Skip to content or view mobile version

Home | Mobile | Editorial | Mission | Privacy | About | Contact | Help | Security | Support

A network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues.

The 4th World War

Riq quintano | 07.04.2003 11:38

This is the un-edited version o an interview/article first published in 1999, but more relevant than ever, anyone interested in a London Zapatista solidarity group should contact Riq at

One of Rebeldía's many notable contributors provides us with the full text of this remarkably prescient piece.
Originally published in Spanish by Rebeldía, Translated by irlandesa
Rebeldia [], Issue #4
[This is a text which had been previously unpublished in its entirety. Here is, finally, the complete text in translation - irl]
What Are the Fundamental Characteristics of the Fourth World War?
(This time we have assigned the question section to a text which we believe responds to many of the questions which are being posited today concerning the war).
A few months ago, La Jornada published, under the title "The Fourth World War," a fragment of a talk which was given by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos to the International Civil Commission for Human Rights Observation in La Realidad, Chiapas on November 20, 1999. The outline had been published in Letters 5.1 and 5.2, in November of the same year, under the title "Chiapas: The War: I. Between the Satellite and the Microscope, the Gaze of the Other," and "II. The Machinery of Ethnocide." The following is the complete text of that talk.
Chiapas: the War, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
This talk was originally envisioned as a letter, anticipating that a personal meeting might not be possible. And now it remains as a letter, to be read out loud and face to face with the recipient, or rather, face to face with one of the recipients, because it is directed to national and international civil society. I chose the date of the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution - in addition to being mischievous - in order to bring two images of this century here: one is the face of Emilio Zapata, the other is the face of an indigenous girl, with her face partially covered with a red scarf. Further on I will speak of these two images again. In my hands I have a calendar which was made in the Spanish state. The month of November has exactly two images: the image of Zapata and the image of a girl. Despite the fact that the Mexican government achieves the impossible by denying something so obvious, for us it is not so much about demonstrating that there is indeed a war in the Indian lands of the Mexican southeast, but of understanding why this war has continued. This war, which began on the first of January of 1994, should have ended when the first San Andrés Accords were signed and the dialogue process appeared to be definitively on the track of peace. There are reasons that the war has continued, despite the fact that it could have ended in a dignified and exemplary manner.
Between the Satellite and the Microscope, The Restructuring of War
As we see it, there are several constants in the so-called world wars, in the First World War, in the Second, and in what we call the Third and Fourth. One of these constants is the conquest of territories and their reorganization. If you consult a map of the world you can see that there were changes at the end of all of the world wars, not only in the conquest of territories, but in the forms of organization. After the First World War, there was a new world map, after the Second World War, there was another world map.
At the end of what we venture to call the "Third World War," and which others call the Cold War, a conquest of territories and a reorganization took place. It can, broadly speaking, be situated in the late 80's, with the collapse of the socialist camp of the Soviet Union, and, by the early 90's, what we call the Fourth World War can be discerned. Another constant is the destruction of the enemy. Such was the case with nazism in the second World War, and, in the Third, with all that had been known as the USSR and the socialist camp as an option to the capitalist world. The third constant is the administration of conquest. At the moment at which the conquest of territories is achieved, it is necessary to administer them, so that the winnings can be disbursed to the force which won. We use the term "conquest" quite a bit, because we are experts in this. Those States, which previously called themselves national, have always tried to conquer the Indian peoples. Despite those constants, there are a series of variables which change from one world war to another: strategy, the actors, or the parties, the armaments used and, lastly, the tactics. Although the latter change, the former are present and can be applied in order to understand the different wars.
The Third World War, or the Cold War, lasted from 1946 (or, if you wish, from the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945) until 1985-1990. It was a large world war made up of many local wars. As in all the others, at the end there was a conquest of territories which destroyed an enemy. Second act, it moved to the administration of the conquest and the reorganization of territories. The actors in this world war were: one, the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective satellites; two, the majority of the European countries; three, Latin America, Africa, parts of Asia and Oceana. The peripheral countries revolved around the US or the USSR, as it suited them. After the superpowers and the peripherals were the spectators and victims, or, that is, the rest of the world. The two superpowers did not always fight face to face. They often did so through other countries. While the large industrialized nations joined with one of the two blocs, the rest of the countries and of the population appeared as spectators or as victims. What characterized this war was: one, the arms orientation and, two, local wars. The two superpowers competed in the nuclear war in order to see how many times over they could destroy the world. The way the enemy was persuaded was to present it with a very large force. At the same time, local wars, in which the superpowers were involved, were taking place all over the world. The result, as we all know, was the defeat and destruction of the USSR, and the victory of the US, around which the great majority of countries have now come together. This is when what we call the "Fourth World War" broke out.
And here a problem arose. The previous war should have produced a unipolar world - one single nation which dominated a world where there were no rivals - but, in order to make itself effective, this unipolar world would have to achieve what is known as "globalization." The world must be conceived as a large conquered territory with an enemy destroyed. It was necessary to administer this new world, and, therefore, to globalize it. They turned, then, to information technology, which, in the development of humanity, is as important as the invention of the steam engine. Computers allow one to be anywhere simultaneously. There are no longer any borders or constraints of time or geography. It is thanks to computers that the process of globalization began. Separations, differences, Nation States, all eroded, and the world became what is called, realistically, the global village. The entire world like a village with many little houses. The concept on which globalization is based is what we call "neoliberalism," a new religion which is going to allow this process to be carried out. With this Fourth World War, once again, territories are being conquered, enemies are being destroyed and the conquest of these territories is being administered.
The problem is, what territories are being conquered and reorganized, and who is the enemy? Given that the previous enemy has disappeared, we assert that humanity is now the enemy. The Fourth World War is destroying humanity as globalization is universalizing the market, and everything human which opposes the logic of the market is an enemy and must be destroyed. In this sense, we are all the enemy to be vanquished: indigenous, non-indigenous, human rights observers, teachers, intellectuals, artists. Anyone who believes themselves to be free and is not.
This Fourth World War uses what we call "destruction." Territories are destroyed and depopulated. When war is being waged, land must be destroyed, turned into desert. Not out of a zeal for destruction, but in order to rebuild and reorder it. What is the primary problem that this unipolar world confronts in globalizing itself? Nation States, resistances, cultures, each nation's means of relating, that which makes them different. How is it possible for village to be global and for everyone to be equal if there are so many differences? When we say that it is necessary to destroy Nation States and to turn them into deserts, it does not mean doing away with the people, but with the peoples' ways of being. After destroying, one must rebuild. Rebuild the territories and give them another place. The place which the laws of the market determine. This is what is driving globalization.
The first obstacle is the Nation States: they must be attacked and destroyed. Everything which makes a State "national" must be destroyed: language, culture, economy, its political life and its social fabric. If national languages are no longer of use, they must be destroyed, and a new language must be promoted. Contrary to what one might think, it is not English, but computers. All languages must be made the same, translated into computer language, even English. All cultural aspects that make a French person French, an Italian Italian, a Dane Danish, a Mexican Mexican, must be destroyed, because they are barriers which prevent them from entering the globalized market.
It is no longer a question of making one market for the French, and another for the English or the Italians. There must be one single market, in which the same person can consume the same product in any part of the world, and where the same person acts like a citizen of the world, and no longer as a citizen of a Nation State.
That means that cultural history, the history of tradition, clashes with this process and is the enemy of the Fourth World War. This is especially serious in Europe where there are nations with great traditions. The cultural framework of the French, the Italians, the English, the Germans, the Spanish, etcetera - everything which cannot be translated into computer and market terms - are an impediment to this globalization. Goods are now going to circulate through information channels, and everything else must be destroyed or set aside. Nation States have their own economic structures and what is called "national bourgeoisie" - capitalists with national headquarters and with national profits. This can no longer exist: if the economy is decided at a global level, the economic policies of Nation States which try to protect capital are an enemy which must be defeated. The Free Trade Treaty, and the one which led to the European Union, the Euro, are symptoms that the economy is being globalized, although in the beginning it was about regional globalization, like in the case of Europe. Nation States construct their political relationships, but now political relationships are of no use. I am not characterizing them as good or bad. The problem is that these political relationships are an impediment to the realization of the laws of the market. The national political class is old, it is no longer useful, it has to be changed. They try to recall, they try to remember, even if it is the name of one single statesman in Europe. They simply cannot. The most important figures in the Europe of the Euro are people like the president of the Bundesbank, a banker. What he says is going to determine the policies of the different presidents or prime ministers inflicted on the countries of Europe.
If the social fabric is broken, the old relationships of solidarity which make coexistence possible in a Nation State also break down. That is why campaigns against homosexuals and lesbians, against immigrants, or the campaigns of xenophobia, are encouraged. Everything which previously maintained a certain equilibrium has to be broken when this world war attacks a Nation State and transforms it into something else. It is about homogenizing, about making everyone equal, and about hegemonizing a lifestyle. It is global life. Its greatest diversion should be the computer, its work should be the computer, its value as a human being should be the number of credit cards, one's purchasing capacity, one's productive capacity.
The case of the teachers is quite clear. The one who has the most knowledge or who is the wisest is no longer valuable. Now the person who produces the most research is valuable, and that is how his salary, his grants, his place in the university, are decided. This has a lot to do with the United States model. It also so happens, however, that this Fourth World War produces an opposite effect, which we call "fragmentation." The world is, paradoxically, not becoming one, it is breaking up into many pieces. Although it is assumed that citizens are being made equal, differences as differences are emerging: homosexuals and lesbians, young people, immigrants.
Nation States are functioning as a large State, the anonymous State-land-society which divides us into many pieces. If you look at a world map of this period - the end of the Third World War - and analyze the last eight years, a restructuring took place, most especially - but not only - in Europe. Where there was once one nation, now there are many nations. The world map has been fragmented. This is the paradoxical effect that is taking place because of this Fourth World War. Instead of being globalized, the world is fragmenting, and, instead of this mechanism hegemonizing and homogenizing, more and more differences are appearing. Globalization and neoliberalism are making the world an archipelago. And it must be given a market logic. These fragments must be organized into a common denominator. It is what we call "financial bomb." At the same time that differences appear, the differences are multiplied. Each young person has his group, his way of thinking, such as punks and skinheads. All of which are in every country. Now the different are not only different, but their differences are multiplied and they seek their own identity. The Fourth World War is obviously not offering them a mirror that allows them to see themselves with a common denominator. It is offering them a broken mirror. As long as it has control of the archipelago - of human beings - the powers are not going to be very upset. The world is breaking into many pieces, large and small. There are no longer continents in the sense that I would be a European, African or American. What the globalization of neoliberalism is offering is a network built by financial capital, or, if you would prefer, by financial powers. If there is a crisis in this node, the rest of the network will cushion the effects. If there is prosperity in a country, it does not produce the effect of prosperity in other countries. It is, thus, a network which does not function. What they told us about the size of the world was a lie, a speech repeated by the leaders of Latin America, whether Menem, Fujimori, Zedillo, or others leaders of compromised moral character.
In fact what is happening is that the network has made Nation States much more vulnerable. It is useless for a country to struggle to construct an equilibrium and its own destiny as a nation. Everything depends on what happens in a bank in Japan, or what the mafia in Russia or a speculator in Sydney does. In one way or another, Nation States are not saved, they are permanently condemned. When a Nation State agrees to join this network - because there is no other choice, because they force it, or out of conviction - it is signing its death certificate. In short, what this great market wants is to turn all of these islands into commercial centers, not nations. One can go from one country to another and find the same products. There is no longer any difference. In Paris or in San Cristóbal de las Casas you can consume the same thing. If you are in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, you can simultaneously be in Paris getting the news. It is the end of Nation States. And not just that: it is the end of the human beings who make them up. What matters is the law of the market, and that is what establishes how much you produce, how much you are worth, how much you buy, how much you are worth. Dignity, resistance, solidarity all disturb. Everything which prevents a human being from turning into a producing and purchasing machine is an enemy, and it must be destroyed. That is why we are saying that the human species is the enemy for the Fourth World War. It is not destroying it physically, but it is destroying its humanness.
Paradoxically, by destroying Nation States, dignity, resistance and solidarity are built anew. There are no ties stronger, more solid, than those which exist between different groups: between homosexuals, between lesbians, between young people, between migrants. This war, then, goes on to also attack those who are different. That is what those campaigns are owing to, so strong in Europe and in the United States, against the different, because they are dark, speak another language or have another culture. The way xenophobia is cultivated in what remains of the Nation States is by making threats: "These Turkish migrants want to take away your job." "These Mexican immigrants came to rape, they came to steal, they came to sow bad habits." Nation States - or the few of them that remain - delegate to those new citizens of the world - computers - the role of getting rid of those immigrants. And that is when groups like the Ku Klux Klan proliferate, or when persons of such probity as Berlusconi reach power. They all build their campaigns based on xenophobia. Hate for the different, persecution against anything that is different, is worldwide. But the resistance of anything that is different is also worldwide. Faced with that aggression, these differences are multiplied, they are solidified. This is how it is, I am not going to characterize it as good or bad, that is how it is happening.
The War Is Not Only Military
In strictly military terms, the Third World War had its logic. It was, in the first place, a conventional war, conceptualized in such a way that, if I put in soldiers, and you put in soldiers, we confront each other, and whoever is left alive wins. This took place in a specific territory which, in the case of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, forces, and the Warsaw Pact, was Europe. Starting from a conventional war, between armies, a military and weapons oriented path was established. We are going to look at the details a bit more. This [he shows a rifle], for example, is a semi-automatic weapon, and it's called an AR-15 automatic rifle. They manufactured it for the Vietnam conflict, and it can be taken apart very easily [he disarms it], there it is. When they made it, the Americans were thinking about a conventional war scenario, that is, large military contingents which confronted each other. "We'll collect a lot of soldiers, we'll advance, and in the end someone will have to be left." At the same time, the Warsaw Pact was developing the Kalashnikov automatic rifle, which is commonly called the AK-47, a weapon with a lot of short-range firing power, up to 400 meters. The Soviet concept involved large waves of troops: a mountain of soldiers would advance, firing, and, if they died, a second and a third wave would arrive. The one who had the most soldiers would win. The Americans then thought: "The old Garand rifle from the Second World War isn't of any use anymore. Now we need a weapon that has a lot of short-range firing power." They took out the AR-15 and tested it in Vietnam. The problem was that it broke down, it didn't work. When they attacked the Viet Cong, the mechanism remained open, and when they fired it went "click." And it wasn't a camera, it was a weapon. They tried to solve the problem with an M16-A1 model. Here the trick is in the bullets, which are called two different things. One, the civilian, 2.223 of an inch - can be bought in any store in the United States. The other - 5.56 millimeter - is for the exclusive use of NATO. This is a very fast bullet and it has a trick to it. In war, the objective is to see that the enemy has losses, not deaths, and an army considers itself to have casualties when a soldier can no longer fight. The Geneva Convention - an agreement to humanize war - forbids expanding bullets, because at the point at which it enters it destroys more, and it's a lot more lethal than a hard tipped bullet.
"Given that the idea is to increase the number of wounded and decrease the number of dead," - they said - "we are prohibiting expansive bullets." A shot from a hard bullet leaves you useless, you're a casualty now, it doesn't kill you unless it reaches a vital organ. In order to fulfill the Geneva Convention and to dupe them, the Americans created the soft tip bullet which, when it enters the human body, bends and turns. The entrance hole is one size, and the exit hole is much bigger. This bullet is worse than the expanding one, and it doesn't violate conventions. Nonetheless, if it gets you in the will blow you up. A 162 bullet goes through you and leaves you wounded, but this one destroys you. Coincidentally, the Mexican government has just bought 16,000 of these bullets. That is, weapons are created for precise scenarios. We are going to assume that they don't want to use the nuclear bomb. What are they going to use? Many soldiers against many soldiers. And so the NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional war doctrines were created.
The second option was a localized nuclear war, a war with nuclear weapons, but only in some places and not in others. There was an agreement between the two superpowers to not attack each other in their own lands, and to fight only on neutral ground. It remains to be said that this ground was Europe. That's where the bombs were going to fall and one would see who would be left alive in Western Europe and what was then called Eastern Europe. The last option of the Third World War was total nuclear war, which was a huge business, the business of the century. The logic of nuclear war is that there would be no winner. It doesn't matter who fired first, no matter how quickly he fired, the other would be able to fire also. The destruction was mutual, and, from the beginning, this option was simply renounced. The nature of it came to be what is called in military diplomatic terms, "deterrence." "Deterrence": they are going to hear a lot of this word: "The federal army is not attacking the zapatistas, it is 'deterring' or 'containing' them; there are 60,000 federal soldiers in Chiapas so they don't go and misbehave."
The Americans developed many nuclear weapons so that the Soviets wouldn't use nuclear weapons, and the Soviets developed many nuclear weapons so that they wouldn't use nuclear weapons, and so on. They called it IBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), and they were the rockets that went from Russia to the United States and from the United States to Russia. They cost a fortune, and now they're not useful for anything. There were also other nuclear weapons for local use which were the ones they were going to use in Europe in the case of a localized nuclear war. When this phase began, in 1945, there was a war to be fought because Europe was divided in two. The military strategy - we are speaking of the purely military aspects - was the following: a few forward positions in front of the enemy line, a line of permanent logistics, and the mother country, called the United States or the Soviet Union. The logistical line supplied the forward positions. Large airplanes that were in the air 24 hours a day, the B-52 Fortress, carried the nuclear bombs, and they never had to land. And there were the pacts. The NATO Pact, the Warsaw Pact and the SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization) Pact, which is like the NATO of the Asian countries. The model was put into play in local wars. Everything had a logic, and it was logical to fight in Vietnam, which was an agreed scenario. The local armies and insurgents were in the role of the forward positions. In the role of permanent logistics were the lines of clandestine or legal arms sales, and, in the role of the mother countries, the two superpowers. And there was also an agreement about the places where they had to remain as spectators. The clearest examples of these local wars are the dictatorships of Latin America, the conflicts in Asia, especially Vietnam, and the wars in Africa. These apparently had absolutely no logic whatsoever, since the majority of the time what was going on wasn't understood. But what was happening was part of this outline of conventional war.
It was during this period - and that is important - that the concept of "total war" was being developed. Elements which are no longer military entered military doctrine. For example, in Vietnam, from the Tet offensive (1968) until the fall of Saigon (1975), the media again became a very important battle front. And so, the idea began to take hold within the military that military power was not enough. It was necessary to incorporate others, such as the media. And also that the enemy could be attacked with economic measures, with political measures and with diplomacy, which is the game of the United Nations and of international organizations. Some countries create sabotage in order to secure the condemnation or censuring of others, which is called "diplomatic war." All these wars followed the domino theory. It sounds ridiculous, but they were like two rivals playing dominoes with the rest of the population. One of the opponents would put down a piece, and the other would try to put his down in order to cut off the follow-up. It is the theory of that illustrious individual by the name of Kissinger, the Secretary of State for the United States government during the Vietnam era, who said: "We cannot abandon Vietnam because it would mean giving up the game of dominoes in Southeast Asia to the others." And that is why they did what they did in Vietnam.
