I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel - let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing. I’m concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.
They don’t tell you that sometimes, freedom is a small animal released into a wide open field. Caught dumbstruck between flight or fight.
—  there’s a fine line between freedom and agoraphobia, but you’ll have to cross it first
While Ms. McKenna “did not ‘abduct’ the child,” the court said, “her appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.”
—  Sara McKenna, a former Marine, became pregnant during a brief relationship with Bode Miller, an Olympic skier. While seven months pregnant, she moved from California to New York to go to school, leading a judge to scold her for “virtually absconding with her fetus.” Now, the fight for custody of their son has become “a closely watched legal battle over the rights of pregnant women to travel and make life choices.”

The Zapatistas’ first school opens for session

Yesterday, 1,700 students from around the world enrolled in the first Zapatistas school, held at the University of the People’s Land of Chiapas. (WNV/Moysés Zúñiga Santiago)

Last December, tens of thousands of indigenous Zapatistas mobilized, peacefully and in complete silence, to occupy five municipal government office buildings in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. That same day, which coincided with the end of one cycle on the Maya calendar, Zapatistas released a communiqué, asking, “Did you hear it?”

It appears that the answer was yes, because this week thousands of people from around the world are descending on Chiapas for the Zapatistas’ first organizing school, called la escuelita de libertad, which means the little school of liberty. Originally the group allotted for only 500 students. But so many people wished to enroll that they opened an additional 1,200 slots for the weeklong school, which begins on August 12.

Just as the Zapatistas have, for two decades, rejected hierarchical systems, the escuelita will also eschew traditional teaching models. Instead, it will be an open space for the community to learn together.

“There isn’t one teacher,” wrote Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesperson for the Zapatista movement. “Rather, it is the collective that teaches, that shows, that forms, and in it and through it the person learns, and also teaches.”

While attending the escuelita, students will live with a family in a rebel zapatista community and participate both in the school and in the daily life of the community. Participants will cut wood, work in the cornfields and cook and eat with their host families.

Subcomandante Marcos acknowledged that attending this type of school requires shifting one’s way of thinking about learning and indigenous communities. As he asked in a communiqué:

Would you attend a school taught by indigenous teachers, whose mother tongue is typified as “dialect”?

Could you overcome the temptation to study them as anthropological subjects, psychological subjects, subjects of law or esoterism, or history?

Would you overcome the urge to write a report, interview them, tell them your opinion, give them advice, orders?

Would you see them, that is to say, would you listen to them?

Leading up to the school, the Zapatistas published a series of seven communiqués entitled “Them and Us.” These essays illustrated the absurdities of “those from above” — those who hold coercive and repressive power — trampling the freedoms of “those from below.” The writings also spoke to the need to learn by observing and listening in order to build an alternative world. But more than abstractions, the seven publications were a collection of lessons about how everyday life in the Zapatista communities, including how people resolve problems and how they organize themselves into an autonomous networks in which the people rule and the government obeys.

The last installation of this manual, published on March 27, also announced the upcoming escuelita and outlined three requirements necessary for any applicant: “an indisposition to speaking and judging, a disposition to listening and seeing, and a well-placed heart.”

The Zapatistas are unique not only for challenging power or maintaining their resistance for nearly 20 years. What sets them apart is their ever-evolving definition of liberty, and this topic — liberty according to the Zapatistas — will be the central focus of the school. According to Subcomandante Marcos, liberty is “to govern and govern ourselves according to our ways, in our geography and in this calendar.” But the definition also shifts from generation to generation, and Marcos explains that new generations must find their own paths through rebellion and dignity.

The experience of living with Zapatistas and other indigenous families will be another central part of the school. Some students will stay with families living in autonomous rebel communities, while others will be with nearby non-Zapatistas, or even anti-Zapatistas families. These hundreds of families have all agreed on a votán, a person who, in the Zapatista movement, represents a guardian and the heart of the community. The votáns will translate for the families and the foreign students, although Marcos acknowledges that translation itself is an imperfect process.

