[R-G] Fwd: Marcos Sees Natl Worker Uprising Coming
childst at douglas.bc.ca
Fri Mar 10 15:48:45 MST 2006
Rad Green Subscribers, You may have interest in Mexico's "Other
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From: "Dana" <dana.aldea at arcor.de>
To: <chiapas-i at eco.utexas.edu>
Fri, 10 Mar 2006 06:35:36 +0100
In Quere'taro, the Zapatista "Other Campaign" Picks Up the Hammer of
After Hearing Testimony in Eleven Mexican States, Subcomandante Marcos
"A National Uprising" to Come
By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Quere'taro
March 8, 2006
For don Andre's Va'squez de Santiago, 96 and still fighting
QUERETARO, MEXICO; MARCH 2006: Ever since New Year's Day, when
Subcomandante Marcos - in his civilian role as "Delegate Zero" - began
fight-finding mission throughout Mexico, he has heard time and time
the story of "the grand destruction of the Mexican countryside" and
indigenous and farmers alike ready to revolt. But that is only half
story. After eleven weeks of the "Other Campaign" it is clear that the
rebellion doesn't stop at the city line. Here, in Quere'taro, the hand
holds the machete sword has found a friend in the hand that holds the
's hammer, and Marcos exudes more confidence than ever that this
tour is setting the stage for "a national uprising."
Photo: D.R. 2006 Bertha Rodri'guez Santos
First, to provide context, a very brief trip down memory lane of the
ten weeks of a tour that, all in all, will last six months in its
stage. Listening to "the simple and humble people who fight," Marcos
heard from, and shone the spotlight upon indigenous and peasant farmers
Quintana Roo fighting to defend their lands from seizure by developers
airports and tourist Meccas. He has taken the testimony "from below"
those most threatened by big money's plan to turn the state of Yucata'n
a "gigantic hacienda." He has written down notes on how campesinos
organized in Campeche, Tabasco and Veracruz. He has drawn a line in the
over the David-vs.-Goliath fight to defend Oaxaca's Isthmus of
from greedy energy mega-projects. The Mexican countryside is up against
wall and readying to defend itself from annihilation, as the Zapatista
of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) has demonstrated
be done. Rural Mexico is already harvesting Zapatismo from bottom to
As the masked rebel spokesman headed North, he also heard the true
of teachers struggling to save public education and democratize their
against corrupt bosses, of telephone technicians and marginalized
factory workers in Puebla and their "story of pain," of the elderly
ex-braceros who assembled in Tlaxcala and will soon join Marcos along
U.S. Border in June. But it was here in Quere'taro, birthplace of the
struggle for independence from Spain in 1810, where the hand that holds
machete sickle picked up the worker's hammer and Marcos said to the
laborer: "We want to learn from you."
It is a 21st Century fight that goes way beyond 20th century hammers
sickles: The Zapatista "Other Campaign" has been joined by thousands
organizations, families and individuals; by youths who are tired of
criminalized for being young and rebellious; by housewives "who see
difference between the prices of basic products and the low salaries
available" noted Marcos today; by political prisoners and their
alternative media and authentic journalists; by gays, lesbians and
loves;" by children; by elders; by everyone left out by the mercantile
political classes. a breadth of resistance that this country - perhaps
land - has ever seen weaving its many struggles into one big fight.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for a movement that began in the
the Mexican Southeast with a surprise uprising of rural indigenous
is whether it can cross over into the factories, the mines and the
workplaces and become truly national. "The Other Campaign will not be
class struggle," acknowledged Marcos on Tuesday, "without the workers
The "Other Campaign" reaches out now to the hand that builds and the
that builds is reaching back. We begin this report in the recaptured
Hall of the tire factory workers that were fired and replaced when the
French multinational corporation Michelin bought the companies - B.F.
Goodrich and Uniroyal - where they once labored. and may yet toil
"We Will Never Stop Fighting"
Years ago, the former syndicate bosses placed the headquarters of the
of Uniroyal Workers in the affluent Quere'taro neighborhood of Los
those corrupt administrators of pain sold their rank-and-file members
the drain in 2000. That's when 638 trained workers were tossed out
trash and replaced by more desperate men and women now working
days for 1,000 pesos (about 90 bucks) a week (one third of what the
workers once earned).
Arnulfo Gonza'lez Nieto
Photo: D.R. 2006 Bertha Rodri'guez Santos
"We were once 1,200 workers," said Arnulfo Gonza'lez Nieto, secretary
of the union that would not die, to the Other Journalism on Tuesday.
1990, Michelin bought our two factories, one in Quere'taro and the
the Tacuba section of Mexico City. It immediately began a wave of
against us to over-exploit our labor. Work that once was done by two
soon had to be done by just one. By 2000, our ranks were halved to 638.
company then changed the name on the gates - to Autopartes Nacionales
Quere'taro - and locked us out. President Vicente Fox came to cut the
on the 'new' factory."
