A Red Alert in Chiapas; A Red Alert for Everyone

Recently, I've received tons of emails about the Red Alert in Chiapas, initiated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). They are apparently moving into a strategic defensive mode, closing down radio stations, community centers, and “good government” operations in various Mayan communities. Many of their leaders have removed themselves to the jungle. The last time such an alert occurred was after the massacre of 45 Mayan villagers, including children, by paramilitary groups, sanctioned by the state and military, in 1995. The recent alert comes after moves by the military in the area, including alleged discovery of marijuana plants that may be a ruse to attack the liberated zones.

I’m not going to second-guess the basis for this alert. Suffice it to say, the world should pay attention and act in face of a possible military intervention. EZLN is not preparing a military offensive. They are trying to safeguard their core organizational structures, even at the risk of losing much ground built up over 11 years among the Maya. Everyone should keep an eye on what’s going on in the area and the Mexican government’s often insidious plans there.

As a Chicano, a revolutionary, and a poet/artist, I too stand in alert – always – to the real dangers facing poor and working class communities in their honest struggle for peace, bread, and justice, even in the United States. To me, the dangers of globalization – capitalism in the age of electronics – is rapidly sweeping away many sovereign communities with a big broom, often bringing death and destruction to hot spots in the Mideast, Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, while removing rights and civil liberties at home.

Markets are becoming the key economic entities, not nations. Borders are being pushed aside. Even in Europe, with the European Union apparatus lording over the diverse national governments, clashes between the old nation-states and the new market state are most evident – the vote against the EU proposed constitution in France and Holland and England scrapping their vote altogether are expressions of this.

Big corporations are reconfiguring what we think of as “government” – including in the United States. Here we’re becoming largely a military machine in the world and a police state at home. Social programming, treatment, jobs, housing, health care, and such are being constantly pushed onto private hands – foundations, charities, churches, and community groups.

Our tax dollars are being used as if they were an ATM machine for defense, prisons, and law enforcement. In 2003, the US Federal Budget included $396 billion to the military, the largest expenditure in the budget. The rest of the budget, including for health care, education, higher education, environment, science & space, housing, international affairs, humanitarian foreign aid, general government, transportation, community development, and veterans benefits, amounted to $367 billion.

The part of the budget dedicated to death is greater than the total sum of all the expenditures that have to do with life.

The Red Alert I’m talking considering in this country is not about terrorism – which is a reality in our world. It’s more about our part in making this terrorism possible, and this government’s response in supposedly dealing with it. We make the disease, we also make the cure. Both will probably kill us.

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