Narco News 2001
March 28, 2001
Remarks Now Translated
Zebedeo, Tacho & Marcos
of EZLN Translated by Irlandesa
Congressman Hector Sanchez,
PRD, of Juchitán, Oaxaca opened the session at 11 a.m.
Central Time with a speech offered in his native Zapoteca language
and then in Spanish. He spoke of the tradition of the ancient
ones, who met under the ceiba tree, to resolve differences and
Zapatista to speak for 25 minutes:
Originally published in
Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
Honorable Congress of
Legislators, Men and Women,
from the Political Coordinating Committee of
the Chamber of Deputies:
Legislators, Men and Women,
from the Joint Committees of Constitutional
Issues and of Indigenous Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies:
Legislators, Men and Women,
from the Committees of Constitutional Issues,
of Indigenous Affairs and of Legislative Studies of the Senate:
Legislators, Men and Women,
of the Commission of Concordance and Peace:
Brothers and Sisters from
the National Indigenous Congress:
Brothers and Sisters of
all the Indian Peoples of Mexico:
Brothers and Sisters from
People of Mexico:
Through my voice speaks
the voice of the Zapatista Army of National
The word that our voice
is bringing is an outcry.
But our word is one of
respect for this tribune and for all of those who
are listening to it.
You will not receive either
insults or rudeness from us.
We shall not do the same
thing which took place on the first of December of
2000, in disrespect of these legislative halls.
The word we bring is true.
We did not come to humiliate
We did not come to defeat
We did not come to replace
We did not come to legislate.
We came so that you could
listen to us and we could listen to you.
We came to engage in dialogue.
We realize that our presence
in this tribune led to bitter discussions and
There were those who counted
on our using this opportunity to insult or to
settle overdue accounts, that it was all part of a strategy to
Those who thought like
that are not present.
But there were those who
counted on and trusted our word. It was they who
opened this door of dialogue for us, and they are the ones who
We are zapatistas.
We shall not betray the
trust and faith that many in this parliament and
among the people of Mexico put in our word.
Those who chose to lend
an attentive ear to our respectful word, won.
Those who chose to close
the doors to dialogue because they feared a
Because the zapatistas
are bringing the word of truth and respect.
Some might have thought
that this tribune would be occupied by SupMarcos,
and that it would be he who would be giving this main message
You can now see that it
is not so.
Marcos is that, a Subcomandante.
We are the Comandantes,
those who command jointly, the ones who govern our
We gave the Sup and those
who share hopes and dreams with him, the mission
of bringing us to this tribune.
They, our guerreros and
guerreras, accomplished that mission, thanks to the
support of the popular mobilization in Mexico and in the world.
Now it is our hour.
The respect we are offering
the Congress of the Union is one of content,
but also of form.
The military chief of
a rebel army is not in this tribune.
The ones who represent
the civil part of the EZLN are here, the political
and organizational leadership of a legitimate, honest and consistent
movement are here, which is, in addition, a movement which is
legal, due to
the Law for Dialogue, Conciliation and a Dignified Peace in Chiapas.
We are thus demonstrating
that we are not interested in provoking
resentments or suspicions in anyone.
And so it is I, an indigenous
No one will have any reason
to feel attacked, humiliated or degraded by my
occupying this tribune and speaking today.
Those who are not here
now already knew that they would refuse to listen to
what an indigenous woman was coming to say to them, and they
to speak because it would be I who was listening to them.
My name is Esther, but
that is not important now.
I am a zapatista, but
that is not important at this moment either.
This tribune is a symbol.
That is why it caused
so much controversy.
That is why we wanted
to speak in it, and that is why some did not want us
to be here.
And it is also a symbol
that it is I, a poor, indigenous and zapatista
woman, who would be having the first word, and that the main
message of our
word as zapatistas would be mine.
A few days ago, in these
legislative halls, there was a very heated
discussion, and, in a very close vote, the majority position
Those who thought differently,
and worked accordingly, were not sent to
jail, nor were they pursued, let alone killed.
Here, in this Congress,
there are marked differences, some of them even
contradictory, and there is respect for those differences.
But, even with these differences,
the Congress does not come apart, is not
balkanized, does not fragment into many little congresses, but
precisely for those differences - its regulations are constructed.
And, without losing what
makes each individual different, unity is
maintained, and, with it, the possibility of advancing by mutual
That is the country we
A country where difference
is recognized and respected.
Where being and thinking
differently is no reason for going to jail, for
being persecuted, or for dying.
Here, in this Legislative
Palace, there are 7 empty places corresponding to
the 7 indigenous who could not be present.
And they were not able
to be here with us because the difference which
makes us indigenous is not recognized nor respected.
Of the seven who are absent,
one died in the first days of January of 1994,
two others are imprisoned for having opposed the felling of trees,
two are in jail for defending fishing as a means of livelihood
pirate fishermen, and the remaining two have arrest warrants
for the same cause.
As indigenous, the seven
fought for their rights and, as indigenous, they
were met with the responses of death, jail and persecution.
