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(en) Letter to Mumia from Subcomandante Marcos

From MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG>
Date Sat, 24 Apr 1999 01:36:18 -0400

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

> For - Mumia Abu-Jamal  American Union
> From - Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos  Mexico
Mister Mumia: 
I am writing to you in the name of the men, women, children and elderly of
the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in order to congratulate you on
April 24, which is your birthday.
Perhaps you have heard of us.  We are Mexican, mostly indigenous, and we
took up arms on January 1 of 1994 demanding a voice, face and name for the
forgotten of the earth. 

Since then, the Mexican government has made war on us and pursues us and
harasses us seeking our death, our disappearance and our definitive
silence.  The reason?  These lands are rich with oil, uranium and precious
lumber.  The government wants them for the great transnational companies. 
We want them for all the Mexicans.  The government sees our lands as a
business.  We see our history written in these lands.  In oder to defend
our right (and that of all Mexicans) to live with liberty, democracy,
justice and dignity we became an army and undertook a name, voice and face
that way.

Perhaps you wonder how we know of you, about your birthday, and why it is
that we extend this long bridge which goes from the mountains of the
Mexican southeast to the prison of Pennsylvania which has imprisoned you
unjustly.  Many good people from many parts of the world have spoken of
you, through them we have learned how you were ambushed by the North
American police in December of 1981, of the lies which they constructed in
the procedures against you, and of the death sentence in 1982. We learned
about your birthday through the international mobilizations which, under
the name of "Millions for Mumia", are being prepared this April 24th.

It is harder to explain this bridge which this letter extends, it is more
complicated.  I could tell you that, for the powerful of Mexico and the
government, to be indigenous, or to look indigenous, is reason for
disdain, abhorrence, distrust and hatred.  The racism which now floods the
palaces of Power in Mexico goes to the extreme of carrying out a war of
extermination, genocide, against millions of indigenous.  I am sure that
you will find similarities with what the Power in the United States does
with the so-called "people of color" (African-American, Chicanos, Puerto
Ricans, Asians, Northamerican Indians and any other peoples who do not
have the insipid color of money.)

We are also "people of color" (the same color of our brothers who have
Mexican blood and live and struggle in the American Union).  We are of the
color "brown", the color of the earth, the color from which we take our
history, our strength, our wisdom and our hope.  But in order to struggle
we add another color to the brown:  black.  We use black ski-masks to show
our faces.  Only in this way can we be seen and heard.  We chose this
color as a result of the counsel of an indigenous Mayan elder who
explained to us what the color black meant.

The name of this wise elder was Old Man Antonio. He died in these rebel
Zapatista lands in March of 1994, victim of tuberculosis which ate his
lungs and his breath. Old Man Antonio used to tell us that from black came
the light and from there came the stars which light up the sky around the
world.  He told us a story which said that a long time ago (in those times
when no one measured it), the first gods were given the task of giving
birth to the world.  In one of their meetings they saw it was necessary
that the world have life and movement, and for this light was necessary.
Then they thought of making the sun in order that the days move and so
there would be day and night and time for struggling and time for making
love, walking with the days and nights the world would go.  The gods had
their meeting and made this agreement in front of a large fire, and they
knew it was necessary that one of them be sacrificed by throwing himself
into the fire in order to become fire himself and fly into the sky.  The
gods thought that the work of the sun was the most important, so they
chose the most beautiful god so that he would fly into the fire and become
the sun.  But he was afraid. Then the smallest god, the one who was black,
said he was not afraid and he threw himself into the fire and became sun. 
Then the world had light and movement, and there was time for struggle and
time for love, and in the day the bodies worked to make the world and in
the night the bodies made love and sparkles filled the darkness.

This is what Old Man Antonio told us and that is why we use a black ski
mask.  So we are of the color brown and of the color black.  But we are
also of the color yellow, because the first people who walked these lands
were made of corn so they would be true. And we are also red because this
is the call of blood which has dignity and we are also blue because we are
the sky in which we fly, and green for the mountain which is our house and
our strength.  And we are white because we are paper so that tomorrow can
write its story.

So we are 7 colors because there were 7 first gods who birthed the world. 

This is what Old Man Antonio said long ago and now I tell you this story
so that you may understand the reason for this bridge of paper and ink
which I send to you all the way from the mountains of the Mexican

And also so that you may understand that with this bridge goes pieces of
salutes and hugs for Leonard Peltier (who is in the prison at Leavenworth,
Kansas), and for the more than 100 political prisoners in the USA who are
the victims of injustice, stupidity and authoritarianism. 

