Thursday, June 05, 2014


Tomorrow is Prison Friday at Scission, but I have some plumbing issues to deal with, so I am advancing it one day.

I am returning once again to the Omaha Two.  I will keep doing so until these men are free and someone pays  the price for decades stolen from them.  For those of you, still unfamiliar with the case, here is a briefing from the FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR MONDO WE LANGA AND ED POINDEXTER Facebook page:

On August 17, 1970, the Omaha, Nebraska Police Department received a 911 emergency phone call. The caller reported that a woman was screaming for help from a vacant house. The address given for the house was 2867 Ohio Street. The police arrived at the scene and started to investigate. No screaming woman was found. Near the doorway of the house was a suitcase. The officers stepped over the suitcase to get into the house. As a search of the house was being conducted, an explosion occurred. Police officer Larry Minard, who was near the suitcase, was killed instantly. Investigation showed that the suitcase contained dynamite and was set to explode when moved. Arrested for placing the bomb was Duane Peak, age 15. Peak was charged with first degree murder for planting the bomb. In an attempt to lighten his sentence, Peak implicated Mondo we Langa and Edward Poindexter. 

Mondo we Langa was a known member of the NCCF (National Committee to Combat Fascism) This group consisted of Black Panther Party members who were working to protect the black community from police brutality. Mondo we Langa was Minister of Information in the NCCF and Ed was its Deputy Director. Mondo's and Ed’s political beliefs and actions were the principal reason that they were convicted. There are documents confirming that the FBI helped to suppress evidence in this case that would have completely discredited the key witness against the convicted men. At the time of the bombing, the FBI had implemented an operation known as COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) to spy on U.S. citizens and to "neutralize" individuals and groups who were working to advance the human and constitutional rights of African Americans and Native Americans as well as any other individuals and groups deemed by the FBI to be a "clear and present danger to the security of the United States." The documents were obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act.

Much evidence has surfaced which provides more proof of the innocence of these two men and the conspiracy to put them away.  For some of that here are just a few Scission stories:




Now, the media in general has chosen to turn its collective back on this total miscarriage of anything even approaching justice.  We all know that and we all know why.

There is one guy, I don't know much about him, but he is intent on not letting Mondo and Ed be forgotten.  His name is Michael Richardson.  Michael  has written extensively about the FBI's Operation COINTELPRO and is working on a book about the "Omaha Two" imprisoned in the last COINTELPRO conviction in 1971.  His body of work on the persecution of Mondo and Ed can be found here.    I just want to thank him for his efforts.

Here is his latest piece from the Examiner.

ATF agent had vials of dynamite powder along with evidence in Omaha Two case 

Thomas Sledge, an agent of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, in Omaha, Nebraska, carried small plastic vials of dynamite powder with him while transporting evidence in the 1970 bombing murder case of an Omaha policeman. Two Black Panther leaders, Edward Poindexter andMondo we Langa (then David Rice), were convicted of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment. Included with the evidence against the two men were dynamite particles found in their clothing.
Dynamite traces were found in the shirt pocket of Ed Poindexter and pants pockets of Mondo we Langa upon their arrests. However, both men deny any knowledge of how the dynamite got into their clothing and its presence is suspicious. Both men were tested for dynamite when their clothing was seized and were found clean. In Mondo’s case, the Omaha World-Heraldphotographed Mondo while waiting for the jail elevator with his hands deep in his pockets just moments before his hands tested clean.
Agent Sledge is now deceased but has become a focal point of controversy following the recent disclosure of the terminated Midwest 22 conspiracy investigation. Sledge was the lead agent in the biggest investigation of his career into a purported four-state bombing conspiracy by twenty-two black radicals. Both Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa were targets of Sledge’s conspiracy investigation.
United States Attorney Richard Dier nixed the ATF investigation by refusing to prosecute Sledge’s suspects. Dier explained the “trend in the judiciary is away from major complex conspiracies.” In July 1970, the Justice Department cancelled Sledge’s planned search of the National Committee to Combat Fascism headquarters in Omaha. Sledge was no doubt angry at his cancelled search as Assistant U.S. Attorney William Gallup was so enraged he resigned as a federal prosecutor.
Thomas Sledge was not a career ATF professional but rather a new agent with less than a two year history with the agency. However, Sledge was a nine year veteran of the Omaha Police Department and older brother of James Sledge, a patrolman injured in the August 17, 1970 bombing that claimed the life of Larry Minard, Sr.
Sledge was determined to make a case against those he suspected of a series of unsolved bombings in Omaha and other cities in the Midwest that summer. Sledge testified at the trial of the Omaha Two, as Poindexter and Mondo are now known, and handled crucial evidence in the case. Thomas Sledge hand-carried their clothing to Washington, D.C. for analysis at the ATF Laboratory. Sledge also carried small vials of dynamite powder.
The testimony of Sledge at the Minard murder trial was recorded and the trial transcript reveals that Sledge could have dusted the pockets with dynamite powder on the way to the ATF laboratory.
Thomas Sledge testified at trial: “I received a call from Special Investigator Casper at 4:30 a.m., that there was a bombing and that my brother was involved….I went down to the police station at about five a.m. and checked on my brother.”
Sledge then went to the blast site, arriving at seven o’clock in the morning and searched continuously for the next twelve hours. Within days Sledge would make several trips to the ATF Laboratory with evidence in the case delivering it to ATF chemist Kenneth Snow.
Thomas Sledge was also involved in the purported discovery of dynamite in Mondo we Langa’s basement during the August 22 search of Mondo’s home with detective Jack Swanson, who claimed to have found the dynamite. Convenient to a frame-up, Swanson also maintained his own dynamite cache at a quarry in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he stored dynamite seized from three men in July 1970.
Later, after Swanson’s death, detective Robert Pfeffer would claim he found the dynamite not Jack Swanson. Pfeffer also would later claim he, along with ATF agents at the search, found rigged suitcases. The alleged rigged suitcases were not noted on any report or documented in any fashion by anyone and their disposal or location is unknown and unrecorded. Sledge testified that Pfeffer found blasting caps but did not mention any rigged suitcases or Pfeffer’s role in discovery of dynamite.
Sledge and Swanson did transport fourteen sticks of dynamite to the police station. At the station, Sledge and another ATF agent emptied two of the sticks. Sledge testified, “We also took samples of each stick.” Sledge then placed the dynamite powder in plastic vials and said “I took those to Washington” with other evidence.
Sledge’s testimony about his sole custody of the dynamite evidence is confirmed by a prosecution “Trial Memorandum” found buried in the files of the Douglas County District Court by a court researcher.
The Trial Memorandum states: “Thomas Sledge, Special Agent for the AT&F people, will be mainly responsible for the custody of the items found at 2816 Parker [Mondo’s house] in that he personally carried them to Washington, D.C. and turned them over to the laboratory in Washington”.
Thomas Sledge, upset and angered over his brother’s injuries in the August 17 bombing, frustrated about his cancelled search of NCCF headquarters, was alone with vials of dynamite powder and clothing of the accused Black Panther leaders. The answer to the mystery about the dynamite particles in pockets may have been there all along, unnoticed, hidden in the trial transcript.
Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa remain imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary serving life sentences. Both men continue to deny any involvement in the murder of Larry Minard, Sr.
For more information on Thomas Sledge
Permission granted to reprint

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Yuri Kochiyama, whose pursuit of social justice was legend passed away on Sunday in California. She was 93. 

Kochiyama’s activism began after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when she and her family were placed in an internment camp along with more than 100,000 Japanese citizens.  Her family was locked up at  Camp Jerome in Arkansas.  Her granddaughter, Maya Kochiyama, detailed life in the camp for Discover Nikkei in 2010:

Amidst this isolation and unwavering uncertainty of release, though they lived in dingy, cramped barracks, the Japanese Americans tried to make the most out of their situation and made furniture from what pieces of wood lied around, planted flowers to brighten up the landscape, and sewed bed sheets, tablecloths, and curtains to improve what little privacy they had.

Yuri said that, “we learned soon enough that our strongest weapons to sustain ourselves were teamwork, a cooperative spirit, ingenuity, and concern for others.”

One of the things that came out of this camp experience for Yuri was that she began to learn more about her Japanese American community and identify herself as Japanese American. “I feel like going to camp actually is where for the first time I came to know my own people … I was really proud to be Japanese.”

What Yuri felt echoed many of the same thoughts as other second generation Japanese Americans who had grown up “All-American” and did not identify themselves with their Japanese heritage. Feeling betrayed by their country, some Nisei started to learn more about their Japanese culture and embrace their Japanese identity, even opting to “return” to Japan, a country that they had never even seen.

