"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Zapatista Reader

The Zapatista Reader
is one of the most amazing collection of essays, interviews, stories and insights by some of the greatest writers of our time: Jose Saramago, Paco Taibo II, Octavio Paz, Naomi Klein, Elena Ponitowska, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Monsavais, Manuel Vazquez Montalban, John Berger, Andrew Kopkind, Eduardo Galenao, Alma Guillermoprieto, Pascal Beltran Del Rio, Saul Kandau, Jorge Mancillas, John Ross, Regis Debray, Jose de la Colina, Mike Gonzalez and many more.

There is a brief historical timeline and an introduction by Tom Hayden who also serves as editor of the collection. This is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to learn of the Zapatista movement. Some of the finest reporting and commentary ever are in this collection. It contains eyewitness accounts of the day the Zapatistas took the world by storm, January 1, 1994, the writings of Subcommandante Marcos and essays by some very fine and thoughtful writers.

Paco Taibo II, back in March of 1994 whose article originally published in The Nation, appears in this book and his thoughts of what is happening around him are wonderful. He is awed by this development and angered for the people of Chiapas. He states in this article, “Chiapas lies at the asshole of world, where Jesus Christ lost his serape and John Wayne lost his horse.” He says of living in Mexico City at the time of the uprising, “I haven’t left the house in three days except to buy the newspaper. I talk on the phone, listen to the radio, watch television with the fascination of a blind man seeing an image for the first time."

Eduardo Galeano in his Chiapas Chronicle which originally appeared in La Jornada on August 7, 1996, says “Marcos, the spokesperson, came from elsewhere. He spoke to them; they did not understand. Then he entered the mist, he learned to listen and was able to speak. Now he speaks from them: His is the voice of voices.”

There are less poetic parts of this books, statistics and important pieces of information. It is remarkable to have all these articles and essays compiled into a single book. Now, as the Zapatista battle is in the middle of their 11th year, as Marcos has issued a Red Alert, this book is more important than ever in the war against oblivion. It should be in every Xicano library, it should be read and re-read, quoted and used. It is the thread to keep pulling, it will lead to more and more books on the movement, research and give impetus to find out more.

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