★ Alba ★ Scotland ★
On the evening of Friday 29th, the female Listen and Speech team met with Misneachd, a grassroots organisation campaigning to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Gaelic-speaking communities. As is common in Gaelic tradition, the meeting began with a performance of a traditional Gaelic song. The discussion focused on the importance of strengthening the use of native languages to counteract the repression and neglect faced by Indigenous peoples and communities. The participants noted how capitalism threatens the vitality of Indigenous language not only in Scotland and Chiapas but across the world. Likewise, the compas offered insights into the history of their struggle, encouraging everyone to raise their voice against injustice in their local context. They reminded us that our struggles in defence of autonomy and self-governance are united and that the resistance must live on. Suas leis an rèabhlaid!
The following morning, the seven Zapatista compañeras discussed their experiences with delegates of the Peruvian Amazonia and folks from Gal Gael, a Glasgow-based organisation working on the reconnection with Scottish culture and traditional crafts. The attendees talked about strategies to build community and combat mental health issues, destruction, and colonialism through language. Later, the compas met with members of Living Rent, a tenants union focused on housing laws and other housing struggles in Scotland.
On Sunday 31st, a group from the Clydeside branch of International Workers of the World (IWW) engaged in an in-depth discussion with the compañeras to share the history of the organisation, their campaigns and dynamics. For several hours, the Zapatistas and the IWW representatives discussed the complexities of their struggles and the forms in which resistance unites them.
On November 1st, and due to a sudden change of plans, the compas gathered with members of several Glasgow-based organisations working on a broad range of issues, including art, health, women’s rights and human rights. The following day, the Zapatistas travelled to the Isle of Skye where activists from the Land Workers Alliance organised a meeting at the Kyleakin community hall. The encounter gathered community organisers, storytellers, land workers, community archivists and historians from the Isle of Skye and other regions of the Highlands and the Islands.
On November 2nd – the Day of the Dead in Mexico-, the compas set up an altar with ofrendas to those fallen in struggle. On that day, the Zapatista women also shared the history of their grandparents’ struggle on the plantations, the clandestine organising period, and the 1994 public uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Afterwards, there was a discussion focusing on territorial issues in the Highlands and the Islands, icluding land dispossession, language suppression, as the recovery of local cultures.
The last visit point was the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Here, the Zapatistas met with members of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association, who explained the role of Scotland in slavery and colonialism. As part of a walking tour, the compas heard about regional strategies to dismantle contemporary racism.
★ Southern England ★
On November 1st, the male Listen and Speech team met with activists from the Stonehenge Heritage Action Group. Here, the Zapatista delegates learned about the activists’ strategies of organising against the construction of a tunnel near the archaeological site. With its construction, the tunnel will cause a series of negative impacts, both social and ecological, including permanent damages on the water table and the privatisation of spaces of memory and ancestral sacredness.
On the 2nd of November, the Zapatista delegation met with collectives from across Southern England at the Kurdish Community Centre in Harringay, London. The conversation focused on international solidarity, climate justice, and resistance to extractivism. In the morning, the activists shared the history of the formation of their groups and collectives, as well as the main goals of their organisations. In the afternoon, the attendees were able to hear the history of the Zapatista uprising. Many thanks to the Kurdish community in London who not only hosted the event but shared part of their history, traditions and culture with the Zapatista delegation.
For more insight about the gathering at the Kurdish Community Centre, you can read this fantastic report Our journey there felt like an odyssey, by our compañera Isabel Cortés, member of the Chile Solidarity Network & Bordando por la Memoria, and organiser at United Voices of the World.
On November 4th, the Zapatista compañeros visited the Clapton Community Football Club in East London. Here, several collectives and groups gathered to talk about their campaigns in four general lines: housing, policing and militarisation, antifascism and alternative forms of support.
The day ended with a kick-about for the compas and a BBQ in support of the Journey for Life.
On the next day, the delegation visited the Crossroads Women’s Centre, where they met with several collectives and groups fighting gender violence, racism, precarity, the violation of LGBTQ+ rights, amongst other struggles. The meeting was a great opportunity to reflect on our calls for justice from a global perspective and to insist on the rights of those who look after life in our own regions and in frontline communities around the world.
The interchange included discussion on care, education and gender violence and justice. The compañeros also responded to questions on the process of autonomous justice and education through which the zapatista communities work conflict resolution and educate children and youn people in strategies to prevent violence and different forms of discrimination. Education of girls and youg women was a critical part of the discussion, as well as the recognition of women’s rights in the Zapatista communities.
★ Goodbye, compas! ★
On their last day in the WISE islands, the Zapatista delegation had a walk along the river Thames. The delegates enjoyed the good weather and said goodbye to this part of Slumil K’ajxemk’op (Insubordinate Land).
Thank you compas for coming to the WISE islands to plant your seed of resistance and rebellion! We’ll take care of it and make sure it grows tall and strong!
Until next time!
★ The Journey goes on ★
The Journey for Life continues for the 28 Listen and Speech teams, which reconvened in Italy on November 5th. The 177 Zapatista delegates, alongside 13 members of the National Indigenous Congress, met in Rome after 28 days of activities in Ireland, the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Cyprus, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Turkey and Switzerland. After getting some rest, they got ready for the third part of the Journey for Life across Slumil K’ajxemk’op (Insubordinate or Insubmissive Land). On Monday 8th, the Zapatista delegation split into teams and headed towards Andorra, the Spanish State, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Portugal and the islands in the Atlantic. In those geographies, the Zapatistas will continue to share their history of resistance while listening to local groups in order to build international solidarity.
★ Resources about the Journey for Life in the WISE Islands ★
Read the collaboration of the Zapatista Solidarity Network: ‘Zapatistas Embark on Journey for Life!’,
by Mariana Reyes for the Latin American Bureau
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The South-East branch of the Zapatista Solidarity Network organised a series of 6 webinars ahead of the Zapatista visit.
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Collectives and comrades in Ireland have produced an extraordinary series of resources to introduce the Zapatista struggle to new audiences. Check them out!
The Zapatista Podcast – Lessons and Stories from Chiapas, by the Galway Feminist Collective and Promedios Mexico.
Conversation with Mick McCaughan ahead of the Zapatista visit to Ireland:
Making Another Worlds Possible, by Laurence Cox. Pamphlet included in the series edited by John Holloway and Ines D. to support the Journey for Life.
★ Social Media & Contacts ★
Follow the different regions organising the Journey for Life in the WISE Islands
Fundraiser for the collectives in Ireland.
We are thrilled to announce that we have teamed with three Mexican artists – Maldito Perrito, GranOm, and Dante Aguilera -, and Kate O’Shea and V’cenza Cirefice, both from Ireland, to continue raising funds for the Journey for Life. With your support, we will cover the expenses of the Zapatista delegates in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Have a look at the merchandise on our Teemill shop.