Gabina Carrillera. Open letter from RoR Mexico DF

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The Samba « Gabina Carrillera », México and the situation of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN)

México: The setting in which we, the « Gabina Carrileras », live. (Samba México)

For many years México has been seen as one of the most violent and corrupted countries in the world. Nowadays (2013) and since the entrance of the « president » Felipe Calderón (FECAL) and his war declaration against drug trafficking in 2006, violence in Mexico has grown beyond all imaginable limits: femicides, disappearances, murders, attacks, shootings in the middle of the streets at daylight, human trafficking, « narcomessages », and other explicit ways of violence have become part of daily life in Mexico.

To top all of the above, it has been accompanied with bad news about corruption of left-wing, right-wing and center political class, which with enterpreneurs are negotiating the fate of México in its different flavors, such us changing labor, education, telecommunications and basic food basket reforms, finishing with the fraudulent seizin of the presidential chair in last elections, proclaiming as president a complete idiot: Enrique Peña Nieto. This means that, after 12 years, PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – Institutional Revolutionary Party) is back in command for another 75 years.

At the beginning of this year, with a new false president, things have not changed, with forced disappearances (as the « Dude », [1] principal witness of the police aggression against Kuy, the 1st of December); murders of activist (friends, colleagues, mates), and unfair imprisonments of indigenous community leaders who are struggling (Alberto Pathistán [2] is only an example),among other events, will continue and with certainty, will increase.

For us, who belong to (who are part of) Gabina Carrillera, this context is sometimes really disheartening (discouraging), and we would like to tell you that what you SEE and what you LISTEN about México is not TRUE. The reality in México is, as Sayak Valencia says, a Gore Capitalism.

The EZLN and what is coming

The EZLN was born approximately more than 29 years ago, in Chiapas. For a long time and before coming to the public light in 1994 they stayed in silence, while they were building what we now know as the zapatista support bases and its political social and economic implications.

Until mid-1994, the EZLN was known in the world through its military uprising and the war declaration against the mexican State. All this took place in a fairly tense environment because during that same time the free trade agreement (FTA) was signed between the governments of Mexico, Canada and USA. This agreement was a death penalty for the Mexican countryside, and it drove the EZLN to give a voice to the voiceless and a face to those of us that didnt have it, with the words: YA BASTA!

The reason why their uprising has lasted so long here and in every corner of the world, is that from the beginning, the aims of the organization have been to make an end to the injustices, inequalities, poverty and death, in mainly indigenous communities from the southeast of Mexico. Also, and from that moment on, they have been struggling to make the agreements of San Andres – a document signed by the Government and the EZLN – be complied with, but to this very day these agreements have never been respected. In that document the petition is made to respect the indigenous autonomy and territory, and that freedom, democracy, justice, peace, health and education is given to all. For all that and more, the comrades from the EZLN fight and continue to fight in a civil and peaceful way.

It’s worth saying that the EZLN, has always changed its fighting strategies. At first, they did it the armed way. But little by little, and on demand of the people, they opted for more peaceful and civil ways. Like this, they sought to reach with their calls for struggle and organisation all kinds of persons that want another, better world. For that reason, the EZLN has sometimes left Chiapas – e.g. at the time of the march of « The color of the Earth » in 2001 – with the intention of establishing relationships and getting to know some other struggles in their country. One of the most important trips was in 2006, during the « Other Campaign ». In this occasion, they managed to meet these goals in almost all the regions of the country, touching the hearts of many people and inciting them to reclaim not only their zapatista struggle, but also, the struggles of the marginal groups, anarchists, young people, women, men, LGTTTBI (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestite, Transexual, Transgender and Intersexual), prostitutes, workers, peasants, laborers, and more.

During this « Other Campaign », the Sub. Marcos, known in that moment as the Zero Delegate, made a national tour to realize some sort of diagnosis, to find out in which conditions the different States of Mexico were[3]. After one year of traveling and in an increasingly violent environment, the Zero Delegate returned to Chiapas, keeping silence as usual, for a period of 6 years, after which he appeared again at the end of 2012, to bring good news.

The 21st of December of 2012, with a silent march that made more noise than an atomic bomb and along with this its first statements « To whom it may concern: Did you hear us? It’s the sound of your world falling down. It’s ours reviving… », the EZLN came back to the media. That day, many of the EZLN sympathizers and supporters reactivated our energies…We already had a premonition of a rebel wind blowing, and that very soon, something stronger was going to happen.

