Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

Zapatista Intergalatica Lands on Earth


Ejido Morelia, Chiapas

In the annals of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), the 1996 “Intergalactica “was a high water mark of international solidarity. Formally dubbed a “Forum In Defense of Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism”, the conclave drew 6,000 activists from five continents to the wilds of Chiapas’s Lacandon jungle to brainstorm on the growing menace of the corporate globalization of the Planet Earth (the World Trade Organization had just been formulated the previous year). The event is often considered to have been the seedbed for historic demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle 1999 from which the anti-globalization movement blossomed.

The gathering in a jungle clearing on a Zapatista ejido with the haunting name of La Realidad (“The Reality”) 11 years ago was nicknamed the “Intergalactica” because in his convocation the rebels’ spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos invited all sentient life forms from other planets in the galaxy to participate in the event. “We don’t know if they actually came to the first Intergalactica” Zapatista Lieutenant Colonel Moises mused recently, “at least they never identified themselves.”

After more than a decade of anti-globalization struggles and World Social Forums, the Intergalactica has literally returned to earth. The scaled-down version of the event pitched as an “Encounter of the Peoples of the World with the Peoples of the Zapatista Communities” to defend indigenous territories throughout the Americas staged July 20-28 at three rebel “caracoles” or public political/cultural centers in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas, zeroed in on the land and those who work and live upon it.

Whereas Intergalactica I attracted such literary luminaries as Eduardo Galeano and European intellectuals Yvon Lebot, Danielle Mitterand, and Alain Touraine (Nobelist Jose Saraamgo and Susan Sontag would soon follow), the 2007 edition brought together representatives of poor farmers from 13 mostly-southern countries to swap experiences with Zapatista base communities in the highlands, the canyons, and the jungle of Chiapas, and develop mechanisms for mutual self-defense against the ravages of neo-liberalism.

The privatization of communal lands, the destruction of native crops, and the forced migration of millions of poor farmers constitutes a declaration of “the fourth world war again humanity”, Marcos charged in welcoming 3000 activists and Zapatista bases to the caracol “Resistance and Rebellion Before The World” at Oventik in Los Altos of Chiapas.

Much as at last New Year when the EZLN celebrated its 13th year on public display, the interchanges at Oventik, on the Ejido Morelia (the Caracol “Whirlwind of Our Word”) and La Realidad (“The Mother of the Sea of Our Dreams”) featured presentations by civil Zapatismo (as opposed to the rebels’ political-military structure) as local health and education promoters laid out the nuts and bolts of building autonomous communities. Other lay Zapatista leaders delineated the rebels’ justice system and how land is distributed and cultivated in the autonomous zones.

In response, farmers invited under the aegius of Via Campesina, an international grouping of millions of poor farmers with affiliates in over 70 nations, spoke to the struggle for land and justice in their own countries. Among the participants: Yudhmir Singh of India’s Bartya Kissan Union who described Ghandian civil disobedience by poor farmers to resist neo-liberal agrarian policies foisted on those who work the land, and representatives of the Thai Assembly of the Poor who farm the jungle along the Cambodian border.

First world farmers were represented by George Naylor, outgoing director of the U.S. Family Farm Association, who told the Zapatistas of the resistance of small corn farmers in Iowa to the dissemination of genetically modified seed. Dong Uk Min of the Korean farmers union, invoked the memory of the campesino Lee Kwang Hai who committed suicide at the 2003 World Trade Organization assembly in Cancun.

From further south, Soraya Soriana, a leader of Brazil’s militant Movimento Sem Terras (MST) and speakers from Venezuela’s Wayuu nation cautioned encounter-goers against the “neo-imperialist” policies of such left-wing leaders as Lula and Hugo Chavez. The Zapatistas share a similar distrust of Latin America’s social democratic left.

The colloquy between farmers in defense of indigenous lands unfolded against an appropriate backdrop of spiring “milpas” (cornfields) and the deep green of surrounding hills at the height of Mexico’s bountiful rainy season – uniformed militia men and women in their green and black uniforms seemed almost to organically blend into the abundant vegetation.

The encampments in the caracoles thrummed with conviviality. Nightly cultural presentations brought the campers together under the stars. Nuns chatted with ski-masked rebels and rangy Nordic punksters danced in the mud with pint-sized Mayan companeras while horses grazed placidly in nearby pastures. In contrast to the 1996 Intergalactica when Mexican immigration authorities sought to prevent foreign activists from attending the encounter under threat of deportation, access to the Zapatista zone was unrestricted.

In a world where five live shooting wars dominate front pages with daily doses of death and destruction, and in a country where an infuriated underclass’s demands for justice are met by brutal government repression, the Zapatista caracoles for once seem to be pockets of peace.

It wasn’t always that way.

During the first days of the rebellion in January 1994, the Mexican military invaded the Ejido Morelia. They forced the men to lie flat on the basketball court, kicking and torturing them for hours under the jungle sun. Three of the community’s leaders were taken away and never seen alive again. Their bones were found by hunters months later. No one has ever been prosecuted for the murders.

In classic Zapatista fashion, these gristly events were depicted on a mural painted on the schoolhouse wall here while 13 years later, inside the school, Zapatista women told of how they organize their autonomy.

It has been eight years since the last armed confrontation between the Mexican government and the EZLN but the peace that seems to thrive in the Zapatista autonomous zone, is an uneasy one. Skirmishes over land taken in the 1994 rebellion between Zapatistas and other Mayan Indian campesinos (the rebels characterize them as “paramilitaries”) are endemic and thousands of troops continue to occupy sprawling bases at strategic points in the EZLN geography.

A just-issued study by the San Cristobal-based Center for Political Analysis and Socio-Economic Investigation (CAPISE), “The Face of War”, indicates that the nature of the occupation has changed in recent years with elite brigades now stationed in the conflict zone reporting directly to Mexico City rather than regional commands. As Mexico joins the U.S.-directed War on Terror, the border region with Guatemala where many key Zapatista autonomous municipalities are located, attract enhanced attention from security forces.

Despite the “Santa Paz” (Sainted Peace) the “Mal Gobierno” (Bad Government) claims to reign in Chiapas, the EZLN remains an armed organization. Certainly, of its two weapons – “El Fuego” (The Fire) and “La Palabra” (The Word) – the latter now predominates. But the fire is not forgotten. “We will never give up our arms or remove our pasamontanas (ski masks) until our demands for justice are satisfied” Comandante David pledged to a packed auditorium to close the Oventik segment of Intergalactica II as the rain fell in sheets outside from the bountiful southern sky.

Note: Intergalactica II was only one of several upcoming international events to be programmed by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and The Other Campaign in 2007. Indigenous peoples from throughout the Americas will gather next October at Vicam Sonora in the heart of Yaqui Indian Territory, and an all-woman’s international gathering is being planned for next December in Chiapas.

JOHN ROSS is in Mexico City, plotting a new novella. If you have further information contact


JOHN ROSS’s El Monstruo – Dread & Redemption in Mexico City is now available at your local independent bookseller. Ross is plotting a monster book tour in 2010 – readers should direct possible venues to

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians