The “Zapatista invasion” is starting!

Image: Brett Saules


The EZLN makes an international tour in order to contribute to the struggles against capitalism to meet in full awareness of their differences

“Announced six months ago, here we are. The Zapatista journey has begun. It is the “reverse achievement”.

When the Zapatistas published their statement “A mountain on the high seas”, on October 5, 2020, there was a great surprise with the news that they were preparing a tour of the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) across the five continents, the start with Europe. It is the first time (with a small exception) that they have left their country's borders.

Then, on January XNUMXst, they wrote and signed with hundreds of people, collectives and organizations, a declaration for life [see first text on the same tab] explaining the reasons for this trip: to contribute to the struggle against capitalism – inseparable from the struggle for the life – are fully aware of their differences and far from any desire for homogenization or hegemony.

Over these past six months, a broad process of organization has been set up on a European scale, but also in each country or “geography”, according to Zapatista terminology. A French-speaking coordination emerged, and within it, eight regional coordinations, covering collectives and local initiatives. At the same time, the EZLN confirmed that it was preparing a large delegation made up of over a hundred members, three quarters of which were women. This delegation would be accompanied by ten members of the National Indigenous Congress - Indigenous Government Council, which brings together indigenous struggles throughout Mexico, as well as by a delegation from the Front of Cities in Defense of Water and Land of Morelos, Puebla et Tlaxcala, constituted against the implementation of a double thermoelectric power plant that threatens to divert water resources that are indispensable to the peasants in the region[I].

On April 10th – the anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata – the departure of the first Zapatista delegation to make the journey by sea was announced. It was expected to see her leave that day from the snail[ii] de Morelia, whose members had been preparing for months. There was indeed a ritual as required, with traditional music, incense and purification gestures (“cleaning”), all this over a replica of a ship’s bow; however, the mountain did not move[iii]. Indeed, it was announced that the delegation was quarantined for a fortnight in order to guarantee that it would not be carrying a virus other than that of the rebellion – a choice that reiterates the EZLN's decision to take (by itself, and far from any state injunction) all health precautions required to prevent the spread of SARS-Cov-2. In fact, since March 15, 2020, a red alert has closed access to all snails Zapatistas.

It was also known that this maritime delegation had been named “Esquadra 421”, as it was composed of four women, two men and one transgender person (“one another”, in the Zapatista lexicon), presented individually in a communiqué by Subcomandante Galeano[iv]. After yet another departure party, on Sunday the 25th, with an exhibition of numerous paintings and sculptures, words of encouragement from the Good Government Council and a popular dance[v], this Monday the 26th of April is the effective day of departure from Morelia. From there they will go to a Mexican port where a ship called “The Mountain” awaits them, and on May 3, they will leave the moorings to cross the Atlantic. The 421 Squadron will then be subjected to the imponderable oceanic circumstances, under the competent guidance of the ship's crew. It should arrive on European shores around the second half of June (the country will only be informed later).

At the same time, over the last few days, small parties have been organized to the sound of drums and encouragement of all kinds to celebrate the departure of other members of the Zapatista delegation, residents of the Lacandon forest, who have sometimes flown down the rivers of this tropical region on the border with Guatemala. in pirogues[vi]. They will be part of the delegation groups that, this time by plane, will arrive in the old continent from the beginning of July.

Months of intense activities, meetings and exchanges across Europe will begin there, as the Zapatistas have announced that they have received and accepted invitations from many “geographies”: Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Catalonia, Sardenia, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, the Spanish State, Finland, France, Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Basque Country, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.

Hundreds of meetings and activities were proposed to the Zapatistas and are now being prepared. The collectives and organizations concerned will only divulge when the opportune moment arrives. It is possible that there are large gatherings, involving all the struggles of the current period, from the gilets jaunes in France to the Zonas a Défense (ZAD), as well as various territorial resistances against large destructive projects, feminist collectives in support of migrants, struggles against police violence by those fighting against colonial domination, mutual aid networks born in the metropolises and destined for rural areas where other ways of living are being outlined, without forgetting the priority mobilization to which we are forced, as the zapatistas underline, the tragic hiccups of our hurt planet. The list is long (and here incomplete) in the midst of the galaxy of rebellions against all aspects of capitalist barbarism and resistance, which aim to give way to other, more desirable worlds.

Above all, the Zapatistas explained that they would travel in order to exchange – that is, to speak, and even more so to listen – with everyone who invited them “to talk about our mutual histories, our pains, our angers, our conquests and our failures”[vii]. Small-scale meetings, to give each other time to get to know each other and start learning from each other, from each other, those from those. For a long time now, the Zapatistas have insisted that our struggles cannot remain isolated from one another, underlining the need to build planetary networks of resistance and rebellion. It is useless to remember here all the international meetings organized in Chiapas, from the International Meetings for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism (so-called “Intergalactic”), in 1996, to the seminar “Critical thinking against the capitalist hydra”, in 2015[viii]. But it can be noted that in August 2019, when announcing a new advance in autonomy, with the creation of four new autonomous communes and 7 new good government councils, they specified that they no longer proposed to organize large meetings, but rather to do “meetings with the groups, collectives and organizations that work [fight] in their geographies”[ix].

