Seven Zapatistas who set sail in May from Isla Mujeres to Europe have already made landfall in the Azores islands, in Portugal: they were received by the port authorities, tested for covid-19 and stamped their passports, all in order. The crew members returned to the sailboat in which they have been traveling for almost two months to continue heading to Galicia, in Spain. In the mountains of Chiapas, in southeastern Mexico, another Zapatista delegation that had planned to travel by plane to Europe to meet the squad that traveled by sea, on the other hand, is stranded between administrative procedures. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) has denounced “outrageous obstacles” in obtaining their passports and accuses the Ministry of Foreign Relations of “racism.” “All the papers are presented, but the problem is that, in the eyes of the bureaucracy, the color of the skin, the way of speaking, the way of dressing and the place of origin is what counts,” they criticized in a statement.
“It is like hell, one who feeds in silence and comes to see himself as normal,” reads the letter released by the movement. Subcomandante Galeano — formerly Subcomandante Marcos—, who signs the statement, assures that the Zapatistas who are trying to obtain their passports “meet all the requirements that are demanded.” To obtain this document, any Mexican of legal age must present their birth certificate, the valid voting credential and pay between 600 and almost 3,000 pesos, depending on the type of procedure. The members of the entourage “make the stipulated payment and travel from their communities to the offices,” the letter reads, but even so “they are denied the document” to leave the country.
According to the movement, the authorities do not grant them a passport because the government of Andrés López Obrador lives in a “poorly disguised hysteria” in its attempt to stop the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States. “Both blah, blah, blah of rights and recognition of our roots, but the native population, or indigenous, continues to be treated as foreigners in their own land,” the statement said. “We are Mexicans, here we had to be born, live, fight and die. If we had fallen into the American Union, or in Belize or Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, Costa Rica or Nicaragua, we would still be proud of those geographies and we would be denouncing their respective governments as bureaucrats, racists and ignorant ”.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured this Tuesday in the morning press conference that “today” the situation will be clarified since all “Mexicans can freely leave the country.” “I already gave instructions to the Secretary of Foreign Relations [Marcelo Ebrard] so that it is reviewed why the passports were not given to them and that it be taken care of immediately ”, said the president. “If a mistake was made, it will be resolved so that they have the possibility to travel without any problem and be helped. Because we are not authoritarian, we are not undemocratic. We are respectful of the freedoms for all ”, has affirmed López Obardor.
The EZLN militiamen hope to travel to Europe to meet the delegation of seven Zapatistas that arrived on the coast of Portugal on Friday morning and headed to Vigo, in Galicia, where they will possibly dock for the weekend. There they will begin an international tour of some twenty countries and will meet with around 700 social organizations, political parties, unions, and personalities from the world of culture and academia. 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 that the King of Spain and the Church apologize for the abuses committed during the conquest. “Enough of playing with the distant past to justify, with demagoguery and hypocrisy, current crimes.”
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