Interview with Herman Bellinghausen at San Christobal de La casa, Chiapas, Mexico by P.T George on 8th May, 2010.
About Herman Bellinghausen: Born in Mexico City, Bellinghausen obtained his MD from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He has served as collaborator on the Mexican weekly magazines En Solidaridad and Mundo Médico and as an editor for Ojarasca. He is an editorialist and a correspondent who covers the state of Chiapas and the activities of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) for La Jornada. Along with Alberto Cortés, he wrote the script for the movie Ciudad de ciegos (“City of the Blind”).
George: Since you have been actively been associated with the Zapatista Movement for a long time, could you please explain the socio-economic and political conditions that gave rise to the Zapatista movement in the Chiapas?
Hernan: Let’s go back to 1994 that was the year of the uprising. The full name of the movement is Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) or Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), commonly called the Zapatistas.
It would be surprising to know that this happened when Mexico was ready to court the first world and we had a government perhaps the first one that was openly very neo-liberal. This year was also the year when the North American Free Trade Agreement was (NAFTA) with the US and Canada for commerce purpose came into effect which had tremendous adverse impacts on the communities here in Mexico. At the same time another reality was that Mexico has a big number of indigenous populations, practically invisible, as if the country was not aware of their existence. Chiapas is considered to be the poorest region in Mexico but the poverty of the region need to be re-analyzed from the point of view that they were not the only poor people of Mexico, as long as more than a million of them had land.
At least 25% of the population of the Chiapas belongs to various Indigenous communities. This region was also the heartland of agriculture and the indigenous people in the Chiapas had strong cultural links. So in a way being so invisible, we have about 11-12 % of the total population of the country belonging to various indigenous groups which means that Mexico has the biggest Indigenous population in the whole of Americas. But not a majority in Mexico as in the case of Bolivia, Guatemala or Ecuador where at least half of the population or more are indigenous. Here the indigenous people are not a majority but Mexico has at least 10-12 million people belonging to 60 different indigenous groups, languages and cultures with very strong root in their culture and a deep relationship with land and nature etc.
The conditions of the uprising:
When the uprising happened everyone was surprised. Because at that time Chiapas was the most forgotten place in the whole of Mexico and we were surprisingly taken over by this well organised army that was in certain ways not like the real army, but more like the peasant army. In the beginning when the uprising was going on, people were not very clear what was going on. But the Zapatistas chose precisely this date, the 1st of January 1994, to come out, to take on the cities and declare war on the Mexican state, which for the moment was like a big success where they mention of marching on to the Mexican city and challenging the government and people were very much surprised. Then it started kind of a war. The Mexican army reacted and retaliated and came to fight and it turned out to be a kind of war on the Zapatistas. Then the army started the bombing, helicopter gunfire, bombing from airplanes although not exactly like the big battle. The biggest battle was fought in Ocosingo after the uprising, when the Zapatista fighters were surrounded by the Mexican army and the battle to free Ocosingo which went on for 3 to 4 days. So millions of people came out on to the streets protesting against the government and asking for peace and to stop the war. So after 12 days of fierce fighting and war, suddenly the government had to stop it, because people in the streets were asking for negotiations, for reconciliation and for peace. Then it was all over and the Zapatistas went back to the forest and their land. Then suddenly everybody realised that there was jungle, there was mountain, there were indigenous communities with whom injustice have been done for several hundred years. Thus most of the people sympathized with Zapatistas and didn’t the guerillas to be killed by the Mexican army. And I should say that the Zapatista movement is now born.
But before this great uprising, the Zapatistas had spent more than 10 years preparing themselves, may be more like the usual Latin American guerillas in the mountains getting ready. Meanwhile, they developed something which we learned much later, that in reality, that this group of guerrilleros that started the movement were overflowed by the community that they went to look for support. As a result, by the time of the uprising 10 years after the foundation, that this Zapatista army they have a very particular organisation because the Comandantes were civilians, they were Indigenous Indians, were more like the community representatives than really a military army. So the military part was under the command of these community leaders. Then there was this official Zapatista army, a big army who were trained and were in uniform. And then the militia that consisted of greater population of basically male but women as well who had family life and they had to be trained to fight so that made it the big movement. And then came this sub-commandante Marcos. The government from the beginning underestimated the movement but of course was really shocked and was a big blow to the government that ever happened in Mexico.
