The New Structure of Zapatista Autonomy

Source: Schools For Chiapas

Brothers and sisters and compañer@s:

I am going to try to explain to you how we reorganize autonomy, that is, the new structure of Zapatista autonomy.  I will explain more later with more detail.  Or maybe I won’t explain any more, because the practice is what matters.  Of course, you can also come to the anniversary and see the plays, songs, poetry and art and culture of this new stage of our struggle.  If not, the Tercios Compas will send you photos and videos.  Some other time I will tell you what we saw good and bad in the critical appraisal of MAREZ and JBG.  Now I’ll just tell you how it looks.  It goes like this.

First. – The primary base, which is not only where autonomy is sustained, but also without which the other structures cannot function, is the Local Autonomous Government, GAL.  There is a GAL in each community where there are Zapatista support bases.  The Zapatista GALs are the nucleus of all autonomy.  They are coordinated by the autonomous agents and commissioners and are subject to the assembly of the town, ranchería, community, parajebarrioejidocolonia, or whatever each population calls itself.  Each GAL controls its autonomous organizational resources (such as schools and clinics) and the relationship with neighboring non-Zapatista sister towns.  And it controls the proper use of the money.  It also detects and denounces mismanagement, corruption and errors.  And it is aware of those who want to pass themselves off as Zapatista authorities to ask for support or aid that they use for their own benefit.

So, if before there were dozens of MAREZs, that is, Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Municipalities, now there are thousands of Zapatista GALs.

Second. – According to their needs, problems and advances, various GALs convene in Collectives of Zapatista Autonomous GovernmentsCGAZ, and here they discuss and reach agreements on matters of interest to the convening GALs.  When so determined, the Collective of Autonomous Governments convenes an assembly of the authorities of each community. Here they propose, discuss and approve or reject the plans and needs of Health, Education, Agroecology, Justice, Commerce, and those that may be needed.  At the CGAZ level are the coordinators of each area.  They are not authorities.  Their job is to fulfill the tasks requested by the GAL or that are necessary for community life.  For example: preventive medicine and vaccination campaigns, campaigns for endemic diseases, courses and specialized training (such as laboratory technicians, X-rays, ultrasound, mammograms and those that we learn), literacy and higher levels, sports and cultural events, traditional festivities, etc.  Each region or CGAZ has its directors, who are the ones who call assemblies if there is an urgent problem or one that affects several communities.

In other words, where there used to be 12 Good Governance Councils, there will now be hundreds.

Third. – Then follow the Assemblies of Collectives of Autonomous ZAPATISTA GovernmentsACGAZ.  These are what used to be known as zones.  But they have no authority, they depend on the CGAZ.  And the CGAZ depend on the GAL.  The ACGAZ convenes and presides over zone assemblies, when necessary according to the requests of GALs and CGAZs.  They are based in the Caracoles, but move between regions.  In other words, they are mobile, according to the demands of attention of the villages.

Fourth. – As will be seen in practice, the Command and Coordination of Autonomy has been transferred from the JBG and MAREZ to the peoples and communities, to the GAL.  The zones (ACGAZ) and regions (CGAZ) are commanded by the people, they must be accountable to the people and seek ways to meet their needs in Health, Education, Justice, Food and those arising from emergencies caused by natural disasters, pandemics, crimes, invasions, wars, and other misfortunes that the capitalist system may bring.

Fifth. – The structure and disposition of the EZLN has been reorganized in order to increase the defense and security of the villages and mother earth in case of aggressions, attacks, epidemics, invasion of companies that prey on nature, partial or total military occupations, natural catastrophes and nuclear wars.  We have prepared for the survival of our peoples, even in isolation from one another.

Sixth. – We understand that they may have trouble assimilating this.  And that, for a while, you will struggle to understand it.  It took us 10 years to think about it, and of those 10 years, 3 years to prepare for its practice.

We also understand that you may feel that its thinking is scrambled.  That is why it is necessary to change your channel of understanding.  Only by looking far back and forward will you be able to understand the present step.

We hope you understand that it is a new structure of autonomy, that we are just learning and that it will take some time to walk well.

In reality, this communiqué has only the intention of telling you that Zapatista autonomy continues and advances, that we think it will be better this way for the towns, communities, places, neighborhoods, colonies, ejidos and ranches where the Zapatista bases of support live, that is to say, fight.  And that it has been their decision, taking into account their ideas and proposals, their criticisms and self-criticisms.

Also, as we will see, this new stage of autonomy is made to confront the worst of the Hydra, its most infamous beastliness and its destructive madness.  Its corporate and military wars and invasions.

There are no borders or distant geographies for us.  Everything that happens in any corner of the planet affects us and concerns us, worries us and hurts us.  To the extent of our very small strength, we will support human beings in distress regardless of their color, race, nationality, belief, ideology and language.  Although we do not know many languages nor understand many cultures and ways, we know how to understand the suffering, the pain, the sorrow, and the dignified rage that the system provokes.

We know how to read and listen to the hearts of our brothers and sisters.  We will continue to try to learn from them, their stories and their struggles.  Not only because we have suffered for centuries and know what it is like.  Also and above all because, as for 30 years, our struggle is for life.

We have certainly made many mistakes in all these years. We will surely make more in the next 120 years. But we will NOT surrender, we will NOT change our path, we will NOT sell out. We will always be critically reviewing our struggle, its times and its ways.

Our eyes, our ears, our heads and our hearts will always be ready to learn from others who, although different in many ways, have our same concerns and similar yearnings for democracy, freedom and justice.

And we will always seek the best for our peoples and for our sister communities.

We are, after all, Zapatistas.

As long as there is at least one Zapatista in any corner of the planet, we will resist in rebellion, that is to say, we will fight.

There you have it, friends and enemies. And those who are neither one nor the other.

At least for now.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Mexico, November 2023.
More than 500, 40, 30, 20, 10 years later.

P.S.- Here is a drawing to see if you can understand it a bit.


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