“In legal cases, do cultures translate?” he questions. “In that sense, one understands that what they call ‘equality under the law’ is one of the greatest travesties of justice in our world.”

As for final evaluations, the school won’t, unsurprisingly, have an exam, a thesis, or a multiple-choice test. Rather, as Marcos explained, the school “will make its own reality,” and the results will be “a mirror.”

The school began after three days of festivals in rebel communities to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the councils of good governance, the Zapatistas’ autonomous governing system in which the community makes decisions and the government carries them out. During the celebrations, one could see empty buses and vans parked along the streets to Ocosingo and Palenque, waiting to transport the 1,700 students from San Cristobal de Las Casas into the rebel communities the following morning.

Earlier this summer, the Zapatistas announced that future escuelitas in the Zapatista communities will be held this coming winter.

Via: Waging Non Violence



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Freedom according to the Zapatistas: The launch of the Escuelita
August 29, 2013

From August 12-16 the zapatistas opened the doors to their caracoles, communities and hearts to 1630 students enrolled in the first grade of “the escuelita (the little school): freedom according to the zapatistas.”

The escuelita didn’t have formal classrooms with a rigid schedule and teachers imparting their knowledge. Instead it featured immersion based learning, grounded in the daily tasks of constructing autonomy. This included grinding corn, weeding onion crops, collecting firewood, and washing your clothes in the river.

All students in the escuelita were received at the CIDECI, an autonomous indigenous learning center based in San Cristobal de las Casas. From there, each student was assigned to one of the five caracoles: La Realidad, Oventic, Morelia, Roberto Barrios and La Garrucha which are the centers of the “Juntas de Buen Gobierno”, which loosely translates to The Good Government reunions.

Days before, the caracoles celebrated 10 years of their existence with a grand party in each region. The escuelita was a natural extension of this historic anniversary in which the compas (short for compañero) would not only celebrate their creation, but also impart all the advances they have made in their construction of autonomous government.

I was assigned to Roberto Barrios, located in the northern region of Chiapas, close to the historic Mayan ruins Palenque. Our caravan arrived at 10 p.m. after a long drive through the Chiapan hillsides and jungles. At best we thought a few zapatistas would greet us and that together we would dine with tortillas and beans. Instead we were greeted by hundreds of zapatistas bearing their trademark balaclavas and paliacates (red paisley bandannas), pronouncing “long live the students and teachers of the escuelita.” Together we sang the zapatista anthem and ate delicious stew. For many of the students, myself included, this was the first time that we had the opportunity to stand side by side with the rebel fighters that had so inspired us for close to two decades.

Once we were rested up from our long journey we all gathered together to learn more about the processes of autonomy. Each student was given, for a modest recommended donation of 100 pesos (equivalent of $8.50 USD) a packet of books and DVDs. The titles were Autonomous Government 1 and 2, Autonomous Resistance and The Participation of Women in Autonomous Government.

As with most projects in zapatista life, they were produced collectively by compiling the stories of members of the communities in the five distinct regions each governed by their own Caracol. The teachers who helped draft the books, introduced us to them explaining how the 3 levels of zapatista government work on the local, municipal, and zone levels.  The government representatives are chosen from all zapatista municipalities and serve three year terms. There is a strong desire for gender equity in the Juntas de Buen Gobierno, yet the zapatistas acknowledged that they are still struggling in that area and that the majority of the representatives are male.

Speaking before the students in Roberto Barrios, one zapatista teacher stated: “The laws of the bad government don’t function here, they can’t enter our communities. Our governments are our dream. We are not thinking of operating with them for a few people but for thousands of people.”

The teachers went on to explain how their system of government even has its own justice and banking system. A story was recounted in which a “pollero”, or human trafficker of Central American migrants who passed through zapatista communities on their journey north, was captured. Once caught, he was not incarcerated; instead he was required to work 6 months with the zapatistas doing carpentry work.  The former migrant trafficker at the end of his 6-month work stint thanked the zapatistas, saying “it wasn’t a punishment, it was a great help because now I have learned a work trade that I can continue to use.”

