ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION
Compañeras and compañeros, brothers and sisters of the Sixth:
Regarding visits, caravans, and projects.
As you all know, we are preparing our classes for the little schools; that is what we will be focusing on for now so that they turn out well and make for good students.
And we, together with the [autonomous] authorities, think that there are things that we will not be able to attend to so as not to distract ourselves from this task, for example: agreeing to do interviews, or exchanging experiences, or receiving caravans, or work teams, or discussing ideas for a project. So please don’t make a trip here for nothing, because neither the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council], the autonomous authorities, nor the project commissions will be able to attend to you in these matters.
If a person, group, or collective is thinking of bringing a caravan with some kind of support for the communities, we ask you to please wait for the appropriate time, or if you have already arranged the trip, then please leave whatever you bring in CIDECI, with Doctor Raymundo, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
We aren’t saying that caravans of support can never come, but they CAN’T come now, because we want to focus on the little school. We want to let you know this, so that you don’t misunderstand why you are not attended to.
We want to let you know this so that you don’t plan trips that require conversations with our authorities; we won’t be able to attend to you for the simple reason that all of our efforts will go toward our little school, which is for you, for Mexico and the world, and that is why we are directing all our efforts there.
So while we will be in the Juntas de Buen Gobierno of the 5 caracoles; we won’t be able to attend to you, but you can visit the caracoles.
The same goes for ongoing projects in the 5 Juntas, there are things that we won’t be able to attend to, we can only do what is within our ability and which does not require consultations or a lot of movement for our people. If something does require these things, it will be tended to at another time.
We want you to understand us; for us, it is not the time for caravans, projects, interviews, exchanges of experiences, or other things. For us Zapatistas (women and men), it is time to prepare for the little school. We WON’T have time for other things, unless the bad government wants to really mess with us and then yes, that would change things.
We believe that you, compañeras and compañeros, brothers and sisters, understand us.
Regarding the School
Here we will give you the first details about the little school, so that those of you who will take classes can begin to make preparations.
1. Everyone who feels convoked is invited to the fiesta of the Caracoles. The fiesta will be in all 5 caracoles, so you can go to whichever you want. The arrival date will be August 8th, the fiesta will be on the 9th and 10th, and the return date will be the 11th. Note: The fiesta to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Caracoles is not the same thing as the little school. Don’t confuse them.
2. With this fiesta, the Zapatista bases of support celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno, but not only that.
3. These days will be the beginning of our little school, which is very other, where our bosses—that is to say, the Zapatista bases of support—will give classes on their thought and action on liberty according to Zapatismo: their successes, their failures, their problems, their solutions, the things which have moved forward, the things that have gotten bogged down, and the things that are missing, because what is missing is yet to come.
4. The first course (we will have many, depending on when those who attend are able), of the first level is 7 days long, including the arrival and departure time. The arrival date will be August 11th, the class begins on August 12th, 2013 and ends on August 16th, 2013. And the departure date will be August 17th, 2013. Those who finish the course and would like to stay longer can visit the other caracoles outside of where they had their course. The course is the same in all of the caracoles, but people can visit caracoles different from the one they were assigned, but at that point they will be on their own.
5. Little by little, we will explain how registration works for the little school of liberty according to the Zapatistas, but we will let you know now that it is laic and free of cost. The pre-registration will be with the Support Teams of the Sixth Commission, national and international, on the Enlace Zapatista web page, and by email. Students will then register at CIDECI, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. We will begin sending the invitations, according to our capacities, as of March 18, 2013.
6. The school is not open to anyone who wants to come; rather, we will invite people directly. We will take care of these compas who we invite, we will give them food, a place to sleep that is clean and satisfactory, and we will give each of them a guardian (or guardiana), their own “Votán,”[i] who will make sure that they are well and that they don’t suffer too much in the class, only a little, but always, yes, some.
7. The students will need to study very hard. The first level has 4 themes: Autonomous Government I, Autonomous Government II, Participation of Women in Autonomous Government, and Resistance. Each theme has its own textbook. The textbooks have between 60 and 80 pages each, and the parts that SupMarcos already gave you to look at are only a tiny part of each book (3 or 4 pages). Each textbook costs 20 pesos, which is what we calculated as the cost of production.
8. This first level of the course lasts for 7 days and/or however much time a compa has available, because we know people have their work, their family, their struggle, their commitments, that is to say, their own calendar and geography.
9. The first course is only first grade, there is still much more to come, meaning that the school isn’t finished quickly; it will take a long time. Whoever passes the first level can go on to the second one.
