Durito IV: Neoliberalism and the Party-State System

June 11, 1995

Durito walks the highways. These folks from Tabasco, in spite of the long days of walking and illness, do not appear tired. They walk as though they had only begun this Exodus for Dignity and National Sovereignty this morning. Once again, as before in the voice of the Zapatistas, a call to all the Nation marches from the Mexican southeast. In the heroic delirium of the Mexican Southeast, hope implies a name, Tachicam, the unity of the desire for a better future. The dream of a place in which the right to dance be guaranteed by the Constitution. Durito takes advantage of a stop. Hot, he seeks refuge under a small bush. After a while catching his breath, he takes out a paper and pencil. A rock serves as a replacement for the tiny desk he left in the jungle. Durito writes a letter. Go on! Don't be afraid! Look over Durito's shoulder and read:

Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Mexico.

To: Mister So and So.

Professor and Investigator.

National Autonomous University of Mexico. Mexico, D.F.

From: Don Durito of the Lacandon.

Errant Knight for whom SupMarcos is shield-bearer. Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Mexico.


It may appear strange to you, that I, a beetle of the noble profession of the errant knights, write to you. Don't be perturbed and don't run to find a psychoanalyst, since I will explain to you quickly and promptly. It seems as though you made a proposal to the Sup to write an article for a book (or something like that) about the Transition to Democracy. The book (or whatever it is) would be edited by the UNAM [National University of Mexico] (which by the way is a clear guarantee that no one would read it). However, I am not aware whether or not you are accounting for the crisis of the publishing industry and the increase in the cost of paper. The deal includes the exorbitant payment of 100,000 new pesos which UNAM would donate, in its equivalent dollars or Italian liras to the workers of Fiat in Turin. We have learned as well that the Italian workers of COBAS have already received this amount from the Zapatistas to the cause of European workers. You have complied, the Fiat workers have complied, but here the only one who has failed to do so is the Sup, because it seems clear to me that the deadline was in January of 1995. The Sup however was busy being disingenuous thinking the government was inclined to a dialogue, and that is why he did not meet his obligations. The betrayal of February brought his mind back and made him run (the Sup) until he arrived at my side. Once he recovered from the deceit he told me about his commitment for an article and asked me to get him out of this grave predicament. I, dear sir, am an errant knight, and we errant knights cannot refuse to help the needy, no matter how big his nose or how criminal the derelict is. So in good time I agreed to provide this help and that is why I am writing to you and not the Sup. You may of course ask why, if I accepted the request in February, I am writing in May. Just remember, as a journalist pointed out, this is the "rebellion of the 'stood up'"

I should also advise you that I write veeery seriously and veeeery formally, so don't expect to find my writing style full of jokes and irreverence like the Sup who so scandalizes the government delegates. That is why I am late. Don't be outraged, it could have been worse, you could have had to wait for the Sup to write to you one day. But such an improbable act is certainly not worth it, so here I send you this rap about the theme which you proposed, and which, if memory serves me is called...


Someone may want to title it "According to the Neo-Zapatistas," however as Old Man Antonio explained in THE HISTORY OF THE QUESTIONS, here the Zapatistas of 1994 and those of 1910 are the same.

I will proceed to expose our concept of the meaning of the present-day political situation, democracy, and the transition from one to the other.


The Mexico of today finds itself with a structural deformation which cuts across the spectrum of Mexican society, in that it affects all social classes, geographical urban and rural "organizations." This "deformation" is in reality a consequence of the savage capitalism of the end of the 20th Century, which masks itself in the word "NEOLIBERALISM" and constructs all its development on the permanence and worsening condition of such a deformation. Any effort to "balance" this deformation from the same Power is impossible and never goes beyond cheap demagoguery (Procampo) or the more polished intent at fascist control at the national level: The National Solidarity Program. We intend to say with this that the social "imbalance" in Mexico is not a product of excess or a problem of budgetary adjustment. It is the same essence of the system of domination which makes it possible. Without this imbalance, the entire system would fall.