"We were sold out by corrupt union bosses, known as Charros," Gonza'lez
explained. "Charros are part of the corporatism of the Mexican
They work with the big labor organizations CTM (Federation of Mexican
Workers) and CROC (Revolutionary Federation of Workers and Farmers).
bureaucrats who become individually wealthy in an illegal manner due
always being at the service of management. The fortune of an
charro often surpasses that of the factory executive or even its owner.
our case, the CTM signed a contract to protect the interests of the
against any grievances by the workers."
"We are now unemployed," continued Gonza'lez Nieto. "Some of us have
find better luck and work in the United States. Others drive taxis.
others find ourselves in a pathetic situation since we are trained to
tires. Last year, one of us, Mario Federico Flores Ca'rdenas,
suicide. In his final note, he wrote that it was because he 'had no
possibilities for earning a living.' Others have suffered divorces and
psychological problems due to not being able to provide for our
being unable to pay to send our kids to school."
"When the CTM betrayed us, it took over the Union Hall," remembered
Nieto. "We fought back. We called an assembly and voted in our
October 2005, we took back this hall and the one in Mexico City. We
succeeded in forcing the federal Labor Department to recognize our
leadership. When we took back these offices, we found them abandoned,
looted, our documents were strewn all over the floors. But we have now
reactivated the work of the union and this makes us very happy."
The new workers at the Michelin factories, said Gonza'lez Nieto, "live
terrible surveillance. We can't have any contact with them. Their
are extremely low and they must work twelve hours a day. We've received
of injuries and accidents that harmed the under-trained workers. And
learned that this story has happened all over the world."
Another Mexico. a Global Fight
In 2004, some members of the Uniroyal Union were invited by tire
workers in France and Italy to visit and tell their stories. "In the
city where 35,000 people worked making Michelin tires in 1985, only
still have their jobs," said Gonza'lez Nieto. "We found factories
and being dismantled still. Their jobs went to India and China and
Europe. Yet in 2004, Eduard Michelin, the majority owner of the
announced an 140-percent increase in profits."
Workers in Mexico's factory that makes tires for the Euskadi company
the lesson of the Uniroyal workers and threw out its charro union
waging a strike that forced the owners to cede control of the factory
workers and share half the profits with them. "We hear from others
the world that their battle is now an international example," smiled
Gonza'lez Nieto. "They democratized their union and expelled the
On Tuesday afternoon, Subcomandante Marcos came to this revitalized
Hall. There, Gonza'lez Nieto told him: "We are from below and to the
so we have adhered to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. We
the brothers and sisters of the EZLN are together now. We are the
Other labor organizers - teachers, workers in Mexico's Social Security
Institute (IMSS in its Spanish initials), a representative of workers
fighting for their jobs against the Tornel tire company, and others -
the microphone to call for national coordination and action between
and unions in the Zapatista "Other Campaign." Then came Marcos' turn at
"We want to understand the struggle of the workers in the city,
in the industrial sector," said Marcos. "Our roots and our spinal
the indigenous people of Chiapas. We don't come proposing to be the
for other sectors. But in this first stage of the Other Campaign we
know, and make sure others know, of your resistance and to generate
solidarity and support."
Marcos then made proposals to these workers, as he did two weeks ago to
ex-bracero workers in Tlaxcala: "We are asking you as industrial
become teachers in the Other Campaign, to teach us and other sectors
workers' movement is. You know how to manage contracts. The indigenous,
youths, the others who don't yet know you need to know how to do that.
us classes, please."
"Some see the Zapatista rebellion, or the fight by Euskadi workers, or
fight, as defects or exceptions of capitalism," Marcos opined. "But
struggles are really suggestions of the possibility of another Mexico.
Euskadi fight showed us the importance of building international
The Other Campaign is not only the place of the best damn people in
but it is also a place for people like you to teach us. Because all
other organized sectors of society are also at the edge of the same
"To the proposal that it is time to demand the expropriation of a
to make this demand specifically. please add the name of the EZLN. In
case of the mine in Coahuila where so many workers just died, the
is responsible," said Marcos, suggesting that that mine might be the
to begin "to take the offensive" and take back businesses into the
the workers. "To say to the workers 'we're going for your factory now'
Delegate Zero also proposed that the union members join him in Mexico
on May 1st - International Workers Day - for a mass march, "but that it
just be for one day. We need an Other Worker's May." And he proposed
national gathering" of industrial workers "to be held here in
with you as the hosts. And together we can bring together 'The Other
As the meeting ended, the union leaders and members huddled in a back
with the Zapatista Subcomandante, making plans for the next steps. Men
women who not long ago were thrown out onto the street stepped up onto
national center stage from their reconquered Union Hall. From the ashes
terrible defeat in this city, just six years ago, after an
struggle, sprouts the suggestion of an Other Mexico. the expropriation
nation from those that stole it. a national rebellion. an Other Mexico.
just planted. but also built. by human hands.
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