(Neoliberalism and Architecture or The Ethics of Searching vs. the Ethics of Destruction)
translated by Madeleine Collier
This essay, originally written by Subcomandante Marcos (Delegado Cero) in 1996, can be accessed in the original Spanish at the EZLN archives.
In the Lacandona jungle, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, there is a deserted settlement surrounded by heavily armed military posts. The name of this abandoned town was Guadalupe Tepeyac. Its inhabitants, the indigenous Tojolabals, were forcefully expelled by the Mexican government in February 1995, when federal troops sought to assassinate the leadership of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation [EZLN].
However, it is not the painful exile of these indigenous peoples, who pay for their rebellion by living in the mountains, of which I will tell you. I want to tell you about an architectural work that was born at the edge of the then-vibrant Guadalupe Tepeyac, in July and August of 1994. Largely illiterate–the most educated among them have a third grade education–, the Tojolabal architects undertook, in 28 days, to build a structure capable of housing 10,000 seats for the event the Zapatistas called the National Democratic Convention. In honor of Mexican history, the Zapatistas named the meeting place Aguascalientes. 1 The gigantic gathering space had an auditorium for 10,000 seated attendees and an 100-member presidium, a library, a computer room, kitchens, sleeping quarters, and parking. It even, it is said, included an “area for staging attacks.”