The delegation of seven Zapatistas that began a journey across the Atlantic in May is now in Europe after 47 days of travel. The militiamen of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) arrived this Friday on the coasts of the Azores islands, in Portugal, and hope to disembark in the next few days in the port of Vigo (Galicia). There they will begin an international tour of more than 20 countries. Along with them, the five crew members of the ship, a journalist and an independent photographer who record a documentary and a person of “support” to the procession also travel. They are all “in very good health,” as reported by the EZLN in a statement.
The crew sighted the first lights of the Portuguese islands early this Friday. They had been traveling by sea for almost 50 days since they left Isla Mujeres, in Quintana Roo, on May 2, bound for Europe. The objective was to complete a reverse journey to the one that the conquerors who invaded the American continent made across the Atlantic more than 500 years ago. “You have to fight for life, organize, defend, but together,” Subcomandante Moisés, the first indigenous leader of the movement, said that day from the dock. The squadron had departed from the mountains of Chiapas, in the Mexican southeast, a few days before and was waiting to set sail aboard the sailboat The mountain, a German flag boat built in 1903. “A mountain sailing against the grain of history”, according to the definition of the Zapatistas.
They reached Cuba first, then skirted the Bahamas and launched into the high seas. In the early morning of June 11, they saw the highest area of Faial Island in the Portuguese archipelago, Cabeço Gordo. A speedboat from the port authority approached The mountain and he indicated to the crew where to anchor the ship. Soon after, the travelers were driven ashore to be tested for COVID-19 and returned to the ship while they awaited the results. The treatment, the EZLN assures in a statement, was one of “kindness and respect.” In the same letter, it is read that the squad and the rest of the passengers are “animated and happy, without quarrels, or gossip, or fights.”
According to sources close to the Zapatistas, the arrival at the port of Vigo is scheduled for the weekend. Different political-social groups are organizing to go to receive them on the coasts of Galicia. The delegation will visit Madrid, the Basque Country, Catalonia, in addition to a score of countries, such as France, Denmark, Serbia or Ukraine. Part of the objective of the tour, according to the EZLN, is to share “mutual stories, pain, anger, achievements and failures.” “To embrace those on the European continent who rebel and resist, and also to listen and learn from their stories, geographies, calendars and ways,” reads one of the statements released before the start of the trip.
The schedule is not defined, but the movement expects to arrive in Madrid on August 13, a date that coincides with the fall of Tenochtitlan 500 years ago. There they will address “the Spanish people.” “Not to threaten, insult or reproach, or demand, not to ask us for forgiveness …”, they warned when they announced the tour in October 2020. The statement was contrary to the request of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that the King of Spain and the Church apologize for the abuses committed during the conquest. The movement completed: “Enough of playing with the distant past to justify, with demagoguery and hypocrisy, current crimes.”
Since the departure, information about the journey has been communicated through the EZLN website and the writings have been signed by Subcomandante Galeano, formerly known as Subcomandante Marcos. Marcos was from the beginning at the head of the rebels with his face covered by a black ski mask that took up arms in the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (PRI). The EZLN managed to highlight the inequalities in which the majority of the country’s indigenous population lived almost three decades ago. In 2014, Marcos publicly changed his identity – he assumed the name of Subcomandante Galeano – and handed over command to Subcomandante Moisés.
Beyond the statements released, the protagonists have said little about this journey. There are seven on board The mountain: Lupita, 19 years old; Carolina, 26; Ximena, 25; Yuli, 37; Bernal, 57; Felipe, 49, and Marijose, 39. Four women, two men and one person who does not identify with any gender: Squad 421. Volunteers who prepared for six months for this trip that has already begun its European chapter.
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