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The Other Campaign/La Otra Campaña

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Date Published: 
February 01, 2007

Review of The Other Campaign/La Otra Campaña
By Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas
City Lights Books 2006

Since their first declaration of war in 1994, people have been looking to the Zapatistas worldwide as a model in the struggle against neoliberalism. Almost a year and a half ago in their Sixth Declaration, the Zapatistas put forth their newest initiative in their fight for “democracy, dignity, and justice.” This initiative, The Other Campaign, is focused on the Zapatistas going across Mexico, listening to the stories and struggles of everyday people in an effort to learn from these movements as a way to facilitate the bringing together of the currently disjointed Left. The Other Campaign/La Otra Campaña is a bilingual text of The Sixth Declaration supplemented and complemented by an introduction by Luis Hernández Navarro and an interview with Subcomandante Marcos.

Written in simple, yet powerful and accessible language, the Sixth Declaration clearly lays out a long-term plan of the Zapatistas. It begins with a declaration of who they are, what they believe, and what they have been doing in recent years. It then explains the betrayal of all of the political parties, including the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) to indigenous struggles and the people of Mexico as a whole. Within all the debates surrounding the Mexican presidential election it can become easy to forget the people who are neither served by National Action Party (PAN) nor the often-celebrated PRD. It is through this critique that the Zapatistas outline The Other Campaign.
The Other Campaign was launched in the election year to explicitly point to how none of the political parties are providing for the people or challenging neoliberalism. It is not a campaign to encourage people to vote for one issue or a certain candidate, nor is it a campaign to promote the EZLN. It is based on finding out from the people “what their lives and struggles are like, what their thoughts about their country are, and what we should do so capitalism does not defeat us.” They are offering up an invitation to hear the voices of people “from below.”

As the Zapatistas speak to their continued commitment to indigenous struggles in Mexico, the Sixth Declaration illuminates the ways The Other Campaign demonstrates their commitment to the broader Left as a whole. This is displayed in their focus of looking to the resistance that workers, students, queers, and religious leaders, to name a few, are engaged in on a day-to-day basis. This focus is how they support and learn from those movements as a way to build a cohesive Left to more effectively challenge capitalism. The EZLN are incredibly clear in the Sixth Declaration that they are committed to supporting any movement that is fighting for liberation of the people.

New phase

The Other Campaign/La Otra Campaña finishes with an interview with Subcomandante Marcos. In this interview he discusses how the initiative of the Sixth Declaration is possibly the most significant of any of their other initiatives. This is because their leaders are going to be coming out to make these tours and hear people. Yet, the commitment to the campaign is greater than the fear of the death of their leaders.

Marcos also speaks to the role of women in the EZLN, and the ways in which women have benefited through the Zapatistas. He also discusses the ways patriarchy still needs to be worked on, especially surrounding domestic violence.

As The Other Campaign’s tours have begun over the last several months, The Other Campaign/La Otra Campaña is recommended to anyone interested in this new phase of the Zapatistas struggle. This book clearly lays out the guiding ideas of a movement not of the past, but one that is currently being waged against the violence of capitalism.