We will not refer to these social "deformities," but only to the political ones in a hurried manner:

The political system of Mexico has its historic basis, its present crisis, and its mortal future, in this deformation called "System of the Party-State." This is not just about the marriage of the government and the State-Party (The Revolutionary Institutional Party) but of an entire system of political, economic and social relations which invade even those opposition political organizations and the so-called "Civil Society."

Any intent to balance these political forces, within this system, never stops being, even in the best of cases, a wish, which drives the democratizing sectors within the PRI and some members of the opposition. The only way in which this political system survives, until now, is by the maintenance of that brutal imbalance which places, on one side, all the strength of the government apparatus, the repressive system, the mass media, great capital and the reactionary clergy on the side of the PRI emblem, and on the other side a divided opposition which primarily confronts, itself. In the middle, or better yet, marginalized from these extremes of the complicated organizational balance of the Mexican political system are the vast majorities of the Mexican people. Both forces, the system of the Party-State and the organized opposition, bet upon that third actor which is the Mexican people, upon their absence or presence, their apathy or mobilization. In order to immobilize it all the system's mechanisms move, to mobilize it the political proposals of the opposition are moved (legal or illegal, open or clandestine).

Any attempt to balance this imbalance within this system is impossible. To balance it requires the death of the Mexican political system consolidated 60 years ago. Within the "rules of the game" of the system it is not possible to even arrive, not just to a new social model of organization which is more just, but also to a system of parties. Similar to that dream of the free play of supply and demand which cannot be realized in an economic system increasingly dominated by monopolies, the free political game of the parties cannot become reality in a system based on the monopoly of politics: the system of the Party-State.

Allow me to emphasize this point in this way (I point out a problem and not a solution. Allow me to postpone, for another improbable moon, the continuation of this explanation. As to a more profound characterization of the system of the Party-State you should refer to those brilliant and forceful analyses (I say this without sarcasm) written by excellent analysts. We point out one difference in reference to other positions, which in all likelihood will be presented in the book you are preparing: any intent to "reform" or "balance" this deformation is impossible FROM WITHIN THE SYSTEM OF THE PARTY-STATE. There can be no change without a rupture. A profound and radical change of all the social relations in today's Mexico is necessary. A REVOLUTION IS NECESSARY, a new revolution. This revolution is possible only from outside the system of the Party-State.


The tryptic of democracy-liberty-justice is the base of demands of the EZLN, even within its primarily indigenous base. One of these is not possible without the others. It is not about which comes first (ideological trap which whispers at our ear: "Let's postpone democracy, and first get justice"). It is more about the emphasis, the hierarchy of expression, of the dominance of one of these elements in the different historical eras (precipitous in 1994 as well as 1995). In February, when the government forces tightened their grip on our troops and the leadership was "hunted" by commando units of the Federal Army we said:

"We believe that revolutionary change in Mexico will not be the product of action in a sole arena. In other words, it will not be, in a strict sense, an armed revolution or a peaceful revolution. It will be, primarily, a revolution which is the result of the struggle on different social fronts, with many methods, within different social forms, with different degrees of commitment and participation. And its results will be, not a party, organization or alliance of victorious organizations with its specific social proposal, but a chance for a democratic space in order to resolve the confrontation among diverse political proposals. This democratic space for resolution will have three fundamental premises which are inseparable historically: democracy, in order to decide upon the dominant social proposal, liberty in order to subscribe to one or the other proposal and justice in which all proposals should be enclosed (February 20 of 1994).

Three points in a single paragraph, three dense points similar to bitter pozol [corn meal]. This is the style of the Sup: murky concepts, and difficult ideas to understand and more difficult to digest. However, I will allow myself to develop, what he has barely outlined. These three points all contain a conception about a revolution (in small letters, in order to avoid polemics with the multiple vanguards and protectors of "THE REVOLUTION"):

The first refers to the nature of the revolutionary change. It is about a process which incorporates different methods, different fronts, different and various levels of commitment and participation. This means that all methods have their place, that all the fronts of struggle are necessary, and that all levels of participation are important. This is about an inclusive process, which is anti-vanguard and collective. The problem with the revolution (pay attention to the small letters) is then no longer a problem of THE organization, THE method, THE caudillo [dictator/political boss]. It becomes rather a problem which concerns all those who see that revolution as necessary and possible, and whose achievement, is important for everyone.

