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The Story Behind the Zapatista Red Alert


The Story Behind the Zapatista Red Alert as the Other Campaign Arrives at
Zero Hour

By Bertha Rodri'guez Santos and Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico City
May 3, 2006

MEXICO CITY: From his first statements early this morning on Mexico City's
historic Alameda, Zapatista Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos was clearly
informed about - and visibly bothered by - the police riot underway in the
nearby city of Texcoco, where 800 heavily armed riot cops stormed the local
flower growers' market in the dawn's early light, leading to a violent
nationally televised standoff between the firearms of above and the
worktools of below. By the afternoon - after "Delegate Zero" traveled
through downtown Mexico City by foot, by subway and by motorcycle, through
its most working-class neighborhoods, listening to the grievances of the
people - he exploded in the Plaza of the Three Cultures: The Zapatistas have
gone on Red Alert, the Other Campaign is suspended, and Marcos is heading to
the scene of the crime to confront the Mexican State.

"To the death, if that's what it takes," as he said two days ago during a
mass meeting in front of the national palace.

And now, the Red Alert.

The first clue came at 10 a.m. During a gathering with "sexual dissidents" -
gays, lesbians, transvestites and sexual workers who have adhered to the
Zapatista "Other Campaign" - on the historic central park of this metropolis
known as La Alameda Marcos referred to the police raid underway in Texcoco:
"If those above think that they are going to continue repressing us, they
are mistaken. The Other Campaign is not just a movement of words. It is also
a movement of action." He announced that meeting with campaign adherents in
downtown Mexico slated for six o'clock would be suspended to deal with the
conflict underway, less than an hour from Mexico City.

After all, the compa~eros and compa~eras in the line of fire in Texcoco were
the Other Campaign adherents of San Salvador Atenco, where, in 2001 and
2002, they chased out the federal government with machete swords and
defeated an international airport imposed on their farmlands. These are men
and women that Marcos visited on April 25 and 26 and urged to come to the
aid of their neighbors; to show the rest of Mexico how to stand up for, and
win, its rights and autonomy. This morning the men and women of Atenco went
to nearby Texcoco and, together with the local people, drove out the
invading police. The government response: to send more police, and thus what
the TV news called a riot (in fact, a police riot) ensued.

Later, around noon, during a meeting with workers in Mexico City's largest
marketplace of La Merced, after listening to the complaints of the
shopkeepers and others about how the governments - national, state and
local - are trying to destroy the Mexican market to make room for Wal-Mart
and similar shopping malls and supermarkets, Marcos again referred to the
battle underway nearby, "the attack on the small businesspeople of Texcoco,
because they are ugly, because they are dirty, and if we scratch the surface
we will find a municipal mayor that wants to put a Wal-Mart there. They know
that the shopkeepers there sell the better product, that is better than a
damn tomato that looks nice but is made of plastic like the ones sold in a

All afternoon long, as don Marcos of la Selva found himself in the deepest
corners of the concrete jungla of Mexico City, the country's two national TV
stations - the duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca - broadcast, live, horrid
scenes of violence, teargas, blood and death from the market and highway of
Texcoco. At various points during the live broadcasts, women armed with
machete swords forced the TV "reporters" to stop their distortions, at one
point chasing a previously macho - but suddenly terrified, as he gazed at
the sharpened swords of the women - Televisa reporter down stairs as the
camera went dark.

At almost six o'clock, an hour away, the Zapatista Caravan, now at the Plaza
of Three Cultures in Tlalteloco, received a phone call that a young boy had
been assassinated by police in Texcoco. In a speech that will live in
history from a plaza where, on October 2, 1968, more than a thousand young
Mexicans were assassinated by the federal army for the crime of having
demonstrated peacefully against a dictatorship of a government, Marcos spoke
with rage and coherence. It was as if the dead themselves spoke through the
voice of the spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN,
in its Spanish initials):

"Years ago, here in the Plaza of the Three Cultures, there was a massacre.
The government said that the army was attacked.. Today the media, including
the radio, don't ask what the public security forces are doing in San
Salvador Atenco."

He called upon all the Other Campaign adherents to organize "blockades" of
highways and streets, and other actions, beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow,
Thursday, May 4.

He announced that the guerrilla troops of the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation were now on Red Alert; that the Good Government Councils of
Chiapas were closed for tomorrow; that the events of the Other Campaign were
cancelled until this situation is resolved; and he offered, if the people of
San Salvador Atenco ask, to come physically to their aid tomorrow.

Nobody doubts that the people of Atenco will call him - and the rest of the
Other Campaign - into battle.

In the Plaza of the Three Cultures - where the dead still speak - Insurgent
Subcomandante Marcos called, again, for a "civil and peaceful" rebellion,
starting tomorrow, Wednesday, the Fourth of May.

The following day, the Fifth - El Cinco de Mayo - Mexico celebrates its
victory against French colonialists. (And Narco News - our reporters today
released from jail after two long nights behind bars in Oaxaca, but still
seeking justice for the crime of the Mexican State and the U.S. Embassy
against press freedom - now calls for a demonstration on Friday, Cinco de
Mayo, in New York City, at 12:30 p.m., at the Mexican Consulate in New York
City, 27 East 39th Street -be there and let the world media capital know
that Mexico is still a dictatorship ruling with violence and repression.)

Thunderclouds are clapping above the central region of Mexico tonight, and
from below, too. It's a Red Alert. What happens from here on out is up to
people like you, and maybe you, too.