A surge of grassroots organisations seeking fundamental change is underway in Mexico. The September 2014 police attack on students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college, Guerrero, and the subsequent disappearance of 43 of those students, exposed the complicity and corruption between government officials, political parties, police and organized crime that shocked Mexico’s conscience and left a deep wound in the nation’s heart. Now, with the help of the anarchist-inspired Zapatistas the disaffected from across Mexico are organising their own ‘government’ – not capitalist or statist in nature, but truly democratic. Below is a summary of the events that has led up to this initiative.
After the police attack and enforced disappearance of 43 students, the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero (Ceteg), the state affiliate of the National Coordinator of Education Workers, a leftist labor union, wasted no time in calling a meeting in Ayotzinapa. Participants in last October’s meeting, held a mere 18 days after the attack, vowed to engage in various kinds of social protest and to organize in order to accumulate forces and grow the movement. The participants also formed the National Popular Assembly (ANP, its initials in Spanish), composed of 53 social and student organisations in the country. Afterwards, parents, relatives, student survivors, teachers and friends of the 43 disappeared students attended meetings within Guerrero and in different parts of the country to gather momentum and support for their on-going search for the students and for truth and justice. The parents and student survivors split up in small groups and visited communities and social organizations around the country; it seemed like they were everywhere, and it still seems that way after five months.
One of their visits was to Chiapas, where they met with civil society in San Cristóbal and with the statewide teachers’ union in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state’s capital. Last November they also met with the Zapatistas in Oventik, a Zapatista Caracol, the autonomous regional government centre.
The Zapatistas had also been busy organizing since their re-emergence in December 2012. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) initiated a new organizing phase with the Escuelitas Zapatistas (Little Zapatista Schools) in 2013, where folks were invited into Zapatista homes and communities to learn first-hand about autonomy. Escuelitas were held twice in 2013 (August and December) and the first week of January 2014. They also held a seminar in honor of Juan Chávez Alonso, a well known and highly respected indigenous leader: this was a step in renewing the relationship between the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN.
From August 4-8, 2014, the EZLN held a “sharing,” or exchange of struggles, thoughts and ideas, with the National Indigenous Congress in La Realidad. On August 9, they presented a joint report that, in addition to a long list of government plans to facilitate corporate takeovers of indigenous lands (dispossession), included plans to sponsor a joint global festival of resistance and rebellion against capitalism in several different locations between December 22, 2014 and January 3, 2015.
Following the November 15 meeting with the Ayotzinapa parents in Oventik, the EZLN issued a December 12 communicado  in which it invited the parents to send a 20-person delegation to the Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism (R&R Festival) as honoured guests. The Zapatistas gave the parents their full support and urged members of the CNI to welcome the families of the 43 disappeared students into their communities and to listen to what they had to say. Besides urging everyone to struggle against capitalism and its destruction of Mother Earth the EZLN also urged CNI members and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle to support the struggle of the Ayotzinapa families and students for truth and justice.
Subcomandante Moisés stated: “We understand that right now, truth and justice for Ayotzinapa is the most urgent demand.” 
After the Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism:
On February 1, representatives from 60 towns in the state of Morelos met to form the Congress of Morelos Towns in order to unite opposition to the Morelos Integral Project; a collection of energy and infrastructure projects intended to facilitate industrialization and mining. Some of the towns had sent representatives to the R&R Festival and one of the towns, Amilcingo, hosted the Festival. Representatives from Ayotzinapa spoke at the February 1 meeting, and the Congress of Morelos Towns voted to join their struggle.
An ambitious project called the Constituyente Ciudadana, which organizers had been working on for eleven months, made an important announcement on February 5. In Mexico City, human rights activist Bishop Raúl Vera López,  other activists, clergy, members of campesino, union and social organizations, as well as survivors of the violence that envelops Mexico presented the initiative of a Popular Citizens Convention, which will convoke a series of sessions throughout the country, and a March 21 meeting for discussing the political reality and to formulate a new Constitution. Reasoning that the current Constitution is “dead,” proponents of this project want citizens to agree on a new constitution that will provide economic, social and political justice to all citizens. This work takes place without political parties. 
The ANP held a National Popular Convention (CNP) over the weekend of February 6-8. Two thousand delegates from 244 social organisations from the interior of the country attended. A central purpose of the convention was to generate ‘‘a reflection within all the organisations that envisions the possibility of giving direction to the movement and grouping together and unifying all of the country’s political forces, respecting their diversity and natural dynamic, but giving it direction through a political program. 
The ANP held another meeting on February 22 with 153 delegates from 55 social organizations. Again headed by the Ayotzinapa parents, they agreed to make it their priority to enter military barracks to search for their missing sons and to hold a second National Popular Convention (CNP) on April 10 and 11. According to Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, a lawyer with the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of La Montaña, “they are accumulating forces with the political movement, and will invite other actors like the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), and the Constituyente Ciudadana (Citizens Constitutional Convention) that the Bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera, impels so as to be assembled in one single force that permits us to arrive at the convention with more strength.” 
The fact that the project for a constitutional convention had been worked on for eleven months demonstrates that the Ayotzinapa case is not what motivated that project. One possible motivation was the package of constitutional “reforms” the Congress passed last year. That package included an energy reform that now gives energy companies the right to “use” anyone’s land, whether private or communal land, for oil and gas exploration and exploitation; in other words, the right to poison indigenous and campesino land and thereby render it useless for producing crops. The package also included an education reform that takes union rights away from teachers and implements a system similar to the “no child left behind” policy in the United States. A “tax reform” requires small cooperatives and others previously not taxed to keep books and pay taxes. Collectively, these “reforms” were known as the Pact for Mexico, sponsored by the PRI.
Another major motivation was very likely the out-of-control violence and resulting insecurity caused by Drug War militarisation and the actions of organized crime. At the February 1 Congress in Morelos described above, Javier Sicilia announced that organized crime has provoked the following number of victims in Mexico: “(…) more than 160,000 murders were committed in the eight most recent years and more than 30,000 disappeared and 500,000 displaced exist.” 
In addition to victims of organized crime, all the campesinos affected by the energy “reform” and teachers affected by the education “reform,” Ayotzinapa has added momentum for the citizens’ constitutional convention, grassroots anti-capitalist organizing and fundamental change in Mexico. What provides a hopeful sign is that so many diverse social organizations, unions and churches are coming together with a common goal: a citizens’ constitutional convention.
By Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez