Part Five: Five Decisions of Good Government
During the first year of the Good Government Juntas, some internal accords were formalized, which were adopted some time ago now, and new decisions were defined. They have to do with conservation of the forests, drug trafficking, trafficking in the undocumented, the movement of vehicles in the regions and state elections for municipal presidents and the state Congress.
1. Concerning the Conservation of Forests
I am transcribing verbatim one of the laws which is in force in the Good Government Juntas. The wording varies from one region to the other, but the essence is the same:
Law Concerning the Care of Trees, or the Care of Nature
By accordance of the Corazn del Arco Iris Good Government Junta this law is valid in the territories of the Rebel Autonomous Municipalities without special treatment for anyone; the law is for the protection of the forests because the forests draw the water, the oxygen, because it is our life, and it is also the protector of forest animals; for that reason we should all understand that it is important to care for our forests in all the territories of the Autonomous Municipalities.
As the Good Government Junta, we are proposing that each municipality create a nursery in order to help carry out this law.
1. Trees shall only be cut for domestic needs, not for selling.
2. We have the duty to care for and to conserve the forests, and we also have the right to use trees for domestic purposes with a permit from the autonomous authorities.
3. For each tree which is cut down, it is the duty of the person who felled it to plant two saplings and to care for them.
4. Each autonomous territory shall issue sanctions according to its regulations.
5. Each instance of unauthorized felling shall be sanctioned by the planting of 20 saplings.
6. All permits shall be issued by the land and territory committee.
There is an accord in which, when there is space for reforestation, each municipality shall do so. The trees which are to be reforested are those trees which are needed in the community. The spaces to be considered for planting are those areas which are good for family excursions, such as riverbanks.
For example, in the 17 de Noviembre Autonomous Municipality, we have 4 reforested centers, with a total of 2000 cedar plants. In addition, the PRIs continue to secure permits for up to 10 contract years, even though we have attempted to suspend them. We are aware that they use these as a means of provocation.
2. Concerning the Planting, Trafficking, Marketing and Consumption of Drugs
Even though the law dates back from prior to the beginning of the war, the Good Government Junta has formalized the prohibition against drug trafficking. Here is an example:
"The Good Government Junta in zapatista territory still completely prohibits the cultivation, trafficking and consumption of drugs, those who do so shall be expelled by zapatista laws. Zapatista support bases who plant these narcotics shall be rejected by the organization and the community where that person resides. The same shall apply to those who consume.
"If a parcel is found which has been planted, those plants will be burned and destroyed. The person who has done the planting shall be responsible for the costs of the destruction, such as the cost of the gasoline to burn them, and he shall be expelled from the organization. The person who is consuming shall be punished with ten days of work and six months out of the organization. By accord of the Good Government Junta, each municipality in its territory shall make a survey every year in order to be certain that there are no people who are engaged in this illicit work."
3. Concerning the Movement of Vehicles in the Regions of the Good Government Juntas
Vehicles traveling through the region shall be registered with the Good Government Juntas. This measure is to prevent trafficking in persons, narcotics, weapons and lumber. With that control, the Good Government Junta can detect a vehicle engaged in criminal activities, investigate it and, if there is a crime and if the person is a zapatista, punish him according to our laws. If he is not a zapatista, he will be reported to the official authorities.
The zapatista vehicle registration has also allowed transportation routes to be arranged so that the people will have transportation service all day and so that there are not any conflicts among the different trucking organizations.
In order to prevent the zapatista regions from becoming sanctuaries for stolen and illegally imported automobiles, the registrations granted by the JBG will only be given to those who have their regularized, official papers. In other words, in order to have the vehicle registration from the JBG, it is necessary to have license plates and registration. The driver must also have his driving license.
4. Concerning Trafficking in the Undocumented
A few months ago the following began to circulate in the Good Government Juntas and the Autonomous Councils:
There has been an increase of late in the number of undocumented persons who are being driven by the so-called polleros on their way to the United States. These polleros are persons who are engaged in the trafficking of persons, who charge them a lot of money in exchange for promising to take them to find work in the United States.
In the great majority of cases, the polleros deceive the men and women from Mexico and from other parts of America, and they leave them abandoned inside the hiding places in the vehicles or in the deserts, and these men and women (and sometimes children) then die in a horrific manner.
It is also known that the polleros have agreements with federal officials of the Mexican government, who are part of the business. The men and women who come from other countries in search of passage to the United States in order to work are, in the immense majority, poor and humble people, and their rights and dignity are being violated by the polleros and by officials from Mexico and the United States.
That is why the decision has been made to declare the trafficking in persons, national or foreign, through zapatista territory, to be a serious crime. This should be made known to all authorities so that they will keep a watch out to see that this is complied with and that those members of the EZLN who participate in, help or protect those who are engaged in the trafficking of persons shall be punished and, in a serious case, be expelled from our organization.
The security committees of the CCRI and the Good Government Juntas shall make sure that no zapatista support base, responsable, committee or autonomous authority commits, helps or protects this crime of trafficking in persons, because it is a crime against humanity.
All those trafficking in persons (or polleros) who are discovered and detained in zapatista territory shall be obligated to return any monies to the affected persons and, after being warned, and if they repeat their crime, they shall be turned over to the proper authorities in order to be punished according to the laws of Mexico.
All persons, nationals and foreigners, who are clandestinely transported shall be freed and helped by whatever means possible (medical attention, temporary lodging and food) and counseled to not allow themselves to be deceived.
All human beings, regardless of their nationality, have free movement through zapatista territory, but they should be subject to the laws of the Good Government Junta, the Autonomous Municipalities and the indigenous communities.
The Good Government Juntas and the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities shall inform the zapatista support base compaeros and compaeras and members of other organizations living in zapatista territories, of these recommendations, with the understanding that any zapatista who commits this crime shall not be recognized as a compaero.
The results? Here are some examples:
From the Morelia Good Government Junta:
"Regarding the undocumented, for example: in the Ernesto Che municipality, they detained a pollero on their territory, they incarcerated him for two days and they warned him that next time the punishment would be greater, and the undocumented persons were given shelter, food, and they were warned about the risks of the journey, and they were allowed to leave. There was one case where a compaero sold pozol at a high price. These compaeros who committed this mistake were punished."
From La Garrucha:
"Those polleros who are caught deceiving these undocumented people shall be detained and made to return their money. The sale of food, water and lodging to undocumented persons is completely prohibited in zapatista territory. They are poor like us, and it is our duty to give them water, food and lodging, not to sell it to them. In the event that a pollero is detained for a second time, he shall be turned over to the officials of the bad government."
From La Realidad:
"The JBG speaks directly to undocumented Central Americans and Latin Americans, explaining who they are. They explain how the JBG is the result of the EZLN's struggle. As civil authorities and EZLN support bases. They explain the seven principles of governing obeying and about autonomy. They explain that they are autonomous authorities and that they are struggling against neoliberalism, the Plan Puebla-Panama, etcetera. They counsel them not to abandon their land, that it safer to work their own piece of land, that it is better to struggle for democracy, liberty and justice in their own countries, that their American dream is not safe, because many people have died along the way, that there are no problems with us, and they may travel freely because we are the same as them, that we shall not allow them to be robbed of a lot of money for their trip because that is how people in the business of the undocumented have gotten rich. We give them food, drinks, biscuits. That is when the undocumented begin to gain confidence, they begin talking about their lives, they say that some of them have listened to Radio Insurgente in their countries. They are grateful. All the money carried by those polleros who are able to be identified is divided up in equal parts among all the Central American undocumented, warning the polleros that the next time they are caught they shall be punished.
"On another occasion, when a group of Central Americans who were traveling on foot were spoken to, and the pollero was discovered, who said he was of Guatemalan nationality and that he was taking Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans, and that he had charged 1500 pesos to each of the 27 Central Americans, he was searched and an amount of 31,905 pesos, 700 quetzales and 31 dollars was found, the money was taken away from him and divided equally among the undocumented. At the present time a trafficker in national migrants is being detained, serving a punishment of 6 months, after a warning had been given to him."
5. Concerning the Chiapas State Elections of October 3, 2004.
In July of this year delegates from the State Electoral Commission of Chiapas presented themselves at the different Good Government Juntas in order to reach an agreement that would allow the IEE's work. This was the response they received:
To the State Electoral Commission of Chiapas, Mexico,
Tuxtla Gutirrez, Chiapas, Mexico.
Ladies and gentlemen:
We are writing in order to inform you of the following:
1. We received your kind letter dated July 14, 2004 which spoke to us with respect in order to request help from this Good Government Junta in order to facilitate the work of the State Electoral Commission on zapatista lands.
2. As you are aware, we do not believe that elections are a true path for the interests of the people, but we are aware that there are people who still believe in that as a path for resolving the problems of the Mexican people. The political parties are held in great disrepute because they only look out for their own interests, and not for those of the majority, but there may still exist persons who yet believe that there is some honesty in those of above.
3. Our work as a Good Government Junta is to see that everyone's thoughts and ways are respected in zapatista territories, regardless of whether the people are zapatista or non-zapatista, and also if they are anti-zapatistas. Because we do not want to forcefully make everyone zapatistas, but for everyone to be how they want to be, but respecting and being respected in their different ways and thoughts.
4. Because of this we are stating clearly that you will not have any problems in carrying out your work in the communities which are part of the Autonomous Municipalities that belong to this Good Government Junta, and they are (list of Autonomous Municipalities). We only ask that, as we respect those who want to vote, you will respect those who do not wish to do so and not force anyone to do what they do not want to do.
5. Therefore, you now have the guarantee to do your work in the lands which correspond to our Good Government Junta, and we will see that there are no problems, obviously always respecting the will of the communities.
In the days prior to the election of October 3, 2004 and on that day, the State Electoral Commission of Chiapas will be able to carry out their work without any obstacles on the part of the zapatista communities which are part of our Good Government Junta.
6. We would also like to tell you that, in the list of communities which you sent us in your kind letter, there are some which do not belong to our Good Government Junta, but to (name of another JBG), and we therefore recommend that you also address the brothers and sisters of that Good Government Junta in order to obtain their permission. We are certain that they will respond in the same kind and respectful manner that we are doing.
7. As can be seen, when there is mutual respect on both sides, then there is good understanding. We, the zapatistas, do not wish to impose anything, we only want to be respected and for there to be good accord among those who differ.
We appreciate the tone of your letter and we greet you in kind.
(Signatures of the members of the Good Government Junta in question)
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, August of 2004. 20 and 10.
Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN ************************************ Translated by irlandesa