In the 1980s, she and her husband pushed for reparations and a formal government apology for Japanese American internees through the Civil Liberties Act, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1988.

Diane Fujino, an associate professor of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara and the author of a book about this amazing women is quoted at SF Gate:

She operated on two levels simultaneously.  She cared very much for the person in front of her, and she also worked to fight against the structural racism and imperialism in society.
Most people make life; some people make history.  Yuri organized her life around making history. I think of her as a very ordinary person, who’s done extraordinary things.

The parallels she saw between the treatment of African Americans in the Jim Crow South and Japanese Americans during World War II inspired her to become one of the few Asian Americans who, early on, forged deep bonds with blacks in the struggle for liberation.

Hansi Lo Wang writing for NPR reports,

 Living in housing projects among black and Puerto Rican neighbors inspired her interest in the civil rights movement. Kochiyama held weekly open houses for activists in the family's apartment, where she taped newspaper clippings to the walls and kept piles of leaflets on the kitchen table. "Our house felt like it was the movement 24/7," said her eldest daughter, Audee Kochiyama-Holman.


As the Civil Rights Movement grew, the Kochiyamas began inviting activists to speak at their open houses. After moving to Harlem in 1960, they worked with the Harlem Parent’s Committee, organizing school boycotts to demand quality education for inner-city children. Yuri Kochiyama was among 600 arrested for blocking the entrance of a construction site to demand jobs for African American and Puerto Rican workers....

Kochiyama was soon working with the most militant black nationalist organizations in Harlem, including the Republic of New Africa. When the police and FBI intensified their repression of black activists, she immersed herself in the struggles to support political prisoners, providing non-stop letter-writing, prison visits, and activist mobilizations. She linked her support for incarcerated activists to her own wartime imprisonment, denouncing the unfairness of U.S. laws and practices.

Her connections with Black Power made Kochiyama a leader of the emerging Asian American Movement in the late 1960s. In New York City, she joined Asian Americans for Action and was a featured speaker at Hiroshima Day events, denouncing U.S. imperialism in Vietnam, Okinawa, and elsewhere. She supported ethnic studies at City College of New York and the hiring of Chinese construction workers at Confucius Plaza.

Indeed, Kochiyama was more that merely an advocate of civil rights and social justice, she was a revolutionary.

Fight Back News on Yuri and the Vietnam War:

Yuri also spoke out against the U.S. war in Vietnam. She pointed out the connection between the racism in U.S. imperialist wars in the Third World and the national oppression that African Americans, Puerto Ricans and others were facing here in the U.S. This perspective had broad appeal among oppressed nationalities here, leading to protests such as the 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the war in Los Angeles in 1970, as well as the African Liberation Support Committee and solidarity work among African Americans to support the national liberation movements in Africa in the 1970s.

  From a 1998 interview in Revolutionary Worker, Yuri discussed her work with prisoners:

RW: You've been active in the movement to free political prisoners for many years, including the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. And you have gone out to talk to different groups about Mumia. What response do you get?

YK: Once people learn about Mumia, they can't help but love Mumia because not only was he such a radical and such a courageous kind of guy and his support for the MOVE group has been contagious. He has supported everyone, all the underdogs and the marginalized. And when you think of it, there has been no political prisoner who has been able to galvanize so many people the way Mumia has--and not just here in this country, but all over the world. And I'm amazed that 26 members of the Diet [top government body] in Japan are supporting Mumia, too.

But people won't believe how Mumia and I got started corresponding. It had nothing to do with the movement. It had nothing to do with political prisoners. I couldn't believe it but one day I got a letter from him and he wrote in Japanese--Hiragana, which is one of the forms of writing Japanese. There's Katakana, the simplest. Then there's Hiragana and then there's the regular Chinese calligraphy. But he was using the Japanese Hiragana and I couldn't believe it. And I said how did you learn? And he said he was studying Japanese just by himself in prison.

But how this came about was that I had just read something by Velina Houston, the famous Black/Asian/Indian playwright. She wrote about a Black samurai in the sixth or eighth century. And so I wrote to Mumia about him and he said, "You won't believe it but I've just been reading about him myself." But just before that he wrote in Japanese, and that's how we got started to know each other.

The other day we had a four-way conversation with Assata Shakur, thanks to Susan Burnett. Assata expressed her admiration for Mumia. She said he is extraordinary, bringing people together. I think that's maybe his calling. But it's just that he has so much courage to come out with the kind of issues he has supported, especially his support for the MOVE people. I think the police department can't forget that. But his contribution to the struggle will be forever remembered. And he has already left a mark in the struggle.

There's a question of what makes Mumia different from other political prisoners. And I just say, well he has the same quality of leadership and courage and yet his humbleness gives him another dimension.

She was once arrested along with some of her children during a spirited demonstration and occupation of the Statue of Liberty highlighting the struggle for Puerto Rican independence.

She fought against the racial profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans after 9/11 and opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She said at the time, 

We have got to stop this war in Iraq … America’s whole history has been about war, taking over other people’s land, resources, annihilating people. “We’ve all got to stop this war. And those of us of Japanese background, because of what we’ve experienced, more so must become active. Even if you don’t have time to go on marches or rallies or demonstrations, just talk about it among your friends. I mean, whatever you can do. Write letters to newspapers. Do whatever. Talk about it to your own family members.

Asked once by Angela Davis what helped sustain her decades of activism, Kochiyama responded, “People in the movement sustain each other. It’s because their spirit is so contagious.”

In her own words, from Legacy to Liberation:

I’ve spoken to kids as young as second and third graders. A school here in Harlem – the teachers were both Black and white, but the students were all Black – asked if I would come and speak to them about Malcolm X. And I couldn’t believe how much these second and third grade students already knew about Malcolm. But it was because their parents knew about Malcolm. And I’ve spoken to junior high schools, one in Greenwich Village. I’ve spoken to about six high schools and to colleges all over the country, and the enthusiasm and interest of the students, regardless of what age, has amazed me. And it’s been very, very heartening. They really are interested. They really want to change society. They want it to become a better society than they are living in now.

What I would say to students or young people today. I just want to give a quote by Frantz Fanon. And the quote is “Each generation must, out of its relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.”

And I think today part of the missions would be to fight against racism and polarization, learn from each others’ struggle, but also understand national liberation struggles — that ethnic groups need their own space and they need their own leaders. They need their own privacy. But there are enough issues that we could all work together on. And certainly support for political prisoners is one of them. We could all fight together and we must not forget our battle cry is that “They fought for us. Now we must fight for them!”
She and Bill Kochiyama, her husband and a veteran of WWII  had two girls and four boys; most of them would become actively involved in black liberation struggles, the anti-war movement, and the Asian-American movement.

I could go on and on about Yuri Kochiyama, but I have to stop somewhere.   All I can add is, "What an incredible life."

Rather than do my normal post I am going to share with you the following exchange from an interview with Amy Goodman in 2008, concerning her relationship with Malcolm X. You see, it was Kochiyama who cradled the head of a dying Malcolm X as he lay mortally wounded.  That was no accident of history.  The following is borrowed from Democracy Now.


