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(en) Mexico, Chiapas, A point of change - Words at Oventik

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Tue, 26 Aug 2003 23:57:04 +0200 (CEST)

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1) Comandanta Esther's Words in Oventik, August 9, 2003 Brothers and sisters:
Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation:
Indigenous Brothers and Sisters of the People of Mexico:
We, the indigenous, wish to speak to you of our right to be Mexicans.
We do not need to change our culture, our clothing, our
language, our way of prayer, our way of working and
respecting the land, we cannot stop being indigenous in
order to be recognized as Mexicans.
They cannot take what we are way from us.
Yes, we are dark-skinned. They cannot turn us into whites.

Because our grandparents resisted more than 500 years of
contempt, humiliation and exploitation.

And we continue to resist.

Now they will never be able to humiliate us or do away with

The politicians betrayed the Indian peoples of Mexico.

All the political parties, the PRI, as well as the PAN, as
well as the PRD, made an agreement to deny us our rights,
because they did not approve the indigenous rights and
culture law.

They want to treat us like children and silence us.

They thought they were going to be able to do so, but then
they saw that they could not, and that they would never be
able to do what they wanted.

Now we ourselves must exercise our rights.

We do not need permission from anyone, especially not from
some politicians who only deceive the people and steal

That is why, indigenous brothers and sisters of the people
of Mexico, we are calling on all of you to enforce the law
of the San Andrés Accords.

We have the right to govern and to govern ourselves
according to our own thoughts in every municipality and in
every state in the Mexican Republic.

No one can prevent us, let alone imprison us, for exercising
our rights which we deserve.

Now is the time to put the autonomy of the indigenous
peoples into practice and to act on it throughout the entire
country of Mexico. No one needs to ask permission to form
their autonomous municipalities.

As we, who are doing so and practicing it, have not asked

Even though the bad government does not recognize it, for us
it is our law, and we shall defend ourselves with it.

We are also inviting everyone, indigenous brothers and
sisters, to embrace it and to build autonomy and authorities
so that the government of the Mexican people shall govern
obeying and in order to defend and administer the San Andrés

In the same way, we are inviting all indigenous Mexican
women to organize themselves so that, together, we can
exercise autonomy and practice our rights which we deserve
as women.

It is no longer the moment to be silent or to humiliate
ourselves in front of men, nor to ask them for the favor of
respecting us. Now is the moment for acting on our own and
for making men respect our rights. Because, if we do not do
so, no one is going to do it for us. It is up to us now,
men and women, to act and to carry on, in order to build our
autonomy and to move it forward.

These are my words.




2) Subcomandante Marcos's words:

To the Zapatista Good Government Juntas:

To the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities:

To National and International Civil Society:

Brothers and sisters:

Please accept my greetings and those of all the officials,
insurgents and militia of the armed forces and services of
our Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Congratulations on the birth of the Good Government Juntas.
They are a very important advance in our struggle for the
recognition of indigenous rights and culture in Mexico and a
good way to try and resolve those problems which exist. And
we are congratulating everyone, because this advance has
also been made possible by the support of the "civil
societies" of Mexico and the entire world.

As you will remember, this July, the councils of 30 rebel
zapatista Autonomous Municipalities spoke to the Clandestine
Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -- General Command of the
EZLN in order to ask it to also act as their spokesperson on
a temporary basis.

The purpose was to explain to national and international
civil society those changes which had been taking place over
the last nine months in rebel lands and which are today a

We can now see that it has been somewhat explained, and we
see that the Good Government Juntas have already been
formed, and they are working in the first caracoles of
Resistance which are being born on rebel lands today. We are
certain that new Caracoles shall be emerging throughout
Mexico and the world, because the zapatistas are now
painting caracoles in the face of Power.

We believe that the EZLN has now fulfilled its part in these

We have raised the Caracoles, we have built the Good
Government Juntas and we have tried to explain a bit of the

And so we are now handing back the ear, the voice and the
gaze. From now on, everything having to do with the Rebel
Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities will be spoken by the
authorities and by the Good Government Juntas. Those issues
having to do with Autonomous Municipalities, such as
projects, visits, cooperatives, conflicts, etcetera, will
also have to be dealt with through them.

