know here that something went out. Thanks, then.

We do not have automobiles, nor do we travel around the beltway, but we are lighting candles here to say that that we do indeed support the UNAM strike movement. And it does not matter to us if they continue attacking us with police and soldiers, and if they occupy more towns, or continue arbitrarily detaining indigenous accused of being zapatistas: we are going to continue supporting the university students simply because they have right on their side.

Vale.
Salud and, before you throw the communique in a corner, happy two thousand! Or what?

>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, June of 1999.

P.D. Now I don't understand anything. Is it that, for the government, the "New York Times" is the most important and influential newspaper in the world if it applauds Zedillo's economic policies, and, when it mentions the names of Mexican politicians tied to drug trafficking (Liévano, Hank), then it's a pamphlet at the service of obscure interests seeking to harm Mexico? Whatever, and, as consolation, the Secretary of Government went to have his picture taken in the football stands with one of the "alleged," Hank Gonzalez.

P.D.THAT POKES ABOUT. Completely buried under the "eliminate an ultra" (or a university striker), the earthquake, the execution of Paco Stanley, the visit by the country's greatest criminal (Carlos Salinas de Gortari - I say, if the issue is public security, one has to recognize that there are criminals and criminals), Zedillo's little jaunt to hide out in Guadalajara and the financial "armor plate," was the issue of Cabal Peniche's financial support of Zedillo's campaign.

P.D. THAT LOOKS FOR A LIFE PRESERVER. As is known, those ships that are "armor plated"sink.

P.D. CURIOUS. What PRI candidate just stated that he should not be considered as a neo-liberal, and, at the Department of Energy, Mines and Para-State Industries, during the period from 1982 - 1986, took part in the sales of more than 300 state bodies?

2000

"But there is a ray of sun in the struggle
that always leaves the shadow vanquished."
- Miguel Hernandez

June 24, 1999. Now the night of San Juan reigns in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. And it reigns by law, that is, raining. The sea winds bring a little box of memories to the top of this ceiba. Out of one of the corners of the open mouth of the little jewel case, a streamer of light protrudes, and, with it, a history. Old Antonio suddenly appears, like nocturnal rain, and, as if nothing were going on, asks me for a light to fire his cigar and memory. Above the rough drumming of the rain on the nylon roof, Old Antonio's words are raised, given memories and luminous streamers, to recount

The History of the Milky Way

Before the rain undresses the mountain, a long path of dusty light is seen up above. It comes from there and it goes to there, Old Antonio says, with a slight gesture from one side to the other. "They say it is called the "Milky Way," or they also name it "Santiago's Road." They say there are many stars, and they have joined together, so tiny, making themselves opening and little path in the already riddled sky. They say, but they also say it is not like that. The oldest of our old say that which is seen above is a wounded animal.

Old Antonio pauses, as if waiting for the question I do not ask: a wounded animal?

Much time ago, when the very first gods had already created the world and they were laying around, men and women lived on the earth, working it and throwing it and so they went. But they say that one day there appeared in a town a serpent who fed on men. Or, rather, he only ate males, he did not eat women. And then when he had eaten all the men in a town, he went to another and did the same thing. The towns quickly let each other know of this great horror that was coming to them and they spoke fearfully of that great snake, that was so fat and long that it managed to surround an entire town, like a wall, not allowing anyone to enter or to leave, and he said that if they did not give him all the males, he would not let anyone leave, and so some of them surrendered and others fought, but the snake's strength was great and he always won. The towns lived in fear, merely waiting for the day that it would be their turn for the great snake to come and to eat all the men, as the serpent swallowed them whole. They say that there was a man who managed to escape from the serpent and he went to take refuge in a community that had already been attacked. There, in front of only women, the man spoke of the snake and that they must struggle to defeat it because it was doing much damage in these lands. The women said: what are we going to do if we are women? How are we going to fight him without men? How are we going to attack him if it does not come here now because there are no longer any men, he ate them all?

The women left, very discouraged and sad. But one remained and approached the man and asked him how he thought they could fight the snake. The man said he did not know but that he would have to think. And together, the man and the woman set to thinking and they made a plan and they went to call the women to tell them of the plan and everyone was in agreement.