AMY GOODMANForty-three years ago tomorrow, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot dead as he spoke at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He had just taken the stage, when shots rang out, riddling his body with bullets. He was thirty-nine years old. We continue now with our interview with Yuri Kochiyama. She was Malcolm X’s friend. She was in the Audubon Ballroom the day he was killed. After he was shot, she rushed to the stage, cradled his head in her arms as he lay dying. Yuri Kochiyama talked about that fateful day.
    YURI KOCHIYAMAThe date was February 21st. It was a Sunday. Well, prior to that date, I think that whole week there was a lot of rumors going on in Harlem that something might happen to Malcolm. But I think Malcolm showed all along, especially around that time, that there were rumors going on. He was aware, because there were things even in the newspaper, that there was some, I think — I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding or just disagreeing about some things that Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm were talking about. They were personal things. But Malcolm was aware that Elijah seemed to be feeling a little — what would be — oh, I’m so sorry that I’m messing this up — but on some very personal issues, there was disagreement between Elijah and Malcolm, and I think there was even talk that was going on, and after the assassination, however, many black people felt it could have been by people who had infiltrated or that the police department and FBI may have actually planted in the Nation of Islam.
    Describe that day. Malcolm came out on the stage, but first he was introduced by someone else. You were sitting in the audience? Where were you?
    No. He was sitting in the little room right next to the stage. And Brother Benjamin was doing the speaking. But everyone noticed that even the guards seemed a little upset, and it was because they said that those who were invited to speak that day, that none of them showed up. And, of course, the crowd in there, about 400 people, realizing something was amiss, did feel that something was going wrong.
    You mean that speakers were invited who didn’t show?
    Where were you sitting?
    YURI KOCHIYAMAI think about the tenth — equivalent to about the tenth row from the podium and almost right across — well, in the middle, where the two guys got up and said — one of them yelled, “Take your hands out of my pocket!” When everybody started just looking at them, the two guys. They were, like, fighting.
    They had stood up as Malcolm X was speaking, very close to the beginning of his speech.
    Yes, he was just going to speak. And Malcolm just said, “OK, brothers, let’s just break it up.” But what happened was, it seemed to suck in all his guards closer to what was happening. And then —
    A kind of diversion.
    The diversion, right. Everybody was looking there. When — because we were all watching the two guys in the audience, and everybody was watching, and the guards themselves moved from their post. They’re supposed to be protecting Malcolm. Well, Malcolm first said, “OK, now, let’s break it up.” But because Malcolm had left the podium, he was just a perfect target to be shot. And I don’t know if it was two or three men, right in front, went up and started shooting. Well, by that time, the whole place was chaotic. I mean, people were chasing — some of them chasing after those two guys, and people were yelling and screaming and others — because they let women and children in at the very end, the decision. The kids were — could be crying or just running to get near their mother, and mothers were trying to shield the kids. And I guess the two guys who did the — what was the word you said?
    The diversion?
    Diversion. They shot a few times, you know, not to hit anyone, but just, I think, to make the place look even more chaotic there. And Malcolm had told his men, especially the very close Muslims, not to bring any arms, that they didn’t want to frighten the women and children. And so, no one was supposed to bring anything, but one Muslim, and I think thank goodness that one did have a gun, and he’s the only one that shot one of the people who came to assassinate. If he wasn’t there with a gun, I think they would have all fled. And then, anyway, you know the three men who were charged, none of them were even there, and they proved it at the end. 
    AMY GOODMANSo when Malcolm was shot and he was laying on the stage, you ran up?
    Yes, because I saw a young brother pass me, and he seemed to know just where to go or how to get up on the stage. And he acted just like — what do you call it? You call it, not a guard. Well, like one of Malcolm’s security anyway. And he went up, and I followed him. And he went to the back, and he pulled the curtains to see if there was anyone in the back. And at that time, I mean, Malcolm had fallen straight back, and he was on his back, lying on the floor. And so I just went there and picked up his head and just put it on my lap. People ask, “What did he say?” He didn’t say anything. He was just having a difficult time breathing.
    What did you say to him?
    I said, “Please, Malcolm, please, Malcolm, stay alive.” But he was hit so many times. Then a lot of people came on stage. They tore his shirt so they could see how many times he was hit. People said it was like about thirteen times. I mean, the most visible is the one here on his chin. He was hit somewhere else in the face, and then he was just peppered all over on his chest.
    Betty, his wife Betty Shabazz, was there with the children.
    Yes. At the very end, he called her. He had told her before not to come, because he was afraid something was going to happen. Then at the end, he changed his mind and called her and said, “Come, right away. They’re almost starting.” And he said, “Please bring the children. There’s nothing to worry about.” And so, she brought them. They had four children, and she was pregnant. And, you know, shortly after, she had two more.
    She also came up on the stage, as Malcolm lay there dying?
    AMY GOODMANAnd what did you do then?
    When someone told me to go to the side room, and they handed me, you know, a milk bottle and the youngest child, and so they just said, “Feed the baby.” Betty was right there with Malcolm.
    AMY GOODMANYou had met Malcolm years before in a Brooklyn courtroom.
    AMY GOODMANCan you describe the scene there? 
    YURI KOCHIYAMAOh, yes. Well, I’ll never forget that day. I mean, it was unexpected. Even though Malcolm could show up anywhere, you know, at any time and wherever his people are. And, well, all of a sudden, someone walked into the foyer, the first floor of the courthouse in Brooklyn. And all of the young kids — they were all black — they were all running downstairs to the foyer, and here was Malcolm coming in through the front door. No guards. He was there just by himself. I was quite surprised, because it was a dangerous time for him. And all of the kids, they were maybe between seventeen and twenty-five, that age, and they were such energetic kids who — they really, like, mobbed him with admiration. Everybody wanted to shake his hands.
    And as I watched, about twenty-five yards away, I felt so bad that I wasn’t black, that this should be just a black thing. But the more I see them all so happily shaking his hands and Malcolm so happy, I said, “Gosh darn it, I’m going to try to meet him somehow.” And so, I kept getting closer, and I said, “If he looks up once, I’m going to run over there and see if I could shake his hand.” And so, that’s what I did.
    There was a time where — maybe he didn’t look up, but I may have just thought he did or wished he did. And so, then I yelled and said, “Malcolm, can I shake your hands, too?” because all these young people were. And he said “What for?” And I didn’t know at first what to say. “What for?” I said, “Because what you’re doing for your people.” And he said, “And what am I doing for my people?” Now, I thought, “What would I say to that?” And so I said, “You’re giving directions.” And then, he just changed and said — he came out of the center of that, you know, where everybody was there, came out and he stuck his hands out. So I ran and grabbed it. I couldn’t believe that I was shaking Malcolm X’s hand. And I was just so sorry that my son, who was sixteen, who wanted to come so much, but he had an exam in high school and he didn’t think he could miss that exam, so he missed seeing Malcolm then. He met him later.
    You were there because people — you were among hundreds who were arrested, protesting for jobs for Puerto Rican and black construction workers?
    So that started your relationship with Malcolm X. It was just really a month before John F. Kennedy was assassinated —- would be assassinated in Dallas. October 16, 1963 -—
    AMY GOODMAN:— was the day that you met him.
    Right. October 16 is when I met Malcolm. And —
    And JFK was killed on November 22.
    He was killed — yeah, John Kennedy was killed on November 22.
    But for the next two years, you would meet with Malcolm regularly. Can you talk about the meetings, the sessions that he had that you would attend?
    Well, they had regular meetings, you know. But it seems like Elijah and Malcolm’s problems were getting a little more serious, and I think because FBI played a role in it, and, of course, they knew which ones of the people in NOI may have had some kind of ill feelings.
    Nation of Islam.
    Mm-hmm. And things got more serious. There were more articles in the newspaper, and everyone knew that Malcolm’s life was in danger. But also, about that time, I didn’t realize until you said right now, that Kennedy was killed only two months?
    AMY GOODMANOnly a month after you and Malcolm X first met.
    Only a month after. Oh, because it was November.
    Right. It was the last two years also of Malcolm X’s life. 1963 to 1965, when he was assassinated, as well. 
    AMY GOODMANYou received — Malcolm X wrote you postcards through his trip through Africa and his journey to Mecca.
    What did he write to you in these postcards?
    Well, he sent eleven and from nine countries. There were two countries he went twice. But at the time that he went to Africa, all the major African conferences were happening. Two were even happening in England. And Malcolm went to all of these, and, of course, all the most progressive presidents of African nations were at these conferences. So he got to meet almost all the top ones. I mean, there was Ghana’s Nkrumah or Tanzania’s [Nyerere]. I can’t even think of all of them, but he met about eleven of them, and they were as excited to meet him.
    He wanted to learn all about the different countries in Africa. And he — the Africans and he talked about the colonization that took place. Well, it could have happened from even as early as the 1600s, but it was mostly 1700, 1800. And the big day that we’ve got to remember is, I think, 1885. That was where all those European countries took over African countries. What was the name of that? Gosh, I would forget the name. Wait. It might come back to us.
    Well, let me ask you about this. When Malcolm came back, he was also talking about an expanded attitude about human rights, something he had talked about before, as well. Not so much civil rights, but the rights of African Americans to be fully equal was an issue of international human rights.
    Oh, yes. And that’s why Malcolm thought that this civil rights thing was really nothing, because African people don’t have to wait until some president of another country, even United States, would give civil rights. I mean, Africans already have human rights. And he felt, too, that it was too narrowed down when they would be using words that they were just fighting for civil rights. And I think what was so wonderful is that Malcolm taught his group, American — well, black Americans here, about the history of Africa, where they became colonized, and then he told the people in Africa what was happening here, how blacks were treated, and that many of the African young people didn’t even know anything hardly about slavery, because this country never told them anything.
    Yuri Kochiyama, he also came to your house to meet with survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki: Hibakusha, the survivors. 
    YURI KOCHIYAMAYes, right.
    AMY GOODMANCan you talk about that?
    Well, we were all so happy, I mean, especially Japanese Americans and even other Asian Americans, that Malcolm would be interested. But Malcolm was interested in every group, and especially when he would hear the kind of harassments and all the negative things that always seemed to be happening to people of color. And he knew about Asian history so well. We couldn’t believe it.