In this Congress, there
are various political forces, and each one of them
joins together and works with complete autonomy.
Their methods of reaching
agreements and the rules of their internal
coexistence can be looked upon with approval or disapproval,
but they are
respected, and no one is persecuted for being from one or the
parliamentary wing, for being from the right, from the center
or from the
At the point at which
it becomes necessary, everyone reaches agreement, and
they unite in order to achieve something they believe to be good
If they are not all in
agreement, then the majority reaches agreement, and
the minority accepts and works according to the majority agreement.
The legislators are from
a political party, from a certain ideological
orientation, and they are, at the same time, legislators of all
and women, regardless of the political party someone belongs
to or what
their ideas are.
That is how we zapatistas
want Mexico to be.
One where indigenous will
be indigenous and Mexicans, one where respect for
difference is balanced with respect for what makes us equals.
One where difference is
not a reason for death, jail, persecution, mockery,
One where, always, formed
by differences, ours is a sovereign and
And not a colony where
lootings, unfairness and shame abound.
One where, in the defining
moments of our history, all of us rise above the
differences to what we have in common, that is, being Mexican.
This is one of those historic
In this Congress the federal
Executive does not govern, nor do the
Nor does any political
party govern it.
The Congress of the Union
is made up of differences, but everyone has in
common the fact of their being legislators and concern for national
That difference and that
equality are now confronting a time which is
presenting them with the opportunity to see very far ahead and
to make out,
at the present moment, the hour to come.
Our hour, the hour of
the Mexican indigenous, has come.
We are asking that our
differences and our being Mexicans be recognized.
Fortunately for the Indian
peoples and for the country, a group of
legislators like you drew up a proposal for constitutional reforms
safeguards the recognition of the indigenous, as well as maintaining
reinforcing, along with that recognition, national sovereignty.
That is the "Cocopa
legislative proposal," named because it was members of
the Commission of Concordance and Peace of the Congress of the
Deputies and Senators, who drew it up.
We are not unaware of
the fact that this Cocopa proposal has received some
For the last 4 years there
has been a debate which no other legislative
proposal has received throughout the history of the federal legislature
And, in this debate, all
the criticisms were scrupulously refuted, both in
theory and in practice.
This proposal was accused
of balkanizing the country, ignoring that the
country is already divided.
One Mexico which produces
wealth, another which appropriates that wealth,
and another which is the one which has to stretch out its hand
We, the indigenous, live
in this fragmented country, condemned to shame for
being the color we are, for the language we speak, the clothes
us, the music and the dance which speak our sadness and joy,
This proposal is accused
of created Indian reservations, ignoring that we
indigenous are already in fact living apart, separated from the
rest of the
Mexicans, and, in addition, in danger of extinction.
This proposal is accused
of promoting a backward legal system, ignoring
that the current one only promotes confrontation, punishes the
gives impunity to the rich. It condemns our color and turns our
This proposal is accused
of creating exceptions in political life, ignoring
that in the current one the one who governs does not govern,
turns his public position into a source of his own wealth, and
himself to be beyond punishment and untouchable as long as term
does not end.
My indigenous brothers
and sisters who will be following me in the use of
the word will be speaking of this in more detail.
I would like to speak
a little about the criticism of the Cocopa law for
legalizing discrimination and marginalization of the indigenous
Deputies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to explain
to you the situation of the indigenous woman who
are living in our communities, considering that respect for women
supposedly guaranteed in the Constitution.
The situation is very
For many years we have
suffered pain, forgetting, contempt, marginalization
We suffer from forgetting
because no one remembers us.
They send us to live in
the corners of the mountains of the country, so
that no one will come any more to visit us or to see how we are
Meanwhile, we do not have
drinkable water, electricity, schools, dignified
housing, roads, clinics - let alone hospitals - while many of
women, children and old ones die from curable illnesses, malnutrition
childbirth, because there are no clinics or hospitals where they
Only in the city, where
the rich live, do they indeed have hospitals with
good care, and they have all the services.
For us, even in the city,
we do not receive any benefits, because we do not
have any money. There is no way to come back, if there were we
have come to the city. We return to the road, dead already.
Primarily the women, it
is they who feel the pain of childbirth. They see
their children die in their arms from malnutrition, for lack
of care. They
also see their children without shoes, without clothing, because
not have enough money to buy them, because it is they who care
homes, they see that they do not have enough for food.
They also carry water
for 2 or 3 hours, walking, with pitchers, carrying
their children, and they do everything that is to be done in
From the time we are very
young, we begin doing simple things.
When we are bigger, we
go out to work in the fields, to plant, to weed and
carry our children.
Meanwhile the men go out
to work in the coffee plantations and cane fields,
to earn a little money in order to scrape by with their families.
Sometimes they do not come back, because they die from illnesses.
They have no time to return
to their homes, or, if they do return, they
return sick, without money, sometimes already dead.
And so the woman is left
with more pain, because she is left alone caring
for her children.
We also suffer from contempt
and marginalization from the moment we are
born, because they do not take good care of us.
