Zapatistas reorganize autonomous zone structure

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) indigenous rebel group in southern Mexico has announced the dissolution of its "autonomous municipalities" in the mountains and jungle of Chiapas state. A statement signed by Zapatista leader Subcomandante Moisés said the decision was taken "after a long and profound critical and self-critical analysis." The Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities (MAREZ), overseen by rotating Good Government Juntas, have been maintained since the Zapatistas' initial uprising in 1994. Moisés said that future communiques "will describe the reasons and the processes involved in taking this decision," as well as "what the new structure of Zapatista autonomy will look like." The communique did, however, mention a new pressure in the growing power of "disorganized crime cartels" in Chiapas, a reference to the narco-gangs seeking to control "the entire border strip with Guatemala." (AP, Mexico New Daily)

On June 8, several thousand people marched in Mexico City and elsewhere in the country, including the Chiapas highland city of San Cristobal de las Casas, to demand an end to   attacks by paramilitary groups against Zapatista communities. (EFE)

Zapatistas announce new autonomous zone structure

The EZLN has released a new installment in its series of communiques explaining its new system of autonomous government. Again signed by Insurgent Subcommander Moisés, the new communque outlines "The new structure of Zapastista Autonomy." 

At the base communities, the Local Autonomous Government, LAG (GAL by its acronym in Spanish), constitute the "core" of the new structure. They "are subject to the assembly of the town, ranchería, community, area, neighborhood, ejido, colony, or however each population calls itself." While there were a few dozen MAREZ, now there are thousands of GALs. 

According to their own exigencies or circumstances, GALs are convened as Collectives of Zapatista Autonomous Government, CZAG (CGAZ), at a more regional level, replacing the Good Government Juntas (JBG). But whereas before there were 12 Good Government Juntas, now there are hundreds of CGAZ.

Next, the Assemblies of Collectives of Zapatista Autonomous Governments, ACZAG (ACGAZ), bring the CGAZ together in "zones," or larger regions. But they have no authority, merely convening zonal assemblies when initiated at the GAL and CGAZ level to discuss issues affecting entire zone, and coordinate a response. They are to meet in the caracoles (the community centers created for the JBG), but rotate between regions. "In other words, they are mobile, according to the towns' demands for attention."

The English translation of the communique concludes: "The structure and disposition of the EZLN has been reorganized in order to increase the defense and security of towns and mother earth in the event of aggressions, attacks, epidemics, invasion of companies that prey on nature, partial or total military occupations, natural catastrophes and nuclear wars."

"Towns" refers to the Zapatista base communities, but the word is rendered in the original Spanish as poblados, perhaps better translated as "settlements."