And then it came to pass that the man began to show himself freely about the town and the serpent saw him from afar, because that snake that saw him from afar had very good eyes. And then the serpent came and surrounded the town with his large body and told the women to bring him that man who was walking about, or otherwise he would not let anyone enter or leave. The women said they would bring him, but they would have to meet in order to make an agreement. That is fine, said the snake. And then the women made a circle around the man and, since there were many of them, the circle was growing larger and larger, until the circle touched the very circle that the serpent's body had made around the town. Then the man said, that is good, deliver me. And he walked to the serpent's head, and when the snake was occupied in eating the man, all the women picked up sharp sticks and began jabbing the snake all over his body, and, since there were many and all over the place, and his mouth was full with the man he was eating, the serpent could not defend himself. And he had never thought that the weak would attack him in such a way and all over, and he was quickly weakened and defeated. And then he said: forgive me, do not kill me. No, said the women, we are going to kill you anyway, because you do much evil and you ate up all of our men. Let's make a deal, said the snake, if you do not kill me once and for all, I will return your men to you because I have them in my belly anyway. And then the women thought that was good, they would not kill him, but that the great serpent would not be living in those lands any longer and he would be expelled. Then the snake said: but where am I going to live and what am I going to eat, there is no deal. And then they were there with this problem when the first woman said they would have to ask the man who had come, to see what he thought and she said to the snake: release the man you have just eaten and we will see if he has an idea of what we can do. The serpent released the man who was already half dead and half alive and the man spoke with difficulty and he said he would have to ask the first gods to see what could be done, and he could go to look for them because now he was half alive and half dead. And the man went and he found the first gods sleeping under a ceiba and he awoke them and he told them of the problem and the gods met together in order to think and to reach a good accord and then they went to see the serpent and the victorious women and they listened and they said the serpent was to blame and he should be punished, that he should then give back the men he had swallowed and he would not die, and the snake brought up all the men from all the towns. And then the gods said the serpent would have to go and live on the highest mountain and, since he would not fit on just one mountain, he would then have to use two mountains, the highest of the world, and he would have his tail on one and his head on the other, and he would have sunlight for food, and the thousands of wounds the warrior women had given him would never close, and then the gods went, and the snake, the great serpent, went sadly to the highest mountains, and on one he put his head and on the other his tail and his large body reached from one side of the sky to the other, and, from then on, by day he feeds on sunlight, and by night that light spills out through all the little holes of his wounds.

The serpent is pale, that is why he is not seen by day, and that is why by night the light can be seen that falls from him and leaves him empty until, the next day, the sun feeds him once again. That is why they say that the large line that shines by night up above, is nothing but a wounded animal

That is what Old Antonio recounted to me and then I understood that the Milky Way is nothing more than a long serpent of light, that feeds by day and bleeds by night.

It has stopped raining on this night of San Juan. The sky quickly turns dark and clear and clearly one can see that a serpent of light hangs from the thick figure of a thousand wounds, from end to end, from one to the other horizon. The silver teardrops fall softly on the top of that ceiba, and another rain drizzles from there further downwards. From the faceless mirror there, the brightness bounces and goes further, to there, to that corner where, behind a shadow, can be seen

I. PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE RIFLE SIGHT

"Life escapes, with such a gesture!
By dying, with such art!"
- Miguel Hernandez

In October 1998, the World Conference of Higher Education was held in Paris, at the UNESCO headquarters. During this meeting, the World Bank established their position regarding how higher education should be reorganized on the planet. Briefly, this is the proposal for the globalization of higher education.

The World Bank considers a "radical" change in higher education to be necessary, through transforming the "classic" or "traditional" university (whose basis is teaching and research) so that it responds to the demands of the neo-liberal market, that is, it defines higher education as private property, like any other goods or service offered by the market. According to this, the actors in the higher education process must be redefined. The "consumers" are the businesses; the "providers" are the administrators and professors, and the "clients" are the students. In this case, the World Bank says, the "providers" do not what is suitable for the market. The "consumers" know better than anyone what it is they are selling, among other reasons, because they are "purchasers."

A first step is converting the university into a self-financing business. In order to accomplish this, the World Bank recommends an increase in school fees, the elimination of full or partial scholarships, charging for all university services and supports, loans and the charging of current interest rates for those loans through private companies, graduated taxes, reorienting the training of professors in order to turn them into businesspersons, the selling of research and courses, and an increase in, and the promotion of, private universities. Decision making within the universities should pass, according to the World Bank, to the consumers.

