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(en) Chiapas, EZLN letter to Fox

From Mark Connolly <mark.connolly@pmail.net>
Date Tue, 5 Dec 2000 11:50:57 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
December 2, 2000.
Se~or Vicente Fox.
Los Pinos, Mexico, D.F.

Se~or Fox,

Six years ago we wrote a letter to Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leo'n, your
predecessor.  Now that you are the new head of the federal Executive, it is
my duty to inform you that, as of today, you have inherited a war in the
Mexican southeast:  the one in which, on January 1, 1994, the Zapatista
Army of National Liberation declared war against the federal government in
demand of democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexicans.

Since the beginning of our uprising, we have confronted the federales in
accordance with military honor and the laws of war.  Since then, the Army
has attacked us without any military honor and in violation of
international treaties.  More than 70,000 federales (including some 20,000
so-called "special counterinsurgency troops") have encircled and pursued
the zapatistas for 2525 days (counting today).  During 2000 of those days
they have been violating the Law for Dialogue, Negotiation and a Dignified
Peace in Chiapas, issued by the Congress of the Union on March 10, 1995.

During these almost seven years of war, the zapatistas have resisted, and
we have clashed with two federal Executives (self-styled "presidents"), two
Secretaries of National Defense, six Secretaries of Government, five
commissioners of "peace," five "governors" of Chiapas and a multitude of
mid-level officials.  All of them have already gone.  Some of them are
being investigated for their ties to organized crime, others are in exile
or on their way, some others are unemployed.

During these almost seven years, the zapatistas have insisted, time and
again, on the path of dialogue.  We have done so because we have a
commitment with civil society, which demanded that we silence our weapons
and attempt a peaceful settlement.

Now that you are assuming the head of the federal Executive Branch, you
should know that, in addition to inheriting the war of the Mexican
southeast, you are inheriting the possibility of choosing how you will have
to confront it.

During your campaign, and since July 2, you, Se~or Fox, have said time and
again that you are going to choose dialogue in order to confront our
demands.  Zedillo said the same during the months which preceded his
inauguration, and, nonetheless, two months later he ordered a large
military offensive against us.

You can understand that distrust in all things having to do with
government, regardless of which political party it belongs to, has
indelibly marked our thoughts and actions.

If we were to add the series of ill-considered contradictions and
frivolities, spewed by you and those accompanying you, to our
understandable mistrust in the face of the words of power, then it is also
my duty to point out to you that, as far as the zapatistas are concerned
(and I believe not only with the zapatistas), you are starting from scratch
as far as credibility and trust are concerned.

We cannot trust someone who has displayed superficiality and ignorance by
noting that the indigenous demands will be resolved with "'vocho', TV and
little shops."

We cannot believe someone who tries to "ignore" (that is, "grant amnesty
to") the hundreds of crimes committed by paramilitaries and their bosses by
granting them immunity.

We are not inspired to trust someone who, with the short-sightedness of
managerial logic, has a government plan to turn the indigenous into
mini-micro businesspersons or into employees of this administration's
businessperson.  At the end of the day, this plan is nothing other than an
attempt to continue the ethnocide which, under different methods,
neoliberalism in Mexico is carrying forward.

That is why it is good for you to know that none of this shall prosper in
zapatista lands.  Your program of "disappearing an indigenous and creating
a businessperson" will not be allowed on our soil.  Here, and under many
other Mexican skies, the indigenous self does not have to do only with
blood and origin, but also with the vision of life, death, culture, land,
history, the future.

Those who have tried to annihilate them with weapons have failed.  Those
who try to eliminate them by turning them into "businesspersons" will fail.

Note that I have said that, as for the zapatistas, you are starting from
scratch as far as credibility and trust are concerned.  This means that you
have nothing negative, yet, to overcome (because it is only fair to point
out that you have not attacked us).  You can, then, prove those right who
are counting on your government's repeating the nightmare of the PRI for
all Mexicans, especially for the zapatistas.  Or you can, starting from
scratch, begin to build through acts what every government needs for their
work:  credibility and trust.  The demilitarization which you have
continuously been announcing (although it varies from "total withdrawal",
""repositioning'" and "reaccomodation", which are not the same things,
something which you, your soldiers, and we know) is a beginning, not
sufficient, but indeed necessary.

Not only in Chiapas, but above all in Chiapas, you can prove those right
who desire your failure, or those who are giving you the benefit of the
doubt, or who are simply placing in you that which is called "hope."