The zapatista bank was formed so that when a compañero or compañera gets sick they would be able to obtain a loan to pay for medical costs and pay back the money with a very low interest rate, and in the case that they die, the family does not have to pay back the loan.

While these lessons were shared formally from the Caracol stage, the true teachers of the escuelita were the Votánes.  Each student was assigned their own Votán- also known as a guardian- who would accompany through the entire learning process, and serve as a translator from Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal  or Chol, into Spanish.

It is important to note that the majority of Votánes were younger than 25-years-old, meaning that they were born, or at least raised after the ‘94 uprising. The “other world” that we dream of constructing, is the only world they have known. They breathe and live autonomy, with a profound sense of collectivity and the education that has been bestowed on them from the autonomous Zapatista schools.

Each student resided with a family in a different zapatista community, accompanied by their Votán. Some communities were what many would call “utopic” with solar power, composting bathrooms, extensive food cooperatives, and well-constructed houses. Some communities were located right off a well paved highway and some were only accessible via a four hour hike through the jungle, crossing rivers, where there was no electricity or running water, besides local creeks. Some communities were exclusively Zapatistas and others a mix of zapatistas, “partidistas”, what the zapatistas call those of civil society who believe in the political party system and paramilitaries.

Our community, Comandate Abel, located in the municipality La Dignidad, was accessible via a muddy highway, which allowed us to advance at a maximum 1km an hour. It led us into a lush green valley full of corn dotted hillsides. Entering the community we crossed the beef cooperative where all members of the community tend to the land and take turns carrying for the health of the cows. Beyond the cow field was the elementary school, that serves all the youth of the community teaching basic skills and zapatista concepts of autonomy.

Comandante Abel is an exclusively zapatista community that lives under constant threat of the paramilitary group ironically named Peace and Justice.

While most students stayed with families, the security conditions were less than favorable in this community and us 20 students and Votánes stayed in one building together for safety concerns. Cell phone service doesn’t reach this area, but the Zapatistas have an internal radio system for emergency communication.

In the morning we headed out into the fields. We weeded an onion field, harvested yucca, sugar cane, and corn, and picked mandarin oranges and grapefruits. My Votán Rosario explains to me, “this is how we pass our days, we wake up and head to the fields to look for our daily sustenance, to harvest what our family will eat that day.” Talk about “fresh”, “local”, “seasonal” and “organic”- the zapatistas have it without the special terms. Little is prepared on the firewood stove that wasn’t harvested that day from the fields. Tortillas are made daily which entails harvesting the corn, shucking it, plucking the grains, cooking the grains with cal to start the process of nixtamalization, hand grinding it, and kneading and flattening it by hand.

The following day the students, guardians, and all members of the community heading to the cow fields to sharpen our machetes and hack at the weeds. Cleaning the cow field by hand would have been an impossible task for a few people, but many hands make light work and it is the zapatistas cooperative spirit that allows grand projects like this to be possible.

Fernando, who joined us from a neighboring Zapatista community that operates a honey cooperative said, “We resist the capitalist system with our cooperative projects. We are not asking for government support. These cooperatives are for our liberation and also on an international level for people all across the world.”

Full article

EZLN: 3O Years of Autonomy and Resistance

30 years ago, on November 17, 1983, three members of the National Liberation Forces’ (FLN) leadership, Germán, Rodrigo and Elisa and three insurgent indigenous speakers of Chol, Javier, George and Frank, founded in the Lacandon Jungle the second core guerrilla unit that would become the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).

After the police and military attacks of 1974 (Monterrey, Nepantla and The Chilar-Ocosingo), the FLN spent the next nine years rebuilding and establishing its second core guerrilla unit in the Lacandon Jungle, origin and base of the political and military organizational process of the EZLN in Chiapas. They had survived the “dirty war” and “openness” policy of President Luis Echeverria (1970-1976) and they passed on the “political reform” and amnesty for “socially motivated offenders” of President José López Portillo (1976 - 1982).