The first musing is that the support of the people and the Zapatistas wanted to be listened to because they were isolated and the Government of Mexico was not really not in touch with the kind of awakening of the indigenous population of Mexico that took place at the end of the 70s and the 80s. But when the Zapatistas came out something else was really going on, the uprising was like an awakening of all these indigenous people of the country with isolated struggles and then they grew rapidly and the people in the cities and all the progressive people that wanted to do something also felt connected with the movement. So there was big response from all over. Two months later, they had negotiations with the government of Mexico in San Christobal. The negotiations were important, because in the final draft, the government acknowledged that the people had the right to protest and the government should try to solve them. Lots of people came from all over the country. But nobody had called them . They came from all over the country to take care of negotiations and to protect the Zapatistas. A large of the city and the centre of San Christobal was surrounded by civilians, people who came to protect these negotiations and hundreds people supported the Zapatistas and the talks started. The Zapatistas began communicating with these people. They have a very good way of communicating and were extremely fast to learn the external influences. In a few months time the movement was pretty different, the movement had a national impact, grew very fast, because the Zapatistas were not dead, where as they thought they were going to die soon and were living in tremendous fear of the Mexican army. They were waiting for the massacre. There was fear among them, because they were not stronger than the Mexican army. But the population of Mexico saved them. Now they felt that were like in real life they had something to look for and their ideology stared to change. They had started with the typical Marxist liberation movement of the Americas but they developed this army of Zapatistas that started to talk, first with people from all over Mexico and later with people from all over the world. Things began to change so their ideology started to change, and were in the position to see new things and refresh and get several things done in their favour. They were fast learners. They had very good sense of humor which is not usual. They had lots of ideas and were able to absorb a lots of ideas like sponge.
George: What was the original vision and the ideology of the Zapatista movement and was there any ideological change over a period of time? What kind of changes have taken place in the movement during the last decade and how?
Herman: The ideology of the Zapatista movement, is a combination of various elements. It has very strong roots in the Mayan cultural and traditional practices. The Zapatistas didn’t believe in acquiring political power. But wanted to live in peace and harmony, helping each other abd building a community based on the Mayan ideology “For everyone, everything, for us, nothing” (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada).
Well, the Zapatistas wanted justice and they had 13 points to ask the government to agree to; which included education, health, democracy justice etc but these were just fair demands because the people here were really living in poverty and the state was not solving their problems. Another thing is that they were totally above themselves, in this big area of Maya people, in the mountains of the Chiapas. But they reflected on in terms of what was going on in the rest of the country. So millions of people could understand what the Zapatistas were doing and asking the government to do, because they also had the same demands. Then suddenly the NAFTA was brought in and Mexican government was behaving like as if we were Canada. But on the other hand in reality we were a third world country with half of the population really poor, and with a lots politics. Thus everybody felt connected with the Zapatistas and they were sensitive to this connection and they started to listen and began to have idea of organising a national convention by the end of 94. They called all the progressive forces in Mexico to come here in the Chiapas. In a way which in fact was a kind of bad encounter because everyone had their basic ideas and they left. But then things started to boil in this country. Something was going on. Then a terrible thing happened for the first time the candidate for the official party was killed by the struggles inside the system. All these things happened at the same time but inside really something was changing in Mexico in 1994.
In 1995, we had a new government from the deeply neoliberal and more military. The makeover came when the military government wanted to take over of the communities and wanted to capture Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and all the commandants and the militia. The Zapatistan army was threatened by the Mexican army and were taken over by them so the Zapatistas left for the mountains by February 1995. But again the people wanted peace and not war and the Zapatistas were ready to follow that. So the government has to accept from the comrades a new law of peace that and now this in effect created a commission from the Congress to negotiate and they started to talk and attempted to make some some contact with the Zapatistas. Eventually they organised the dialogue of the San Andres that started at the end of 1995 and kept going till the first few months of 96. On March 5, 1996 the Mexican government signed the San Andrés Accords whereby the Mexican government agree to recognize the indigenous communities in the constitution, increase their political participation and representation. The accord also agreed to promote indigenous culture and provide basic needs like education health and so on. Thus for the first time there was official recognition that in Mexico there are indigenous people and they have particular rights and they had a right to protest. After signing of these talks the first things the Zapatistas wanted was the recognition of the rights of the people, languages, culture etc.
Then came new dialogues and people from at least 40 different indigenous people of the country came to attend them. Suddenly you find that the Mexican government is trying to negotiate with lots of Indian indigenous communities but not with the Zapatistas. Because of this, the mass root became more accurate and more precise and more rich because the government was talking with lots of people, even many intellectuals supporting them and so these negotiations became something in respect for that protocol for the government and in the interest of the government thinking that they would solve these issues of the Zapatistas the usual way by giving some money to them. But the issues were really growing larger and so the government signed the first part of these talks. But after signing of this treaty, few days later, the government retraced its stand and made a statement saying that that was a mistake and was not good for the government. But for the indigenous people of Mexico felt that the government is betraying itself. So they decided to build the economy and in fact announced the creation of 40 different municipalities for the development of the indigenous communities in the Chiapas. Then the military pressure on the communities became very strong and everyday was like on the verge of a war. Then the Zapatistas began to draw attention from other parts of the world and lots of people came to contact them and meet and discuss with them in the course of time the Zapatistas developed lots of connection with the outside world and enriched it and became one of the first movement to use internet as a powerful tool to communicate their ideologies to the rest of the world.
George: The third world embraced the internet revolution in the post 90s, may be after 95. As we know the prior to the uprising, Zapatistas were active in building their army and preparing themselves for the uprising. Prior to the internet revolution, how did they communicate with the media, the government and the rest of the world?
Herman: I would like to say that there was not much communication in the beginning with the rest of the world. You never found anything in the press about the Indian communities. Much less in the radio. For the press and the radio, the indigenous communities in Mexico didn’t exist. People were not even aware that they were there these communities struggling to make a livelihood. They were some of kind of a cloud hanging over the mountains. Media was not aware of them either. The communities didn’t have the tools either to communicate to the rest of the world what they aspire for. Of course they did started to write their languages, (thanks to the computers, some of these languages were never written in the modern times. And there was a moment when they did began to make some presence. That started when a group of American people from Texas put together some information on the Zapatistas on the web and that was the first communiqué in English that appeared on the internet. Then it was translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian and what not and the information about the Zapatistas began to spread like wild fire, far and wide and in a few weeks time they were global. This all happened at a time when large part of the third world had just started using the computers and most people in the third world were not connected to the internet either. So the Zapatistas became extremely famous in the first world. People started reading about them and the Zapatistas had lot to say to the rest of the world and in a way internet helped them to gather global attention and call for demonstration all over Europe. Thus the Zapatistas in the beginning were more closer to the first world than the third world.
Latin America was late to learn about the Zapatistas. So the movements like MAPU in Chile a small leftist party in Chile didn’t have much relation with the Zapatistas here in the Chiapas. Although movements in other Latin American countries were having transformation themselves they were not the same. The Ecuadorian movement and the Zapatista movement were running parallel but they were not related to each other or connected in any ways. The uprising in Ecuador that started in the 80s later threw four governments out and practically were the majority. The movement is still active there.
George: As we know in Bolivia the indigenous government led by Evo Morales is running the second term with a big indigenous majority there. Do you find anything in common with the two movements or any relationship? How did the Zapatista movement associate with the Bolivian struggles?
Herman: If we look at the first phase of the Zapatista movement there was hardly any connection with any other Latin American movements. That situation changed once the information about the Zapatistas became global and their ideologies began to initiate discussion in the wider circles.
The Zapatistas in the beginning were not listened to in Latin America. Not even in Guatemala just across the border. In Guatemala there are struggles there but they have a different atmosphere there. They couldn’t understand what was going in the Chiapas and they didn’t believe in the ideologies of the Zapatistas. The Zapatistas were saying they wanted peace not war and they were having an army that didn’t want to fight for political power. This army anted power for everybody and not for themselves which sounds crazy to the rest of the Latin American movements. So the Zapatistas didn’t belong to the typical Leninist discourse in Latin America who didn’t understand the ideologies of the Zapatistas..Where as we were more treated like a European movement, north American movement that was more sensitive to the issues of environment culture etc and were looking for a new left. So that’s it, there were lots of struggles, paramilitary attacks, lots of violence and lots of death and then started to connect with others.