The World Bank says that governments and universities are not sensitive to the needs of the global market. That is why they propose changing budget allocations from the classic criteria (enrollment and prestige) to performance based criteria as indicated by the consumers. That is, universities should reorient themselves (that is, reassign budgets) according to the needs of the "consumers" (private companies). The World Bank sees the teaching profession as a factor to be "readjusted" according to this mercantile criteria. Academic freedom and determination are a hindrance, the same as unions and academic associations. That is, fewer academics and researchers are needed and "different" academics, researchers and manual and administrative workers. In sum: retraining and restructuring (All of this is gone into detail in the Canadian Association of University Teachers' Bulletin, translated by Luis Bueno Rodriguez, UAM-I).

The agreement is obvious between this proposal and the privatizing and reclassifying offensive the Zedillo government has directed against the country's public universities. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), the National Teachers University (UPN) and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) are now in the government's rifle sights. To different degrees, and with certain variations, these institutions of higher education are suffering the ravages of a "modernization" which is attempting nothing less than the destruction of the concept of the public university.

The privatizing attack that seeks to "retrofit" higher public education has met strong resistance from the students, although it is obvious that the academic, research and administrative sectors are the primary objectives.

The government's choice of the public university as the priority target for their shots is not innocent. By shooting down this target, the others become more easily brought down: history, electricity, petroleum.

The General Law of Cultural Heritage proposal is aimed at privatizing the cultural heritage. Its objective is to redefine the government's cultural policies and to extend the wave of privatizations to Mexico's archeological, artistic and historic monuments and zones. The legislative proposal in question is an absolute hedgehog: it's quills wound not only Mexican cultural historic heritage, but it also threatens anthropological and historic research, teaching, and, obviously, one of the most continuous and spirited student movements in Mexico, that of the National School of Anthropology and History.

That is why the student movement, not just the one at the UNAM, but also those of the National School of Anthropology and History, the UAM, the National Teachers and the Poli are confronting attacks from so many and such varied forces. And ignorance about what is being concealed by these "reforms" that the authorities are promoting is one of the reasons they have not only been given scant support, but have also been attacked by some of the sectors that would be most affected if these "modernizations" meet with success.

Because of that, today

II. UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN THE RIFLE SIGHT

"But the hardest and oldest scar
reverts to a wound at the slightest blow."
- Miguel Hernandez

In the last few days, some press, across the entire political spectrum, have joined with the government and Barnes in stating that the "ultras" (as they call them) are to blame for the strike not having been lifted. The so-called "moderates" - in that hasty giving out of labels with which the "intelligentsia" conceals their ignorance and their lack of serious analysis - clamor for justice. They complain of harassment (they yell, then) and of threats (they call them "strikebreakers"), and they call everyone to a holy crusade against the primary enemy of the university movement. The World Bank? Barnes' policies? No, the "ultras."

The clamor for justice has quickly been echoed by persons with an obvious vocation for democracy, justice and liberty: Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, Francisco Barnes, Diodoro Carrasco, Francisco Labastida, Guillermo Ortega, Abraham Zabludovsky, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Javier Alatorre, Sergio Sarmiento, and other venerable and venerated "defenders" of the public and free university.

Incapable of winning the student bases to their positions (who are THOSE who started and have maintained the strike), the newly displaced from the assemblies take refuge in some media, in order to try to achieve there what they lost in the student movement, that is, moral authority, legitimacy, credibility. The media, who "rediscovered" in the Stanley case the increase in sales produced by scandals, have joined together in an absurd broad front against striking university students, presenting the overall movement in the image, crafted especially for ridicule, of some students from the most radical wings to be found, along with many others, in the heart of the movement.

The unanimous cries against press lynchings - that were raised when TV Azteca and Televisa used Stanley's execution to mobilize public opinion against Cuauhtemoc Cardenas - have been replaced by this new lynching, against the university students now. Not just that: those who were bitterly complaining yesterday about the manner in which the electronic media were "lynching" Cardenas, are now hurrying to head the slander campaign against the students.

Suddenly the student strikers are uncomplaining sheep being led by a perverse shepherd (who teaches the barriga: horror!), and they are only waiting to be rescued by the clear intelligence that understands that "this-is-not-the-time-for-radicalism." The world turns, the arguments the authorities used against them yesterday (when they headed the movements), are now wielded in front of these "ultra" enemies who are, it is undeniable, very comfortable, give the perfect alibi to justify the lack of arguments for their own positions, and the lack of moral influence in a movement that - don't they realize? - is new in its content and its form.