Se~or Fox:  Unlike your predecessor Zedillo (who came to power through
assassination and with the support of that corrupt monster which is the
State party system), you reached the federal Executive thanks to the
repudiation the PRI carefully cultivated among the people.  You know it
well, Se~or Fox:  you won the election, but you did not defeat the PRI.  It
was the citizens.  And not just those who voted against the State party,
but also those from previous and current generations who, one way or
another, resisted and fought the culture of authoritarianism, impunity and
crime built by PRI governments throughout 71 years.

Although there is a radical difference in the way you came to power, your
political, social and economic program is the same we have been suffering
under during the last administrations.  A program for the country which
means the destruction of Mexico as a nation and its transformation into a
department store, something like a mega "little shop" which sells human
beings and natural resources at prices dictated by the world market.  The
veiled privatization projects of the electric industry, the oil and
education, and the IVA which is trying to be imposed on medicines and food,
are just a small part of the great "restructuring" plan which the
neoliberals have for Mexico.

Not only that.  With you, we are contemplating the return of moralina
positions, whose hallmarks are intolerance and authoritarianism.  It was
not insignificant that, with the July 2 results, the denominational right
unleashed an offensive of persecution and destruction.  This has been
suffered by women (raped or not), young people, artists and playwrights,
homosexuals and lesbians.  Along with pensioners and retired persons, along
with the handicapped, along with the indigenous, and along with the 70
million Mexican poor, these groups are called "the minorities."  In "your"
Mexico, Se~or Fox, these "minorities" have no place.

We object to this Mexico, and we shall do so in a radical way.

It may or may not concern you whether a group of Mexicans, primarily
indigenous in addition, are not in agreement with your mercantile plans and
with the belligerence of the right.  But you should not forget that, if the
PRI lost power, it was because the majority of Mexicans rebelled and
managed to throw it out.

That rebellion has not ended.

You and your team, since July 2, have done nothing but insist that citizens
should return to conformity and immobility.  But it will not be like that,
your neoliberal program will confront the resistance of millions.

Some members of your cabinet and those close to it are saying that the EZLN
should understand that the country has changed, that they (the zapatistas)
have no other recourse than to accept it, surrender, take off their
ski-masks and make a credit application in order to set up a little shop,
buy a TV and make installment payments on a compact car.

They are wrong.  We ourselves are fighting for change, but for us "change"
means "democracy, liberty and justice."  The PRI's defeat was a necessary,
but not sufficient, condition for the country to change.  Many things are
still missing, you and the little politicians in your cabinet know this. 
Many things are missing, and, most importantly, millions of Mexican men and
women now know it.

The indigenous, for example, are missing.  Missing is the recognition of
their rights and culture which, believe me, have nothing to do with offers
of business promotion.  Missing is the demilitarization and
deparamilitarization of the indigenous communities.  Missing is the release
of prisoners of conscience.  Missing are the political disappeared. 
Missing is the reconstruction and defense of national sovereignty.  Missing
is an economic program which would satisfy the needs of the most poor. 
Missing are citizens being so full-time.  Missing are the politicians being
held to account.  But peace is also missing.

Se~or Fox:  for more than six years your predecessor, Zedillo, feigned a
willingness to dialogue and made war against us.  He chose confrontation
and he lost.  Now you have the opportunity to choose.

If you choose the path of sincere, serious and respectful dialogue, you
will simply be demonstrating your willingness with actions.  Rest assured
that you will have a positive response from the zapatistas. That is how
dialogue can be reinitiated and, soon, the true peace will be begun being

In the public communique' which we are attaching, the EZLN announces the
demand for a series of minimal signals by the federal Executive.  If they
are made, everything will be ready to return to dialogue.

What will be at stake is not whether we are opposed to what you represent
and what you mean for our country.  There should be no doubt about this: 
we are your opponents.  What will be at stake is whether this opposition
takes place through civil and peaceful channels, or if we must continue
raised up in arms and with faces covered until we achieve what we are
seeking, which is nothing other, Se~or Fox, than democracy, liberty and
justice for all Mexicans.

Vale.  Salud, and let us hope that there will be a new dawn in Mexico and
in Chiapas.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
******************        ********************
            Irish Mexico Group
The IMG should be contacted at lasc@iol.ie
              Zapatista Index
       Our peace camp at Diez de Abril

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