In the year 2000 movement against globalisation and neo-liberalism was going strong and the Zapatistas were now really connected to the rest of the world. Anti-globalisation protests were going on all over the world and the first one was in London where they did make reference to the Zapatistas, its ideologies and the way they connect. During the speeches there references were made to the Zapatistas. Then came the demonstration in Seattle did make reference to the Zapatistas and serious reforms were started all over the world which led to the collapse of the WTO. At the same time the Zapatistas were busy doing what they were doing here working on the autonomy for the indigenous people of the Chiapas. Then there was a deep change in the attitude of the south Americans towards the Zapatistas after the collapse of the Seattle.
The situation is different in Bolivia. In Bolivia the indigenous communities are the majority. Here in Mexico they are not. The aim of the Bolivian struggles was to overthrow the government and capture political power. Whereas the Zapatista army didn’t want to capture political power. So we can see that the processes are different in both countries. Although there were oppression in both countries. In Mexico, the Zapatistas don’t want take over the political power, not for the power and no political ambition but wanted their life to be respected, keep intact their culture and their territory, lifestyle and livelihood etc.
So about the Bolivian movement, of course, there was there is no real connection but we have had representatives from the Bolivia and Ecuador attending the meetings here. Of course Evo Morales have often referred to the Zapatistas in his speeches and at length quotes sub-commandante Marcos writings and speeches. Even the Venezuelans support the Zapatistas but they are not really connected. The Zapatistas are more connected with the global movements than the Latin American movements. Latin American movements have more strong Marxist ideologies than Europe had. The indigenous ingredient doesn’t feature in the conventional Marxist ideology, that’s missing and they come like villains in the whole drama of socialist revolution.
Here the Zapatistas were trying to keep the autonomy for the indigenous people and don’t have political ambitions but want their land and culture respected. The Zapatistas made the land reforms and not only in the Chiapas but for the entire Mexico.
George: How did the movement fund itself? Was there any foreign funding for the Zapatistas? Funding of the movement and how did the expansion happened?
Herman: There is a lot of talk about it. There is some international support from the collectives who are sympathetic to the Zapatistas and also from NGOs and individuals who donate to the movement. But the whole amount that the Zapatistas receive as foreign contributions is not much. International funding support for the movement is not much. Basically, the movement is not much dependant on the international sources of support. Because there isn’t that kind of money coming from outside. But the government often uses this argument a lot and often spreads the propaganda that the Zapatista movement survives because of the money coming from outside. But on the other hand I would say that the Zapatistas main source of support is themselves, their work and their efforts, their production and the economy. The amount of money that come from the Europe for the Zapatista movement is nothing, whereas the mainstay of the movement is the people themselves. The strength and the unity and the work is the sole sustaining factors for the continuity of the movement. I would say it’s a big joke if you would say that the movement resides on the foreign contributions. How much money does the government gives to the development of municipalities? Millions of pesos. How much money does the Zapatistas deal with in managing their affairs. A few million pesos. May 2 million or 3 million pesos. So this help from few individuals or collectives from Europe for the movement is very little. It’s a gift from them. Of course it’s a big help. But I would say that even without that they zapts would be doing their own work. It’s the good will and work of the people than the money the mainstay of the movement. What the American or European donor gives to the movement is like goodwill. So the Zapatistas are out of the radar of this big money from outside. The government uses this propaganda to malign the movement and say that the movement receive money through backdoor. If you put to together all the money that come from outside, you will laugh at the real amount, a few million pesos. what they have is themselves,, the land and their work. But they are not alone always. If there is a major crisis they may get support, but the movement is not dependent on money. They are not against but what they are doing is their self-work.
On Strengthening the Grassroots Governance
George” how did the grassroots governance got strengthened by the Zapatista movement? Was it more of a direct interference with the governance system or the communities co-opted the Zapatista ideologies?