10. Regarding costs: each compa has to cover their own costs to get to CIDECI, in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, and to get back to their corner of the world. From CIDECI they will go to the little school to which they are assigned and when they finish, they will return to CIDECI and from there each one will go home. In the school, which is in the village, they won’t want for anything; it may be beans, rice, or vegetables, but their table will not be lacking. There the costs for each student will be covered by the Zapatistas. Each student will live with an indigenous Zapatista family. During the days that they are in school this will be the student’s family. They will eat, work, rest, sing, and dance with this family, who will also walk them to their assigned school, to the education center. And the “Votán,” the guardian or guardiana, will always accompany them. That is, we will watch out for each student. If they get sick we will cure them, or if it is serious we will take them to a hospital. But whatever is in their head when they arrive and when they leave, well, we can’t do anything about that; what each compañero or compañera does with what they see, hear, or learn, is their responsibility. That is, we will teach them the theory; the practice they will see about themselves in their own corner of the world.
11. The costs of the school we will figure out ourselves. Maybe we’ll have a festival of music and dancing, or some paintings or artisanal goods, but don’t worry, because we will find a way and in any case, there are always good people who support good things. For those who would like to make a donation to the school, we will leave a jar in the student registration area at CIDECI, with the compas from the University of the Earth, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. Whoever wants to donate some money can put it in the jar, no one will know who gave money or how much they gave; this way those who gave a lot won’t think too much of themselves and those who gave a little won’t feel sad. We will not allow gifts of money or other things to be given in the schools, Caracoles, or families to which you are assigned. This is to avoid an unfair situation where some people receive things and others do not. Whatever people would like to donate should be left at CIDECI, with the compas from the University of the Earth, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. They will collect it all and then we will divide it evenly among everyone later, that is, if there is anything. If not, it doesn’t matter, what matters is you.
12.- There are other ways of taking the course at the little Zapatista school. We are going to ask for support from the compas of the free, independent, libertarian, and autonomous media, and from those who know about this thing called videoconferencing. Because we know that many people will not be able to come because of work issues, or personal issues, or family. We also know that there are people who don’t understand Spanish but do want to learn how the Zapatistas have done what they have done and undone what they have undone. So we are going to have a special course that one can take via video camera wherever there is a group of willing students who are ready with their textbooks, and that way, over internet, they will be able to see the course and ask questions of the teachers—the Zapatista bases of support. In order to plan this, we will invite some alternative media to a special meeting in order to come to an agreement on how to do the videoconferences and also so that they can photograph and videotape the places that we will talk about in the classes, so that everyone can verify if what the professors (men and women) say is true or not.
Another form by which people can take the class is with the DVDs we will make of the course, for those who can’t go anywhere and can only study in their house, so that they can also learn.
13. In order to attend the little Zapatista school, you will have to take a preparatory course where the life of the Zapatista communities and their internal rules will be explained. So that you don’t commit any infractions. And also so you know what you need to bring. For example, you shouldn’t bring those things called “tents” that aren’t good for anything anyway; we are going to provide you accommodations with indigenous Zapatista families.
14. Once and for all we want to make it clear that the production, commercialization, exchange, and consumption of any kind of drugs or alcohol is PROHIBITED. The carrying or use of any kind of weapon, loaded or unloaded, is also prohibited. Whoever asks to join the EZLN or anything militarily related will be expelled. We are not recruiting nor promoting armed struggle, but rather organization and autonomy for liberty. Any kind of propaganda, political or religious, is also prohibited.
15. There is no age limit to attend the little school; but any minors should come with an adult who is responsible for them.
16. When you register, after having been invited, we ask you to clarify if you are a man, woman, or other, in order to accommodate you, as every one is an individual (individuo, individual, or individuoa)[ii] and will be respected and cared for. Here we do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender, sexual preference, race, creed, or nationality. Any act of discrimination will be punished with expulsion.
17. If anyone has a chronic illness, we ask you to bring your medicine and let us know about it when you register so that we can keep an eye out for you.
18. When you register, after being invited, we ask that you make clear your age and health condition so that we can accommodate you in one of the schools where you won’t suffer more than necessary.
19. If you are invited and you can’t attend at this first date, don’t worry. Just let us know when you can attend and we will do the course for you when you can come. Also, if someone can’t finish the whole course or can’t come after having registered, no problem, you can finish or make it up later. Remember though you can also attend the videoconferences that will be given outside Zapatista territory.
20. In other writings I will continue explaining more things and clearing up any doubts you might have. But what I have said here are the basics.
That’s all for now.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Rector of the Little Zapatista School.
Mexico, March 2013.
P.S. I put SupMarcos in charge of adding some videos to this text that relate to our little school.
Francisco Gabilondo Soler, Cri Cri, with a track that is now a classic: “Caminito de la escuela” (The Path to School).
The Little Squirrels of Lalo Guerrero with “Vamos a la escuela” (Let’s go to school) and Pánfilo’s excuses not to go to school.
School squabbles to the rhythm of ska, with Tremenda Korte and this track “Por Nefasto”.
[i] In the lexicon of the EZLN, Votán is usually used in reference to the legendary Votán – Zapata, in which the spirit of Zapata lives as “the guardian and heart of the people.” See “Closing Speech to The National Indigenous Forum,” EZLN, January 9, 1996.
[ii] The EZLN often uses the suffix –oa (individuoa, compañeroa) to provide a noun form that is not strictly feminine or masculine.