AMY GOODMANYuri Kochiyama remembering Malcolm X. Forty-three years ago tomorrow, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He had just taken the stage, when shots rang out, riddling his body with bullets. He was thirty-nine. Yuri Kochiyama ran to the stage. She had been there to listen to him that day, and she cradled his head. Yuri Kochiyama and her family also interned as a result of FDR’s executive order after Pearl Harbor bombing with over 100,000 other Japanese and Japanese Americans in this country.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014



Subcommandante Marcos, the man who never was, or was, is no more, at least, the cartoon version...or is.  The reality is, of course, as always, much different then the media, the corporate media, understands.  Marco "ousted" himself in a communique.  The media reacted.  Leonidas Oiknomakis writes:

The media immediately created the story: “Subcomandante Marcos steps down as EZLN leader.” They did not even bother to read the rest of the communiqué, neither did they bother to investigate the situation any further. The headline was there, emphatic and maybe convenient as well: “Subcomandante Marcos steps down…”

You see the EZLN never really planned or wanted the media to portray Marcos, this Marcos, as itself.  This created a situation where the Zapatistas became Marcos, Marcos became the Zapatistas and everyone tended to over look the autonomous, leaderless communities.  Getting rid of Marcos the frontman was explained very well by Marcos the human being (or maybe not Marcos at all):

“It is our belief and our practice that in order to rebel and struggle, we need neither leaders, nor caudillos, nor messiahs, nor saviors. To struggle, we only need a little bit of disgrace, a good amount of dignity and a lot of organization. The rest is either useful for the collective or it isn’t."

In Chiapas the people have learned to govern themselves in a manner many of us can only dream about.  There are now men and women who grew up in and were schooled in autonomous schools.  They can speak for themselves, thank you, in action and in words.

Writes Oikonomakis,

It all began on May 2, 2014. Members of the paramilitary organization CIOAC-Histórica, funded and organized by the regional and national government, planned and executed a coward attack on the Zapatista autonomous community of La Realidad. They destroyed the autonomous school and clinic and, knowing that the compas from the nearby caracol would rush in to stop them, they ambushed them. Fifteen Zapatistas were injured, and one of them, Jose Luis Solis Lopez, a teacher at the Escuelita Zapatista of August 2013 and December/January 2014, was brutally murdered. He had selected for himself the nickname “Galeano”, like the author ofThe Open Veins of Latin America.
This attack was the last straw in a series of similar attacks on Zapatista communities that have been taking place ever since the government of Enrique Peña Nieto took office — a sign of the President’s intentions towards Zapatismo and the Zapatistas.

Ever since that day, an international campaign has been organized in solidarity with the Zapatista communities, which culminated on May 24 in the caracol of La Realidad with a public event in which the Comandancia General of the EZLN also participated to honor the memory of Galeano and assure that justice will be done.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos was also present, in his first public appearance since 2009, on his horse, this time with a pirate eyepatch on his right eye. In the event he didn’t speak much. The EZLN spoke through its other spokesperson, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. However, at 2.08am, he read a communiqué through Radio Zapatista, in which he bade farewell to the persona of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, in a communiqué he signed as Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

“We think that one of us must die so that Galeano can live,” he said. “So death does not take a life but a name.”

Of course, as with all Zapatista communiques one wonders...World War Four asks:

 As for Marcos' new non-existence... The communique is entitled "Between Light and Shadow," (Ed. see below) which could be a cryptic reference to Marcos' own shadowy persona and trickster spirit. Is the new Subcommander Galeano really the same man as the old Subcommander Marcos, now writing under a new name to symbolize an altered role in the Zapatista movement? Your guess is as good as mine, but I wouldn't exclude the possibility.

The Zapatista movement has been and continues to be an incredible and innovative inspiration to many of us, to the multitudes, to working people, to indigenous people, to peasants and more.  Subcomandante Marcos and his host of characters may now be past, but the movement itself is still the now, and even more so, the future.

I am printing too lengthy pieces below.

The first piece below is from Schools for Chiapas.

The second piece below is from Popular Resistance.

Marcos is Gone! Between the light and the shadow.


In La Realidad [Reality], Planet Earth
May 2014
Compañera, compañeroa, compañero:
Good evenThe Zapatista known as marcos has seized to exist in Chiapas,, afternoon, or morning, whichever it may be in your geography, time, and way of being.
Good very early morning.
I would like to ask the compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas of the Sixth who came from other places, especially the compañeros from the independent media, for your patience, tolerance, and understanding for what I am about to say, because these will be the final words that I speak in public before I cease to exist.
I am speaking to you and to those who listen to and look at us through you.
Perhaps at the start, or as these words unfold, the sensation will grow in your heart that something is out of place, that something doesn’t quite fit, as if you were missing one or various pieces that would help make sense of the puzzle that is about to be revealed to you. As if indeed what is missing is still pending.
Maybe later – days, weeks, months, years or decades later – what we are about to say will be understood.
My compañeras and compañeros at all levels of the EZLN do not worry me, because this is indeed our way here: to walk and to struggle, always knowing that what is missing is yet to come.
What’s more, and without meaning to offend anyone, the intelligence of the Zapatista compas is way above average.
In addition, it pleases and fills us with pride that this collective decision will be made known in front of compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas, both of the EZLN and of the Sixth.
And how wonderful that it will be through the free, alternative, and independent media that this archipelago of pain, rage, and dignified struggle – what we call “the Sixth” – will hear what I am about to say, wherever they may be.
If anyone else is interested in knowing what happened today, they will have to go to the independent media to find out.
So, here we go. Welcome to the Zapatista reality (La Realidad).
I. A difficult decision.
When we erupted and interrupted in 1994 with blood and fire, it was not the beginning of war for us as Zapatistas.
The war from above, with its death and destruction, its dispossession and humiliation, its exploitation and the silence it imposed on the defeated, we had been enduring for centuries.
What began for us in 1994 is one of many moments of war by those below against those above, against their world.
This war of resistance is fought day in and day out in the streets of any corner of the five continents, in their countrysides and in their mountains.
It was and is ours, as it is of many from below, a war for humanity and against neoliberalism.
Against death, we demand life.
Against silence, we demand the word and respect.
Against oblivion, memory.
Against humiliation and contempt, dignity.
Against oppression, rebellion.
Against slavery, freedom.
Against imposition, democracy.
Against crime, justice.
Who with the least bit of humanity in their veins would or could question these demands?
And many listened to us then.
The war we waged gave us the privilege of arriving to attentive and generous ears and hearts in geographies near and far.
Even lacking what was then lacking, and as of yet missing what is yet to come, we managed to attain the other’s gaze, their ear, and their heart.
It was then that we saw the need to respond to a critical question.
“What next?”
In the gloomy calculations on the eve of war there hadn’t been any possibility of posing any question whatsoever. And so this question brought us to others:
Should we prepare those who come after us for the path of death?
Should we develop more and better soldiers?
Invest our efforts in improving our battered war machine?
Simulate dialogues and a disposition toward peace while preparing new attacks?
Kill or die as the only destiny?
Or should we reconstruct the path of life, that which those from above had broken and continue breaking?
The path that belongs not only to indigenous people, but to workers, students, teachers, youth, peasants, along with all of those differences that are celebrated above and persecuted and punished below.
Should we have adorned with our blood the path that others have charted to Power, or should we have turned our heart and gaze toward who we are, toward those who are what we are – that is, the indigenous people, guardians of the earth and of memory?
Nobody listened then, but in the first babblings that were our words we made note that our dilemma was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying and living.
Whoever noticed then that this early dilemma was not an individual one would have perhaps better understood what has occurred in the Zapatista reality over the last 20 years.
But I was telling you that we came across this question and this dilemma.
And we chose.
And rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world.
Instead of constructing barracks, improving our weapons, and building walls and trenches, we built schools, hospitals and health centers; improving our living conditions.
Instead of fighting for a place in the Parthenon of individualized deaths of those from below, we chose to construct life.
All this in the midst of a war that was no less lethal because it was silent.
Because, compas, it is one thing to yell, “You Are Not Alone,” and another to face an armored column of federal troops with only one’s body, which is what happened in the Highlands Zone of Chiapas. And then if you are lucky someone finds out about it, and with a little more luck the person who finds out is outraged, and then with another bit of luck the outraged person does something about it.
In the meantime, the tanks are held back by Zapatista women, and in the absence of ammunition, insults and stones would force the serpent of steel to retreat.
And in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, to endure the birth and development of theguardias blancas [armed thugs traditionally hired by landowners] who would then be recycled as paramilitaries; and in the Tzotz Choj Zone, the continual aggression of peasant organizations who have no sign of being “independent” even in name; and in the Selva Tzeltal zone, the combination of the paramilitaries and contras [anti-zapatistas].
It is one thing to say, “We Are All Marcos” or “We Are Not All Marcos,” depending on the situation, and quite another to endure persecution with all of the machinery of war: the invasion of communities, the “combing” of the mountains, the use of trained attack dogs, the whirling blades of armed helicopters destroying the crests of the ceiba trees, the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” that was born in the first days of January 1994 and reached its most hysterical level in 1995 and in the remaining years of the administration of that now-employee of a multinational corporation, which this Selva Fronteriza zone suffered as of 1995 and to which must be added the same sequence of aggressions from peasant organizations, the use of paramilitaries, militarization, and harassment.
If there exists a myth today in any of this, it is not the ski mask, but the lie that has been repeated from those days onward, and even taken up by highly educated people, that the war against the Zapatistas lasted only 12 days.
I will not provide a detailed retelling. Someone with a bit of critical spirit and seriousness can reconstruct the history, and add and subtract to reach the bottom line, and then say if there are and ever were more reporters than police and soldiers; if there was more flattery than threats and insults, if the price advertised was to see the ski mask or to capture him “dead or alive.”
Under these conditions, at times with only our own strength and at other times with the generous and unconditional support of good people across the world, we moved forward in the construction – still incomplete, true, but nevertheless defined – of what we are.
So it isn’t just an expression, a fortunate or unfortunate one depending on whether you see from above or from below, to say, “Here we are, the dead of always, dying again, but this time in order to live.” It is reality.
And almost 20 years later…
On December 21, 2012, when the political and the esoteric coincided, as they have at other times in preaching catastrophes that are meant, as they always are, for those from below, we repeated the sleight of hand of January of ’94 and, without firing a single shot, without arms, with only our silence, we once again humbled the arrogant pride of the cities that are the cradle and hotbed of racism and contempt.
If on January 1, 1994, it was thousands of faceless men and women who attacked and defeated the garrisons that protected the cities, on December 21, 2012, it was tens of thousands who took, without words, those buildings where they celebrated our disappearance.
The mere indisputable fact that the EZLN had not only not been weakened, much less disappeared, but rather had grown quantitatively and qualitatively would have been enough for any moderately intelligent mind to understand that, in these 20 years, something had changed within the EZLN and the communities.
Perhaps more than a few people think that we made the wrong choice; that an army cannot and should not endeavor toward peace.
We made that choice for many reasons, it’s true, but the primary one was and is because this is the way that we [as an army] could ultimately disappear.
Maybe it’s true. Maybe we were wrong in choosing to cultivate life instead of worshipping death.
But we made the choice without listening to those on the outside. Without listening to those who always demand and insist on a fight to the death, as long as others will be the ones to do the dying.
We made the choice while looking and listening inward, as the collective Votán that we are.
We chose rebellion, that is to say, life.
That is not to say that we didn’t know that the war from above would try and would keep trying to re-assert its domination over us.
We knew and we know that we would have to repeatedly defend what we are and how we are.
We knew and we know that there will continue to be death in order for there to be life.
We knew and we know that in order to live, we die.

