Published 5/94 by the Colorado Daily
AS THE MILLENNIUM TURNS by Evan Ravitz
I spent 6 weeks in the southernmost state of Chiapas in January
and February, including the first round of negotiations between
the Zapatista revolutionaries and the government. Since the main
violence lasted only 10 days in January, the U.S. media are mostly
sleeping again. They have failed to report that in all 32 states
of Mexico, there have been massive strikes, highway blockages,
City Hall seizures, marches, bombings, etc.
So what's going on with our nearest neighbor? There are several levels:
1. An Indian Revolt. Same as it's been for half a millennium, it's now largely ranchers that drive Indians off their ancestral land and fence it off to run cattle. The Indians can't support themselves on what's left, and have to work for the ranches for about $2/day. If they try to organize or strike, they are beaten or killed. The army helps. Read the book Government, by Bruno Traven for details.
2. A NAFTA Revolt. Now with "free trade" Indians with digging sticks and buckets of water or Mestizos with oxen will have to compete with U.S. agribusiness with huge tractors and center-pivot irrigation. This is hardly a level playing field. Indeed some Indians farm volcanic slopes of 45 degrees or steeper!
3. A Revolt against the corrupt single-party system. The PRI (the oxymoronic Institutional Revolutionary Party) is now the world's longest-lived dominant party, since the demise of the Communist Party in the USSR. For 65 years they have been sucking the country dry. Most Mexicans believe they stole the 1988 election from Cuahtemoc Cardenas. He's running again.
This is a harbinger of our future here, I believe. The "two-party" system (many believe that Demublicans and Republicrats are becoming more similar every day) works almost as well, though more subtly, to marginalize any creative ideas or people. As Bernie Sanders, the only Independent in the entire Congress told a Boulder audience last month, most Americans are boycotting elections.
Here in Boulder County, things are worse: The Democrats dominate. This almost absolute power corrupts almost absolutely. Many young people who tried to "work through the system" in '92 won't ever again after our experience at the Boulder County Democratic Convention. Who can forget how all attempts at putting reform planks on the platform were shut out: Hemp relegalization, Campaign Finance Reform and Voting by Phone.
These are people who want a real level playing field, an open market of ideas. Our main (Republican) opponent, Karl Anuta, opposed Voting by Phone largely because it leads to what he called "true democracy"--citizens voting on issues directly. So did the "Democrats"!
There will be a talk on "Chiapas, the People's Revolution" this Friday May 20 at 7:30 at the Rocky Mountain Peace Center, 1521 Euclid with Monica Firl and Priscilla Falcon, Phd. Know your neighborhood!
Evan Ravitz is the director of the Voting by Phone Foundation and the instigator of the new 13th Street Bike Path and Free Speech Tables on the Pearl Street Mall.