[ssf] Zapatistas: a letter of explanation, or perhaps farewell

Dan dan at aktivix.org
Fri Jun 24 11:36:46 BST 2005

EZLN: A letter of explanation...or, perhaps, farewell

Translated by irlandesa | 24.06.2005 09:06 |
Globalisation | Social Struggles | Zapatista
This is not a letter of farewell. At times it is going
to seem as if it is, that it is a farewell, but it is
not. It is a letter of explanation. Well, that is what
we shall attempt.

EZLN: A letter of explanation...or, perhaps, farewell

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Zapatista Army of National Liberation


June 21, 2005.

To National and International Civil Society:

Señora, señorita, señor, young person, boy, girl:

This is not a letter of farewell. At times it is going
to seem as if it is, that it is a farewell, but it is
not. It is a letter of explanation. Well, that is what
we shall attempt. This was originally going to go out
as a communiqué, but we have chosen this form because,
for good or for bad, when we have spoken with you we
have almost always done so in this most personal tone.

We are the men, women, children and old ones of the
Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Perhaps you
remember us - we rose up in arms on January 1, 1994,
and ever since then we have kept up our war against
the forgetting, and we have resisted the war of
extermination which the different governments have
waged, unsuccessfully, against us. We live in the
furthest corner of this country which is called
Mexico. In that corner which is called "Indian
Peoples." Yes, like that, plural. Because, for reasons
we shall not give here, the plural is used in this
corner for everything: we suffer, we die, we fight, we

Now, as you know quite well, it so happens that, ever
since that dawn of the beginning of '94, we have
dedicated our struggle - first with fire and then with
the word - our efforts, our life and our death,
exclusively to the Indian peoples of Mexico for the
recognition of their rights and their culture. It was
natural - we zapatistas are overwhelmingly indigenous.
Mayan indigenous, to be more precise. But, in
addition, the indigenous in this country - despite
having been the foundation of this Nation's great
transformations - are still the social group which has
been the most attacked and the most exploited. If they
have shown no mercy against anyone with their military
wars and the wars disguised as "political", the wars
of usurpation, of conquest, of annihilation, of
marginalization, of ignorance - it has been against
the indigenous. The war against us has been so intense
and brutal that it has become routine to think that
the indigenous will only be able to escape from their
conditions of marginalization and poverty if they stop
being indigenous...or if they are dead. We have been
fighting to not die and to not cease being indigenous.
We have fought to be - alive and indigenous - part of
this nation which has been lifted up over our backs.
The Nation for whom we have been the feet (almost
always unshod) with which it has walked in its
decisive moments. The Nation for whom we have been the
arms and hands which have made the earth bear fruit
and which have erected the large buildings, edifices,
churches and palaces that those who have everything
take such pride in. The Nation of which - through
word, look and manner, that is, through culture - we
are the root.

Are we raining insult upon injury? Perhaps it's
because we are in June, the sixth month of the year.
Well, we just wanted to point out that the beginning
of our uprising was not just a "Here we are", shouted
to a Nation that was deaf and dumb because of the
authoritarianism above. It was also a "This is what we
are and shall continue to be...but now with dignity,
with democracy, with justice, with liberty." You know
this quite well, because, among other things, you have
been accompanying us since then.

Unfortunately, after more than 7 years committed to
that path, in April of 2001, politicians from all the
parties (primarily the PRI, PAN and PRD) and the
self-styled "three branches of the Union" (the
presidency, the congress and the courts) formed an
alliance in order to deny the Indian peoples of Mexico
the constitutional recognition of their rights and
culture. And they did so without caring about the
great national and international movement which had
arisen and joined together for that purpose. The great
majority, including the media, were in agreement that
that debt should be settled. But the politicians don't
care about anything that doesn't get them money, and
they rejected the same proposal that they had approved
years before when the San Andrés Accords were signed
and the Cocopa drafted a proposal for constitutional
reform. They did so because they thought that, after a
little time had passed, everyone would forget. And
perhaps many people forgot, but we did not. We have
memory, and it was they: the PRI, the PAN, the PRD,
the President of the Republic, the deputies and
senators and the justices of the Supreme Court of the
Nation. Yes, the Indian peoples continue today in the
underbelly of this Nation, and they continue to suffer
the same racism they have for 500 years. It doesn't
matter what they are saying now, when they are
preparing for the elections (in other words, to secure
positions that will make them profits): they are not
going to do anything for the good of the majority, nor
are they going to listen to anything that isn't money.

If we zapatistas pride ourselves on anything it's
honoring the word, the honest and principled word. All
this time we have been telling you that we will try
the path of dialogue and negotiation in order to
achieve our demands. We told you that we would make
great efforts in the peaceful struggle. We told you
that we would focus on the indigenous struggle. And so
it has been. We have not deceived you.

