Indigenous resistance in the Americas intensified with the foundation of Zapatismo, a political and social doctrine that would become a source of theoretical inspiration for the alter-globalisation movement. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) became normalised on 1 January 1994 when it occupied various towns in the Mexican State of Chiapas and read the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, a text which set out to grant visibility to native peoples with a bell-clear proposition: the fight must not solely focus on defending identity, territory and indigenous rights, or values such as democracy, freedom and justice. It must focus on confronting neoliberal policies.
Coinciding with the 27th anniversary of the EZLN uprising, the Zapatista movement posted a Lifetime Declaration on its social media accounts on 1 January 2021, endorsing thousands of organisations and people around the world. In the said proclamation, they announced a Zapatista tour around five continents: a journey to listen, from difference, to all those who fight for liberty and justice and to replicate, but in reverse, the route European conquistadors took five hundred years before.
On their Atlantic voyage, on board the La Montaña ship, were three cayucos (dugout canoes), built by members of the Zapatista support base and militiamen and women, encapsulating the distinguishing features of the revolutionary movement’s world view: the imaginary of native peoples, resistance from the Lacandon Jungle and the logic of community. Maize, communal life, schools and the milpa system of growing are also themes in the imaginary of these indigenous societies and are repeated through Zapatista iconography, finding their counterpoint in the exhibition room, in the representation of the capitalist hydra created by EZLN insurgents. The incorporation of these pieces in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection has been made possible through the generosity of Zapatista communities and through the mediation of researchers Natalia Arcos and Francisco de Parres.
This space displays an installation by Russian collective Chto Delat? linking the present day of Zapatismo to the hundredth anniversary since the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The result is a post-Soviet work which casts light on how to live in harmony with the Earth and the meaning of the slogan “For everyone, everything. For us, nothing”, while it attempts to answer questions such as: “What would it mean to take a theology of emancipation to present-day Russia? What is the role of culture in a liberation process? How can the autonomy of “good people” be built in a hostile world?
Along with the history of domination imposed by the Conquest five centuries ago, there is another history of resistance led by communities that have sustained forms of organisation and dialectics that offer an alternative to the reasoning of conquest and Western modernity; communities that have upheld their knowledge, care and non-extractivist forms of co-existence to emerge from the margins. What Quijano called “return of the future”, that which was lost but returns, and Rita Segato with the “world-village”, that which never disappeared but remained hidden, discreet, ensuring survival, waiting for the ideal moment to reappear.