- ROAR Magazine
- February 4, 2018
The Mexican government has dropped the 20-year-old charges against EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Galeano, formerly known as Marcos.
On February 24, a Mexican federal court ruled that charges brought against Subcomandante Marcos — or Galeano as he is now known — in 1995 have now expired. At the height of the Zapatista uprising that started on January 1, 1994, Marcos was charged with terrorism, rebellion, the illegal use of firearms and other crimes. Because more than half the possible prison term for the most serious charge has since passed, those charges are now invalid.
Now that Subcomandante Galeano is no longer a wanted man, in theory he could take off his mask, walk out of the jungle and take up a public role advocating the Zapatista cause. However, this is unlikely because the mask has not only served to conceal the Subcomandante’s identity, it has also played another, possibly even more important role; it has created the possibility for anyone anywhere to become a Marcos, a Galeano, a Zapatista, a rebel and a revolutionary.
Ironically, the mask was originally intended to conceal the messenger and to highlight the message, but it didn’t entirely work out that way, as Leonidas Oikonomakis explained in his article for ROAR on the occasion of the “death” of Subcomandante Marcos and the birth of Subcomandante Galeano:
When the EZLN took five municipalities in Chiapas on January 1, 1994, the world came to know the mysterious masked Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos as its spokesperson. That, however, had not been the plan. The EZLN did not intend the world to see a mestizo, a Mexican of mixed blood, at the head of an indigenous army. For that, an indigenous Zapatista had been selected to be spokesperson. Unfortunately, he died shortly after the attack and Marcos took over the role of spokesperson, with huge success.
Seeing the fascination of the Mexican and international media with the mysterious persona of Marcos, the EZLN decided to take advantage and “use” this allure in order to attract more and more attention and stay in the spotlight.
The strategy was not without its costs, however. The catapulting forward of Marcos actually produced a boomerang effect: the movement became personalized in the persona of Marcos, and the biggest achievement of Zapatismo as such — the autonomous, leaderless communities — remained in the shadow.
The EZLN realized that “the movement became Marcos” and “Marcos became the movement,” and they have long been trying to find a way to tackle that — to the extent that they even deliberately fueled rumors of Marcos’ serious illness that circulated for the past few years. In one of the last communiqués about a future Zapatista event (which has now been suspended because of the murder of Galeano) Subcomandante Moisés wrote that Subcomandante Marcos would also be there “if his health permitted.”
And on May 25, 2014, there he was, on his horse, to bid his farewell to Marcos himself.
“It is our belief and our practice that in order to rebel and struggle, we need neither leaders, nor caudillos, nor messiahs, nor saviors. To struggle, we only need a little bit of disgrace, a good amount of dignity and a lot of organization. The rest is either useful for the collective or it isn’t,” reads the last communiqué.
And that appears to be the real reason why Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos chose to cease to exist. Because now, in Chiapas, there are people who have learned how to govern themselves in an autonomous, horizontal way. There are children who have studied in autonomous schools, patients who have been treated in autonomous clinics, women who are no longer considered inferior to men.
Here is the English translation of Subcomandante Marcos’ last public statement: “We think it is necessary for one of us to die so that Galeano lives.”
Rebellion does not belong exclusively to the Zapatistas. It belongs to humanity. It is something to be celebrated. Everywhere, everyday, all the time.
The construction of a new world is much more than an academic exercise.
Democracy is forged from below, and peasants have been at the heart of many revolutions, emerging on decisive moments to define the course of history.
Behind the EZLN lies a complex web of political and cultural visions extending far beyond indigenous resistance and speaking to universal emancipation.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2016/02/25/subcommandante-marcos-no-longer-a-wanted-man/