The Other Campaign was launched in the lead up to the June 2006 national elections in Mexico, as an attempt by the EZLN to spread its influence beyond Chiapas by bringing together disparate social organisations outside of an electoral framework.
As part of the second phase, the EZLN has called on all organisations and individuals in Mexico and internationally to be part of a “Global Campaign for the Defense of Autonomous Indigenous and Campesino Lands and Territories in Chiapas, Mexico and the World”. Central to the second phase will be the tour by 15 EZLN representatives, including Marcos, in order to try and articulate a left front based on an anti-capitalist platform and outside of the system of political parties
“The indigenous peoples at a global level (who number more than 300 million) are located in zones that possess 60% of the natural resources of the planet. The reconquest of these territories is one of the principal objectives of the capitalist war.”
Marcos stated, “Latin America is now one of the new scenarios of this war of conquest and, therefore, the indigenous peoples of America will once again, just like 500 years ago, play the leading role in the resistance. But this battle will only end in definitive defeat if they do not ally themselves with the workers of the countryside and the city”, and other social movements such as those of women and young people, he added.
“In this war of conquest, the expeditionary forces in the majority of countries of Latin America are formed by the governments and the political class.” Marcos pointed to the exceptions — “Cuba, the growing defiance of Venezuela, and the to-be-defined specificity of Bolivia” — that stand in opposition to the rest of the Latin American governments, which Marcos regards as having “converted themselves into the captains of the reconquering of the territories that saw the civilisations of the indigenous peoples flourish on these lands”.
The Other Campaign takes place during a tumultuous political period in Mexico. Writing in the centre-left Mexican daily La Jornada on March 27, Luis Hernandez Navarro, a respected leftist political commentator, noted how the first stage of The Other Campaign had encountered “unexpected circumstances”.
“First, there was the repression in Atenco” — where police repression left dozens injured and many more imprisoned — “which obliged the temporary suspension of the national tour. Afterwards came the uprising in Oaxaca, which changed the dynamic of social confrontation in the country. Finally, it was faced with the electoral fraud and the triumph of Felipe Calderon.”
On June 14, 2006, protests by the teachers of Oaxaca for better wages and conditions turned into an outright challenge to the authority of the governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, due to his use of extreme repression against protesters. That day the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) was formed to oust Ruiz Ortiz, a battle, which although more subdued nowadays, has still not been completely extinguished.
The campaign against the electoral fraud that robbed AMLO — Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Calderon’s opponent in the presidential election — of the presidency, saw the biggest mobilisations in Mexican history, as millions poured out into the streets to defend democracy. The Other Campaign condemned the fraud but largely abstained from the campaign.
Navarro wrote that the EZLN’s decision to not participate in the action of civil resistance against the fraud alienated some of their supporters.
Also on March 25, the second assembly of the National Democratic Convention, formed out of the anti-fraud campaign, concluded in Mexico City reaffirming the campaign’s aim as the ousting of Calderon.