Statements started to arrive to our mailboxes and the Enlaze Zapatista (official website of the EZLN [4]) was saturated; it was nearly impossible to open the page, because the server was satiated. All of us wanted to know more, to know what was coming after. In those statements there was information concerning how the politicians were also watched by the EZLN. They knew for example how Salinas de Gortari (Ex president of Mexico, country looter in 1994, and intelectual actor of the 2012 fraud, also known as « El Chupacabras » or « The Goatsucker ») was nervous ’cause the same indigenous movement that in 1994 came to light while he was signing the TLC with US and Canada, was breaking down his freshly made up little theatre that December 2012. Salinas, the fucker, the entire political class and all of the business class trembled, when they heard of the reappearance of the zapatista women and men: « We are here, and we won’t go! »

The first statements where directed to important people of the corrupted politics. The zapatistas made them see that also the EZ was well organised. They were telling those trashy politicians and intellectuals that, among other things, they knew what their next moves and their new reforms were going to be, and that they knew how they were going to continue attacking the indigenous communities with help from the media, the military and paramilitary forces [5]. The zapatistas warned them that even under those circumstances, they would go forward without a single step back!

The second part was directed towards the people of good heart, who agree with the EZLN ideals that « Another world is possible ». They invited us once again to organize ourselves, to realize that we can change all this and that there’s still hope but above all utopia on the horizon. Like Eduardo Galeano says, « …is on the horizon. I walk two steps, she walks two steps away and the horizon runs ten steps further. Of what use is the utopia then? It is there to make us walk ».

Already in the last statements, they make a kind of face-to-face invitation, to all the people that would want to attend the party of the 10 years of the Juntas del Buen Gobierno (JBG), that will take place from August 8th ’till August 11th [6]. There is also an invitation to be a pupil at the Zapatista school « Escuelita Zapatista », that will take place after the party of the JBG 10 years anniversary, though only people that have been directly invited by the EZLN will be able to attend the classes.

About the school and its methodology, nothing has been presented yet in the statements. Only a few parts of the books that will be used as didactic material and the dates of the course (from August 11 to 17 in of the caracoles) have been made public [7].

This is the distribution of the caracoles:

Name Former Aguascalientes Groups Area JBG (Juntas de Buen Gobierno) MAREZ (Rebel Autonomous Zapatistas Municiaplities)
CARACOL MADRE DE LOS CARACOLES DEL MAR DE NUESTROS SUEÑOS La Realidad tojolabales, tzeltales y mames Selva Fronteriza « Hacia la Esperanza » General Emiliano Zapata, San Pedro de Michoacán, Libertad de los Pueblos Mayas y Tierra y Libertad
CARACOL TORBELLINO DE NUESTRAS PALABRAS Morelia tzeltales, tzotziles y tojolabales Tzots Choj “Corazón del Arcoiris de la Esperanza” 17 de noviembre, Primero de Enero, Ernesto Ché Guevara, Olga Isabel, Lucio Cabañas, Miguel Hidalgo y Vicente Guerrero
CARACOL RESISTENCIA HACIA UN NUEVO AMANECER La Garrucha tzeltales Selva Tzeltal “El Camino del Futuro” Francisco Gómez, San Manuel, Francisco Villa y Ricardo Flores Magón
CARACOL QUE HABLA PARA TODOS Roberto Barrios choles, zoques y tzeltales Zona Norte de Chiapas “Nueva Semilla que va a Producir” Vicente Guerrero, Del Trabajo, La Montaña, San José en Rebeldía, La Paz, Benito Juárez y Francisco Villa
CARACOL RESISTENCIA Y REBELDIA POR LA HUMANIDAD Oventic tzotziles y tzeltales Altos de Chiapas “Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas delante del Mundo” San Andrés Sacamch’en de los Pobres, San Juan de la Libertad, San Pedro Polhó, Santa Catarina, Magdalena de la Paz, 16 de febrero y San Juan Apóstol Cancuc.

Source: Hidalgo, Onésimo y Castro Soto, Gustavo. Cambios en el EZLN. CIEPAC, 2003.

Thus, some of the members of Gabina Carrillera, will attend the party and the escuelita, because we feel invited and, we agree with many of the zapatistas proposals (though not with all of them) such as justice, dignity, respect, democracy, freedom, autonomy and especially, to build a world where many worlds can fit, where we could live in peace and harmony with the others and with nature; we know all of this is and will be a long and hard process, but we don’t give up and we continue forward. That’s also why we started as a batukada, because the body and the movement also need Rebeldia Alegria!! And this is our story.

The Gabina Carrillera: Because if i can’t dance, this is not my Revolution!!!

The Mexican Samba band has known two phases. The first one is connected with the group that started this kind of strategy of a carnival block on demonstrations, and it started in mid-2004, when some comrades from the French Samba (Jean and Cedric) came to Mexico to the Cancun summit against the WTO. There they met the people who where to become « Subversión Sonora » (SS), a group of students from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), who for several years already had been accompanying many of the mobilizations with their music. Like this, they supported the Atenco comrades, marched against meetings and summits of international institutions, supported the social networking processes in popular colonies such as Pedregal de Santo Domingo, and many more.

It’s important to note that the SS never was a part of Rhythms of Resistance. This was their own decision and the reasons remain unknown.