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation cannot be the
voice of he who governs, or the government, even if he who
governs, governs obeying and is a good government.

The EZLN speaks for those of below, for the governed, for
the zapatista peoples who are their heart and blood, their
thought and path.

We shall be ready and waiting to defend them, that is why we
are the Zapatista Army, the Votán-Zapata, the guardian and
heart of the people. And so, from here on, I shall no longer
be the spokesperson for the rebel zapatista Autonomous
Municipalities. They already have someone who speaks, and
speaks well, for them.

In my role as military commander of the zapatista troops, I
am informing you that, as of now, the Autonomous Councils
will not be able to have recourse to the military forces for
government work. They should, therefore, try very hard to do
as all good governments do, that is, to have recourse to
reason, and not to force, in order to govern.

Armies should be used in order to defend, not in order to
govern. An army's work is not to be a police force or a
public ministry. Consequently, as our Comandantes shall be
informing you, all those checkpoints and control points
shall be withdrawn, which, under autonomous authority, our
forces have been maintaining along the roads and highways,
as well as the collecting of taxes from individuals.

>From here on, checkpoints and control points will only be
established in cases of high alert.

It shall continue to be our work and our duty to protect the
communities from attacks by the bad government, by
paramilitaries, and by those who wish to do us harm. That is
why we were born, that is why we exist and that is why we
are willing to die.

I do not need to tell you that there are many good persons
in Mexico and in the world who are looking at you. There is
respect and hope in their gaze. Respect, because you have
moved forward when everyone believed we were defeated,
because, despite being persecuted by weapons and lies, you
have built a good government. And hope because, in the face
of governments and politicians who only deceive and rob, you
can be the good example of governing obeying.

We are asking you to work with good thoughts, so that you
may never lose that respect and always nurture that hope.

Lastly, I will say to you that it has been a great honor for
me to be your spokesperson.

Those are all my words, and I await my critique or whatever
you may have to tell me.

3) Words of Comandanta Rosalinda in Oventik, August 9, 2003

Very good afternoon to all the compañero and compañera
support bases. Men, women, children, young persons, old
ones, of all the peoples and all the municipalities of
zapatista areas.

We are gathered together here today in this place of
encuentro, and I would like to speak a few words to you,
compañeros and compañeras.

Today we are demonstrating, one more time, that we -- those
of us who are here, and also those who could not come --
that we are strong enough to fight.

We realize that we have already been resisting in this
struggle for ten years. Even though we have suffered, we
are indeed willing to continue fighting, because we know we

All the zapatista municipalities and communities have been
demonstrating this for ten years, and they are good,
marvelous, because they know how to fight and resist. And
we must go on demonstrating, through our struggle, our
resistance. Even though the bad government wants to defeat
us, they cannot, because we, the zapatistas, know now how to
organize and work. We have the strength to continue
fighting for our rights and to build our autonomy.

That is why I want to tell all the compañeros and compañeras
of all the zapatista areas, of all the peoples and cities of
all of Mexico and of the world: do not be discouraged, do
not be frightened by the threats and persecution of the bad
governments, because our struggle, our resistance, has
already grown greatly. There are compañeros and compañeras
throughout the world.

Our main weapon now is our resistance and our organization
of all the peoples. That is why we are learning to build
our autonomy. We have already been able to build our
Autonomous Municipalities everywhere, and now we have the
Good Government Juntas. With this, we have taken one more
step. That is why it is the moment to be motivated. Now is
the time to be even more motivated to do all the work,
because that is the way we shall move forward in our
resistance and be able to build our autonomy.

The bad government ignores us. So let them just have their
stupidity. Because a bad government is never going to let
us. The only way to achieve what we need is to organize
ourselves well, to be strong in our resistance in Autonomous
Municipalities. But, in order to do that work, all of us
need to participate, we must all be self-motivated. The
women cannot be left behind. Only in that way will our
struggle be able to triumph.