Marcos reading his last words dedicated to Galeano
Marcos reading his last words dedicated to Galeano
II. A failure?
They say out there that we haven’t achieved anything for ourselves.
It never ceases to surprise us that they hold on to this position with such self-assurance.
They think that the sons and daughters of the comandantes andcomandantas should be enjoying trips abroad, studying in private schools, and achieving high posts in business or political realms. That instead of working the land and producing their food with sweat and determination, they should shine in social networks, amuse themselves in clubs, show off in luxury.
Maybe the subcomandantes should procreate and pass their jobs, perks, and stages onto their children, as politicians from across the spectrum do.
Maybe we should, like the leaders of the CIOAC-H and other peasant organizations do, receive privileges and payment in the form of projects and monetary resources, keeping the largest part for ourselves while leaving the bases [of support] with only a few crumbs, in exchange for following the criminal orders that come from above.
Well it’s true, we haven’t achieved any of this for ourselves.
While difficult to believe, 20 years after that “Nothing For Ourselves,” it didn’t turn out to be a slogan, a good phrase for posters and songs, but rather a reality, the reality.
If being accountable is what marks failure, then unaccountability is the path to success, the road to Power.
But that’s not where we want to go.
It doesn’t interest us.
Within these parameters, we prefer to fail than to succeed.

III. The handoff, or change.
In these 20 years, there has been a multiple and complex handoff, or change, within the EZLN.
Some have only noticed the obvious: the generational.
Today, those who were small or had not even been born at the beginning of the uprising are the ones carrying the struggle forward and directing the resistance.
But some of the experts have not considered other changes:
That of class: from the enlightened middle class to the indigenous peasant.
That of race: from mestizo leadership to a purely indigenous leadership.
And the most important: the change in thinking: from revolutionary vanguardism to “rule by obeying;” from taking Power Above to the creation of power below; from professional politics to everyday politics; from the leaders to the people; from the marginalization of gender to the direct participation of women; from the mocking of the other to the celebration of difference.
I won’t expand more on this because the course “Freedom According to the Zapatistas” was precisely the opportunity to confirm whether in organized territory, the celebrity figure is valued over the community.
Personally, I don’t understand why thinking people who affirm that history is made by the people get so frightened in the face of an existing government of the people where “specialists” are nowhere to be seen.
Why does it terrify them so that the people command, that they are the ones who determine their own steps?
Why do they shake their heads with disapproval in the face of “rule by obeying?”
The cult of individualism finds in the cult of vanguardism its most fanatical extreme.
And it is this precisely – that the indigenous rule, and now with an indigenous person as the spokesperson and chief – that terrifies them, repels them, and finally sends them looking for someone requiring vanguards, bosses, and leaders. Because there is also racism on the left, above all among that left which claims to be revolutionary.
The ezetaelene is not of this kind. That’s why not just anybody can be a Zapatista.