Many years passed, until not long ago each of the members had to leave the batucada due to personal reasons, like school or job.

The second phase, is related to a long process of creating the second batucada, but in Ciudad de Querétaro (a city located 3 hours north of Mexico City) with help from some of the SS comrades. As time went by, the Querétaro batucada came to life, but it didn’t last long.

However, the stubbornness of the female comrades ended up creating a third line of samba, but, this time from scratch and in Mexico city, where everything had started.

This happened in 2010, through the projection of the docu « Tactical Frivolity » [8] at the « Emma Goldman » cafe. 2 girls from Euskal Herria (Ohiana and Maytane) attended this presentation, they spread the word among their friends, and started what now has become the « Gabina Carrillera »: a feminist batucada, with comrades from other lands: Euskal Herria, Spain and Mexico. Since then, the formation of the batucada has been between 8 and 13 people, because the comrades from other lands return to their countries, but not without engaging new members for Gabina Carrillera. In short, some go and others come to take their place.

Later on, with the help of the « Che Guevara » squat, a new call-out was made for the rehearsals of what by that time was already known as the Gabina Carrillera. The place to rehearse was under a bridge of the UNAM, with recycled instruments like big water bottles, glass bottles, bicycles, candle holders, and other objects that would make similar sounds to the ones we needed for the batucada. It was a very nice process, because we discovered that there were no limits to make a samba.

The rhythms we played at the beginning where Kalashnikov, Samba Reggae and Welfare State, with the help of a CD (the « Toca Bonito ») that we borrowed from SS, and that played the more or less the RoR rhythms with some adjustments on the melodies and signs. Like that, we spent long time with those rhythms, until Sarah from Samba Bremen and Linn from Samba Berlin found us in one of our rehearsals. With them we learned Funk, and Pacotorrear (also known as James Brown). But we didnt just learned new rhythms, we also learned new signs that where unknown to us. Sarah and Linn are important comrades in the process of the Gabina Carrillera, because they were the ones that gave motivation for us to join the Rhythms of Resistance network, and later on helped one of the Gabina members to come to the TNM in la ZAD, bellow more is said about the visit.

And how do we organise ourselves? Well, we try that our organization is horizontal, sometimes is not easy, because some of our comrades, are still very young on this matters of social organisation, politics and batucada, and sometimes the ones with the most experience take the lead of the samba. Therefore we try that they integrate themselves even if that takes us more time, like Che Guevara would say « we walk on the pace of the slowest ».

In general, we are the Gabina Carrillera! Resistance Mexico DF batucada. We are part of the autonomous auditorium and squat « Che Guevara » from the faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM, and as a group we are anti-capitalist, anti-sexist, anti-hierarchical, anti-fascist; we are sympathetic to EZLN and we believe that other world is possible, a world in which many worlds fit, thus we take part in demonstrations and actions according to our believes, using the music as a strategic and inspiring means, we think that, quoting Emma Goldman: « If i cant dance, this is not my revolution ».

Thanks for reading our word, we send you many greetings to all of you, the ones that make this revolutionary network, solidary and joyful. We thank in advance to the ones that made possible the visit of our comrade Mostro (Adri) to the meeting that took place in la ZAD, Nantes, France.

Dreams the Old Antonio Small extract from the tale with the same title, by: el Sub Marcos

Dreams Antonio that the land he works on belongs to him,

dreams that his sweat is paid with justice and truth,

dreams that there is a school to cure the ignorance and medicines to scare away the death,

dreams that his house is lighted up and his table is filled up,

dreams that his land is free and that its the duty of his people to govern and govern themselves,

dreams that he is in peace with himself and with the world.

Dreams that he must fight to achieve that dream,

dreams that there must be death so there can be life.

Dreams Antonio, and he wakes up…

Now he knows what to do and sees his wife crouching poking the fire, he listens his son crying,

he looks the sun waving the East, and sharpens his machete while smiling.

A wind blows and stirs everything, he stands up and walks to meet others.

Something is telling him that his wish is the wish of many and he goes to search for them.



[3] Watch the documental « Viva Mexico! » here for free…

[4] To see the statements search for « Enlace Zapatista » in the statements section, there can be found in various languages.

[5] Particular organisations that have a similar structure and discipline as the army, and in this case serve the interests of the State and are generally outlaw and belong to the same community, this happens because the government itself offers a reward for attacking other people in their own community, so to say, it offers high profits to some to divide a group. Among its members there can be policemen, mercenaries, or members of assault squadrons or private security units.


[7] The Caracoles are the place for the civil government, education, sports, politics and meetings for the Zapatista movement. There are 5 caracoles in Chiapas, one for each ethnic and geographic zone, and their way to organise is horizontal where the one that rules, rules obeying, so to say the peoples rules and the other obeys

[8]… we know this doesnt represent all what rhythms of resistance is, but helps to know part of the movement.

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