Herman: From the very beginning the Zapatistas adopted this revolutionary idea that they had along with their army to have control over the local governance based on the collective identity, very much rooted to the traditional Mayan culture. Sharing the resources is very much Mayan Indian tradition. The idea of community governance is based on the ideology that instead of being the one who gets the fruits of the labor it’s the idea of good governance that finds at the heart of the Zapatista’s governing methods. Do your duty for the community. The Zapatistas have been educating the community this ideologies for more than 20 years now. The whole Zapatista idea of education is based on this ideology. They never broke the tradition. They have rejected certain bad customs and practices but largely retain the traditional notions. As you know the Latin America is very patriarchal and the role of women in society is very limited and one area where the Zapatistas have brought revolution is the role of women in the society. There have been struggles inside the system fighting against the traditional notions and role of women in society, but they have been fighting for the cause of women and by bringing them to the forefront. The Zapatista army has a large number of women, and now they are everywhere in every sphere of activity at the forefront. But a lot need to be done on this front.
George: The world sees Mexico as a close ally or partner of the US. Whereas US behaves itself like an imperial power, very much looking down on Mexico – how did Zapatista movement react to the imperialistic notions of the US and its policies towards Mexico?
Herman: What the government of Mexico wants and what the people of Mexico want are quite different things. There are lots differences between the aspirations of the people of Mexico and the policies of the Mexican government. The government of Mexico is more and more not legitimate in deciding for the people. People are accepting the policies not by choice but are forced by the government and the political system. The Zapatistas on the other hand are questioning this modus operandi and are resisting the government’s approach to peoples lives and livelihoods.
Of course Mexico in many cases is seen as ally of the US. Apart from that the Mexicans are the largest migrant community in the US. There are more than 10 million Mexicans working in the US and contributing to the growth of the economy here in Mexico as well as supporting the families here. It’s a substantial source of income for the Mexican government, because a large portion of the money they earn there is invested here which is a great support for the Mexican economy from the migrant community. Also Spanish is the second largest widely spoken language in the US. So the footprint of the Mexicans in the US is very deep as we are neighbours in the same way India and China.
The political and economic relations with the US is very complex but this doesn’t mean that all the 10 million Mexicans in the US really support all the American policies. In fact there were many resistances. But this is a very complex relationship given that Mexico is one of the few countries in the world has a long international border with a first world country. You walk literally from the third world to the first world on the US-Mexican border.
Zapatistas on the other hand are ardent supporters of anti-globalisation movements and neoliberal capitalist economy. They have been resisting the globalisation process right from the beginning and have been doing it. In the process they created this notion of good governance and participatory governance systems. They have been resisting the exploitation of natural resources and the exploitation of the indigenous people. Instead they have tried to create an economy based on the good governance and using the land and resources available to them. They are against the destruction of the environment and industrial farming. They form a great obstacle to the modern development forces who are keen to destroy the natural resoueces in the big way.
George: In many countries the state is waging war against people under the pretext of development project or in the name of internal security, control drug trafficking etc. Its also interesting to note that in many parts of the world the indigenous communities inhabited areas are also source of large deposits of mineral wealth, forest, water resources etc which the governments want to have control over. Cases of repression and human rights violations are also rampant in such areas. How do you see the situation in Mexico and how does the Zapatistas react to this?
Herman: I agree with that. Exactly this is happening in Mexico, there is a big pressure to give the land to corporations for mining and to extract resources. That’s why the Mexican government has an ally in immigration laws. The police and the law together with the corporations can do it. It’s the same here and they want it everywhere. Now the state has realized that everything is valuable. Earlier, mountains and rivers and jungles were not valued much. The earlier presumption was that there is nothing there and not much pressure on these resource. Now the situation has completely changed. Now everything has a value. So there must be some kind of a mineral or other resources somewhere which could be useful for some industry. Therefore we must explore these areas and look for what minerals can be exploited from there, what kind of resources can be taken out, let it be water, oil, anything even sand. Everything has a price and use in somewhere in some industry or other. But for the Mexican indigenous communities, land is a part of life. They don’t sell it. They have a completely different set of relationship with land, water and forest. Land doesn’t belong to them. They belong to the land. That is the ideology of the Indian communities. There fore one needs to take care of the land for the next generation. We are not the owners of the land. That’s how this country has been surviving for so many centuries, so many generations. Of course there is a lot of pressure on the land now in this country. The mining companies, dam construction companies everyone is interested in the forest and land. Even tourism. You name it everything is valuable now. Even if the worse place on the earth, there could be some mineral there which could be valuable to some industry or the other.
Mexico has this big gold mine area where the poorest communities live and survive That’s the big contradiction in the country. After the mining the gold they poison the land and they leave the destruction is immense.
