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Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed "Investigative Poet"

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I will never forget Ross’ gap-toothed guise delivering the line: “Sin Maíz no hay País!” (There is no country without corn) whenever global food politics and México are discussed. Ross was the first American journalist to share the story of the Zapatista Rebellion with the rest of North America and later became a fervent activist against GE corn. His sardonic humor and politics are seen in his last book ¡Zapatistas! Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance,

Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed "Investigative Poet"

Infoshop News
January 19, 2011

He squinted at his notes with a monocle, and delivered his speech with a sense of poetic passion obtained through a lifetime dedicated to social justice. Abstaining from the use of microphone, John preferred to he spoke with us rather than “speaking at us”.

I will never forget Ross’ gap-toothed guise delivering the line: “Sin Maíz no hay País!” (There is no country without corn) whenever global food politics and México are discussed. Ross was the first American journalist to share the story of the Zapatista Rebellion with the rest of North America and later became a fervent activist against GE corn. His sardonic humor and politics are seen in his last book ¡Zapatistas! Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance,

“So this story ends where it began, in the milpa, as it always must and always will if the Terminator seed doesn’t get us first. The Zapatistas are Mayans and the Mayans are People of Maize in this resilient season of rain and growth and greenness , despite all the pain that those the color of money inflict upon this land, the people of the color of the earth, renew themselves, are reborn and flourish” (2006: 378)

A very brief explanation: On New Year’s Day in January 1994, an indigenous group in the Lacandón jungle under the name EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional ), rose up against land grabs of the Mexican government , while simultaneously creating a new autonomous vision of democracy, liberty and justice. On the other front, NAFTA brought a flood of subsidized US corn, washing out income for Mexican farmers, and forcing many to work in maquiladora sweatshops.

Over the years, John Ross shared sweat, blood and more than a few bowls of pipe tobacco with the EZLN. In 1995, Ross’ book Rebellion from the Roots: Indian Uprising in Chiapas was the recipient of the American book award. John Ross’ work for peace and justice extended far beyond the borders North America. During the year of the “Shock and Awe Campaign”, he protested the Iraq War by serving as human shield in Baghdad. He picked olives in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement. Ross’s commitment to peace came with its battle scars: attacks by Israeli settlers ruined his back, San Francisco police bludgeoned his head permanently damaging Ross’ eyesight.

In 2006, Ross had an active role in EZLN’s “Other Campaign” in which Subcomandante Marcos, “Delegate Zero” denounced both parties of the Mexican government and promoted new ideas of participatory democracy.

When I met John Ross in 2007, he personalized a piece of his writing with the words, “ One Heart One Fist ¡Resistir! Ross was renowned as the longest living member of the Beatnik generation; no eulogy would be complete without a poem:

We are wind, Us,

not the breath which blows on us.

We are word, Us,

Not the lips which speak to us,

We are step, Us,

Not the foot upon which we walk,

We are heartbeat, Us,

not the heart that pulses,

We are bridge, Us,

Not the soils which the bridge joins,

We are roads, Us,

not the point of leaving or arriving,

We are place, Us

not who occupies that place,

We do not exist, Us

We just are,

Seven times we are,

Us, seven times,

Us, the repeating mirror

The reflection, Us

The hand which just opened the window,

Us, the world calling out

to the door of Tomorrow.

-By Comandante David and Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Read at Ovenik, Chiapas on the 7th anniversary of the Zapatista Rebellion, January 1, 2001

Rest in Peace John Ross.

Originally posted @ http://www.iseastars.org

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Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed "Investigative Poet" | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed \"Investigative Poet\"
Authored by: WeiLai on Thursday, January 20 2011 @ 03:34 AM CST

 Doh!  the line in the first paragraph should read "...John preferred to spoke with us rather than “speaking at us”.   In the text there is  a   "he " after "preferred".   Folks interested in an obituary that truly capture Ross' sprit should check out: 

Farewell to the Utterly Unique John Ross

www.counterpunch.org/bardacke01182011.html

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Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed \"Investigative Poet\"
Authored by: angrywhitekid on Friday, January 21 2011 @ 11:40 PM CST

John Ross was an amazing individual. Thank you for the tribute. However, there are a couple errors. His last book was actually "El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City," which came out in 2009. And he did not play an "active role" in the Other Campaign.  In fact, he was extremely critical of it and the Zapatistas. Knowing John, I don't think he'd like that characterization.

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Remembering John Ross (1938-2011), Self-Proclaimed \\\"Investigative Poet\\\"
Authored by: WeiLai on Sunday, February 27 2011 @ 07:26 PM CST

 Ah yes my bad I didn't mean to write that ¡Zapatistas was his last book, should have been obvious seeing that I bought that book at  tour he was doing to promote an anthology of poetry.  Thanks for pointing that out.  As for Ross' role in the "Other Campaign" he followed it actively, but didn't directly take part in it?  The book I quoted from for this piece made it seem that he had an active role, traveling to rural towns, marching in the streets and swearing at Mexican punks that told him to "go home old man." Well I read it in 2007, so I could have mixed things up and this piece to eulogize Ross' was admittedly a bit rushed on my part.  I don't have admin access  on infoshop, but I did make the corrections you suggested to the posting on my site http://www.iseastars.org

 

peace.

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