Saturday, September 16, 2006

Call to Correspondents: The Other Journalism Heads Toward the Border of Mexico

Readers and Colleagues on Both Sides Can Help Turn a Logistical Nightmare into an International Dream

By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico
September 15, 2006

This week’s long-awaited communiqué from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) arrived as the US House of Representatives approved a $7 billion dollar, 700-mile, wall to be erected along the US-Mexico border. (That’s ten million dollars per mile, or a little over $1,700 dollars per foot.) But in October and November, hearts and minds from both sides will nonetheless leap the walls, and on a far smaller budget.

That’s when the Zapatista Other Campaign and its spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos, will conduct historic meetings between adherents in Mexico with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from “the other side” in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. Narco News and the Road Team of the Other Journalism with the Other Campaign will be there, reporting the news.

In fact, we’re already there. The First Across-Borders Encounter begins Saturday, weeks before the arrival of Delegate Zero and the Other Campaign Caravan. Stay tuned for reports from that gathering on these pages.

This, as your journalists continue reporting from Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly, from Mexico City, from Atenco, from Chiapas and other regions where the thirst for authentic democracy, freedom and justice grows to topple so many other walls imposed from above. In a couple of weeks, your Road Team will be back on the move, accompanying Zapatista comandantes from the jungles and highlands of Chiapas to the nation’s capital, and then heading northbound as Subcomandante Marcos continues the marathon listening tour. As we have been all year, we shall be again, reporting the word of “the simple and humble people who fight.”

This “Call to Correspondents” is an invitation to our colleagues (writers, photographers, filmmakers, translators, radio reporters, drivers…) and to our general readership to participate in the bi-national history underway. It’s not a fund appeal (there will be more coming soon, no doubt, to put the gas in the tank) but, rather, today we’re passing the list to see who is ready and able to help report and make that reporting happen on the ground along the border.

The coming visit to the border states is a logistical nightmare and a dream come true all at once. The tentative itinerary is daunting, to say the least. It begins on October 9, according to this week’s communiqué:

Starting in Sinaloa (Escuinapa, Mazatlán, Culiacán and Los Mochis); then taking the sea ferry to Baja California Sur (La Paz and, perhaps, Los Cabos);
Obviously, Narco News has to go to Sinaloa, the Pacific Ocean state where, during World War II, the US government ran a program to grow poppy crops to supply morphine and other medicines for its wounded soldiers, and later tried, without much success, to shut down its own program, leading to that state’s role as the cradle of modern-day narco-trafficking and all the injustices wrought by the resulting “war on drugs.” To take notes on what the people tell the Zapatista Sixth Commission, your reporters will have to traverse much of the state’s 58,238 square kilometers. So the first logistical, um, challenge is to secure a vehicle or two to be able to do that. Then to get on the ten-hour ferry boat ride to the peninsula of Baja California Sur to report from the meetings up and down that even longer stretch of land. We know we have readers in many of the stops along the way, and if you can furnish lodging, a meal, and/or transportation for any part of this long trek, please don’t be shy. Write us at

But that’s just the beginning…

then along the highway to Baja California Norte (Ensenada, Tijuana, Mexicali, meeting with the Other Campaign on the Other Side and visiting at some point the members of the northeast section of the CNI – National Indigenous Congress: the Kumiai, Cucapá, Triqui and Mixtec peoples);
We can’t miss that meeting in Tijuana with those from the Other Side, can we? Really, can we miss any of these meetings and visits? Especially since so many of you will be there… we may even open up another Narco News “Consulta” during those meetings to hear from you, in person, about how to better do this work. And then you might want to keep going with the caravan…

from there to Sonora (Santa Ana, Hermosillo, Guaymas-Empalme, Ciudad Obregón and, along the way, meeting with the Pápag, Seri, Mayo, Yaqui y Pima peoples, also of the CNI-Northeast); then we will go by train from Los Mochis the Sierra Tarahumara mountains, in Chihuahua, to meet with the Raramuri members of the CNI;
Here, the logistics get even more complicated. While some reporters hop on the train, others of us will have to drive the vehicles a looooong distance to continue the tour when, later, the rubber hits the road again. (Or, perhaps in memory of Pancho Villa, some horses to ride alongside it? Or at least to photograph those who do?) Or maybe we’ll end up returning a rental car or cars in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and picking up other(s) on the other end of the railroad tracks…

then we will continue by train to Chihuahua, and by road to Ciudad Juárez and Parral; then to the Lagunera area in Coahuila and Durango; then to several points in the state of Zacatecas; from there to San Luis Potosí’s capital and highland region; then to Monterrey and Linares in Nuevo León; after that, Saltillo, Monclova and Pasta de Conchos in Coahuila; then Matamoros, Ciudad Victoria in southeast Tamaulipas; and from there we travel to the Huasteca area of San Luis Potosí to conclude the national tour and return to Mexico City (tentatively in the last days of November).
According to the original plan, there will likely be another big meeting with those from “the Other Side” in Ciudad Juárez (the place where the events in Bill Conroy’s “House of Death” series took place), across from El Paso, Texas.

It’s such a terribly and wonderfully long journey ahead, and so little time to make it happen. If you – kind reader, kind colleague – plan on being there for any or all of it, please let us know how to best collaborate in breaking the information blockade and toppling the media wall between nations, languages and peoples.

One surprise is certain: In spite of the mass media drumbeat that claims that Northern Mexico and its border states are “conservative” and content under capitalism, “the Other Northern Mexico” will come into view. After all, it was the region heaviest hit by the massive electoral fraud of July that continues to shake the land and consciences. It’s just that the “story of pain” there has been silenced more brutally. In the coming weeks, we’ll do our best to make it heard anew.

Or, as Delegate Zero announced last March in Querétaro, the Zapatista Other Campaign is going to “jump over to the United States,” where, if anyone believes the hype that nothing can be made to happen, think again. The cavalry is coming! By highway, by boat, by train, by horseback, and by the efforts of the Authentic Journalism renaissance to assure that its banners are seen and the thunder of its gallop is heard across the borders and the $1,700-per-foot walls. See you soon.