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(en) Mexico, Chiapas, Zapatista Army of National Liberation - The Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona - part I.

Date Wed, 29 Jun 2005 18:39:24 +0300


This is our simple word which seeks to touch the hearts of humble and simple
people like ourselves, but people who are also, like ourselves, dignified and
rebel. This is our simple word for recounting what our path has been and where
we are now, in order to explain how we see the world and our country, in order
to say what we are thinking of doing and how we are thinking of doing it, and
in order to invite other persons to walk with us in something very great which
is called Mexico and something greater which is called the world. This is our simple
word in order to inform all honest and noble hearts what it is we want in Mexico and
the world. This is our simple word, because it is our idea to call on those who are
like us and to join together with them, everywhere they are living and struggling.


I - What We Are

We are the zapatistas of the EZLN, although we are also called
“neo-zapatistas.” Now, we, the zapatistas of the EZLN,
rose up in arms in January of 1994 because we saw how
widespread had become the evil wrought by the powerful who
only humiliated us, stole from us, imprisoned us and killed us,
and no one was saying anything or doing anything. That is
why we said “Ya Basta!,” that no longer were we going
to allow them to make us inferior or to treat us worse than
animals. And then we also said we wanted democracy, liberty
and justice for all Mexicans although we were concentrated on
the Indian peoples. Because it so happened that we, the EZLN,
were almost all only indigenous from here in Chiapas, but we
did not want to struggle just for own good, or just for the good
of the indigenous of Chiapas, or just for the good of the Indian
peoples of Mexico. We wanted to fight along with everyone
who was humble and simple like ourselves and who was in
great need and who suffered from
exploitation and thievery by the rich and their bad
governments here, in our Mexico, and in other countries in the
world.

And then our small history was that we grew tired of
exploitation by the powerful, and then we organized in order to
defend ourselves and to fight for justice. In the beginning there
were not many of us, just a few, going this way and that,
talking with and listening to other people like us. We did that
for many years, and we did it in secret, without making a stir.
In other words, we joined forces in silence. We remained like
that for about 10 years, and then we had grown, and then we
were many thousands. We trained ourselves quite well in
politics and weapons, and, suddenly, when the rich were
throwing their New Year’s Eve parties, we fell upon their
cities and just took them over. And we left a message to
everyone that here we are, that they have to take notice of us.
And then the rich took off and sent their great armies to do
away with us, just like they always do when the exploited rebel
- they order them all to be done away with. But we were not
done away with at all, because
we had prepared ourselves quite well prior to the war, and we
made ourselves strong in our mountains. And there were the
armies, looking for us and throwing their bombs and bullets at
us, and then they were making plans to kill off all the
indigenous at one time, because they did not know who was a
zapatista and who was not. And we were running and fighting,
fighting and running, just like our ancestors had done. Without
giving up, without surrendering, without being defeated.

And then the people from the cities went out into the streets
and began shouting for an end to the war. And then we
stopped our war, and we listened to those brothers and sisters
from the city who were telling us to try to reach an
arrangement or an accord with the bad governments, so that
the problem could be resolved without a massacre. And so we
paid attention to them, because they were what we call
“the people,” or the Mexican people. And so we set
aside the fire and took up the word.

And it so happened that the governments said they would
indeed be well-behaved, and they would engage in dialogue,
and they would make accords, and they would fulfill them.
And we said that was good, but we also thought it was good
that we knew those people who went out into the streets in
order to stop the war. Then, while we were engaging in
dialogue with the bad governments, we were also talking with
those persons, and we saw that most of them were humble and
simple people like us, and both, they and we, understood quite
well why we were fighting. And we called those people
“civil society” because most of them did not belong to
political parties, rather they were common, everyday people,
like us, simple and humble people.

But it so happened that the bad governments did not want a
good agreement, rather it was just their underhanded way of
saying they were going to talk and to reach accords, while they
were preparing their attacks in order to eliminate us once and
for all. And so then they attacked us several times, but they did
not defeat us, because we resisted quite well, and many people
throughout the world mobilized. And then the bad
governments thought that the problem was that many people
saw what was happening with the EZLN, and they started their
plan of acting as if nothing were going on. Meanwhile they
were quick to surround us, they laid siege to us in hopes that,
since our mountains are indeed remote, the people would then
forget, since zapatista lands were so far away. And every so
often the bad governments tested us and tried to deceive us or
to attack us, like in February of 1995 when they threw a huge
number of armies at us, but they did not defeat us. Because, as
they said then, we
were not alone, and many people helped us, and we resisted
well.

