Zapatistas Mourn a Death and Begin a New Cycle of Building Indigenous Autonomy
Levi Gahman - CIP Americas
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June 26, 2014
In May, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos made his final speech as spokesperson for the EZLN and announced that he was being relieved of duty, bringing an end a “character” that had become a “distraction” to the movement. (Tim Russo/FSRN)
On Friday May 2, 2014 an Indigenous Zapatista teacher, Jose Luis Solís López – known by his name ‘in the struggle’ as “Compañero Galeano” – was ambushed and murdered. He was beaten with rocks and clubs, hacked with a machete, shot in the leg and chest, and as he lay on the ground gasping for air – he was executed by a final bullet to the head.
Galeano was assassinated because he was Indigenous, because he was a teacher, because he was poor, and more specifically – because he was a Zapatista. And in a contemporary global system of neoliberal production and colonial governance, people like Galeano are deemed to be threats – threats liable to be killed in cold blood.
The assault on Galeano was also an attempt to antagonize the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) into reacting with violence as retribution for the death of one of their promotores de educación (‘promoters of education’ – what teachers are called in the Zapatista system of horizontal education). The provocation was directly aimed at the EZLN in hopes of prompting them into engaging in armed conflict, which would thereby give the Mexican government reason to retaliate and attack Zapatista communities.
However, despite the pain and rage that the Zapatistas feel, their statements call for peace. And amidst the tears, sorrow, indignation, and sadness atone of their cherished teachers being slain in broad daylight, they have stated they are not seeking revenge, blood, or vengeance, but rather, they seek justice.
Instead, the murder of Galeano has galvanized a re-organization within the ranks of the Zapatistas and a renewed international solidarity movement. The exit of Subcomandante Marcos as such and the formation of an international Civil Peace camp are signs of a new cycle in building indigenous autonomy.
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