IV. A changing and moldable hologram. That which will not be.
Before the dawn of 1994, I spent 10 years in these mountains. I met and personally interacted with some whose death we all died in part. Since then, I know and interact with others that are today here with us.
In many of the smallest hours of the morning I found myself trying to digest the stories that they told me, the worlds that they sketched with their silences, hands, and gazes, their insistence in pointing to something else, something further.
Was it a dream, that world so other, so distant, so foreign?
Sometimes I thought that they had gone ahead of us all, that the words that guided and guide us came from times that didn’t have a calendar, that were lost in imprecise geographies: always with the dignified south omnipresent in all the cardinal points.
Later I learned that they weren’t telling me about an inexact, and therefore, improbable world.
That world was already unfolding.
And you? Did you not see it? Do you not see it?
We have not deceived anyone from below. We have not hidden the fact that we are an army, with its pyramidal structure, its central command, it decisions hailing from above to below. We didn’t deny what we are in order to ingratiate ourselves with the libertarians or to move with the trends.
But anyone can see now whether ours is an army that supplants or imposes.
And I should say that I have already asked compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ permission to say this:
Nothing that we’ve done, for better or for worse, would have been possible without an armed military, the Zapatista Army for National Liberation; without it we would not have risen up against the bad government exercising the right to legitimate violence. The violence of below in the face of the violence of above.
We are warriors and as such we know our role and our moment.
In the earliest hours of the morning on the first day of the first month of the year 1994, an army of giants, that is to say, of indigenous rebels, descended on the cities to shake the world with its step.
Only a few days later, with the blood of our fallen soldiers still fresh on the city streets, we noticed that those from outside did not see us.
Accustomed to looking down on the indigenous from above, they didn’t lift their gaze to look at us.
Accustomed to seeing us humiliated, their heart did not understand our dignified rebellion.
Their gaze had stopped on the only mestizo they saw with a ski mask, that is, they didn’t see.
Our authorities, our commanders, then said to us:
“They can only see those who are as small as they are. Let’s make someone as small as they are, so that they can see him and through him, they can see us.”
And so began a complex maneuver of distraction, a terrible and marvelous magic trick, a malicious move from the indigenous heart that we are, with indigenous wisdom challenging one of the bastions of modernity: the media.
And so began the construction of the character named “Marcos.”
I ask that you follow me in this reasoning:
Suppose that there is another way to neutralize a criminal. For example, creating their murder weapon, making them think that it is effective, enjoining them to build, on the basis of this effectiveness, their entire plan, so that in the moment that they prepare to shoot, the “weapon” goes back to being what it always was: an illusion.
The entire system, but above all its media, plays the game of creating celebrities who it later destroys if they don’t yield to its designs.
Its power resided (now no longer, as it has been displaced by social media) in deciding what and who existed in the moment when they decided what to name and what to silence.
But really, don’t pay much attention to me; as has been evident over these 20 years, I don’t know anything about the mass media.
The truth is that this SupMarcos went from being a spokesperson to being a distraction.
If the path to war, that is to say, the path to death, had taken us 10 years, the path to life required more time and more effort, not to mention more blood.
Because, though you may not believe it, it is easier to die than it is to live.
We needed time to be and to find those who would know how to see us as we are.
We needed time to find those who would see us, not from above or below, but face to face, who would see us with the gaze of a compañero.
So then, as I mentioned, the work of constructing this character began.
One day Marcos’ eyes were blue, another day they were green, or brown, or hazel, or black – all depending on who did the interview and took the picture. He was the back-up player of professional soccer teams, an employee in department stores, a chauffeur, philosopher, filmmaker, and the etcéteras that can be found in the paid media of those calendars and in various geographies. There was a Marcos for every occasion, that is to say, for every interview. And it wasn’t easy, believe me, there was no Wikipedia, and if someone came over from Spain we had to investigate if thecorte inglés was a typical English-cut suit, a grocery store, or a department store.
If I had to define Marcos the character, I would say without a doubt that he was a colorful ruse.
We could say, so that you understand me, that Marcos was Non-Free Media (note: this is not the same as being paid media).
In constructing and maintaining this character, we made a few mistakes.
“To err is human,”[1] as they say.
During the first year we exhausted, as they say, the repertoire of all possible “Marcoses.” And so by the beginning of 1995, we were in a tight spot and the communities’ work was only in its initial steps.
And so in 1995 we didn’t know what to do. But that was when Zedillo, with the PAN at his side, “discovered” Marcos using the same scientific method used for finding remains, that is to say, by way of an esoteric snitching.
The story of the guy from Tampico gave us some breathing room, even though the subsequent fraud committed by Paca de Lozano made us worry that the paid press would also question the “unmasking” of Marcos and then discover that it was just another fraud. Fortunately, it didn’t happen like that. And like this one, the media continued swallowing similar pieces from the rumor mill.
Sometime later, that guy from Tampico showed up here in these lands. Together with Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, we spoke to him. We offered to do a joint press conference so that he could free himself from persecution, since it would then be obvious that he and Marcos weren’t the same person. He didn’t want to. He came to live here. He left a few times and his face can be seen in the photographs of the funeral wakes of his parents. You can interview him if you want. Now he lives in a community, in…
[There is a pause here as the speaker leans over to ask Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés if it would be okay to mention where, to which the response is a firm “No.”]
Ah, he doesn’t want you to know exactly where this man lives. We won’t say any more so that if he wants to someday, he can tell the story of what he has lived since February 9, 1995. On our behalf, we just want to thank him for the information that he has given us which we use from time to time to feed the “certitude” that SupMarcos is not what he really is, that is to say, a ruse or a hologram, but rather a university professor from that now painful Tamaulipas.
In the meantime, we continued looking, looking for you, those of you who are here now and those who are not here but are with us.
We launched various initiatives in order to encounter the other, the othercompañero, the other compañera. We tried different initiatives to encounter the gaze and the ear that we need and that we deserve.
In the meantime, our communities continued to move forward, as did the change or hand-off of responsibilities that has been much or little discussed, but which can be confirmed directly, without intermediaries.
In our search of that something else, we failed time and again.
Those who we encountered either wanted to lead us or wanted us to lead them.
There were those who got close to us out of an eagerness to use us, or to gaze backward, be it with anthropological or militant nostalgia.
And so for some we were communists, for others trotskyists, for others anarchists, for others millenarianists, and I’ll leave it there so you can add a few more “ists” from your own experience.
That was how it was until the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, the most daring and most Zapatista of all of the initiatives that we have launched up until now.
With the Sixth, we have at last encountered those who can see us face to face and greet us and embrace us, and this is how greetings and embraces are done.
With the Sixth, at last, we found you.
At last, someone who understood that we were not looking for shepherds to guide us, nor flocks to lead to the promised land. Neither masters nor slaves. Neither leaders nor leaderless masses.
But we still didn’t know if you would be able to see and hear what we are and what we are becoming.
Internally, the advance of our peoples has been impressive.
And so the course, “Freedom According to the Zapatistas” came about.
Over the three rounds of the course, we realized that there was already a generation that could look at us face to face, that could listen to us and talk to us without seeking a guide or a leader, without intending to be submissive or become followers.
Marcos, the character, was no longer necessary.
The new phase of the Zapatista struggle was ready.
So then what happened happened, and many of you, compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth, know this firsthand.
They may later say that this thing with the character [of Marcos] was pointless. But an honest look back at those days will show how many people turned to look at us, with pleasure or displeasure, because of the disguises of a colorful ruse.
So you see, the change or handoff of responsibilities is not because of illness or death, nor because of an internal dispute, ouster, or purging.
It comes about logically in accordance with the internal changes that the EZLN has had and is having.
I know this doesn’t square with the very square perspectives of those in the various “aboves,” but that really doesn’t worry us.
And if this ruins the rather poor and lazy explanations of the rumorologoists and zapatologists of Jovel  [San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas], then oh well.
I am not nor have I been sick, and I am not nor have I been dead.
Or rather, despite the fact that I have been killed so many times, that I have died so many times, here I am again.
And if we ourselves encouraged these rumors, it was because it suited us to do so.
The last great trick of the hologram was to simulate terminal illness, including of the deaths supposedly suffered.
Indeed, the comment “if his health permits” made by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in the communiqué announcing the events with the CNI [National Indigenous Congress], was the equivalent of the “if the people ask for me,” or “if the polls favor me,” or “if it is god’s will,” and other clichés that have been the crutch of the political class in recent times.
If you will allow me one piece of advice: you should cultivate a bit of a sense of humor, not only for your own mental and physical health, but because without a sense of humor you’re not going to understand Zapatistmo. And those who don’t understand, judge; and those who judge, condemn.
In reality, this has been the simplest part of the character. In order to feed the rumor mill it was only necessary to tell a few particular people: “I’m going to tell you a secret but promise me you won’t tell anyone.”
And of course they told.
The first involuntary collaborators in the rumor about sickness and death have been the “experts in zapatology” in arrogant Jovel and chaotic Mexico City who presume their closeness to and deep knowledge of Zapatismo. In addition to, of course, the police that earn their salaries as journalists, the journalists that earn their salaries as police, and the journalists who only earn salaries, bad ones, as journalists.
Thank you to all of them. Thank you for your discretion. You did exactly what we thought you would do. The only downside of all this is that I doubt anyone will ever tell any of you a secret again.
It is our conviction and our practice that in order to rebel and to struggle, neither leaders nor bosses nor messiahs nor saviors are necessary. To struggle, one only needs a sense of shame, a bit of dignity, and a lot of organization.
As for the rest, it either serves the collective or it doesn’t.
What this cult of the individual has provoked in the political experts and analysts “above” has been particularly comical. Yesterday they said that the future of the Mexican people depended on the alliance of two people. The day before yesterday they said that Peña Nieto had become independent of Salinas de Gortari, without realizing that, in this schema, if one criticized Peña Nieto, they were effectively putting themselves on Salinas de Gortari’s side, and if one criticized Salinas de Gortari, they were supporting Peña Nieto. Now they say that one has to take sides in the struggle going on “above” over control of telecommunications; in effect, either you’re with Slim or you’re with Azcárraga-Salinas. And even further above, you’re either with Obama or you’re with Putin.
Those who look toward and long to be “above” can continue to seek their leader; they can continue to think that now, for real, the electoral results will be honored; that now, for real, Slim will support the electoral left; that now, for real, the dragons and the battles will appear in Game of Thrones; that now, for real, Kirkman will be true to the original comic in the television series The Walking Dead; that now, for real, tools made in China aren’t going to break on their first use; that now, for real, soccer is going to be a sport and not a business.
And yes, perhaps in some of these cases they will be right. But one can’t forget that in all of these cases they are mere spectators, that is, passive consumers.
Those who loved and hated SupMarcos now know that they have loved and hated a hologram. Their love and hate have been useless, sterile, hollow, empty.
There will not be, then, museums or metal plaques where I was born and raised. There will not be someone who lives off of having been subcomandante Marcos. No one will inherit his name or his job. There will not be all-paid trips abroad to give lectures. There will not be transport to or care in fancy hospitals. There will not be widows or heirs. There will not be funerals, honors, statues, museums, prizes, or anything else that the system does to promote the cult of the individual and devalue the collective.
This figure was created and now its creators, the Zapatistas, are destroying it.
If anyone understands this lesson from our compañeros and compañeras, they will have understood one of the foundations of zapatismo.
So, in the last few years, what has happened has happened.
And we saw that now, the outfit, the character, the hologram, was no longer necessary.
Time and time again we planned this, and time and time again we waited for the right moment – the right calendar and geography to show what we really are to those who truly are.
And then Galeano arrived with his death to mark our calendar and geography: “here, in La Realidad; now; in the pain and rage.”

