I experienced a similar synchronicity three years ago in El Salvador. The restaurant where I usually had lunch, a few doors from the hostel where I was staying, was closed. Rather than wait to see if it would be open soon, I went to another restaurant, just next door to the hostel, which I hadn't been to previously. A young couple came in and sat at a table across from me. I don’t even recall how we fell into a conversation, but I quickly learned that they were somehow involved in the movement against metal mining in El Salvador, either as supporters or as activists.
Because the campaign against metal mining in El Salvador happened to be one of the two reasons why I had chosen to make San Salvador my first stop in Central America (the other rason being my desire to visit the chapel of La Divina Providencia, where Archbishop Oscar Romero – one of the great inspirations of my life -- was assassinated), I was immediately interested in speaking with them and learning what I could about the anti-mining movement from their perspective. Although they did not tell me anything I didn't already know, they confirmed the reports of assassinations of and death threats against anti-mining activists. I was particularly interested because the major mining company active in El Salvador was Pacific Rim, a Vancouver-based Canadian company (which reincorporated I Nevada in order to pursue its lawsuit against the government of El Salvador under the provisions of CAFTA (the Central America Free Trade Agreement) for denying it a permit to mine for gold “on environmental and public health grounds.”
They invited me to spend the day at El Tunco beach with them. Along the way, they showed me the huge US Embassy compound. It’s evident that the US has an important, long-term, strategic interest in this tiny, heavily populated country whose population is highly dependent on a single, fragile water table and passionate about protecting it from this rapacious company that has no qualms about polluting it with cyanide and mercury.
EZLN’s Facebook message was another Zapata quote: “El capitalista, el soldado y el gobernante habían vivido tranquilos, sin ser molestados, ni en sus privilegios ni en sus propiedades, a costa del sacrificio de un pueblo esclavo y analfabeta, sin patrimonio y sin porvenir, que estaba condenado a trabajar sin descanso y a morirse de hambre y agotamiento, puesto que, gastando todas sus energías en producir tesoros incalculables, no le era dado contar ni con lo indispensable siquiera para satisfacer sus necesidades más perentorias. Emiliano Zapata
DISCULPEN LAS MOLESTIAS, ESTO ES UNA REVOLUCIÓN, DONDE EL PUEBLO MANDA Y EL GOBIERNO OBEDECE. ¡VIVA ZAPATA!”
My translation (paraphrase) of the quote is: “The capitalist, the soldier and the ruler had lived quiet, undisturbed, neither in their privileges nor their properties, at the sacrifice of a people enslaved and illiterate, without assets and without a future, who were condemned to work tirelessly and dying of hunger and exhaustion, spending all their energy on producing untold treasures, not even given what was necessary to meet their urgent needs.”
SORRY, this is a revolution, where the people command and the government obeys. VIVA ZAPATA!"
At that very moment, as I sat reading this in the common area of the hostel where I’m staying on Isla Mujeres, surrounded by bored tourists and backpackers anxiously searching the text messages on their iphones for some meaning for their lives, Emiliano Zapata was looking over my shoulder from a mural (pictured at thee top of this post) speaking the same words. Coincidence, or synchronicity?