It was also about trying to regain the logic of the Second World War. For most of the population, it [the Second World War] had been heroic. There was the image of the Marines liberating France from the dictatorship, liberating Italy from the Duce, liberating Germany from the military, the red army entering from all sides. The Second World War was supposedly waged in order to eliminate a danger for all humanity, that of national socialism. Thus the local wars attempted, in one way or another, to regain the ideology of "we are acting in the defense of the free world." But now Moscow was in the role of national socialism. And Moscow, for its part, did the same thing: both superpowers tried to use the argument of "democracy" and the "free world," as each of them conceived it.
Afterwards came the Fourth World War, which destroyed everything from before, because the world is no longer the same, and the same strategy cannot be applied. The concept of "total war" was developed further: it is not only a war on all fronts, it is a war which can be anywhere, a total war in which the entire world is at stake. "Total war" means: at any moment, in any place, under any circumstances. The idea of fighting for one place in particular no longer exists. Now the fight can take place at any moment. There is no longer the concept of escalation of the conflict with threats, the taking of positions and attempts to reposition oneself. At any moment and in any circumstances, a conflict can arise. It can be domestic problem, it can be a dictator and everything which the last wars of the last five years have been, from Kosovo to the Persian Gulf War. The entire military routine of the Cold War has, thus, been destroyed.
It is not possible to make war, in the Fourth World War, under the criteria of the Third, because now I have to fight any place, I don't know where I'm going to have to fight, nor do I know when, I have to act rapidly, I don't even know in what circumstances I'm going to have to prosecute this war. In order to resolve the problem, the military first developed the "rapid deployment" war. An example would be the Persian Gulf War, a war which involved a great accumulation of military force in a short period of time, a large military action in a short period of time, the conquering of territories and withdrawal. The invasion of Panama would be another example of rapid deployment. There is, in fact, a NATO contingent which is called "rapid intervention force."
Rapid deployment is a large mass of military force which throws itself against the enemy and which makes no distinction between a children's hospital and a chemical weapons factory. That is what happened in Iraq: the smart bombs were quite stupid, they made no distinctions. And that's where they remained, because they realized that this is quite expensive, and it contributes very little. In Iraq they carried out an entire deployment, but there was no conquest of territory. There were the problems of local protests, there were international human rights observers.
They had to withdraw. Vietnam had already taught them that, in these instances, it is not prudent to insist: "No, we can't do this now," they said. They then moved on to the strategy of "projection of force." "Better to have forward positions in North American military bases all over the world, accumulating a great continental force which, in a matter of hours or days, will have the capacity to put in military units any place in the world." And they can, in fact, put in a division of four or five thousand men in the most distant point in the planet in four days, and afterwards more, constantly more.
But projection of force has the problem of being based on local soldiers, or, rather, on US soldiers. They believe that, if the conflict is not resolved rapidly, the body bags, the dead, will begin arriving, like in Vietnam, and this could provoke many domestic protests in North America, or in whichever country.
In order to avoid those problems, they abandoned the projection of force, making - let us be clear - mercantile calculations. They did not make calculations about the destruction of the human forces, or the natural ones, but of publicity and image. And so the war of projection was abandoned, and they went on to a model of war with local soldiers, more international help, more of a supranational body. Now it was not about sending soldiers, but of fighting by means of the soldiers who were there, helping them according to the basis of the conflict, and not using the model of a nation which declares war, but of a supranational body like the UN or NATO. The ones doing the dirty work are the local soldiers, and the ones in the newspapers are the Americans and the international support. This is the model. Protesting no longer works: it is not a war of the United States government. It's a war by NATO, and, besides, NATO is merely doing a favor by helping the UN.
Throughout the entire world, armies are being restructured so that they can confront a local conflict with international support under supranational cover, and under the disguise of humanitarian war. It has to do with saving the population from a genocide by killing it. And that is what happened in Kosovo. Milosevich waged a war against humanity: "If we confront Milosevich, we are defending humanity." That is the argument the NATO generals used and which brought so many problems to the European left: opposing NATO bombings implied supporting Milosevich, better, then, to support the NATO bombings. And Milosevich, you know, was armed by the United States.
The military conception - which is what is now at play - is that the entirety of the world - whether Sri Lanka or any other country, the most distant one can think of - is now the backyard, because the globalized world produces simultaneity. And that is the problem: in this globalized world, anything that happens any place affects the new international order. The world is no longer the world, it's a village, and everything is very close. Therefore the great policemen of the world - especially the United States - have the right to intervene anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances.
They can consider anything as a threat to their domestic security. They can easily decide that the indigenous uprising in Chiapas threatens the domestic security of North America, or the Tamils in Sri Lanka, or whatever you want. Any movement - and not necessarily armed - anyplace can be considered a threat to domestic security. What is it that has happened? The old strategies and old concepts of making war have collapsed. Let us see. "Theatre of operations" is the military term for indicating the place where the war is going to occur. In the Third World War, Europe was the theatre of operations.
Now it is not known where it is going to break out, it could be any place, it is no longer certain that it is going to be in Europe. Military doctrine moves from what is called "system" to what they call "versatility." "I have to be ready to do anything at any moment. A plan is no longer sufficient: now I need many plans, not just to construct a response to particular incidents, but to construct many military responses to specific incidents." This is where information technology intervenes. This change leads to moving from the systematic, the inflexible, the rigid, to the versatile, to that which can change from one moment to the next. And that is going to define the entire new military doctrine of armies, of military corps and of soldiers. This will be one element in the Fourth World War.
The other will be the movement from "containment strategy" to that of "drawing out" or "extension": now it is not just about conquering territory, containing the enemy, now it is about prolonging the conflict to what they call "non-war acts." In the case of Chiapas, this has to do with taking out and putting in governments and municipal presidents, with human rights, with the media, etcetera.
Included in the new military conception is an intensification of the conquest of territory. This means that it is necessary to not only be concerned about the EZLN and its military force, but also about the church, NGOs, international observers, the press, civilians, etcetera. There are no longer civilians and neutrals. The entire world is part of the conflict. Everything that exists inside that theatre of operations is part of the conflict, it is, according to its view, the enemy. This implies that national armies are of no use, because they no longer have to defend Nation States. If there are no Nation States, what are they going to defend? Under the new doctrine, national armies go on to play the role of local police. The case of Mexico is quite clear: the Mexican Army is doing more and more police work, like the fight against drug trafficking, or this new body against organized crime which is called the Federal Preventative Police and which is made up of military personnel. It is about national armies turning into local police in the manner of a US comic book: a Super Cop, a Super Police. When the army in the former Yugoslavia was reorganized, it had to become a local police force, and NATO is going to be its Super Cop, its senior partner in political terms. The star is the supranational body, in this case NATO or the US army, and the extras are the local armies.