Those are all my words.

Democracy, Liberty, Justice.

4) Comandanta Fidelia's Words in Oventik, August 9, 2003

Very good afternoon, sisters of the Mexican people and of
the world.


We would like to speak these words to you from my
revolutionary sisters of the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation, who also send you their very special greetings.

Sister women: I would like to say these little words to
you. Today we are calling on the Mexican people, the men,
demanding our respect as the women we are. We are not only
going to demand it -- since we are not going to ask for
favors or plead -- this is going to be compulsory.

Because, sister women, you know quite well that women are
there, in the countryside and the city. They are working,
their rights are being violated. They do not respect them.
That is why, today, we are inviting the women of all Mexico
and the world, and all the women in the cities, and those
who are in the unorganized corners, those who are not
listening to us but whom my voice shall reach. We are going
to make our respect as the women we are compulsory, even if
they make their sad little face.

Because there are still many parts of Mexico where we, the
women, are being mistreated, despised, exploited. They say
that we are not any good, that we are worthless, that we do
not have any rights. But today the time has come, we are
going to do it, it will be compulsory that they respect us.

I am not scolding them, listen carefully, it is called
obligation, respect for us as the women we are.

And so I am sending you very special wishes from my
revolutionary sisters of the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation, from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous
Committee, from the Mexican southeast and from all of
Mexico, where there are also zapatistas, because they are

Gracias, sisters.


5) Comandante Brusli's Words in Oventik, August 9, 2003

Good afternoon to all brothers and sisters.

Today, August 9, 2003, as a response to the political class'
plans to fragment the country, the Zapatista Army of
National Liberation is calling on the people of Mexico to
move forward with the Plan La Realidad-Tijuana. For which,
we are proposing seven common accords and seven national

First accord: Reciprocal respect for the autonomy and
independence of social organizations -- of workers,
campesinos, indigenous, women, old ones, homosexuals,
lesbians, transsexuals, sex workers, young working persons,
children, neighborhoods, teachers, small shop owners,
debtors, artists, intellectuals, religious persons -- for
their processes and decision making methods, for their
legitimate representatives, for their aspirations and
demands, and for the accords which they reach with their
opposition parties.

Second accord: Promotion of forms of self-management and
self-governance throughout the national territory, according
to each of their means.

Third accord: Promoting civil and peaceful rebellion and
resistance in response to the regulations of the bad
government and the political parties.

Fourth accord: Lend total and unconditional solidarity to
the one who is attacked, and not to the aggressor.

Fifth accord: Form a network of intercommunity basic
commerce and promotion of staple foods in national shops,
giving preference to small and mid-sized business and
informal commerce.

Sixth accord: Joint and coordinated defense of national
sovereignty and direct and radical opposition to impending
privatizations of the electric industry, oil and other
natural resources.

Seventh accord: Form a network of information and culture,
and demand truthful, complete, timely and balanced
information from the media. Create local media, and
establish regional and national networks for the defense and
promotion of local, regional and national culture and of
universal arts and sciences.

These are the seven demands which we are proposing:

First demand: The land belongs to the one who works it. In
defense of ejidal and communal ownership of the land, and
the protection and defense of natural resources. Nothing
without the knowledge and prior consent of the inhabitants
and workers of each place.

Second demand: Dignified work, a fair wage, for everyone.

Third demand: Dignified housing for everyone.

Fourth demand: Free public health for everyone.

Fifth demand: Low cost food and clothing for everyone.

Sixth demand: Free secular education for children and young

Seventh demand: Respect for the dignity of women, children
and old persons.

The EZLN is calling on independent social organizations of
the State and of the political parties to discuss and to
approve and expand on this national plan.

Democracy, Liberty, Justice.

6) Comandante Tacho's words in Oventik, August 9, 2003

Campesino brothers and sisters of Mexico:

The serious situation which is confronting us, the
campesinos of Mexico, is becoming more and more critical.

