NY Zapatista Letter on WBAI

New York Zapatistas
P.O. Box 1515
New York, NY 10276

January 2, 2001

The Pacifica Board of Directors
Ms. Bessie Wash
Ms. Utrice Leid
Producers of WBAI-FM
Listeners of WBAI-FM
The people and news media of New York City
Our brothers and sisters in struggle throughout the world:

As supporters of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional - the EZLN
- and its sympathizers in Chiapas, Mexico; as activists in other local,
national, and international causes; and as people striving to be free, we
have relied on WBAI-FM to tell us the truth, to help spread our word, and
to maintain an ideal that reflects the goals toward which we and our
companeros around the world are striving: Democracy, Liberty, and Justice.

Specifically as supporters of the EZLN, we have also done our best
to learn from our companeros in Chiapas, because we believe that
the means by which we struggle are as important to the struggle
as our ends. Among the Zapatistas and their supporters and allies,
these means have been marked by a radical commitment to
truthfulness, democracy, respect for the human being, and

We wish to express our firm adherence to these means of struggle,
and to make it known that we do not support anyone or any group
who, though claiming to be working toward a future in which the
human being will be valued at his or her true worth, treats human
beings here and now in any way that is dishonest, undemocratic,
disrespectful, or cruel.

In light of this, we would like to point out the following:

It is dishonest to suggest that there is no alternative to chaos but

It is dishonest to attribute to others one's own destructive actions and
impulses: paranoia is caused by a desire to inflict harm on other people.
WBAI needs to be protected FROM the people and the undemocratic processes
that have brought it to its present condition of captivity. (At least
accusing others of your own destructive actions and impulses serves the
purpose of tipping your hand.)

It is dishonest and undemocratic - it's so very Republican - to take by
force what you cannot achieve by consensus or even majority vote. And it
has not escaped our notice that the principal victims of the station
takeover, as always - as so very unbearably always - are people of color.

It is dishonest and foolish to demand from others what you are
unwilling to give them - and this is as true of love and compassion
as it is of respect.

It is dishonest to claim that the forced removal of people from
WBAI, through firings carried out with calculated cruelty and
changing the locks on the doors, is an "internal matter." Once they
are no longer on the inside, neither is your conflict (this should be
obvious). If you don't want your "family business" to be out in the
street, then you mustn't put so many members of your family there. Abuse
involves the entire human family, and abuse thrives in secrecy. Both the
people who have been fired and banned and the remaining producers at WBAI
have been called upon to speak out - BY THE LISTENERS OF WBAI - because
this is not a time for secrets. And if this is really an internal matter,
what is the role of the external paramilitaries that were invited onto the

It is absurdly dishonest to suggest that the potentially fatal wound that
was visited on the spirit of WBAI by the station takeover was

It is dishonest and disrespectful to suggest that the station's
listeners must feel like children, which is to say, powerless, and
that they must do as they are told, particularly with regard to giving
money to a radio station that no longer exists - in order to keep it from
going out of existence.

It is dishonest and disrespectful to announce that you will make no
changes in programming while you are making them.

It is dishonest and cruel to suggest that any healing can ever begin while
the knife is still being thrust farther in (Republicans please take note).
Step 1 of any healing process is and always has been: First, take the
knife out.

The New York Zapatistas support all movements and all people
everywhere who are working nonviolently and honorably toward
more democracy, more autonomy, more truthfulness, and more
compassion at WBAI. Specifically, the New York Zapatistas
support the three lawsuits already begun against the national board
of Pacifica; the establishment of a separate fundraising effort that can
release monies to WBAI when it becomes more democratic, more autonomous,
more truthful, and more compassionate; the rehiring of those who were
fired; and full public access to the station.

We remain entirely unconvinced by all the "explanations" we have
heard so far for the firings, bannings, and program changes at
WBAI. New York City police officers accused of murder have come
up with more plausible stories in only 48 hours - and their stories
are not plausible.

Ya basta!


New York Zapatistas

Van las posdatas obligatorias:

P.S. We also wish to advise our compañeros still inside WBAI to
follow the sage advice of one who used to be among them: Stay
strong, and pay close attention. And please don't forget: those who
look to the Tallahassee alligator for protection are always the first to
be eaten.

P.P.S. In the plantation system and other systems of slavery,
sometimes the overseer - the person who administered the
beatings - was also a slave. This job was not a guarantee that the
overseer himself would never get beaten (and it might be anybody's
guess by whom).

P.P.P.S., which has some questions: We would like to know
exactly when Stephen Yasko might deem it appropriate for us to
hear "graphic details of police brutality," or any of the other of the
news on Democracy Now! that we can't get anywhere else: After he has his
coffee? Never? And if the latter is the case, why doesn't he go to work
for Disney? Or does he already work for Disney? Why has the Pacifica
Foundation board turned the PNN news into a nightly session of torture by
boredom and cowardice - all those plummy voices saying nothing? If they
hate Pacifica's listeners so much, why don't they all go to work for
Disney? Or do they all already work for Disney?

Vale. Salud y un abrazo fuerte para todos y todas - incluyendo a
los y las con quienes no estamos de acuerdo. Que sea la verdad
quien gane.