But national armies were built on the basis of a doctrine of "national security." If there are enemies or dangers to the security of a nation, their work is to maintain security, sometimes against an external enemy, sometimes against destabilizing domestic enemies. This is the doctrine of the Third World War or Cold War. Under these assumptions, national armies develop a national conscious which now makes it difficult to turn them into police friends of the Super Police. Thus the doctrine of national security must now be transformed into "national stability." The point is no longer defending the nation. Since the main enemy of national stability is drug trafficking, and drug trafficking is international, national armies which operate under the banner of national stability accept international aid or international interference from other countries. The problem of again reordering national armies exists at the world level. Now we go down to America, and from there to Latin America. The process is a bit similar to that which took place in Europe and which was seen in the Kosovo war with NATO. In the case of Latin America, there is the Organization of American States, the OAS, with the Hemispheric Defense System. According to the former president of Argentina, Menem, all the countries of Latin America are being threatened, and we need to unite, destroying the national consciences of the armies. We must make a great army under the doctrine of a hemispheric defense system, using the argument of drug trafficking. Given that what is at stake is versatility - or the capacity to make war at any moment, in any place and under any circumstances - rehearsals begin. The few bastions of national defense which still exist must be destroyed by this hemispheric system. If it was Kosovo in Europe, in Latin America it is Colombia and Chiapas.
How is this system of hemispheric defense constructed? In two ways. In Colombia, where the threat of drug trafficking is present, the government is asking for everyone's help: "We have to intervene because drug trafficking not only affects Colombia, but the entire continent." In the case of Chiapas, the concept of total war is applied. Everyone is a part, there are no neutrals, you are either an ally or you are an enemy. That is how the theatre of operations is envisioned. If in a war there are two parties in conflict and a corridor in the middle where the civil population and those persons who remain neutral are, this corridor becomes increasingly more narrow until it disappears. Following this logic, the Mexican government has drawn a line in world society and chiapaneco society in order to divide those who are the allies from those who are their enemies.
In the case of Chiapas, the question was why the war did not end when it should have ended. The answer is that the objective to be destroyed was not the EZLN. We did not even reach the category of enemies. We were nothing but a nuisance, a bother, a mosquito which was just annoying. It is the Indian peoples whom they are trying to destroy. This is the objective, that is what must be destroyed, the enemy which must be destroyed, and the rest, who are supporting them, are nuisances, but they are not important to them.
That is why, in all the visits which you are carrying out and which you are going to carry out, the government is going to say: we have done nothing to the EZLN, because the EZLN is not the enemy. The Indian peoples are the enemy, and that is why the strikes are directed against them. The way merely needs to be found to strike a blow at the Zapatista Army, it is not a military danger. See if they have a price and buy them off. See if they betray themselves. The real problem is the Indian peoples. That is the reason all the violations and attacks over the last 4 years - precisely, since 1996 to the current moment - have been against the indigenous population. The most outrageous was Acteal, but Union Progreso and Chavajeval, on June 10, 1998, were equally cruel. If the EZLN is not the enemy, then why negotiate peace with them? This was the problem confronting the government. In addition, the peace with the EZLN included the recognition of the real enemy, and they could not accept that. It was, therefore, pointless, to sign a peace agreement with the EZLN. "If what I want is to destroy the Indian peoples, and if signing peace with the EZLN means recognizing the Indian peoples, then it does not suit me."
But why pick the Indian peoples as the enemy? Because they are small and dark-skinned? Because they speak very differently? Because they do not like them? Don't we know? Yes, we know.
The New Conquest
This map shows the two great treaties dividing up the world: The North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] and the European Union's. Here are the statistics in world terms, which territories are involved in this treaty, what its population is, and what the gross internal product is. This other map refers to oil. The answer to the question - "Why has the war in Chiapas not ended?" - is found in this map. The Mayan World, Guatemala, Belize, Chiapas, parts of Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, are full of oil and uranium. That is what is at stake. In the fragmentation process which we have seen- turning the entire world into an archipelago - financial power wants a special nation here.
It is an important point because the military says that the zapatistas want to make another country, the Mayan nation. We researched it. It is a project by international financial capital: building a new shopping center which will have tourism and natural resources. They have everything they need in order to make a country out of these three pieces of Mexico, of Belize and of Guatemala. This is what is at stake in Chiapas. Apart from being full of oil and uranium, the problem is that it is full of indigenous. And the indigenous, in addition to not speaking Spanish, do not want credit cards, they do not produce, they are involved in planting maize, beans, chile, coffee, and they think about dancing to a marimba rather than using a computer. They are neither consumers nor producers. They are superfluous. And everything that is superfluous is expendable.
But they do not want to go, and they do not want to stop being indigenous. There is more: their struggle is not to take over power. There struggle is to be recognized as Indian peoples, to have their right to exist recognized, without having to turn into other people. But the problem is that here, in the land that is at war, in zapatista territory, are the main indigenous cultures, there are the languages and the largest oil deposits. There are the seven Indian peoples who participate in the EZLN, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal, Chol, Zoque, Mam and mestizos. This is the map of Chiapas: communities with an indigenous population and with oil, uranium and precious wood. These are the ones who must be gotten out of here, because they do not conceive the land in the same way that neoliberalism conceives it. For neoliberalism, everything is merchandise, it is sold, it is exploited. And these indigenous come along and say no, that the land is mother, it is the repository of the culture, and that history lives there, and the dead live there. Absolutely absurd things that cannot be entered on any computer and which are not listed on a stock exchange. And there is no way to convince them to go back to being good, to learn to think properly, they just don't want to. They even rose up in arms.
This is why - we say - that the Mexican government does not want to make peace: it is because they want to do away with this enemy and turn this land to desert, afterwards reorganizing it and setting it up to operate as a huge shopping center, a Mall, in the Mexican Southeast. The EZLN supports the Indian peoples, and is, in this way, an enemy, but not the main one. It is not enough to sort things out with the EZLN, even worse if sorting things out with the EZLN means renouncing this land, because that will mean peace in Chiapas, it will mean renouncing the conquest of a land rich in oil, in precious woods and uranium. This is why they have not done so and are not going to do so.
The Machinery of Ethnocide, The Role of Armies
The primary characteristic of the federal Army in Chiapas is that it is an occupation army. It is not an army in its own territory, it is an army which is, in its deployment, in its moral status, and in the way in which it relates to the rest of the people - is aware of the fact that it is in a territory which is alien to it. The Mexican federal soldier is aware that he is foreign. It is the same as the classic armies of occupation. The federal army is operating in the indigenous communities in the same way, for example, that the German army operated in the second World War.