We, those who make up the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation, are speaking to all of you, you who are the
legitimate owners of the lands which we make produce.

Brothers in the history of our country, Mexico: our work,
our production, our lands, have often received public
recognition for the position occupied by campesino
production, the result of our work, sweat and effort.

Campesinos have occupied, and continue to occupy, very
important positions in everything we produce, because of its
fundamental importance in the nutritional life of the
Mexican people.

The dishonesty of past bad governments, and of those
currently in office, have not recognized campesinos for the
importance of our work.

These bad governments have done the complete opposite, and
they have mocked us.

We campesinos have been dispossessed of our lands by the
judicial police, by other police forces and even by the
federal Mexican army.

They have held us captive with credit and with extremely
high interest rates.

They have tried to take away from us what they never gave

Everything they have done against us is in order to keep the
rich happy and their interests secure.

They mock, and they continue to mock, those of us who are

These bad governments know quite well that the recognition
of the positions which we occupy in our production belongs
to us, the producer campesinos, because we are the ones who
know how much it costs to make the land produce.

We are the ones who deserve to travel to other sister
countries in order to ask for their help in improving
production, because they have advanced knowledge regarding
production in the countryside.

Instead of the unremitting big lies which the governments
have told, and continue to tell, with falsehoods and
deceptions in other countries, saying that there is no
poverty in Mexico, that there is no unemployment, that they
are a government of the people.

We, the campesinos, know that those are absolute lies.

Campesino brothers, these last years the bad governments
have tried to deceive the people, and they have especially
tried to keep the campesinos happy with the pathetic
Procampo, with paltry Progresa or with the discredited small

The underlying problems of the campesinos have not been
resolved by all these various deceptions, mockeries and

What these governments are interested in is filling their
pockets and getting richer and richer at our, the
campesinos', expense, and that is why we are forced to
fight, in response to the lack of attention to campesinos
and the countryside.

That is what they have been doing ever since the traitor
Carlos Salinas de Gortari changed Article 27 of the
Constitution, leaving campesinos unprotected.

Because, previously, all aspects of campesino life and our
lands had been protected.

The only thing that change [to Article 27 of the
Constitution] did was to benefit the interests of the rich.
As our poverty increased, they could shove us aside in order
to sell our ejidal lands to the rich and so we, the
campesinos, would be slaves on our own soil.

Today we, the campesinos, are telling those who allowed the
sale of ejidal lands through that law that for us, the
campesinos, the land is our mother, and a mother is not

And, for those who allowed the land to be sold through the
laws, they are without a mother.

Our circumstances and living conditions have been getting
worse because of the poor prices obtained for our products,
which was caused by the bad governments of Salinas, Zedillo
and Fox.

In addition, those tools, provisions and other materials
which we, the campesinos, need in order to work, to produce,
have become more and more expensive, and we are not able to
buy the necessary minimum.

Campesino brothers, our circumstances are more and more

What we buy is more and more expensive, and what we produce
is sold for less and less.

Fox's government continues doing the same as his
predecessors. Those little governments spend their time
traveling in other countries, in order to say that other
wealthy people can come to Mexico to make their investments,
that there is a good investment climate.

In other words, these very governments are allowing our
country to be brutally looted.

But, on television and in the press, the governments are
saying that the investors are going to create jobs, and that
is a lie, because there is more and more unemployment,
poverty and destitution in Mexico.

The government has no interest in improving the prices for
our goods.

That is what Salinas did, as well as Zedillo, to say nothing
of Señor Vicente Fox, who is following his predecessors'
plans and seeking the conditions for continuing to benefit
the interests of rich Mexicans and foreigners and developing
neoliberal plans in our country.

Our government's disinterest in the countryside and
campesinos is demonstrated whenever there is a natural

We know that there are means for fighting forest fires, but
nothing is done, even though they say on television and in
the press that they are prepared. The truth is they can't
even put out a spark.

The same thing happens with floods.

Not only are they unable to do anything, the truth is they
aren't interested.