Partial translation. Read the full text at La Floja.

What if, instead of buying our clothes from big corporations for over 500% of their manufacturing costs, we only wore clothes made by local merchants from our own communities? What if, instead of being poisoned by GMO foods or paying for overpriced “organic” goods, we only ate from community farms and gardens? What if, instead of being brainwashed by an ineffective school system, we had our own schools to teach our children true knowledge and life skills? What if, instead of going into debt from HMOs and pharmaceutical companies, we started our own healing clinics using sustainable, holistic practices? What if, instead of having our neighborhoods be occupied by a hostile military like the police, we took our safety into our own hands and watched out for our own neighborhoods? What if, instead of being forced fed false news, film, and music, we only supported local and independent media?

What if, instead of being dependent on and conforming to the very institutions that oppress us, we created our own institutions and empowered and trained our young people to run them?

—  Reza DregsOne Harris
And here we see the problem. With the anti-abortion activist movement embracing the stance of “pro-life from conception to natural death,” brain death creates a situation where science deviates from their politics and faith. They believe that a heartbeat equals life. Brain death—which is considered true, legal death by broad medical consensus and the laws of all 50 states—throws a monkey wrench into their simple, straightforward definition.

Is Life As Simple As A Beating Heart? How the strange and sad case of Marlise Muñoz poses awkward questions for pro-life activists.

Marlise Muñoz was 14 weeks pregnant when her husband found her unconscious in their kitchen. She was declared brain dead at the hospital, yet, against her and her family’s wishes, her body was kept on a ventilator for two months because of a Texas law requiring pregnant people to be kept on life support until the fetus is viable. Brain death is recognized as irreversible by the medical community, even if the heart can continue beating with the help of a ventilator.


Guatemala declares emergency after Canadian private-interests  spark protests as they try and destroy the lives of Guatemalans, despite loud & clear objections
May 3, 2013

The Guatemalan government has declared a state of emergency in four areas after clashes between police and anti-mining protesters in the south-east of the country. The interior ministry banned public gatherings and sent troops to four towns near a controversial silver mine.

Residents fear the Canadian-owned mine will drain their water supplies. They have not consented to the construction of the mine, have been ignored, and have taken to the streets in desperation to stop the Canadian private-interests from destroying their lives.

Protests have turned increasingly violent after it gained an operating permit in April. One police officer was shot dead on Monday, according to local media, and six protesters were reportedly wounded by gunfire from security guards a day earlier.

In another confrontation, protesters captured 23 police officers who were later freed, according to La Hora newspaper.

The owner of the Escobal mine, British Columbia-based Tahoe Resources, tried to frame the protesters as “aggressors armed with machetes, turned hostile”, and security guards fired tear gas and rubber bullets in response to the public’s cry for autonomy. The capitalist Tahoe Resources outright lied when they tried to claim that complaints that the mine could affect the springs were “totally unfounded”.

The mine, which is not yet operating, is in the district of San Rafael Las Flores, about about 70km (40 miles) east of Guatemala City.

The corrupt government said on Thursday it was outlawing gatherings in the towns of Jalapa and Mataquescuinlta, and the areas of Casillas and San Rafael Las Flores. A decree allows them temporarily to make detentions, conduct searches and question suspects outside the normal legal framework.


No Consent = No Mine

Even if the government tries to lock the people in their houses, the people have been abundantly clear – they do not want this Canadian capitalist ruining their lives & their communities. They decide. Not lawmakers. Not Canadian capitalists. The community has a choice and they have chosen to protect their homes or die trying. Support them in any & every way you can!

What does it mean to struggle against capital when capital has subjugated all of lived time, not only that of the working day, but all, all of it. Reproduction is like production, life is like work. At this level, to break with capital is to a prison break.

Negri, Antonio, Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grundrisse. Trans. Harry Cleaver, Michael Ryan, and Maurio Viano. Autonomedia / Pluto 1991, p.xvi