That is why they put traps around their barracks at Amador Hernández. These have deep holes with sharpened stakes and some branches on top so that, when someone steps on them, they fall onto the sharpened stakes. It is an army which fears the civilian population, because it knows that we do not have a military position here. And so what they are afraid of is the children, the women, the men, the old ones. Those who shout, every day: Get out! The fear is so great that they must be in a foreign land, must behave like an occupation army. This is the logic, and this is why the checkpoints and migration posts are here. It is as if they are entering into another country. There are no migration posts for entering Mexico City. In addition, they have given control of local political power to the "Croquetas" - as we say - Albores Guillén, who supports the army, as do the local municipal presidents.
At the same time, since they are unable to project a good image to the media, they create their own media, they buy journalists, newspapers, television channels, in order to construct the image which they cannot project themselves. And here is the war booty. The federal army is involved in a network for the kidnapping and selling of indigenous children. Specifically, this takes place for example, in the Guadalupe Tepeyac hospital. When the indigenous go to give birth, they attend to them and, as circumstances dictate, they do not return the children to them then. They do not give them to them, the child stays. Sometimes they tell them the child has died, or they are not going to give her to them because they do not have papers - not having papers is a very frequent occurrence here. The person in charge of the business has ties with General Cuevas, who is in charge of the garrison at Guadalupe Tepeyac. There is a network in infant trafficking, let's see where it ends. I do not know what zapatista children are valued at, but the general should earn something for that felony.
Drug trafficking. From January of 1994 until February of 1995 we were in control of this territory. The planting, trafficking and consumption of narcotics was prevented. This means that the landing strips which the drug traffickers use as a springboard to the United States were closed, and all the marijuana and poppy fields were destroyed. This land, which is essential for reaching the most attractive consumer market - the United States - evidently had to be reconquered. The first thing the government did, obviously, was to guarantee that drug traffickers could use the landing strips in those places where it has positions. The generals get a very big piece of the action, the military piece. White slave trade. It is not in whites, because here they are dark-skinned, but it is prostitution. The person who administers the prostitutes, the pimp, is the general who provides the service for the soldiers. It is he who organizes the entrance of illegal undocumented persons from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They are young women who get hooked into prostitution, and they put them to work with their soldiers. And so, what the soldier pays on the one hand, the general collects from the prostitute with the other. Alcohol stands. There had not been any consumption here, and now the main places have the support of the military. In addition, there is business in promotions, and it is very good business to be assigned in Chiapas. Being in Chiapas means making higher wages and having more benefits, since they consider it as a combat activity. That is why it doesn't suit them to have the war end, because the business would end. The brother of the Secretary of National Defense - General Cervantes - was found to be involved in several of these incidents here, close to San José la Esperanza, and he is the head of the garrison at Maravilla Tenejapa. Desertions. There are many desertions in the federal army. We know that because the soldier who deserts always asks for help from the communities, in order for them to lend him civilian clothing and to give him a guide so that he can escape, getting through the checkpoints. What happens is that, when a soldier deserts, he is not taken off the payroll. Better to keep on collecting the salary as if the soldier were still there. The military police. Another element which is notable concerning the federal army is the appearance, some two or three years ago, of the military police. Previously there had only been soldiers, now there are military police, which means at least two things. One is that acts of insubordination and detentions within the army itself are increasing, because the military police are basically an internal security force. The other is that the army is increasingly carrying out police work: where the judicial police - the police who should legally do so -don't go, the military police enter.
Strategies. This occupation army's strategy is twofold: the surgical strike and the total strike. The surgical strike means that they must strike at the head of the EZLN. This strike must be rapid and without civilian casualties. In order to perform this task, they have the Air Transport Groups of the Special Forces, GAFE, which have some 90 to 115 soldiers per unit, and which are a bit like the rangers or Mexican Rambos. There are several in the areas surrounding each of the Aguascalientes, or wherever it is assumed that the zapatista comandancia might appear. It is assumed that they will act at the determined hour, withdraw and that's that. The problem here would be the political cost, and then what they need is to have everything prepared for when they say: "It's now." It is not a decision of days, it could be minutes: "It's right now, because such and such a thing is happening in such and such a place." In any event, that is not their main problem, since the real enemy is not the EZLN, but the Indian peoples. And the concept which prevails here is the total strike. An initial part of the military presence will function as a plug, in order to seal off the area. No one will be allowed any longer to enter or to leave, not international observers, or the press, or civil society or anyone. Next comes the internal strike. Then, first the area is sealed off, with so many soldiers, such an abundance of checkpoints. Not all of the forces are put into play: some of them will close off and deliver the internal strike against those who are inside. There is an important fact. As far as we are aware, they have built - in the San Quintín barracks no less - some crypts and secret tunnels in order to remove the disappeared. The number of dead, or who they are, or anything, is not going to be known. They are going to disappear in the strict sense of the term, buried there. How do we know? Simply because the people who built the barracks were indigenous. Since some of them were zapatistas, they told us that they had asked the soldiers - "And that, what is it for?" "Then no, the one who goes down there won't leave again, but it's not to be known." In addition to having a clandestine cemetery underneath the barracks, crypts and cells for interrogations, they have exit tunnels in order to be able to take the corpses out to the mountain and to be able to get rid of them, without so many problems. They are, obviously, going to deny all of this, but see if they would accept an internal inspection of their barracks, especially of the basements. This is another characteristic of an occupation army: that has its methods of deployment.
This is also an army which has to reorganize, because it is an army which is still based in previous doctrine, especially the doctrine of national security and nationalism. Its current structure is going to be sacrificed in Chiapas, and the result of the war, aside from the destruction of the Indian peoples, will be the complete disrepute of the federal army, so that it will be forced to restructure. The soldiers do not know this - and if they do know it, then they are complicit - but what is at play in this war is its disappearance, the disappearance of the manner in which it is currently structured. It will earn so much disrepute from this war that this army, which did these things, is going to have redefine itself, and then the new army which neoliberalism and globalization needs, will indeed be able to be born.