It doesn't matter to them if the selva or the forests are
ruined. They are only interested in filling their pockets,
and it doesn't matter to them if we campesinos are more and
more destitute.

Campesino brothers, we do not expect anything good from any
of those old kinds of government.

There is only one path which remains for us to follow.

We have to organize ourselves in order to defend our lands
together, anyplace, in any state in the Mexican republic.

To help each other with the problems we have.

To not trust our government, regardless of how new it is,
since they have already proven themselves for 73 years, and
it may be another face, but they are still the same.

Over the last few years, there has been more scarcity, more
unemployment, more poverty, low prices for our products,
more destitution, more dislocations, more repression, more

That is why, campesino brothers and sisters of Mexico, we
are calling on everyone, as campesinos, to join together and
to organize ourselves in order to defend our lands and to
fight together for better living conditions.

We need all campesinos, we have to fight for ourselves.

Real and dignified changes which deal with the needs of the
countryside will not come from any government or from any
political party. The only path they have left us is that of
organizing ourselves in resistance and rebellion. That is

7) Words of Comandante David in Oventik, August 9, 2003

Words For Indigenous Brothers Who Are Not Zapatistas

I am going to speak a few words for those indigenous
brothers who are not zapatistas.

Non-zapatista indigenous brothers and sisters who live in
the towns, in the areas and in the rebel zapatista
Autonomous Municipalities.

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee --
General Command of the EZLN is addressing all of you in
order to tell you the following:

It is not necessary to be zapatista in order to be served
and respected by the Autonomous Municipalities in any part
of our territory.

By being a member of the community or of the municipality to
which you belong, you have the right to be served.

If you live in the same community and in the same
municipality, you are brothers of raza, of color and of
history, and there should not, then, be any reason for
fighting and confrontations between brothers, because we
suffer the same injustices of discrimination and
humiliation. We are living in the same conditions of hunger
and poverty. We suffer the same contempt, marginalization
and ignoring by the bad government and the powerful, for
being indigenous and the color of the earth.

What I am asking those who are not zapatista, those who are
not in agreement with us or those who do not understand the
just cause of our struggle, is that you respect our
organization. That you respect our communities and
Autonomous Municipalities and their authorities. And
respect the Good Government Juntas in all the regions, in
all the areas. Those which have been formally constituted
today, witnessed by many thousands of indigenous and
non-indigenous brothers and sisters in our country Mexico
and in many countries throughout the world.

We, the zapatistas, are not going to attack anyone, nor
impose anything on the brothers who are not zapatista. We
will be respectful with all our indigenous brothers, without
regard to their organization, their party or their religion,
always and as long as they respect us and respect our
communities, our Autonomous Municipalities and their
authorities, so that our indigenous towns can exercise their
rights to autonomy and free determination, as provided for
in the San Andrés Accords, which was signed by the federal
government and the EZLN, and made into the legislative
proposal by the COCOPA in November of 1996.

But yes, we want to make it quite clear, that we will not
remain with our arms crossed when our compañeros, our
communities and our municipalities are attacked by any group
of persons of any party or of any paramilitary group,
because it is our right to defend our compañeros and to
demand that they be respected.

Brothers and sisters:
Today, zapatismo is larger and stronger. Never before in
our history have we had the strength we have today. For
some time now, we have reached far beyond the boundaries of
the southeastern State of Chiapas, and more, we have control
even in communities where there are Federal Army and Public
Security Police garrisons. Our word has also reached into
the barracks and to those who inhabit them. We are not
boasting, we are merely informing. As a sign of good will,
and offering respect in advance to those who respect us, who
are not zapatistas, they will not be harassed, persecuted or
attacked at our initiative. We will give a sign.

In the name of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous
Committee -- General Command of the EZLN, I am giving the
following orders:

As of today, all those zapatista checkpoints that have been
installed on federal, state and local roads and bridges will
be lifted. And all charges to individuals on roads and
highways within rebel territories will be eliminated.