V. Pain and Rage. Signs and Screams.
When we got here to the caracol of La Realidad, without anyone telling us to, we began to speak in whispers.
Our pain spoke quietly, our rage in whispers.
It was as if we were trying to avoid scaring Galeano away with these unfamiliar sounds.
As if our voices and step called to him.
Wait, compa,” our silence said.
Don’t go,” our words murmured.
But there are other pains and other rages.
At this very minute, in other corners of Mexico and the world, a man, a woman, another, a little girl, a little boy, an elderly man, an elderly woman, a memory, is beaten cruelly and with impunity, surrounded by the voracious crime that is the system, clubbed, cut, shot, finished off, dragged away among jeers, abandoned, their body then collected and mourned, their life buried.
Just a few names:
Alexis Benhumea, murdered in the State of Mexico.
Francisco Javier Cortés, murdered in the State of Mexico.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, murdered in Chiapas.
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, murdered in Chiapas.
El compa Kuy, murdered in Mexico City.
Carlo Giuliani, murdered in Italy.
Aléxis Grigoropoulos, murdered in Greece.
Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, murdered in a Refugee Camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah. At 14 years old, he was shot in the back from an Israeli observation post. There were no marches, protests, or anything else in the streets.
Matías Valentín Catrileo Quezada, mapuche murdered in Chile.
Teodulfo Torres Soriano, compa of the Sixth, disappeared in Mexico City.
Guadalupe Jerónimo and Urbano Macías, comuneros from Cherán, murdered in Michoacan.
Francisco de Asís Manuel, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Javier Martínes Robles, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Gerardo Vera Orcino, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Enrique Domínguez Macías, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Martín Santos Luna, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Pedro Leyva Domínguez, murdered in Santa María Ostula.
Diego Ramírez Domínguez, murdered in Santa María Ostula.
Trinidad de la Cruz Crisóstomo, murdered in Santa María Ostula.
Crisóforo Sánchez Reyes, murdered in Santa María Ostula.
Teódulo Santos Girón, disappeared in Santa María Ostula.
Longino Vicente Morales, disappeared in Guerrero.
Víctor Ayala Tapia, disappeared in Guerrero.
Jacinto López Díaz “El Jazi”, murdered in Puebla.
Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, murdered in Oaxaca.
Jorge Alexis Herrera, murdered in Guerrero.
Gabriel Echeverría, murdered in Guerrero.
Edmundo Reyes Amaya, disappeared in Oaxaca.
Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez, disappeared in Oaxaca.
Juan Francisco Sicilia Ortega, murdered in Morelos.
Ernesto Méndez Salinas, murdered in Morelos.
Alejandro Chao Barona, murdered in Morelos.
Sara Robledo, murdered in Morelos.
Juventina Villa Mojica, murdered in Guerrero.
Reynaldo Santana Villa, murdered in Guerrero.
Catarino Torres Pereda, murdered in Oaxaca.
Bety Cariño, murdered in Oaxaca.
Jyri Jaakkola, murdered in Oaxaca.
Sandra Luz Hernández, murdered in Sinaloa.
Marisela Escobedo Ortíz, murdered in Chihuahua.
Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, disappeared in Jalisco.
Nepomuceno Moreno Nuñez, murdered in Sonora.
The migrants, men and women, forcefully disappeared and probably murdered in every corner of Mexican territory.
The prisoners that they want to kill through “life”: Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Mapuche, Mario González, Juan Carlos Flores.
The continuous burial of voices that were lives, silenced by the sound of the earth thrown over them or the bars closing around them.
And the greatest mockery of all is that with every shovelful of dirt thrown by the thug currently on shift, the system is saying: “You don’t count, you are not worth anything, no one will cry for you, no one will be enraged by your death, no one will follow your step, no one will hold up your life.”
And with the last shovelfull it gives its sentence: “even if they catch and punish those who killed you, we will always find another, an other, to ambush and on whom to repeat the macabre dance that ended your life.”
It says, “The small, stunted justice you will be given, manufactured by the paid media to simulate and obtain a bit of calm in order to stop the chaos coming at them, does not scare me, harm me, or punish me.”
What do we say to this cadaver who, in whatever corner of the world below, is buried in oblivion?
That only our pain and rage count?
That only our outrage means anything?
That as we murmur our history, we don’t hear their cry, their scream?
Injustice has so many names, and provokes so many screams.
But our pain and our rage do not keep us from hearing them.
And our murmurs are not only to lament the unjust fall of our own dead.
They allow us to hear other pains, to make other rages ours, and to continue in the long, complicated, tortuous path of making all of this into a battle cry that is transformed into a freedom struggle.
And to not forget that while someone murmurs, someone else screams.
And only the attentive ear can hear it.
While we are talking and listening right now, someone screams in pain, in rage.
And so it is as if one must learn to direct their gaze; what one hears must find a fertile path.
Because while someone rests, someone else continues the uphill climb.
In order to see this effort, it is enough to lower one’s gaze and lift one’s heart.
Can you?
Will you be able to?
Small justice looks so much like revenge. Small justice is what distributes impunity; as it punishes one, it absolves others.
What we want, what we fight for, does not end with finding Galeano’s murderers and seeing that they receive their punishment (make no mistake this is what will happen).
The patient and obstinate search seeks truth, not the relief of resignation.
True justice has to do with the buried compañero Galeano.
Because we ask ourselves not what do we do with his death, but what do we do with his life.
Forgive me if I enter into the swampy terrain of commonplace sayings, but this compañero did not deserve to die, not like this.
His tenacity, his daily punctual sacrifice, invisible for anyone other than us, was for life.
And I can assure you that he was an extraordinary being and that, what’s more – and this is what amazes – there are thousands of compañeros and compañeras like him in the indigenous Zapatista communities, with the same determination, the same commitment, the same clarity, and one single destination: freedom.
And, doing macabre calculations: if someone deserves death, it is he who does not exist and has never existed, except in the fleeting interest of the paid media.
As our compañero, chief and spokesperson of the EZLN, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés has already told us, in killing Galeano, or any Zapatista, those above are trying to kill the EZLN.
Not the EZLN as an army, but as the rebellious and stubborn force that builds and raises life where those above desire the wasteland brought by the mining, oil, and tourist industries, the death of the earth and those who work and inhabit it.
He has also said that we have come, as the General Command of the Zaptaista Army for National Liberation, to exhume Galeano.
We think that it is necessary for one of us to die so that Galeano lives.
To satisfy the impertinence that is death, in place of Galeano we put another name, so that Galeano lives and death takes not a life but just a name – a few letters empty of any meaning, without their own history or life.
That is why we have decided that Marcos today ceases to exist.
He will go hand in hand with Shadow the Warrior and the Little Light so that he doesn’t get lost on the way. Don Durito will go with him, Old Antonio also.
The little girls and boys who used to crowd around to hear his stories will not miss him; they are grown up now, they have their own capacity for discernment; they now struggle like him for freedom, democracy, and justice, which is the task of every Zapatista.
It is the cat-dog, and not a swan, who will sing his farewell song.
And in the end, those who have understood will know that he who never was here does not leave; that he who never lived does not die.
And death will go away, fooled by an indigenous man whose nom de guerre was Galeano, and those rocks that have been placed on his tomb will once again walk and teach whoever will listen the most basic tenet of Zapatismo: that is, don’t sell out, don’t give in, don’t give up.
Oh death! As if it wasn’t obvious that it frees those above of any responsibility beyond the funeral prayer, the bland homage, the sterile statue, the controlling museum.
And for us? Well, for us death commits us to the life it contains.
So here we are, mocking death in reality [La Realidad].
Given the above, at 2:08am on May 25, 2014, from the southeast combat front of the EZLN, I here declare that he who is known as Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, self-proclaimed “subcomandante of unrustable steel,” ceases to exist.
That is how it is.
Through my voice the Zapatista Army for National Liberation no longer speaks.
Vale. Health and until never or until forever; those who have understood will know that this doesn’t matter anymore, that it never has.
From the Zapatista reality,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Mexico, May 24, 2014.
P.S. 1. Game over?
P.S. 2. Check mate?
P.S. 3. Touché?
P.S. 4. Go make sense of it, raza, and send tobacco.
P.S. 5. Hmm… so this is hell… It’s Piporro, Pedro, José Alfredo! What? For beingmachista? Nah, I don’t think so, since I’ve never…
P.S. 6. Great, now that the colorful ruse has ended, I can walk around here naked, right?
P.S.7. Hey, it’s really dark here, I need a little light.
[He lights his pipe and exits stage left. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés announces that “another compañero is going to say a few words.”]
(a voice is heard offstage)
Good early morning compañeras and compañeros. My name is Galeano, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Anyone else here named Galeano?
[the crowd cries, “We are all Galeano!”]
Ah, that’s why they told me that when I was reborn, it would be as a collective.
And so it should be.
Have a good journey. Take care of yourselves, take care of us.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
Mexico, May of 2014.


