Collectives in Europe prepare to welcome the Zapatista delegation 

Photo by Francisco Lion
Collectives in Europe prepare to welcome the Zapatista delegation written by Sare Frabes on March 23, 2021 for Avispa Midia, translated by Shantal Montserrat Lopez Victoria.

While the pandemic keeps the population contained, the Zapatistas have decided to leave their communities to begin a five continent tour, starting off in Europe. The Zapatistas are scheduled to be overseas in July, August, September and October of 2021.

“Various Zapatista delegations, men, women, and others, the color of our earth, will go out into the world, walking or setting sail to remote lands, oceans, and skies, not to seek out difference, superiority, or offense, much less pity or apology, but to find what makes us equal.”  This was the message of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), in October 2020, just as mobility was beginning to tighten.

Since that message was issued, several in person and virtual meetings have taken place in the Spanish State. “Issues of Covid concerns us a lot, but the truth is we are very excited to welcome the compas here, to be able to have them with us. We think it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and get together,” said Lola from the Documentation Center on Zapatismo collective (collectivo Centro de Documentación sobre el Zapatismo) in Madrid, an organization that has been following the Zapatista movement for years.

José Sánchez from Germany, a member of the Citizens Summons collective and the Ya Basta Netz Network, affirms that in this country a network of collectives have been organizing to receive the Zapatistas. “Knowing that Europe is the first stop has driven us to unite diverse collectives. But other networks, collectives and groups are also being created. We were already working with Spain but we are now working with other countries,” said Sanchez.

Danae, from the Yretiemble Madrid collective, affirmed that the pandemic has strongly affected the processes towards resistance and struggle in Spain, “because it has been one of the main countries affected by Covid and this has exacerbated the inequalities. For this reason, the Zapatistas visit is very important, because we need to mobilize ourselves in spite of what we are living,” she said.

Everardo, also from the  Yretiemble Madrid collective, says that this visit has already lead to the creation of “diverse spaces of self-organization in Madrid, Barcelona, the Basque Country, among others.  We’re not just thinking about a visit from a loved one. We have to think about how to organize ourselves to receive the compas, but also on how to strengthen our networks. We are trying to gather together organizations who are in the struggle to meet with the Zapatistas, firstly so we can listen to each other, but also to create networks that will allow us to continue fighting together.”

Most of the collectives that have started to get together are running into their first obstacles, the restriction of mobility due to the pandemic. “But if there’s something we have learned from the Zapatistas is that there is always a way. We have been meeting one-on-one, in virtual meetings and by email. Our organizing is growing in other countries,” adds Sanchez.

Lola emphasizes that these first meetings in Madrid have made them think about the forms of organization they are creating. “We are focusing on seven main points: migration, social rights, work, art, etc. It is something we are building.”

Connecting with Europe

The collectives have pointed out that Europe feels a closeness with Mexico and the rest of Latin America. “The problems in the different countries are mainly due to the presence of European capital in the mining  process and with other companies,” adds Sánchez.

“We must not forget that when we talk about Europe, there is Europe from below and to the left. But there is also Europe from above. In Spain there are many companies that are responsible for the plundering in Mexico, they are investors in megaprojects, such as wind farms that are dispossessing the people of the Isthmus in Oaxaca. We have to give that information to the people in Europe,” said Danae.

Plan B

The participating collectives conceded that in logistical terms it has been a great organizational challenge to host the delegation.

In their opinion, the pandemic is not hindering the moment of resistance and struggle, “from the beginning we knew that we had to walk slowly and deal with the uncertainty of the pandemic. Collectives that are organizating are aware that the meeting could be postponed if the conditions do not allow. In the meantime, we have not only been building networks but also new ways of organizing ourselves,” shares Everardo.