At that time, there was no talk of a trip across the five continents, but now, this occasion could be – in addition to other reasons for undertaking such a tour – a way of triggering that process. However, if such a perspective can resonate with the need that many feel to weave more ties between existing struggles, it is clear that it requires in advance not just exchange, which allows identifying what is shared, without denying differences and divergences, but also and above all the meeting that creates a real mutual knowledge.

The journey through life will therefore be the opportunity for a much larger number of people to meet the Zapatistas and learn more about this experience of autonomy and dignity that has persevered against winds and tides for a quarter of a century. And, let's hope, it will also be an opportunity to let yourself be carried away by the rebellious contagion of which the Zapatistas are the virulent carriers. Let's hope that everyone who recognizes in the Declaration for Life and for whom Zapatista autonomy shines brightly in the sky of our aspirations (and inspirations) is ready and ready to welcome and support its itinerant initiative (for example, contributing and circulating the platform of crowdfunding created for this purpose[X]), and to participate, in the way that best suits each one, in the JOURNEY FOR LIFE.

But let's go back to Squadron 421. Since the announcement of the trip to Europe, the Zapatistas have suggested that it is a matter of redoing the process of conquest in reverse. They are amused by the idea of ​​a reverse (and, this time, consenting) invasion. It's your humor, of course (but is it just humor?)[xi]. In any case, they announced that on August 13, 2021 they would be in Madrid to celebrate in their own way the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan by the army of Hernan Cortés. The indigenous peoples of Chiapas, like those of the entire American continent, have for five centuries experienced in their own flesh the meaning of colonization and all forms of internal colonialism and racism, which are its continuation. But the Zapatistas have clearly said they will not go to Madrid to demand that the Spanish state or the Catholic Church apologize. They reject both the essentializing condemnation of a “West” diabolized and entirely assimilated to the colonizers and the attitude that consists of locking the colonized in the position of victims. On the contrary, they want to make the Spaniards hear "that they have not conquered us [and] that we continue in resistance and rebellion". To retrace the journey in the opposite direction is to dismantle a ready-made story, which assigns frozen and unambiguous places to winners and losers. It is about opening up the possibility of another history by efraction.

When the Zapatista maritime delegation touches down on land in an as-yet-unknown point on the European continent, it is Marijose, “one another” of the 421 Squadron that will disembark first. And here is how subcomandante Galeano describes the scene in advance, in an inversion of the gesture of Christopher Columbus – who, however, did not disembark, on October 12, 1492, conquering, not even discovering, because he was only trying to find the lands already known from Japan and China, and hastened to nail his cross and impose the name of San Salvador to Guanahaní Island:

Thus, the first foot to step on European soil (of course, if we are allowed to disembark) will be neither a man nor a woman. It will be from one to other.

In what the late SubMarcos would have described as “a slap given with a black silk sock to the entire heteropatriarchal left”, it was decided that the first person to disembark will be Marijose.

As soon as she has landed both feet on European soil and has recovered from seasickness, Marijose will shout:

"Surrender, pale heteropatriarchal faces who chase what's different"

I am not kidding. But it would be nice if he-she said it, wouldn't it?

No, when descending to earth, @ the zapatista companion Marijose will say in a solemn voice:

"On behalf of women, children, men, old people and, of course, other Zapatistas, I declare that the name of this land, which its natives call Europe today, will henceforth be called: SLUMIL K'AJXEMK'OP, which means “Rebel Land”. , or “Land that does not resign, that does not fail”. And that's how it will be known by locals and foreigners as long as there is someone here who doesn't abandon, doesn't sell out and doesn't capitulate.. "

Welcome, Zapatista companions, companions and companions, in the diverse geographies of the continent later renamed Slumil K'ajxemk'op.[xii]

*Jérôme Baschet he is a medievalist historian and a scholar of zapatismo, among others. He splits his time between Paris and Chiapas.

Translation: Peter Pál Pelbart to the website of n-1 editions []

Originally published on the portal lundimatin.



[ii] Name of the regional centers that host the “councils of good government” of the zapatista autonomy and where the national and international meetings organized by the EZLN take place.


[iv] Then we learned that this maritime delegation had to be composed of 20 years old, but that the others were unable to overcome the obstacles to obtaining their passport. NB: Squadron 201 is a Mexican air unit that participated in World War II.

[v] et



[viii] VIEW

[ix] See also:


[xi] During the feast of April 25th, in Morelia, models of bavios were exposed, with names referring only to Christopher Columbus' caravels: “Santa Maria – La Revancha”; “No soy Niña”…

[xii] Update: see the new communiqué “The route of Ixchel”, published this April 26, after the publication of this article:

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