Violations of this regulation should be reported to the
respective Good Government Junta so that, pending
confirmation, the individual may return the money and the
individual or authority who has committed the offense may be
punished. Only those vehicles will be searched which could
be illegally transporting wood, drugs or weapons, the
trafficking in which is strictly forbidden on zapatista

In compliance with the demands of indigenous women, the
confirmed introduction of alcohol into the communities will
be punished by the seizure of the liquor and a fine to the
vehicle's owner. In order to enter the zapatista
communities, the same criteria and methods will be
maintained which have been operating up to this point, and
which have to do with security and protection measures for
the zapatista civil population. This is our word.

Democracy, Liberty, Justice.

8) Words of Greeting and Farewell by Comandante David in
Oventic, August 9, 2003

Good afternoon to everyone.

Compañeros and compañeras, support bases from all the rebel
zapatista territories who are present at this historic

Compañeros and compañeras, members of the Autonomous
Councils from all the Autonomous Municipalities.

Compañeros and compañeras, leaders of all the towns and

Compañeros and compañeras from the Zapatista Front of
National Liberation.

Brothers and sisters from national and international civil

Brothers and sisters from the national and international

Brothers all:

In the name of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous
Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of
National Liberation, I am cordially welcoming you to this
place of encuentro for all worlds. One of the dignified
corners of our patria, today named: Caracol of Resistance
and Rebellion For Humanity, Oventik, the Municipality of San
Andrés Sacamch'en de los Pobres, Chiapas, Mexico.

We hope with all our hearts that you feel as if you are at
home. Here is the home and the place for all of those who
dream a more just and human world, where everyone can have a
dignified place until the end of their lives.

Welcome everyone. Muchas gracias.


Now it is up to me to address words of appreciation and
farewell to national and international civil society.

To our brothers and sisters from all the countries in the
world, which we call international civil society, who,
without regard to risks, have crossed lands and seas to come
and meet us in order to give us your support and solidarity.

To all of you, our greetings and thanks. Because you have
understood that our struggle is not just for the zapatistas,
or just for the indigenous of Mexico, but you know that our
struggle is for democracy, liberty and justice for
everyone. Our struggle is for humanity and against
neoliberalism. For building a world where all worlds fit.
For a world where truth and justice prevail, and not lies
and the destruction of life.

To the indigenous and non-indigenous brothers and sisters
from all the states of our country that is Mexico, which we
call national civil society, our special best wishes and
thanks to you. We are certain that you have understood and
embraced our cause. That you know it is not just for the
zapatista indigenous, but for all the indigenous and
non-indigenous of all of Mexico and the world. And that is
why you have lent us your support, your solidarity and your
accompaniment, risking your security, your lives or the loss
of your jobs, to come here and meet with us, in order to
learn about our resistance and the organization of our
towns. And also so that you might share with us your
experience, your resistance and your hope for a better life
in the future.

It is because of that, national and international brothers
and sisters, with your support and solidarity with our
cause, that, along with you, we have made our resistance and
rebellion great and strong. Because in you we have found
thousands and millions of ears, voices and sincere hearts.
It is for you, and with you, that we zapatistas continue to
exist, even though the bad government has tried in every way
to destroy us. But the supreme government's attempts to do
away with us will be in vain, because the resistance and
rebellion of the Indian and non-Indian peoples of Mexico and
the world will be greater and stronger every day. Because
in you we have found support and solidarity over these last
ten years of struggle for our rights, for defending and
exercising our autonomy and free determination as peoples.

Democracy, Liberty and Justice for all.

We wish to continue fighting along with you for all these
ideals and utopias . That is why I am telling you to
continue coming, in order to teach us your ways and to share
your experiences and your dreams, but also, and above all,
in order to learn from us the good, and not the bad, about
us. We wish to make our struggle, our resistance and
rebellion, a small contribution to the larger struggle
against neoliberalism and the globalization of death which
is threatening all of humanity.

For humanity, against neoliberalism.

Viva the Zapatista Army of National Liberation!

Democracy, Liberty, Justice.

>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

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

Mexico, August of 2003.

Muchas gracias, brothers and sisters.

Dan Clore

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