Lastly, the Mexican federal army is working in Chiapas for its own destruction, because this nationalist conscience that it has does not fit in with this map. The soldiers have been sold the idea that we want to separate from Mexico and join with Guatemala and Belize in order to make a new country. No, this is what the transnationals want, in fact they are working on this, and there is a tourism project called "The Mayan World." That is what is at stake. At the same time that they are attacking us, the military is working to achieve this [the Mayan World project], and they are promoting their own destruction. I am not very certain that it is important to them, I think not. The top commanders are sufficiently immersed in corruption as to be virtually selling them their own retirement. "Given that we are going to destroy you, by all means possible, as an army, what we are offering you is your discharge and that you carry off a good cut of the money. This cut is Chiapas, make war there. Afterwards, you're not going to be of any use for anything, but you are going to have enough to live on." That is what it is like at the top level. There is none of this at the middle levels or among the troops. They are soldiers, and they do what they are told. What is at stake in this great war is that territory which must be conquered, and one of the consequences is going to be the destruction of the federal army insofar as its current structure. It will continue to be an army, but in a different way. There are rumors that the armed forces are going to be restructured, and that, beginning with Chiapas, they want to develop a US model with a General Command. The army does not now operate with a General Command, but with regional command. They also say that they want to concentrate power - one single command is more versatile - in the central command or general command. In this way they will be taking power away from the heads of the military areas and the heads of the military regions, who are the ones who currently have the country divided up.
We are in possession of information that in 1986 there were approximately 170,000 troops, including the army, air force and navy, and in 1996, three years ago, there were 229,000, an increase of almost 50%. There is also a fight, or dispute, among the army arm and the other arms. They are called "arms," the infantry arm, the cavalry arm, the air force arm, the units arm. Each military force is fighting amongst themselves, between the army, the air force and the navy, to see who gets a bigger budget, because the budget represents profits for them. All of these internal fights are going on during this restructuring. In addition, the US interference must be added. I'll pass you some information here from the attaché's office of the Defense Department of the United States, which is headquartered in the North American embassy in Mexico City. It notes that in 1995 it had at least two special teams in Chiapas with the approval of the [Mexican] federal government.
The problem is not just with individual human rights. We are facing an aggregate of cases of human rights violations of the indigenous peoples. At the same time that they want to destroy the Indian peoples, their cultural form and all of this, they are attacking not only the individual - whom they do not allow to go to the milpa, or whom they are beating, or whom they are torturing - they are attacking the human right of a collective which wishes to live collectively, and that does not exist in international law. There are no collective human rights observers. And here is the new model of human rights violation, according to us. Starting with this corner of the world, the wars of the 21st century are going to be against those who want to be different. In response to those who resist disappearing as being different, their collective rights are going to be attacked more and more, while safeguarding respect for individual human rights. The Mexican government's highest aspiration is to free themselves from a group of observers, who cannot prove that people are being tortured or beaten. But it is obvious that it wants to destroy these indigenous peoples as peoples, and no one can complain to them, because this right does not even exist. The call that we want to make to you, when you talk with those with whom you are going to talk on your return - whether in your countries when you are interviewed by the media, or with United Nations officials - is that you emphasize what I am pointing out to you. What is taking shape in those statements you are gathering together is a great violation of the collective human right of the Mayan indigenous peoples, of their existence as such.
Two Photos: Zapata and a Little Girl
And here I return to the photograph. This photo is of Emiliano Zapata [he shows the calendar]. Fine, it's a picture and it shows Emiliano Zapata's face. The eyes can be seen, the nose the mouth, the mustache. It is well known, and therefore anyone can see it's Zapata. The great paradox is that any indigenous campesino looks like Zapata: dark, intense black eyes, you can see them behind many ski masks. In addition, it is an image of the past. Yes, this happened, someone rose up in arms, and also in a very special way, because what Zapata did was not fight for power. There is the anecdote about when they arrived in Mexico City - he and Francisco Villa. The president's chair was empty, because they had chased out the one who had been there, and Villa told Zapata to sit down, and Zapata said no. Villa said yes, but just to see how it felt. He sat down and got up, but what Zapata is saying is that the problem is not who is in power, but the relationship between those who govern and the governed. This is the part which we take from Zapata - his relationship to power - in the struggle which we are carrying out.
The image of the little girl is a close-up of another image which is at the beginning: a group of indigenous women who are shouting with their left fists raised. Behind the girl, there are many women who are not young. Nor are they old, but it so happens that women are finished very quickly in the indigenous communities. The photograph represents the morning. We do not imagine that the world is going to be different for this girl yet. We imagine that she will also fight, and we zapatistas are the voice for a legacy to the other heirs who are the ones who are going to follow. There is so much rebellion in this girl. She is rebelling as an indigenous, as a woman, as a child, as a human being and as a worker. All contradictions are synthesized in this image. All the other and the different are resolved here. This girl is telling us that she learned to fight, and that behind her are those who taught her, the adults. The women who can be seen [he indicates them], even though they would be young in an urban environment, are already mature because of work and of what they suffer in the indigenous communities. These women are already old, persons of age or judgment, as they call them here. They are the bridge - the ones who are behind this girl - so that she will go on fighting. Not so that the world will change, but so that there will continue to be people who will fight for it to change.
That is how we imagine it, that is our work, we are indigenous, we ant to live and we want to continue being indigenous, we are Mexicans and we want to continue to be so. I know that it is difficult in the current world, especially in Europe, to speak of nationalism. But if you understand what I am trying to tell you, in the case of Chiapas and of Mexico, being nationalists, or fighting to maintain the national structure, is going against neoliberalism. Which does not mean that it is the same in other parts of the world. I know that nationalism in Europe has many fascist connotations, but in Mexico, in 20th century Mexico, it is subversive. Here the fashion is internationalizing money, and defending the concept of nation and opposing these programs of fragmentation, is being revolutionary. And this is what we are doing, we are opposed to that. We are between Zapata and the girl, and what we are dedicated to is questioning everything, even ourselves. Questioning our steps, why armed, why armed struggle, why everything you have seen here and not something else. This is also part of our questioning, because we must reaffirm it with you and recognize it: we are an army, and an army is the most absurd thing there is, because it is resorting to the force of a weapon in order to be right, and a human being who has to resort to a weapon in order to be right is not a human being. We do not want the future to be the future which we now have.
Nor is this girl going to want the world to be like hers. It will be something else, something different. How is it going to be? We do not know. Those who come then will know how they are going to do it. We think they are going to do it well.
What we do know is that we do not want this current world. We do not want it and we do not deserve it, and it does not matter to us how many lies they tell about us, nor how many soldiers attack us, nor how many bombs they want to throw at us. We are not going to let the world continue like this. Everything that we are going to do in order to make the world change, we are not even concerned if we are going to achieve it, we do not even think about whether or not it is possible, we are certain that we are going to do it. That is what we are, the bridge between this past and this tomorrow, and it has fallen to us here in Chiapas. If it had fallen to us in Kosovo, we would be saying other things, in Africa, in the United States, Italy, Europe, whatever it might be in each. That is what we wanted to say to you.

