The links between Occupy, El Barrio and the EZLN
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Originally published in Spanish in La Jornada
Between 117th and 2nd Streets in the heart of El Barrio in East Harlem, New York, a mural showing the Zapatista struggle reinforces the connection between the Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) and the indigenous of Chiapas. The Movement is part of the Other Campaign. These are the Zapatistas in this city where, since 17th September, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) initiative has been unfolding.
There are many links. The Zapatista, El Barrio and Occupy movements are all part of that 99 per cent of the planet, the world of the excluded. The three struggles came together during the seminar on anti-systemic movements, which was held over the new year in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the EZLN uprising: the MJB presented a statement of support for the Zapatistas, signed by over a thousand members of the Occupy Wall Street assembly; in their turn OSW talked about the Zapatista influence on the assemblies which are organised outside the most important financial centre in the United States.
In the statement, made from Liberty Square, they denounce the attacks on the indigenous communities of San Marcos Avilés, San Patricio, and Rancho La Paz and demand respect for the autonomy and self-determination of the Zapatista communities.
After less than four months, the Occupy movement has spread to over a thousand cities in the US and in dozens of countries around the world. There are many people in this struggle, said Marlina, activist from Occupy Wall Street, who have been strongly influenced by the Zapatistas. In an interview with the online magazine Desinformémonos, Marlina explained that what many people in the Movement are trying to do is to break the link between people and capital, because while the situation remains as it is, people will have to continue selling their lives and their souls to the capitalist machine, and will not have the ability to live in autonomous and self-sustaining communities. She added: the Zapatistas have sent out very clear and inspiring messages which people in the US have become aware of. The fact that these communities continue in struggle against the [capitalist] world is a source of strength, guidance and wisdom to those who now are now mobilising in the United States.
Zapatista autonomy, the New York assembly say in the declaration supported by the MJB, gives courage to the victims of the capitalist system; so the state, federal and municipal governments in Mexico use their military and police forces and their paramilitary groups to try to destroy it.