A little history? When the PRD won the elections in the DF, an entire gang of leaders from the social movements (and with undeniable political influence within them) moved to positions in the Mexico City government. The "ultras" already existed in the university (was there a time when they did not exist?), and their positions and arguments did not vary (or the shouts, or the accusations of "strikebreakers") in many of those today. Nonetheless, the moral influence of the student leaders gives them the majority. By abandoning the university movement to fill, first, positions in the election campaign, and, later, government functions, the university leaders tied to the Revolutionary Democratic Party left an unoccupied space.

Time - is it necessary to remember it? - passes, the space is filled once more. But why do they deceive themselves and deceive, saying that space has been occupied by the "ultras," if they know very well that no group or tendency within the UNAM can maintain an initiative if there is not student support? In this case, not even the "ultras" lead (and they know it), and a new generation is in the university, proposing not only the renovation of the student leadership, but also the concept of that very leadership.

The students are yelling in the assemblies and threatening? And in the Congress of the Union? Aren't the Deputies and Senators the maximum power in the federation? Have they not even come to blows?

The students spend hours and hours in assemblies, discussing without coming to agreements? Was it any different when the "moderates" were leading the movement?

If the "ultras" are a small, sectarian, intolerant and vanguard group, and if it is the "ultras" who are the ones preventing the strike from being lifted: how can a small group keep the facilities on strike, "brigade" (that's how they say it?), close streets, threaten and harass moderates, and, in addition, be present at assemblies that last 12 hours, all at the same time?

A few real incidents that have been "forgotten" by the media: the "ultras" have not raped, beaten or jailed any students; they have not tried to impose a payment system behind the backs of the university community; they have not ordered police actions against the students; they have not promoted extramural classes; and they have not (it is obvious) orchestrated a media campaign against the movement.

The rumors of weapons among them are of the "they say someone says that someone saw them" type, and they are more serious than those that pointed out DF government officials, former student leaders, hiding out in the night to take oranges to the strikers during the first days. Could it not be said, following the criteria set out by the accusations, that the "ultras" are armed, that they want to win with oranges what they cannot win through arguments? But, clearly, no one is persecuted and incarcerated for carrying oranges, but for carrying a weapon...

There is not much to be said about some of the groups with the most radical tendencies, or "ultras" inside the UNAM and their fierce anti-zapatismo, except perhaps to remember a few incidents: Does anyone remember that Alan Arias was one of the so-called "ultra-ultras" during his university days, a fierce opponent of "capitulatory," "dialoguers" and "appeasement" positions of the "reformist" left (then the PCM and the PRT)? Is not Alan Arias today a third or fourth level employee of the Department of Government? And Adolfo Orive? And Raul Salinas de Gortari? Was not "the Wama" the nickname General Chaparro Acosta used at the university, in order to adopt ultra-radical poses and to detect those he would later torture in the clandestine jails of the "White Brigade?"

It will be the actions, and not the discourse, that, with the passage of time, define radical positions and consequences. Then we will see where the "capitulators" are, and the "dialoguers," the "appeasers," - and some others that escape me, but which have not changed much from yesterday to today.

Returning to the perverse strikers who "are holding the UNAM hostage" (which, we now know, belongs to Barnes and his bureaucrats): has the strike won? Didn't they say yesterday - before it was in place - that it was a provocation and it would be a failure, that it was minority, etc. (in fact, those were the arguments that encouraged Barnes)? And now it turns out that the strike did indeed have a reason to exist, and, in addition, it has won now and should be lifted? Isn't that the central argument of Zedillo's June 24 speech? Why are they going to believe it now? How can they clamor for a movement to be over when they have done nothing other than encouraging the slander campaign against it?

Now fine, let us suppose that they succeeded, and that the "ultras" are unanimously repudiated by the population, and the government, sensitive as it is to popular demands, opts to massively crush the movement and to strike at the "ultras" in order to "liberate" the UNAM. What does the face of an "ultra" look like? Are there any credentials or identifications for the "ultras," so that the attack would be against only them? Lastly, if refusing to lift the strike because, as the CGH says, their demands have not been met, is being "ultra: are they not calling for the crushing of the entire CGH, the hundreds of students who are on strike, forming brigades and making contact with other organizations, and the tens of thousands of university students who have attended the demonstrations called by the CGH and who support, without turning on their headlights, the movement for the defense of public and free education?

What is the stature of an organization whose members cannot carry out their political proposals because the "others" are yelling at them and calling them "strikebreakers?"