And then the bad governments had to make accords with the
EZLN, and those accords were called the “San Andrés
Accords” because the municipality where those accords
were signed was called “San Andrés.” And we were
not all alone in those dialogues, speaking with people from the
bad governments. We invited many people and organizations
who were, or are, engaged in the struggle for the Indian
peoples of Mexico, and everyone spoke their word, and
everyone reached agreement as to how we were going to speak
with the bad governments. And that is how that dialogue was,
not just the zapatistas on one side and the governments on the
other. Instead, the Indian peoples of Mexico, and those who
supported them, were with the zapatistas. And then the bad
governments said in those accords that they were indeed going
to recognize the rights of the Indian peoples of Mexico, and
they were going to respect their culture, and they were going to
make everything law in the Constitution. But then, once they
had signed, the bad governments acted as if they had forgotten
about them, and many years passed, and the accords were not
fulfilled at all. Quite the opposite, the government attacked the
indigenous, in order to make them back out of the struggle, as
they did on December 22, 1997, the date on which Zedillo
ordered the killing of 45 men, women, old ones and children in
the town in Chiapas called ACTEAL. This immense crime was
not so easily forgotten, and it was a demonstration of how the
bad governments color their hearts in order to attack and
assassinate those who rebel against injustices. And, while all of
that was going on, we zapatistas were putting our all into the
fulfillment of the accords and resisting in the mountains of the
Mexican southeast.

And then we began speaking with other Indian peoples of
Mexico and their organizations, and we made an agreement
with them that we were going to struggle together for the same
thing, for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
Now we were also being helped by many people from all over
the world and by persons who were well respected and whose
word was quite great because they were great intellectuals,
artists and scientists from Mexico and from all over the world.
And we also held international encuentros. In other words, we
joined together to talk with persons from America and from
Asia and from Europe and from Africa and from Oceania, and
we learned of their struggles and their ways, and we said they
were “intergalactic” encuentros, just to be silly and
because we had also invited those from other planets, but it
appeared as if they had not come, or perhaps they did come,
but they did not make it clear.

But the bad governments did not keep their word anyway, and
then we made a plan to talk with many Mexicans so they
would help us. And then, first in 1997, we held a march to
Mexico City which was called “of the 1,111” because a
compañero or compañera was going to go from each
zapatista town, but the bad government did not pay any
attention. And then, in 1999, we held a consulta throughout
the country, and there it was seen that the majority were
indeed in agreement with the demands of the Indian peoples,
but again the bad governments did not pay any attention. And
then, lastly, in 2001, we held what was called the “march
for indigenous dignity” which had much support from
millions of Mexicans and people from other countries, and it
went to where the deputies and senators were, the Congress of
the Union, in order to demand the recognition of the Mexican
indigenous.

But it happened that no, the politicians from the PRI, the PAN
and the PRD reached an agreement among themselves, and
they simply did not recognize indigenous rights and culture.
That was in April of 2001, and the politicians demonstrated
quite clearly there that they had no decency whatsoever, and
they were swine who thought only about making their good
money as the bad politicians they were. This must be
remembered, because you will now be seeing that they are
going to say they will indeed recognize indigenous rights, but it
is a lie they are telling so we will vote for them. But they
already had their chance, and they did not keep their word.

And then we saw quite clearly that there was no point to
dialogue and negotiation with the bad governments of Mexico.
That it was a waste of time for us to be talking with the
politicians, because neither their hearts nor their words were
honest. They were crooked, and they told lies that they would
keep their word, but they did not. In other words, on that day,
when the politicians from the PRI, PAN and PRD approved a
law that was no good, they killed dialogue once and for all, and
they clearly stated that it did not matter what they had agreed
to and signed, because they did not keep their word. And then
we did not make any contacts with the federal branches.
Because we understood that dialogue and negotiation had
failed as a result of those political parties. We saw that blood
did not matter to them, nor did death, suffering, mobilizations,
consultas, efforts, national and international statements,
encuentros, accords, signatures, commitments. And so the
political class not only
closed, one more time, the door to the Indian peoples, they
also delivered a mortal blow to the peaceful resolution -
through dialogue and negotiation - of the war. It can also no
longer be believed that the accords will be fulfilled by someone
who comes along with something or other. They should see
that there so that they can learn from experience what
happened to us.

