Monthly Archives: November 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños al EZLN! – 27 años de existencia

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Esto de los blogs es bastante nuevo para mi. Me cuesta acostumrarme y dejar que mis pensamientos sean mas fluidos. Pero creo que es bueno para mejorar mi estilo de escribir. Ya poco a poco le encuentro el camino mio. Tengo tantos cuentitos pa contar pero uno a la vez!

So, there was a Zapatista party tonight In San Cristobal to commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of the EZLN, (17th of November 1983) Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional. I for one didn’t realise that they’ve been in existence for that long, considering they only made their world political debut after their uprising in January 1994 on the day that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) came into effect.  But way back when I wasn’t even aware of how korny the 80’s were about to become, a small group of non-indigenous and indigenous rebels joined forces and so the EZLN was born en La Selva Lacandona.

ezln 27 aniversario - TOMI LEBRERO Y NICOLAS FALCOFF

There were Argentinian and Mexican musicians playing at the fund-raising concert tonight and there was CDs, books, tshirts and zapatista coffee for sale to support the ongoing struggle that many zapatista communities face here on a daily basis.  The music was pretty daecent and I bought an mp3 CD from el Maztuerzo from a old-school Mexican rock-band here called  La Botellita de Jerez. It’s really inspiring hearing people speak so openly, honestly and passionately about la lucha (the struggle) and supporting these communities.  People openly condemn capitalism and neoliberalism here.  There’s no if and buts about it; it’s the reality people live every day. ‘Capitalism is death’ is a commonly used slogan.  There’s no hiding it. It is what it is.

And as the music ended, I chatted with various friends I’ve made, many of them foreigners here all attracted by common beliefs, and even though many transcient, like myself, it’s still inspiring to see so much international support here for a people’s struggle with socialist and autonomous beliefs.  ‘See you on the bus to Cancún’ we bid each other adew, where we’ll be heading on Friday with 200 others from Chiapas, many of them from rural communities in these areas going to have their voices heard at COP16 to tell the world of the climate chaos tragedies that they are already living here in Chiapas.

 

Dias de los Muertos

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I really like Mexico’s relationship with death. That’s why I wanted to get over here in time for the Days of the Dead, which are Oct. 31-Nov. 2nd. Mexican culture doesn’t see death as something scary or morbid, but Death is seen as a joker. Death will seduce you to go with him! It’s kinda sexy huh?  But, yeah, they’ve amalgamated the usual US Hallowe’en stuff to theirs now, especially for the kids, who seem to get the best of both worlds here coz some go trick-or-treating many days of that week, and not just to houses…..they’ll go into shops, supermarkets and even ask random folks on the street for a treat, or they’ll carry out some trick….though I didn’t see any tricks, just cutey kids in costumes singing people songs. There’s a gazilion other things on too, school parades and bands marching in costume, free concerts put on by the municipality, other random music groups doing the rounds.


I was well lucky that I met up with 2 cool people  Andrés and Carolina, who are making a documentary about Dia de Los Muertos, so I headed up with them to a nearby indigenous town called Zinacantán.  They had some local contacts and so we were able to take photos of some of the people’s houses and altars , as well as photos of the mayordomos, who are men who are assigned the task of decorating the more important altars in the town(this usually is not allowed).  The Mayordomos are elected every year, and it’s a great honour to be chosen though an expensive duty.  The Mayordomos do a couple of rounds during the evenings of that week visiting the houses of previous mayordomos who have died, and they sing to their altars, while drinking posh, which is the local poitin.

People put altars in their houses to commemorate their dead loved ones, and set out lots of food and flowers for them.  They say that once the spirit has passed through the house, the food no longer has any taste.  Folks here believe that at midnight of Oct 31st a portal opens between this world and the next and the dead can visit us here (similar to the Celts).  Hence they welcome them with their altars, and they also visit their tombs in the graveyard, which is also magnificently decorated with flowers and candles and people picnic there for the day.  On Nov. 2nd at midnight that portal once again closes and they say good-bye to their loved ones.

I’d love to be here again for more Days of the Dead, as each local village has slightly different customs and there’s so much to see and only 3 days to see it! All the same, it was a pretty fun-packed week to arrive in I must say.

Café Zapatista

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14 hours on a bus from Méjico DF to San Cristobal de las Casas en Chiapas.  ‘Las carreteras están malas después de las lluvias’ me dice la señora a mi lado.  So, 14 hours turned into 16…sure what’s another 2 hours to an all-night bus.  My legs just about survived…..i’ve kinda crappy circulation.

San Cristobal de las Casas….one of the most famous cities in Méjico and probably the world, in revolutionary circles at least!  In January 1994, the Zapatista army with Subcomandante Marcos descended into San Cristobal standing up for indigenous peoples’ rights and made history. So, is that what brings me here? Well, I was here 7 years ago briefly, and I really loved the atmosphere of the place, so I wanted to come and live and work here for a while and really get to know the people and the place (more on my reasons in a later post!).  So, 7 years on, the place is way more touristy indeed….but not too bad I think.  “In San Cris you either work in tourism or an NGO ” says my couchsurf host Marco, “or you’re an artist scraping by”.  After the Zapatista uprising all sorts of NGOs and random individuals flocked to Chiapas to support their campaign in many different ways.

I have to confess, I’ve only read bits and bobs on the zapatista uprising so I’ve lots of learning to do, but hey, for those of you who haven’t a clue either, you can learn as I do and I’ll try fill in some gaps in my blog. 😉

I’m just starting my volunteering in Otros Mundos and I think I’m gonna love it. COP16 in Cancun is just around the corner so there’s loads of things to be done in terms of logistics, so I’m gonna be busy. Time for another café zapatista. mmmm!