Has the strike triumphed and should it be lifted now? Should it continue? This is something that belongs to, and will belong to, the student movement, those who made the strike, and who have maintained it despite the worst media harassment campaign that has been seen in the last few years.

They, the young people who are making the movement, are those who will decide. Not the "ultras," nor the "moderates," nor any of the "labels" with which they are trying to reduce what is new about this movement to the comfortable, the useless, scheme of the old.

The "ultras" have won not a few initiatives in the CGH, and lost them in the school and faculty assemblies, and, therefore, in the CGH again. Two examples? The takeovers of highways and the constituent Congress. The majority of the schools did not approve the takeovers of highways, and they came out for a resolutionary Congress.

For one thing, the General Strike Council, in their June 22 manifesto, is emphatic:

"We have maintained throughout our willingness and interest in the opening of dialogue, revindicating a flag that the student movement has revindicated for more than 30 years, that is, public and open dialo gue. () Because we do not have anything to hide, because we want everyone to see us and to listen to us, because we want everyone to know what our arguments are and what those of the authorities are.

What are they surprised about? That we firmly maintain the nature of this dialogue, that we want to honor the best lessons of the student movement? What surprises them about the planting of basic conditions for dialogue, if what is being asked is to stop being stifled, that the acts be stopped, that the work of the corrupt extramural classes against the strike be stopped? This is what the CGH has proposed."

It seems to be clear.

The zapatistas support the CGH if it decides to continue the strike, and we support them if they decide to lift it. We support them because they legitimately represent the student movement. They have the respect and the legitimacy they have gained working with their people. They are, then, representative.

On the other hand, if those who are now maintaining the UNAM strike are "ultras" who must be exorcised: where will the "ultras" of tomorrow be? In the urban popular movement? In the democratic teachers? In the Mexican Electricians Union? Or in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast? These are questions that those who are running for government should answer.

Concerning the visit a CGH delegation made to La Realidad, and concerning whether or not the EZLN has interfered in the movement, one must be clear: the "ultras" did not come to La Realidad, because for them we are "reformists" and "dialoguers." Nor did the "moderates" come, because for them we are "ultras" and "radicals." University students came here, and, in a long session that lasted 5 hours, in which only they spoke, they expounded on what the CGH thought of the strike. The CGH, and not them in particular (who have their own personal points of view on the movement). The impression they left us with is that they, and those whom they represent, are honest persons, who believe in what they are fighting for, and who live what they think. They understand their movement, and they know that it is those who are at the barricades and in the brigade who give course and direction to the movement. None came to ask what to do (which was a relief, because we do not know), They came to say their word, so that we would know the reasons for their movement. We learned them, we understood them, and we support them.

There is more: we cannot conceal our admiration and respect for them ( and I am referring above all to those who are doing the movement daily, even though they are not on the CGH). That is why we are saying here that we have not interfered at all in the student movement, but we believe the student movement has indeed interfered now in the EZLN (did you read that well, Rabasa? How about this for another statement to the press? Listen, you have to do something to justify your check, no?).

Perhaps it is because of that, because of the admiration we have for them, and for the pride we have at meeting them and knowing of the university students, that the zapatista communities are suffering a new police-military onslaught. Perhaps it is because of that that we are new.

III. ZAPATISTAS IN THE RIFLE SIGHT

"Here life is details: ant, death, affection, sorrow, stone, horizon,
river, light, sheaf, glass, furrow and sand.
Here is the garbage.
In the streets, and not in the hearts.
Here everything is known and murmurs:
The evil creature cannot be concealed,
And evil intentions even less."
- Miguel Hernandez

June 24, 1999, night of San Juan

In the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, there have been completed 2000 days of war, 2000 days repeating "YA BASTA!," 2000 days defying death, the forgetting, the silence, 2000 days supporting life, memory, hope.

And on the 2000th dawn of resistance, zapatista weavers, face of multiple light and multiple name, are toiling. They are weaving and weaving. And weaving struggling. And weaving singing.

There are those who say that what they are weaving is a net so that memory will not escape. There are those who say that it is a cloth of varied colors with which to dress the morning. And there are those who say that what the 2000th dawn is weaving is the morning.

>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, June 24, 1999.

On the 2000th dawn of the war against the forgetting.


Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN _______________________ Translated by irlandesa   From: <fzln-l@laneta.apc.org> Date: Saturday, June 26, 1999 10:15:14 -0500

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