Letter from Mexico: Zapatistas support U.S. migrants

May 2, 2017

From the May-June 2017 issue of News & Letters

by J.G.F. Héctor

The Zapatistas, in their Feb. 14 communication, “The Walls Above, The Cracks Below (and To The Left)” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/02/16/the-walls-above-the-cracks-below-and-to-the-left/), asked their supporters to organize themselves “according to [their] times, ways, and geographies, to support activities for and by those who are resisting and rebelling against expulsions.” That is, support for migrants, especially those in the U.S.

The Zapatistas continued: “[I]t is necessary to say no to persecutions, expulsions, prisons, walls, borders, [as well as] to the national bad governments that are and have been accomplices to that policy of terror, destruction and death…The time has come to create solidarity committees with the criminalized and persecuted of humanity.”


The Zapatistas committed to helping the migrants too—by sending, to begin with, “the works of art created by indigenous Zapatistas…as well as organic coffee produced by the indigenous Zapatista communities in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. This is so that, through their sale, people can undertake artistic and cultural activities that will concretize support and solidarity with migrants and displaced people.”


From the cover of “The Walls Above, the Cracks Below (and to the Left).” The words read: “CNI: Let it shake the earth to its core.”

From the cover of “The Walls Above, the Cracks Below (and to the Left).” The words read: “CNI: Let it shake the earth to its core.”

A month later, the Zapatistas announced that the coffee was ready. At their seminar of critical reflection, which took place in Chiapas from April 12 to 15, they delivered 7,000 pounds of coffee. With the coffee there was a message: “This support is unconditional…We are not going to tell [the migrants], ‘This is what you have to do’…It is to support the struggle that they are carrying on, about which we tell them: ‘It is necessary that you get organized…as well as that you resist and rebel. How? This is what you have to think through.’” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/04/13/palabras-del-subcomandante-insurgente-moises-jueves-13-de-abril-de-2017/)

Thus, the support that the Zapatistas are giving to the migrants is not just a practical or a moral one, but one full of revolutionary meaning. Why?

1) In order to produce 7,000 pounds of coffee, the Zapatistas had to work collectively, therefore reinforcing their own organizational process. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, from the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN), gives us a detailed description of this in the previously quoted communication.

2) With this economical support, the migrants will be more capable of going through the adverse conditions they face in the U.S., thus becoming actual subjects of resistance against Donald Trump’s racist policies.

3) Furthermore, the Zapatistas are encouraging the migrants to get organized, not just in order to receive the coffee or the money, but to “resist and rebel,” to keep on fighting for a world in which “every human being has the right to a free and dignified existence in the place that they deem best” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/02/16/the-walls-above-the-cracks-below-and-to-the-left/).

The Zapatistas never impose on other subjects to tell them how to struggle. They just encourage us to do that. Of course, they constantly share their theory and their practice so that we can recreate them in our own “times, ways, and geographies.”


The proposal by the National Indigenous Congress—of which the Zapatistas are a substantial part—about taking part in the 2018 election process (see Jan.-Feb. 2017 N&L, Letter from Mexico “Indigenous organize to contest 2018 vote“) is important precisely because it will allow the social subjects nationwide to get to know the “Zapatista methodology,” a method that seeks to unite practice and theory, voices from below and critical thought—and which, developed at its fullest, could mean a whole new beginning of revolution in Mexico and the world.

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