All the help which you have so generously contributed
to this noble cause and through those means has been
for that and for nothing else. We have used nothing
for anything else. All the humanitarian help and aid
which we have received from Mexico and from throughout
the world has been used only for improving the living
conditions of the zapatista indigenous communities and
in peaceful initiatives for the recognition of
indigenous rights and culture. Nothing of what was
received has been used for the acquisition of arms or
for any war preparations. Not only because we haven't
needed it (the EZLN has maintained its military
capacity intact since 1994), but above all because it
wouldn't have been honest to tell you that your help
was for one thing and to use it for another. Not one
centavo of the help received for peace with justice
and dignity has been used for war. We have not needed
help for making war. For peace, yes.

We have, of course, used our word to refer to (and in
some cases to express our solidarity with) other
struggles in Mexico and the world, but just that far.
And many times, knowing that we could do more, we had
to contain ourselves, because our efforts - as we had
told you - were exclusively by and for the indigenous.

It has not been easy. Do you remember the March of
the1,111? The Consulta of 5000 in 1999? The March of
the Color of the Earth in 2001? Well, imagine then
what we felt when we saw and heard the injustices and
the hatred directed against campesinos, workers,
students, teachers, working persons, homosexuals and
lesbians, young people, women, old ones, children.
Imagine what our heart felt.

We were touched by a pain, a fury, an indignation
which we already knew because it has been, and is,
ours. But now we were touched by it in the other. And
we heard the "we" which inspires us wanting to become
larger, to make itself more collective, more national.
But no, we had said just the indigenous, and we had to
honor that. I believe it's because of our way - in
other words, that we would prefer to die before we
would betray our word.

Now we are consulting with our heart in order to see
if we are going to say and do something else. If the
majority says yes, then we are going to do everything
possible to honor it. Everything, even dying if it's
necessary. We do not want to appear dramatic. We are
only saying it in order to make it clear how far we
are willing to go.. In other words, not "until they
give us a position, an amount of money, a promise, a

Perhaps some may remember how, six months ago, we
started with the "what is missing is missing." Then
fine, as is obvious, the hour has arrived to decide
whether we are going to proceed to find what is
missing. Not to find, to build. Yes, to build
"something else."

In some of the communiqués of the past few days, we
let you know that we have entered into an internal
consulta. We shall soon have the results, and we will
inform you of them. Meanwhile then, we are taking the
opportunity to write you. We have always spoken to you
with sincerity, and also to those who are our heart
and guardian, our Votan Zapata, the zapatista
communities, our collective command.

It will be a difficult and hard decision, just as our
life and our struggle have been. For four years we
have been preparing the conditions in order to present
our peoples with doors and windows so that, when the
moment comes, everyone had all the ingredients in
place for choosing which window to peer through and
which door to open. And that is our way. In other
words, the EZLN leadership does not lead, rather it
seeks paths, steps, company, direction, pace,
destination. Several. And then they present the
peoples with those paths, and they analyze with them
what would happen if we follow one or the other
course. Because, depending on the path we travel,
there are things which will be good and things which
will be bad. And then they - the zapatista communities
- speak their thoughts and decide, after discussing
and by majority, where we are all going. And then they
give the order, and then the EZLN leadership has to
organize the work or prepare what is needed to walk
that path. Of course the EZLN leadership doesn't just
look at what happens only to them, but they have to be
bound to the peoples and to touch their hearts and to
make themselves, as they say, the same thing. Then it
becomes all our gazes, all our ear, all our thoughts,
all our heart. But what if, for whatever reason, the
leadership does not look, or hear, or think, or feel
like all of us. Or some parts aren't seen or something
else isn't heard or other thoughts aren't thought or
felt. Well, then, that is why everyone is consulted.
That is why everyone is asked. That is why agreement
is taken among everyone. If the majority says no, then
the leadership has to seek another way, and to present
another way to the peoples in order to propose until
we collectively reach a decision. In other words, the
people govern.

Now the collective which we are will make a decision.
They are weighing the pros and cons. They are
carefully making the calculations, what is lost and
what is gained. And, seeing that there is not a little
to be lost, it will be decided whether it is worth it.

Perhaps, in some people's scales, there will be much
weight given to what we have achieved. Perhaps, in
other people's scales, there will be more weight given
to the indignation and shame caused by seeing our
earth and skies destroyed by the stupid avarice of
Power. In any event, we cannot remain passive, just
contemplating, as a gang of ruffians strips our Patria
of everything that gives it and everyone existence:

Ah, well, many turns now. We are writing you for what
may be the last time in order to give you back your
promised word of support. It is not little that we
have achieved in the indigenous struggle, and that has
been - as we have told you in public and in private -
because of your help. We believe you can be proud,
without any shame, of all the good that we zapatistas,
along with you, have built up to this point. And know
that it has been an honor, undeserved in any light,
that people like you have walked at our side.