The second point refers to the objective and the result of that revolution. This is not about the taking of Power or the imposition (by peaceful or violent means) of a new social system, but about something which precedes all this. It is about the construction of the ante-chamber of the new world, a space where, each of the different political forces, with equal responsibilities and rights can "fight for" the support of the majority of society. Does this confirm the hypothesis that we Zapatistas are "armed reformists"? We don't think so. We just point out that a revolution which is imposed, without the support of the majority, eventually turns against itself. I know this is a theme worthy of pages, but since this is only a letter, I am pointing out themes to be developed on other occasions and to provoke debate and discussion (which seems to be the "specialty" of the house of the Zapatistas).

The third point is not about the characteristics of the revolution, but of the results. The space which results, the new political relationships, should fulfill three conditions; democracy, liberty and justice.

In summary, we are not proposing an orthodox revolution, but something even more difficult: a revolution which will make a revolution possible...


The fragmentation of the opposition forces allows the system of the Party-State to, not only resist the attacks, but co-opts and weakens that opposition. The system of the Party-State does not worry about the radicalism of the forces which opposes it, it only worries about their eventual unity. By parceling out the political forces against the regime, this allows the Party-State System to negotiate or "fight" to conquer the political "islands" which form in the opposition. They apply a law of war, the "economy of forces": to a diffuse enemy in tiny nuclei which are beaten by concentrating forces against each nucleus, isolating one from the other. These opposition nuclei do not see that they confront ONE enemy but MANY enemies, in other words they emphasize what makes them different (their political proposals) and not what makes them similar (the enemy which they confront: the system of the Party-State). Of course, we are referring here to the real, honest opposition, not to the puppets. This dispersion of opposition forces allows the system to "beseige" and conquer (or annul) each "island."

The unity of these "islands" would be a serious problem for the system of the Party-State, but unity, in and of itself, is not enough to defeat the regime. The presence and action of the "third element": the Mexican people, would still be necessary. This is written in small letters in order to avoid definitions and invocations. Does this third element have a defining characteristic of social class? Yes, but that is not the most "striking" characteristic at first. The most striking is its skepticism and lack of trust towards politics, or political organizations. When we say "Mexican people" now, we point out a problem and not a solution. A problem and a reality which obstinately presents itself and overcomes all theoretical schemes on one side, and corporate controls, on the other.

The unity of the "islands" face many obstacles. One of them, not the only one, is the difference in the character of that unity. A unity or organization of exploited classes, versus a multi-class unity. It is from this that the subdivisions arise.

Is a parallel construction of both fronts possible or does one counter the other? We believe it is possible, that they do not contradict one another. Anyway, perhaps it is best to ask the third mirror, the one which is to be "liberated" or "redeemed." Ask, respond. Speak, listen. A dialogue, then. A national dialogue.

(End of the article, commitment fulfilled).

This is all sir. I am sure my literary style deserves to be printed under the slogan "Through my raza, speaks the rock," and not that of my shield-bearer who, although he is loyal and honest, tends to view life as though it were a game of crystals and mirrors...

Vale. Health and Vitality! the crystal is somewhere. Just a matter of finding it..

From the who-knows-which kilometer on the who-knows-which highway, although we are indeed in Mexico. DON DURITO OF THE LACANDON, MEXICO, MAY OF 1995


Cut on the other side, a mirror stops being a mirror and becomes a crystal. And the mirrors are for seeing on this side and the crystals are for seeing on the other side.

Mirrors are for cutting.

Crystals are for shattering...and crossing to the other side...

From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, February-May 1995.

P.S. That, image of the real and imaginary, they seek, among so many mirrors, a crystal to shatter.