Riq quintano
- e-mail:

Upcoming Coverage
View and post events
Upcoming Events UK
24th October, London: 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair
2nd - 8th November: Wrexham, Wales, UK & Everywhere: Week of Action Against the North Wales Prison & the Prison Industrial Complex. Cymraeg: Wythnos o Weithredu yn Erbyn Carchar Gogledd Cymru

Ongoing UK
Every Tuesday 6pm-8pm, Yorkshire: Demo/vigil at NSA/NRO Menwith Hill US Spy Base More info: CAAB.

Every Tuesday, UK & worldwide: Counter Terror Tuesdays. Call the US Embassy nearest to you to protest Obama's Terror Tuesdays. More info here

Every day, London: Vigil for Julian Assange outside Ecuadorian Embassy

Parliament Sq Protest: see topic page
Ongoing Global
Rossport, Ireland: see topic page
Israel-Palestine: Israel Indymedia | Palestine Indymedia
Oaxaca: Chiapas Indymedia
All Regions
South Coast
Other Local IMCs
Bristol/South West
Social Media
You can follow @ukindymedia on and Twitter. We are working on a Twitter policy. We do not use Facebook, and advise you not to either.
Support Us
We need help paying the bills for hosting this site, please consider supporting us financially.
Other Media Projects
Dissident Island Radio
Corporate Watch
Media Lens
Earth First! Action Update
Earth First! Action Reports
All Topics
Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements
Major Reports
NATO 2014
G8 2013
2011 Census Resistance
Occupy Everywhere
August Riots
Dale Farm
J30 Strike
Flotilla to Gaza
Mayday 2010
Tar Sands
G20 London Summit
University Occupations for Gaza
Indymedia Server Seizure
COP15 Climate Summit 2009
Carmel Agrexco
G8 Japan 2008
Stop Sequani
Stop RWB
Climate Camp 2008
Oaxaca Uprising
Rossport Solidarity
Smash EDO
Past Major Reports
Encrypted Page
You are viewing this page using an encrypted connection. If you bookmark this page or send its address in an email you might want to use the un-encrypted address of this page.
If you recieved a warning about an untrusted root certificate please install the CAcert root certificate, for more information see the security page.

Global IMC Network

satellite tv


estrecho / madiaq
la plana
northern england
nottingham imc
united kingdom

Latin America
chile sur
cmi brasil
cmi sucre
puerto rico


South Asia

United States
hudson mohawk
kansas city
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
rogue valley
saint louis
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara
santa cruz, ca
tampa bay
united states
western mass

West Asia


fbi/legal updates
mailing lists
process & imc docs