[News] Zapatistas Decide to Do Away with Subcomandante Marcos

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 4 17:26:57 EDT 2014

*Zapatistas Decide to Do Away with Subcomandante Marcos*

Written by Orsetta Bellani, Translated by Danica Jorden

Wednesday, 04 June 2014 08:57

A light mist was falling in Selva Lacandona on the night of May 24, 
2014. More than 2,000 Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) base 
supporters, dozens of the organization's militants, members of the free 
media, and some 800 members of the Sexta (EZLN sympathizers) filled the 
basketball court at the /Caracol/ of La Realidad, where the Autonomous 
Zapatista Government is headquartered.

They were sure that Subcomandante Marcos would mount the stage, where a 
table with two chairs and a microphone had been placed. They were 
expecting a speech about José Luis Solís López, better known as Galeano, 
the head EZLN base supporter assassinated on May 2 at the /Caracol/ of 
La Realidad by members of the Historic Independent Agricultural Workers 
and Campesinos Central (CIOAC-H) -- an organization the Zapatistas call 
"paramilitary" -- of the National Action Party (PAN) and the Green 
Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) -- represented in Chiapas by Governor 
Manuel Velasco Coello, whom the EZLN consider the "ultra paramilitary 

Galeano, who had been head of the Zapatista Little School and candidate 
for a seat on the Good Government Board of La Realidad, was killed by 
three bullets, beatings with a club on various parts of his body, and a 
machete strike to the mouth during the attack, which was the first 
violent incident at a /caracol/ (community center whose name refers to 
the spiral shell of a snail in Spanish), and can be seen as an attack on 
the very idea of Zapatista autonomy.

So on May 24, Zapatistas and members of the Sexta and free and 
independent media were convened by the EZLN at the La Realidad 
/Caracol/, to pay tribute to the deceased, and mark the worldwide week 
of action in solidarity with Galeano, together with organizations across 
the planet.

Zapatista base supporters gathered that morning in the /Caracol/'s main 
plaza, encircled by militants armed with sticks. The emotional Sexta 
members began murmuring when Subcomandante Marcos arrived on horseback, 
with his pipe and a pirate patch covering his right eye, raising his 
middle finger. It is the same patch that EZLN militants don before they 
march, as ordered by the subcomandante. "We wear a patch over the right 
eye to keep looking downward and to the left," explained a friendly 
militant to a free media journalist.

"We came to La Realidad, the town of compañero Galeano, his family and 
his compañeros and compañeras, where there is anger and pain," said 
Subcomandante Moisés as he read the comuniqué from the EZLN General 
Command. "When we look at compañero Galeano, we see the murderers, and 
we also see who is behind the murderers. They think that by 
assassinating compañero Galeano, our organization's struggle will end, 
but no. That is why we are here, to clarify that the Zapatista struggle 
has not ended. What they have done to our compañero Galeano is sad and 
painful for us, but we're not going to go from one bad thing to 
another." Justice is what should be sought, wrote the EZLN Command, not 

So on that same day the Zapatistas commemorated Galeano, they also 
raised him. "We think it is necessary for one of us to die so that 
Galeano may live", wrote Subcomandante Marcos in the comuniqué that was 
read during the night from the central stage in front of the /Caracol/ 
of La Realidad. "So we have decided that Marcos shall cease to exist 
today. And in the end, those who are listening will know that someone 
who was never here cannot leave, nor can someone who was never alive die."

The former military head of the EZLN explained that Marcos was nothing 
more than a mask, a hologram, a character created out of the wisdom of 
indigenous Zapatistas to distract and challenge modernity through the 
media. Before an astonished and emotional audience, he clarified that 
his decision was because of internal reasons at the EZLN and not due to 
illness (nevertheless, the day after his last public appearance, where 
he was seen to be in optimal health, /La Jornada/ journalist Julio 
Hernández López continued to report that "regularly informed" sources 
were diagnosing him as terminally ill). The generation gap within the 
organization stood out, as well as the change in its leaders, who went 
from being middle class mestizos to indigenous campesinos.

"It is our conviction and our practice that we don't need leaders or 
chieftains, messiahs, or saviors, in order to rise up and fight, only a 
little humility, a lot of dignity and a great deal of organization; the 
rest either serves the collective or is useless," Marcos said, 
suggesting a criticism of the revolutionary vanguard, as the EZLN 
managed to transform "leading by obeying" into the centrality of the 
collective in the face of the individual. Marcos the media myth's exit 
therefore seems the decision most consistent with Zapatista principles 
and practices.

"So there won't be a museum-house or metal plaques of where I lived and 
grew up," he affirmed. "Nor will there be anyone living who used to be 
Subcomandante Marcos. No one will inherit his name or position. There 
won't be any all-expense paid trips to give speeches abroad. There will 
be no transfer or care in luxurious hospitals. There will be no widows 
or heirs. There will be no funerals, or honors, or statues, or museums, 
or prizes, or anything that the system does to enhance the cult of the 
individual and devalue the collective."

So that is how Subcomandante Marcos decided "to do away with himself," 
and to announce that he convened his bases, EZLN sympathizers and the 
independent media committed to the struggle, to explain his motivations 
and leave them with concerns, reflections and, implicitly, tasks for the 

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