The revolutionary paradigm of Civil Council on Northern Syria & Southern México

Demián Revart

The mythical year 2018 is approaching. If this were a mainstream article would begin the paragraph complementing the first sentence saying that “and Mexican society is already enlisting their bets for the electoral contest…” but no!, outside –and far away- from the electoral vortex, there are countless alternatives that do not seek to couple into the representative politics times, but to the citizen action times. Nor do contemplate political parties or the “independent” figurines that come from them. The key-separation between State and society is being marked deeply in a way of crack -now yes- in Mexican society that is enlisting “very other” [1] initiatives, after passage of generations that have seen those who hold the political class -from the municipal health clinic bureocraut to the honorable president- as temporary subjects and never as change subjects.

So… what’s the alternative? Hold on, now cool things are coming.

For a long time, citizens living in the neighborhoods, colonies, subdivisions, farms and communities of the emblematic municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Los Altos de Chiapas, have had the idea of creating a ‘people’s government’, with the argument that “the best solution is the self-organization of the people to realize what is established in the constitutional Article 39: to ensure all public power emerges from the people and is instituted for the benefit of the people”.

November 2005, Chiapas, Mexico — San Juan Chamula market, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas Province, Mexico — Image by © Michele Falzone/JAI/Corbis

This, to speed up self-consciously a remedy to the problems and generalized violence that, despite being an urban territory with the greatest investment as tourist locality and other capitals in one of the states –paradoxically- with the highest extreme poverty indices in the country, there also the misrule gradually propitiates “social disintegration, lawlessness, impunity, insecurity, invasions, plunder, ecocide, water crisis, lack of jobs, traffic chaos, addictions, corruption, etc.”, according say the members of the Citizen Council Promoter of a Good Government for San Cristóbal that was constituted on last October 23th, after a community assembly in the Salón Victoria located in the Calle Ejército Nacional.

In its public convocation -but with a legitimate restriction for political parties, state officials or personal figures that hold the capitalist system- the Citizen Council is defined as “an organizational space of community service (…) formed by councilors recognized by their honesty and spirit service that will last in their charge for three years at most and the coordination of the Council will be collective and rotating”.

Among the goals to achieve, comrades share us the following postulates:

a) To procure its permanent strengthening by incorporating more members and best practices.

b) Elaborate a Citizen Program of Good Municipal Government effective for the integral reconstruction of our municipality.

c) Carry out a truly democratic process so that the citizens (…) of San Cristóbal can propose and support nonpartisan citizens recognized for their honesty and service spirit who are willing to be members of the Citizen Council Promoter of a Good Government.

d) To support so that the people’s candidates participate successfully in the next local electoral process, bearing in mind that, independently of the results of the electoral journey, the commitment of all is to continue promoting the organization of the people and the execution of the Citizen Program of Good Government for the integral reconstruction.


The new paradigm that roams in the territories of San Cristóbal de las Casas -Chiapas-, Tepepan -original town in the south of México City- or Ixmiquilpan -Hidalgo- could be the spearhead for the formation of civil councils in México and the world, due its high population rate and basically, for being cosmopolitan cities, joining at the same time from its trench -and with its respective differences- to the enormous movement for the autonomy that is building by the Indigenous Council of Government of the CNI-EZLN, today since October 2016, but in history since January 1st, 1994.

Recently and at the same juncture -but thousands of miles away- the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) & the People’s Protection Units (YPG) liberated 100% the city of Al-Raqqa from the Islamic State claws, which left the field open for a social experiment that is plenty identical to the idea for San Cristóbal de las Casas: the Civil Council.

Combatientes de las YPG celebrando la liberación total de Al-Raqqa.

In one of their first communiqués on April, they announce this council structure will take over the administration, security and stability of the city without the Bashar Al-Asad’s government intervention or any external military force:

“In our role we announce to our people the Civil Council of Al-Raqqa will carry out the administration and services responsibility of the citizens assuring the needs of them, and the internal security will take care of the stability in the liberated zones.. Moreover, we await the day of city liberation, and for  this, the city would be in the custody of our Council.

Finally, we call on our people to be united to provide help to free the forces and to cooperate with the Civil Council to form a democratic society. It’s about the ambition of our people [2].

Regarding the similarities between Northern Syria and Southern México, the Argentinean researcher and writer, Nicolás de Antueno, writes about this article:

“Recently, within the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, there were a very curious elections, since there were two great things not chosen in these elections: a) political parties and b) programs. What is chosen are people (more than 22,000) in charge of execute those labors that exceed the real possibilities of the community assemblies. If someone executes wrongly some of the orders given by assemblies, it is revoked and it puts another more obedient. In Zapatista territories this is called “Good Government”. In short, because would boring: the 200,000 citizens of San Cristóbal de las Casas -and another municipalities- are about to take their lives in their hands”.

And for what these experiences serve us? Could it be instead of waiting for the chimerical revolution that changes the existing order of things from one day to the next, it really is in the daily local autonomous organization in our fragments of the city?


At the time of drafting this article, the Citizen Council Promoter of a Good Government is in permanent activities of linking, logistics and homogenization with the people of the municipality.


[1] In Zapatista philosophy and praxis, the term “very other” is framed by antisystemic alternatives -or in their words, the “alternative alternatives”- used to solve social problems, omitting the dogmatic need to appeal to the paternalism of the State and its institutions. In this case, I use the reference to describe in the facts, the autonomous local organization outside of the electoral times.

[2] “Tras liberar la ciudad de Al-Raqqa en Siria de ISIS, se avanza hacia el autogobierno”, Ruptura Colectiva (RC), April 17th, 2017. (

Se conforma el Concejo Ciudadano por el Buen Gobierno de San Cristóbal de las Casas; sin partidos políticos ni quienes sostienen al sistema

Il Consiglio dei Cittadini per Buon Governo di San Cristóbal de las Casas è formato; così come nel Nord di Siria, la rivoluzione dei consigli

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