We All Must Become Zapatistas

by Chris Hedges

Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman for the Zapatistas (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or EZLN), has announced that his rebel persona no longer exists. He had gone from being a “spokesman to a distraction,” he said last week. His persona, he said, fed an easy and cheap media narrative. It turned a social revolution into a cartoon for the mass media. It allowed the commercial press and the outside world to ignore traditional community leaders and indigenous commanders and wrap a movement around a fictitious personality. His persona, he said, trivialized a movement. And so this persona is no more.
“The entire system, but above all its media, plays the game of creating celebrities who it later destroys if they don’t yield to its designs,” Marcos declared.
The Zapatistas form the most important resistance movement of the last two decades. They are a visible counterweight to the despoiling and rape of the planet and the subjugation of the poor by global capitalism. And they have repeatedly reinvented themselves—as Marcos has now done—to survive. The Zapatistas gave global resistance movements a new language, drawn in part from the indigenous communal Mayan culture, and a new paradigm for action. They understood that corporate capitalism had launched a war against us. They showed us how to fight back. The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities. Local representatives from Juntas de Buen Gobierno, or Councils of Good Government, which is not recognized by the Mexican government, preside over these independent Zapatista communities. The councils oversee community programs that distribute food, set up clinics and schools and collect taxes. Resources are for those who live in the communities, not for the corporations that come to exploit them. And in this the Zapatistas allow us to see the future, at least a future where we have a chance of surviving.
“This figure was created, and now its creators, the Zapatistas, are destroying it,” the EZLN spokesman said to roughly 1,000 people who turned out for a May 24 memorial in the village of La Realidad for a Zapatista teacher, José Luis Solís López, who was murdered by Mexican paramilitary members. “And we saw that now, the full-size puppet outfit, the character, the hologram, was no longer necessary. Time and time again we planned this, and time and time again we waited for the right moment—the right calendar and geography to show what we really are to those who truly are.”
The May 2 murder of the teacher—known by his nom de guerre as “Galeano”—appears to have been part of a drive by a government-allied paramilitary group, CIOAC-H, to assassinate rural Zapatista leaders and destroy the self-governing Zapatista enclaves. The Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center said that 15 unarmed Zapatista civilians were wounded May 2. Attacks on that day also saw the destruction of a Zapatista clinic, a school and three vehicles.
The address last month was the first public appearance by Marcos since 2009. He spoke to the crowd in a downpour in the early hours of May 25. He has been the public face of the Zapatistas since the group emerged as an insurrectionary force Jan. 1, 1994, in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. Marcos, who is mestizo rather than Mayan, spoke about his rise as a media figure following the uprising and how the movement had catered to the demands for an identifiable leader by a press that distorts reality to fit into its familiar narratives.
Just a few days later [after the uprising], with the blood of our fallen still fresh in the city streets, we realized that those from outside did not see us.
Accustomed to looking at the indigenous from above, they did not raise their eyes to look at us.
Accustomed to seeing us humiliated, their heart did not understand our dignified rebellion.
Their eyes were fixed on the only mestizo they saw with a balaclava, that is to say, one they did not look at.
Our bosses told us then:
“They only see their own smallness, let’s make someone as small as them, so they may see him and through him they may see us.”
A complex maneuver of distraction began then, a terrible and marvelous magic trick, a malicious play of the indigenous heart that we are, the indigenous knowledge challenging modernity in one of its bastions: the media.
The character called “Marcos” started then to be built.

The clandestine movement began, like all rebellions, with a handful of idealists.
“When the first group arrived in 1983, 1984, we were in the densest part of the jungle,” Marcos said in “Remembering Ten Years of Zapatismo,” a documentary produced by the Chiapas Independent Media Center and Free Speech Radio News. “We are talking about a group of four or five, six people that repeated to themselves every day ‘this is the right thing to do,’ ‘the right thing to do.’ There was nothing in the world telling us this was the right thing to do. We were dreaming that someday all of this would be worth something.”
Early Jan. 1, 1994, armed rebels took over five major towns in Chiapas. It was the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. The EZLN announced that it no longer recognized the legitimacy of the Mexican government. It denounced NAFTA as a new vehicle to widen the inequality between the poor and the rich, showing an understanding of free trade agreements that many in the United States lacked. It said it had resorted to violence because peaceful means of protest had failed. The Mexican government, alarmed and surprised, sent several thousand members of the military and police to Chiapas to crush the uprising. The military handed out food to the impoverished peasants. It also detained scores of men. Many were tortured. Some were killed. There were 12 days of heavy fighting in which about 200 people died. By February the Zapatistas, who had hoped to ignite a nationwide revolution and who were reeling under the military assault, agreed to negotiate. Most had retreated into the surrounding jungle. The insurgency, Marcos said, faced a fundamental existential choice. He spoke about this choice at last month’s memorial to his assassinated comrade:
Should we prepare those who come after us for the path of death?
Should we develop more and better soldiers?
Invest our efforts in improving our battered war machine?
Simulate dialogues and a disposition toward peace while preparing new attacks?Kill or die as the only destiny?
Or should we reconstruct the path of life, that which those from above had broken and continue breaking?
… Should we have adorned with our blood the path that others have charted to Power, or should we have turned our heart and gaze toward who we are, toward those who are what we are—that is, the indigenous people, guardians of the earth and of memory?
Nobody listened then, but in the first babblings that were our words we made note that our dilemma was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying and living.
… And we chose.
And rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world.
Instead of constructing barracks, improving our weapons, and building walls and trenches, we built schools, hospitals and health centers; improving our living conditions.
Instead of fighting for a place in the Parthenon of individualized deaths of those from below, we chose to construct life.
All this in the midst of a war that was no less lethal because it was silent.
The movement’s shift from violence to nonviolent civil disobedience was evidenced during the memorial. Zapatista leaders said they knew the identities of the vigilantes who had carried out the attacks. But those in the crowd were cautioned not to turn their vengeance against the killers, who, they were told, had been manipulated to murder in the service of the state. The focus had to remain on dismantling the system of global capitalism itself. The shift from violence to nonviolence, one also adopted half a world away by the African National Congress (ANC), is what has given the Zapatistas their resiliency and strength. Marcos stressed this point:
Small justice looks so much like revenge. Small justice is what distributes impunity; as it punishes one, it absolves others.
What we want, what we fight for, does not end with finding Galeano’s murderers and seeing that they receive their punishment (make no mistake this is what will happen).
The patient and obstinate search seeks truth, not the relief of resignation.
True justice has to do with the buried compañero Galeano.
Because we ask ourselves not what do we do with his death, but what do we do with his life.
This transformation by the EZLN, chronicled in some astute reporting by the Mexican novelist Alejandro Reyes, is one that is crucial to remember as we search for mechanisms to sever ourselves from the corporate state and build self-governing communities. The goal is not to destroy but to transform. And this is why violence is counterproductive. We too must work to create a radical shift in consciousness. And this will take time, drawing larger and larger numbers of people into acts of civil disobedience. We too must work to make citizens aware of the mechanisms of power. An adherence to nonviolence will not save us from the violence of the state and the state’s hired goons and vigilantes. But nonviolence makes conversion, even among our oppressors, possible. And it is conversion that is our goal. As Marcos said:
Maybe it’s true. Maybe we were wrong in choosing to cultivate life instead of worshipping death.
But we made the choice without listening to those on the outside. Without listening to those who always demand and insist on a fight to the death, as long as others will be the ones to do the dying.
We made the choice while looking and listening inward, as the collective Votán that we are.
We chose rebellion, that is to say, life.