There is another new component that is going on which no one should ignore. There is a big crime situation here in Mexico. The Narcotics and the illegal drug mafia which is involved in a big way. This is a big barrier something to consider for the for the social movement which gives the government a good justification to militarize any area in the name fighting against the drug cartels and the in the name of fighting against terror and control social movements, put pressure on activists, put them in jail etc. all in the name of destroying the drug mafia and fighting terror. The drug warlord, the narcotics and the political powers at the helm are all allies to this and they share the benefits . The government thinks that they can use the army to justify this. This is a bad situation for the social movements anywhere in the world.
There is a resistance to the Canadian gold mining in Mexico. So the government goes on arresting the protestors all in the name of development. You can see what is going on here. No body pays any attention, the media doesn’t pay attention.
Last month several Indian movements leaders were kidnapped and may be they would never appear again. There have been people who have been killed and there has been ambush against people in Oxaxa. There is another kind of war against the people is going on here. Attack on the people. It’s a new thing to be considered. It affects everything. Many countries are under lots of pressure to let the economic growth go and to grow further which leads to lots of violence against the people. We have the most violent situation now in Mexico. Movements are isolated so the media doesn’t pay any attention. But Zapatistas have a very strong organization, with clear goals and have an army that’s not fighting. in the midst of all this turmoil in the rest of the country, The Zapatista areas are the most peaceful areas in the country. This is a paradox which again shows the strength of the movement. Even in the worst situation, they have something positive to offer.
George: The media across the world are getting corporatized and are increasingly being controlled by the corporations. In this context, very little attention is being paid to people struggles or to social movements. The print media hardly pays any attention to social movements these days. There are few exceptions here and there, few alternative and radical news papers and magazines do report on them. Internet may be one medium for social movements to express their ideas but in most countries their usage is limited to few. How do you see the role of the media in Mexico and how sensitized are they in reporting on social movements and peoples struggles?
Herman: The corporate control of media is happening across the world but here in Mexico its not happening that way, especially the print media. They are still the same. There are not very much controlled by big corporations. It could be true with the electronic media, which is completely monopolised by two big holdings that are completely with power, the phone companies. The most powerful and richest people in Mexico are people connected with the electronic media. In fact you may know that the richest man in the world is a Mexican with the phone company, Cell Phone company, internet, television etc. So he is richer than bill gates. But at the same time, in Mexico we are not flooded with millions of news papers. There are few national dailies and few local papers that are still alive, owned by small time individuals and they are still the owners, not eaten up by big media giants. But as you know media is a very powerful tool and a very useful for the government to use and to frame political opinion, propaganda etc. Now a days every political party has a paper and they use it in a big way for propaganda. Earlier the press was controlled very much by the government especially the mass media in the 80s. The situation has changed drastically. We have few papers that are very widely circulated and still is in a big way are owned by individuals who were journalist or people very much close to social movements and peoples struggles and engages with the movement in a big way. The people who make these newspapers are from social movements circles. Even after 25-30 years the two national peoples La Jornada, the second largest widely read national daily in Mexico is owned by people from social movements and still going very strong. This doesn’t happen even in Europe. La Jornada became the most widely read internet paper in Latin America. It works and its completely autonomous. It has big engagement with the movements. Although in reality, its tough to maintain the competition in the market and they have to survive. But this is an exception.
One of the agreements of the san Andres was to make the community radio stations legal for the community whereas the government doesn’t want to make them legal but have total control over the radio. So there are many community radio stations in Mexico that are illegal. The government doesn’t want to legalise them but brand them as illegal. The Zapatistas have a large network of community radios controlled by them, but they are protected by the Zapatistas. Its very powerful and has been working for so many years. The internet useage on the other hand is limited in Mexico. People who use computers are literate ones who have access to the internet. Whereas radio is a powerful, cheap and easy tool to reach the masses and can cross the language barriers. These days there only few social movements or people struggles that aren’t really connected to the net in some way or other. Someone in the community is literate and is connected to net is able to spread the news of their struggle to the rest of the world and to the media. Thus in a way they are connected to the rest of the world and not really isolated in a way. The situation is different in the print media, where a broad spectrum of options exists, in which the powers that be are criticized with relative freedom.