The Zapatistas have denied they have any intention of participating in the 2018 presidential election.
The denial came this week in an extensive text released by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) one month after it and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) announced plans to nominate a female indigenous candidate.
The Zapatistas accused media outlets of “functional illiteracy” and of misrepresenting the truth.
“No, neither the organization that is the EZLN nor any of its members will run for popular election in 2018,” declared the message, published online late Thursday.
The Zapatistas stated they have never intended to become a political party or introduce a woman as a “Zapatista indigenous candidate.”
With regard to the message published October 14, the statement explained it was written entirely by the CNI and accepted and signed by Zapatista representatives without changing “a comma nor a period.”
“We made the document ours just like our brothers and sisters of the CNI wrote it.”
By asserting that the EZLN would participate in the elections with a Zapatista woman, the media “cheated with information and turned it into a commodity,” continued the letter.
The media should have opted “instead for telling the truth, namely that the CNI is who will decide if it joins [the elections] or not with a delegate of their own and, given the case, it will have the support of the Zapatista movement.”
The EZLN letter called journalists “shameless charlatans” that claim to be thinking people who “allegedly know how to read and write.”
The communique is puzzling because the original declaration clearly stated that the candidate would be indigenous, not necessarily Zapatista, and would run in the name of both organizations.
The sudden turn-about could well be the sign of a schism within the nearly 23-year-old Zapatista movement, or perhaps a reaction to a recent poll.
Performed between October 29 and November by the polling firm Parametría, the survey asked what would happen if the EZLN nominated an indigenous candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.
Only two out of every 10 respondents said they would vote for such a candidate.
The public’s opinion with regard to the Zapatista movement has shifted with time. In 2003, 35% of those polled saw it as an indigenous movement, 29% as a guerrilla army and 26% as a political movement.
In Parametría’s latest poll, 36% of respondents regarded the EZLN as a political movement.
In a press release announcing the results the polling firm added that of those interviewed four out of 10 saw the organization led by Subcomandante Galeano (formerly known as Marcos) as outdated, three out of 10 regarded it as a current movement while the same percentage didn’t know or didn’t answer the question.