Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Revolutionary Of The Week

Commandante Ramona

Commandante Ramona of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) was as Tzotzil, one of the many indigenous groups that form the majority of Chiapas, Mexico citizens. As part of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, she helped direct the EZLN.

Ramona was one of seven female commandantes on that committee, which directs an army that comprises one-third women. In 1993, during the formation of the EZLN, thousands of indigenous women came together to create the Revolutionary Women's Law that asserts women's right to self-determination & equality in society, at home & in the ranks of the EZLN. Ramona was one of the drafters of that document that gives credence to the EZLN statement: "We are not gathered here today in order to change the world...we are here with a more modest proposal...which proposes to create a new world."

Ramona had the command of the taking of the city of San Cristobal on January 1st, 1994, taking up arms for the struggle of her people. Ramona's strength lived in her commitment to her people. Although not a prominent speaker or public representative of the EZLN, she gained attention when she addressed a crowd of thousands in the main square at Mexico City. With her face covered by a mask, she was the 1st EZLN leader to speak in person publicly in the national capital. She called for solidarity, strength, & courage to the millions of Mexicans who saw her there or in the media. Her very small stature was transformed into a huge icon of hope for Mexicans, especially women. At the end of her speech, the crowd chanted, "Ramona, Ramona, Ramona!!"

During and after this appearance she was near death from kidney failure. She was granted immunity (there is a death sentence on the life of every EZLN leader) to travel for medical treatment. She recieved a kidney transplant, which gave her an extra 10 years of life. She was very lucky, few Chiapas peasants have access to medical treatment, especially surgery or medications.

Unfortunatly, Ramona died on January 6th, 2006. Subcommandante Marcos (Delegate Zero),leader of the EZLN, announced the suspension for 2 days of the "Other Campaign" tour, as well as the return of the delegation to the Caracol of Oventic to be present at Ramona's funeral.

Ramona gave her life for the struggle of her people, & despite her bad health, she was always present. Her transformation from poor peasant woman to revolutionary leader has given hope & inspiration to many poor women of Mexico, & abroad. She has given women the dream of the possibility to transform their lives & dare to dream of transforming society. Ramona has become a revolutionary symbol to many other Ramona's struggling now, & yet to be born.

"I left my community to look for work out of necessity. I had nothing to live on. When I arrived elsewhere I began to discover that the situation of women in the fields isn't equal. Here I began to understand & take note of the differences, here I came in contact with the organization (EZLN) & learned of the necessity to get organized, including women."--Ramona

" Our hope is that some day our situation will change, that they'll treat us as women with respect, justice, & democracy."--Ramona