Enero Zapatista Celebrates 8th Consecutive Year


Enero Zapatista marks the celebration of the Zapatista resistance movement that rose up with arms in 1994 against NAFTA. This year’s opening event in San Diego took place at the Sherman Heights Community Center, which directly serves the neighborhoods of Sherman Heights, Logan Heights, Memorial and Stockton.

Under a starred, dark-blue night in San Diego, organizers prepared the Sherman Heights Community Center for the 8th annual Enero Zapitista opening event.

The event was organized not only to recognize the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) movement still taking place México, but to address the need for more community cultural and political oriented events across greater San Diego.

The opening also paid tribute to indigenous uprisings around the world and remembered the 6th anniversary of EZLN Commandante Ramona’s death, who passed away of a decade-long battle with cancer. Commandate Romona was a greatly influential individual that struggled for the value and dignity of indigenous women and assisted with the strategic and political developments of the EZLN movement.

As the sound of Cumbia and Bachata coming from the Zumba class in the Community Center’s ballroom slowed to a stop, the ballroom emptied of tired sweating dancers and event attendees, already gathering and socializing outside, moved inside to begin the event. The group flooded into the ballroom, an estimated 100 or more individuals from community members of all ages to activists, students, faculty and organizations.

Once set-up was complete, the event unfolded with an introduction of the Red Warriors, an inter-tribal drumming and ritual group.

The Red Warriors shared numerous songs as they blessed the opening event and proceeding events of this year’s Enero Zapatista. Their songs rhythmically, gently and loudly commemorated: the land, women, the deceased, animals, as well as the appreciation and recognition of life and humbleness.

Shortly following the event’s ceremonial beginning, a synopsis of the film ¡Viva México! was presented to the growing audience. Then, the lights grew dim and the film began.

Light filled the room again as the credits rolled and one could hear an audible buzz coming from the audience. The screening of ¡Viva México! juxtaposed Los Angeles with images of the mountains of southwestern México. La Otra Campaña of 2006, featured prominently, fueled a fire of memories and a belief that the future still has the opportunity to change in the midst of great inequality, exploitation and oppression.

Like La Otra Campaña connected other resistance groups across México, the current occupy moment is attempting to do the same in the United States, only without formulated and collective leaders such as the EZLN.

Many San Diego Occupy protesters were in attendance, showing that resistance still thrives. My hope is that resistance movements continue to grow with cultural respect, recognition and acceptance of others as this event accomplished under a starred San Diego night.

Sherman Heights Community Center´s Ballroom East entrance placard.

Red Warriors an inter-tribal, ceremonial drumming and spiritual group.

Organizers and the audience preparing for the ¡Viva México! screening.