And then we saw all of that, and we wondered in our hearts
what we were going to do.

And the first thing we saw was that our heart was not the same
as before, when we began our struggle. It was larger, because
now we had touched the hearts of many good people. And we
also saw that our heart was more hurt, it was more wounded.
And it was not wounded by the deceits of the bad
governments, but because, when we touched the hearts of
others, we also touched their sorrows. It was as if we were
seeing ourselves in a mirror.


II. - Where We Are Now

Then, like the zapatistas we are, we thought that it was not
enough to stop engaging in dialogue with the government, but
it was necessary to continue on ahead in the struggle, in spite
of those lazy parasites of politicians. The EZLN then decided
to carry out, alone and on their side (“unilateral”, in
other words, because just one side), the San Andrés
Accords regarding indigenous rights and culture. For 4 years,
since the middle of 2001 until the middle of 2005, we have
devoted ourselves to this and to other things which we are
going to tell you about.

Fine, we then began encouraging the autonomous rebel
zapatista municipalities – which is how the peoples are
organized in order to govern and to govern themselves – in
order to make themselves stronger. This method of
autonomous government was not simply invented by the
EZLN, but rather it comes from several centuries of
indigenous resistance and from the zapatistas’ own
experience. It is the self-governance of the communities. In
other words, no one from outside comes to govern, but the
peoples themselves decide, among themselves, who governs
and how, and, if they do not obey, they are removed. If the one
who governs does not obey the people, they pursue them, they
are removed from authority, and another comes in.

But then we saw that the Autonomous Municipalities were not
level. There were some that were more advanced and which
had more support from civil society, and others were more
neglected. The organization was lacking to make them more
on a par with each other. And we also saw that the EZLN, with
its political-military component, was involving itself in
decisions which belonged to the democratic authorities,
“civilians” as they say. And here the problem is that
the political-military component of the EZLN is not
democratic, because it is an army. And we saw that the
military being above, and the democratic below, was not good,
because what is democratic should not be decided militarily, it
should be the reverse: the democratic-political governing
above, and the military obeying below. Or, perhaps, it would be
better with nothing below, just completely level, without any
military, and that is why the zapatistas are soldiers so that there
will not be any soldiers. Fine, what we then did
about this problem was to begin separating the
political-military from the autonomous and democratic aspects
of organization in the zapatista communities. And so, actions
and decisions which had previously been made and taken by
the EZLN were being passed, little by little, to the
democratically elected authorities in the villages. It is easy to
say, of course, but it was very difficult in practice, because
many years have passed – first in the preparation for the
war and then the war itself – and the political-military
aspects have become customary. But, regardless, we did so
because it is our way to do what we say, because, if not, why
should we go around saying things if we do not then do them.

That was how the Good Government Juntas were born, in
August of 2003, and, through them, self-learning and the
exercise of “govern obeying” has continued.

From that time and until the middle of 2005, the EZLN
leadership has no longer involved itself in giving orders in civil
matters, but it has accompanied and helped the authorities
who are democratically elected by the peoples. It has also kept
watch that the peoples and national and international civil
society are kept well informed concerning the aid that is
received and how it is used. And now we are passing the work
of safeguarding good government to the zapatista support
bases, with temporary positions which are rotated, so that
everyone learns and carries out this work. Because we believe
that a people which does not watch over its leaders is
condemned to be enslaved, and we fought to be free, not to
change masters every six years.

The EZLN, during these 4 years, also handed over to the Good
Government Juntas and the Autonomous Municipalities the
aid and contacts which they had attained throughout Mexico
and the world during these years of war and resistance. The
EZLN had also, during that time, been building economic and
political support which allowed the zapatista communities to
make progress with fewer difficulties in the building of their
autonomy and in improving their living conditions. It is not
much, but it is far better than what they had prior to the
beginning of the uprising in January of 1994. If you look at one
of those studies the governments make, you will see that the
only indigenous communities which have improved their living
conditions – whether in health, education, food or housing
– were those which are in zapatista territory, which is what
we call where our villages are. And all of that has been possible
because of the progress made by the zapatista villages and
because of the very large
support which has been received from good and noble
persons, whom we call “civil societies,” and from their
organizations throughout the world. As if all of these people
have made “another world is possible” a reality, but
through actions, not just words.