And with this letter-bridge walks as well a salute to the Dine (the
Navajo), who, in Big Mountain, Arizona, fight against the violations of
their traditional Dine religious practices.  They struggle against those
who prefer the large businesses instead of respect for the religious
freedom of Indian peoples, and those who want to destroy sacred grounds
and ceremonial sites (as is the case of Peabody Western Coal Company which
wants to take lands without reason, history or rights-lands which belong
to the Dine and their future generations.)

But there are not only stories of resistance against North American
injustice in this letter-bridge.  There are the indigenous, from the
extreme south of our continent, in Chile, the Mapuche women in the
Pewenche Center of Alto Bio-Bio who resist against stupidity.  Two
indigenous women, Bertha and Nicolasa Quintreman are accused of
"mistreating" members of the armed forces of the Chilean government.  So
there it is.  An armed military unit with rifles, sticks, and tear-gas,
protected by bulletproof vests, helmets and shields, accuse two indigenous
women of "mistreatment".  But Bertha is 74 years old and Nicolasa is 60. 
How is it possible that two elderly people confronted a "heroic" group of
heavily-armed military?  Because they are Mapuche.  The story is the same
as that of the brothers and sisters Dine of Arizona, and the same which
repeats itself in all America: a company (ENDESA) wants the lands of the
Mapuches, and in spite of the law which protects the indigenous, the
government is on the side of the companies.  The Mapuche students have
pointed out that the government and the company made a "study" of military
intelligence about the indigenous Mapuche communities and they came to the
conclusion that the Mapuche could not think, defend themselves, resist, or
construct a better future.  The study was wrong apparently. 

Now it occurs to me that, perhaps the powerful in North America carried
out a "military intelligence" study (this is frankly a contradiction,
because those of us who are military are not intelligent, if we were we
would not be military) about the case of the Dine in Arizona, about
Leonard Peltier, about other political prisoners, about yourself, mister

Perhaps they made this study and came to the conclusion that they might be
able to violate justice and reason, to assault history and lose the truth.
They thought they could do this and no one would say anything.  The Dine
Indians would stand by and watch the destruction of the most sacred of
their history, Leonard Peltier would be alone, and you, Mister Mumia,
would be silenced ( and I remember your own words "They not only want my
death, they want my silence").

But the studies were wrong. Happy mistake?  The Dine resist against those
who would kill their memory, Leonard Peltier is accompanied by all those
who demand his liberty, and you sir, speak and yell today with all the
voices which celebrate your birthday as all birthdays should be
celebrated, by struggling.

Mister Mumia: 

We have nothing big to give you as a gift for your birthday, it is poor
and little, but all of us send you an embrace.

We hope that when you gain your freedom you will come to visit us.  Then
we will give you a birthday party, even if it isn't April 24th, it will be
an unbirthday party.

There will be musicians, dancing and speaking, which are the means by
which men and women of all colors understand and know one another, and
build bridges over which they walk together, towards history, towards

Happy Birthday! 

Vale.  We salute you and may justice and truth find their place. 

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, April of 1999

P.S. I read somewhere that you are a father and a grandfather.  So I am
sending you a gift for your children and grandchildren.  It is a little
wooden car with Zapatistas dressed in black ski-masks.

Tell your children and grandchildren that it is a gift that we send you,
the Zapatistas.  Explain to them places that there are people of all
colors everywhere, just like you, who want justice, liberty and democracy
for people of all colors.


Zapatista Army of National Liberation
April of 1999

For: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, USA.
        Mister Tom Ridge, governor of Pennsylvania
        United States of  North America

>From : Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Gentlemen Magistrate and Governor:

I write to you in the name of the men, women, children and elderly of the
EZLN. Most of us are indigenous Mexicans and we struggle for liberty,
democracy and justice.

The purpose of the following letter is to demand justice in the case of
Mister Mumia Abu-Jamal, condemned unjustly to the death penalty in 1982.
As you know, the judicial process against Mister Mumia Abu-Jamal was
plagued with lies and irregularities: the police who accuse him lied about
a supposed confession of his, one of the witnesses has changed testimony
and declared that he was forced to lie or face prison, the ballistic
evidence has proved it was impossible that Mister Mumia Abu-Jamal fired
the weapon which killed the policeman.  This should be enough evidence for
a new trial, but even this recourse has been denied to Mister Mumia
Abu-Jamal.  If the Judicial system of Pennsylvania and the governor are
certain of the guilt of Mister Mumia Abu-Jamal, they should not fear a new
trial which adheres to the truth.

I do not ask clemency, pardon, nor mercy of you for Mister Mumia
Abu-Jamal. I demand justice, something which I believe is within your
powers.  No one within the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or governor Tom
Ridge has anything to lose.  A new trial can bring the truth forward, and
justice, supposedly, is all that should matter.

That is all.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, April of 1999


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