Now we shall decide whether we are going to do
something else, and we will make the results public at
the proper time. We are now making clear - in order to
end the speculations - that this "other thing" does
not entail any offensive military action on our part.
We are not, on our part, planning nor discussing
reinitiating offensive military combat. Ever since
February-March of 1994 our entire military presence
has been, and is, defensive. The government should say
whether, on its part, there are any offensive war
preparations, whether by the federal forces or by
their paramilitaries. And the PRI and the PRD should
say if they are planning any attack against us with
the paramilitaries they are supporting in Chiapas.

If it is the decision of the zapatista majority, those
who have helped us up to now in the exclusively
indigenous struggle can, without any shame or regret,
distance themselves from the "other thing" to which
Comandante Tacho referred in the San Cristóbal de Las
Casas plaza in January of 2003, two and a half years
ago. In addition, there is a communiqué which
establishes, from here out, that release and which can
be presented in a job application, curriculum vitae,
coffee klatch, editorial office, roundtable,
grandstand, forum, stage, book jacket, footnote,
colloquium, candidacy, book of regrets or newspaper
column and which, in addition, has the advantage of
being able to be exhibited as defense evidence in any
court (don't laugh, there's a precedent: in 1994, some
indigenous detained by the bad government - and who
weren't zapatistas - were released by a judge,
validating a letter from the CCRI-CG in which it
released those persons from what the EZLN had done. In
other words, as the lawyers say, "there is legal

But those who find in their heart an echo, even if it
is small, of our new word and who feel themselves
called by the path, step, pace, company and
destination which we have chosen, may perhaps decide
to renew their help (or to participate
directly)...knowing that it will be "another thing".
Like that, without tricks, without deceit, without
hypocrisy, without lies.

We thank the women. All the girls, teenagers, young
women, señoritas, señoras and old ones (and those who
were changing from one to the other of those calendars
throughout these 12 years) who helped us, who
accompanied us and who, not a few times, made our pain
and our steps their own. To all of them, Mexicans and
from other countries, who helped us and who walked
with us. In everything we did you were the huge
majority. Perhaps because we share along with you,
although each in their own way and place,
discrimination, contempt...and death.

We thank the national indigenous movement, which did
not sell itself for government posts, for travel
allowances, for the flattery that the powerful
classify as "fit for indigenous and animals." The one
which listened to our word and gave us theirs. The one
which opened its heart, its home, to us. The one which
resisted and resists with dignity, raising very high
the color we are of the earth.

We thank the young men and women of Mexico and of the
world. Those who were boys, girls or teenagers that
'94 and who nobly grew up without holding back their
eyes or their ears. Those who reached youth or,
despite the pages torn from the calendar, remained
there, extending the hand of their rebellion to our
dark hand. Those who chose to come and share days,
weeks, months, years, our dignified poverty, our
struggle, our hope and our foolish endeavor.

We thank the homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals,
transgender persons and "everyone in their own way."
Those who shared with us their struggle for respect
for difference, knowing that it is not a defect to be
hidden. Those who demonstrated that courage has
nothing to do with testosterone and who, time and
again, gave us some of the most beautiful lessons of
dignity and nobility we have received.

We thank the intellectuals, artists and scientists,
from Mexico and the world, who helped us in the
struggle for the indigenous. Few movements or
organizations can pride themselves on having had the
backing (always critical, and we thank them for that)
of so much intelligence, ingenuity and creativity. You
already know that we always listened to you with
respect and attention, even when we didn't share your
points of view and that something of the light you
shone helped to illuminate our dark paths.

We thank the honest workers of the press and the
decent media who showed, truthfully and to the entire
world, what they saw and heard, and who respected,
without distorting, our voice and path. We extend you
our solidarity in these hard moments you are going
through in the exercise of your profession, where you
are risking your lives, you are attacked and, like us,
you find no justice.

And, so that no one is missed, we thank everyone who,
honestly and sincerely, helped us.

I said, at the beginning of this letter, that it was
not a farewell. Well, it so happens that for some
people it is. Although for others it will be what is,
in reality, a promise...Because what is missing can
now be seen...

Vale. Salud and, from heart to heart, thank you for

In the name of all the zapatistas of the EZLN.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, in the sixth month of the year 2005.

PS - You can see now that we aren't thinking about
playing football. Or not thinking only about that.
Because some day we will play against the
Internazionale of Milan. We, or what is left of us.

Translated by irlandesa 


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