And the villages have made good progress. Now there are
more compañeros and compañeras who are learning to
govern. And – even though little by little – there are
more women going into this work, but there is still a lack of
respect for the compañeras, and they need to participate
more in the work of the struggle. And, also through the Good
Government Juntas, coordination has been improved between
the Autonomous Municipalities and the resolution of problems
with other organizations and with the official authorities. There
has also been much improvement in the projects in the
communities, and the distribution of projects and aid given by
civil society from all over the world has become more level.
Health and education have improved, although there is still a
good deal lacking for it to be what it should be. The same is
true for housing and food, and in some areas there has been
much improvement with the problem of land, because the
lands recovered from the finqueros are being
distributed. But there are areas which continue to suffer from
a lack of lands to cultivate. And there has been great
improvement in the support from national and international
civil society, because previously everyone went wherever they
wanted, and now the Good Government Juntas are directing
them to where the greatest need exists. And, similarly,
everywhere there are more compañeros and compañeras
who are learning to relate to persons from other parts of
Mexico and of the world,. They are learning to respect and to
demand respect. They are learning that there are many worlds,
and that everyone has their place, their time and their way, and
therefore there must be mutual respect between everyone.

We, the zapatistas of the EZLN, have devoted this time to our
primary force, to the peoples who support us. And the situation
has indeed improved some. No one can say that the zapatista
organization and struggle has been without point, but rather,
even if they were to do away with us completely, our struggle
has indeed been of some use.

But it is not just the zapatista villages which have grown –
the EZLN has also grown. Because what has happened during
this time is that new generations have renewed our entire
organization. They have added new strength. The
comandantes and comandantas who were in their maturity at
the beginning of the uprising in 1994 now have the wisdom
they gained in the war and in the 12 years of dialogue with
thousands of men and women from throughout the world. The
members of the CCRI, the zapatista political-organizational
leadership, is now counseling and directing the new ones who
are entering our struggle, as well as those who are holding
leadership positions. For some time now the
“committees” (which is what we call them) have been
preparing an entire new generation of comandantes and
comandantas who, following a period of instruction and
testing, are beginning to learn the work of organizational
leadership and to discharge their duties. And it also so happens
that our insurgents,
insurgentas, militants, local and regional responsables, as well
as support bases, who were youngsters at the beginning of the
uprising, are now mature men and women, combat veterans
and natural leaders in their units and communities. And those
who were children in that January of ’94 are now young
people who have grown up in the resistance, and they have
been trained in the rebel dignity lifted up by their elders
throughout these 12 years of war. These young people have a
political, technical and cultural training that we who began the
zapatista movement did not have. This youth is now, more and
more, sustaining our troops as well as leadership positions in
the organization. And, indeed, all of us have seen the deceits
by the Mexican political class and the destruction which their
actions have caused in our patria. And we have seen the great
injustices and massacres that neoliberal globalization causes
throughout the world. But we will speak to you of that later.

And so the EZLN has resisted 12 years of war, of military,
political, ideological and economic attacks, of siege, of
harassment, of persecution, and they have not vanquished us.
We have not sold out nor surrendered, and we have made
progress. More compañeros from many places have entered
into the struggle so that, instead of making us weaker after so
many years, we have become stronger. Of course there are
problems which can be resolved by more separation of the
political-military from the civil-democratic. But there are
things, the most important ones, such as our demands for
which we struggle, which have not been fully achieved.

To our way of thinking, and what we see in our heart, we have
reached a point where we cannot go any further, and, in
addition, it is possible that we could lose everything we have if
we remain as we are and do nothing more in order to move
forward. The hour has come to take a risk once again and to
take a step which is dangerous but which is worthwhile.
Because, perhaps united with other social sectors who suffer
from the same wants as we do, it will be possible to achieve
what we need and what we deserve. A new step forward in the
indigenous struggle is only possible if the indigenous join
together with workers, campesinos, students, teachers,
employees…the workers of the city and the countryside.

(To be continued…)


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee –
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation.

Mexico, in the sixth month of the year 2005.
Originally published in Spanish by the Zapatista Army of
National Liberation
**************************************
Translated by irlandesa

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