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Supplement: Abolitionists to Zapatistas

Members of Critical Resistance NYC
Date Published: 
January 01, 0001
    [This was written to the Zapatistas in August of 2005 by several of us from Critical Resistance NYC. It serves as our collective adherence to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and can be found on the web page of the Intergalactic Commission of the EZLN, which is –RJ]

Dear Zapatista Sisters and Brothers,

Thank you for sharing with us your story of struggle and resistance in the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. We send you greetings and are writing to express our solidarity, and would like to share with you a little bit of our story. Critical Resistance ( ), our organization, is currently a national network with ten chapters throughout the country. We are a young organization, less than five years old. We are all inspired by the dignified struggle of the Zapatistas and many of us have worked to inform others in the U.S. of your word.

We live in a settler country where the "Indian Wars" are still being fought--on the reservation, in the cities and in the prisons. We live in a country built by enslaved African and indentured migrant labor. And it is still this way, although sometimes with a different face. And this is not disconnected from the pain and suffering that the bad government of the U.S.A. gives throughout the world as part of a global Military Industrial Complex almost half of which is fueled with the taxes from our labor.

Many in the United States rose up in rebellion, mass movements, and national liberation struggles of people of color in the 1960s and 1970s. These were met with increased funding and power for police organizations. Our prison population has grown from 200,000 in the 1980s to over 2.1 million today, which means that one quarter of the prisoners of the world are held in the U.S.A. These prisons are a way to control "unwanted populations": people of Indigenous, African, Latino, Asian cultures, queer folks, and poor/working class people of all races. Black and Latina women are the fastest growing population of prisoners in the U.S.A. This system is a system of profit and we call this the Prison Industrial Complex – the relation of large multinational businesses and government that profit off the construction, maintenance, and labor of jails and prisons. Prisons are places where a form of slavery is still practiced, and protected by the courts, the lawmakers, and the businesses. To end this system, we continue the proud tradition of struggle in the U.S., as "new abolitionists" who continue to seek liberation, self-determination, and the kinds of safety that do not rely on caging, controlling, and killing.

Knowing that our actions and labor within the U.S. have global consequences, we continue to stand in solidarity with the EZLN as you move into your new national and “intergalactic” initiatives. We hope we will be able to participate and share struggle in this new initiative. Many of us have visited you already thanks to the hard work of Estación Libre ( ) and other organizations. We hope that in this new initiative, we will find a way together to create a dialogue about how we all can resist policing and imprisonment. As only a few of us from the New York City chapter of Critical Resistance are able to work on this letter, we have included our mission statement here so you can see some words that we have all written together:

    Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC.

Con Cariño y Solidaridad,

Members of Critical Resistance - NYC

crnyc [at] criticalresistance [dot] org