Since, as girls, they
do not think we are worth anything. We do not know
how to think, or work, how to live our lives.
That is why many of us
women are illiterate, because we did not have the
opportunity to go to school.
And then, when we are
a bit older, our fathers make us to marry by force.
It does not matter if we do not want to, they do not ask for
They abuse our decisions.
As women, they beat us, we are mistreated by our
own husbands or relatives. We cannot say anything, because they
tell us we
do not have a right to defend ourselves.
The mestizos and the wealthy
mock us indigenous women because of our way of
dressing, of speaking, our language, our way of praying and of
for our color, which is the color of the earth we work.
Always in the land, because
we live there. Nor do they allow us to
participate in any other work.
They say we are filthy,
because, since we are indigenous, we do not bathe.
We, the indigenous women,
do not have the same opportunities as the men,
who have all the right to decide everything.
Only they have the right
to the land, and women do not have rights since we
do not work the land and since we are not human beings, we suffer
The bad governments taught
us this entire situation.
We indigenous women do
not have good food. We do not have dignified
housing. We do not have health services, or education.
We have no work programs,
and so we scrape by in poverty. This poverty is
because of abandonment by the government, which has never taken
us as indigenous, and they have not taken us into account. They
treated us just like any other thing. They say they send us help
Progresa, but they do so for the purpose of destroying us and
And that is simply the
way life, and death, is for us, the indigenous
And they tell us that
the Cocopa law is going to make them marginalize us.
It is the current law
which allows them to marginalize us and to humiliate
That is why we decided
to organize in order to fight as zapatista women.
In order to change the
situation, because we are already tired of so much
suffering, without having our rights.
I am not telling you all
of this so that you will pity us or come to save
us from those abuses.
We have fought to change
that, and we will continue to do so.
But we need for our fight
to be recognized in the laws, because up until
now it has not been recognized.
It is, but only as women,
and even then, not fully.
We, in addition to being
women, are indigenous, and, as such, we are not
We know which are good
and which are bad uses and customs.
The bad ones are hitting
and beating a woman, buying and selling, marrying
by force against her will, not being allowed to participate in
not being able to leave the house.
That is what we want the
indigenous rights and culture law to be approved.
It is very important for us, the indigenous women of all of Mexico.
It is going to serve for
us to be recognized and respected as the women and
indigenous we are.
That means that we want
our manner of dressing recognized, of speaking, of
governing, of organizing, of praying, of curing, our method of
collectives, of respecting the land and of understanding life,
nature, of which we are a part.
Our rights as women are
also included in this law, so that no one will any
longer be able to prevent our participation, our dignity and
safety in any
kind of work, the same as men.
That is why we want to
tell all the Deputies and Senators to carry out
their duties, be true representatives of the people.
You said you were going
to serve the people, that you are going to make
laws for the people.
Carry out your word, what
you committed yourselves to with the people.
It is the moment for approving
the Cocopa legislative proposal.
Those who voted for you,
and those who did not, but who are also people,
continue thirsting for peace, for justice.
Do not allow anyone to
any longer put our dignity to shame.
We are asking you as women,
as poor, as indigenous and as zapatistas.
Legislators, Ladies and
You have been sensitive
to an outcry which is not only the zapatistas', nor
just of the Indian peoples, but of all the people of Mexico.
Not only of those who
are poor like us, but also of people of comfortable
Yours sensitivity as legislators
allowed a light to illuminate the dark
night in which we indigenous are born, grow up, live and die.
That light is dialogue.
We are certain that you
do not confuse justice with charity.
And that you have known
to recognize in our difference the equality which,
as human beings and as Mexicans, we share with you and with all
We applaud your listening
to us, and that is why we want to take advantage
of your attentive ear in order to tell you something important:
The announcement of the
military vacating Guadalupe Tepeyac, La Garrucha
and Río Euseba, and the measures which are being taken
in order to carry
this out, have not gone unnoticed by the EZLN.
Señor Vicente Fox
is responding now to one of the questions which our
people made to him through us:
He is the supreme commander
of the federal Army, and the army follows his
orders, whether for the good or the bad.
In this case, his orders
have been a sign of peace, and that is why we, the
Comandantes and Comandantas of the EZLN, are also giving orders
of peace to
First. - We are ordering
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, as military
chief of the regular and irregular forces of the EZLN, to carry
whatever necessary in order to see that no military advance by
is made into the positions which have been vacated by the federal
for him to order our forces to maintain their current positions
We will not respond to
a sign of peace with a sign of war.
Zapatistas arms will not
replace government arms.
The civilian population
living in those places vacated by the federal Army
have our word that our military forces will not be employed to
conflicts or disputes.
We are inviting national
and international civil society to set up peace
camps and observation posts in those places, and to certify in
that there is no armed presence by the zapatistas.
Second. - We are giving
instructions to architect Fernando Yañez Muñoz
in the shortest possible time, put himself in contact with the
of Concordance and Peace, and, with government peace Commissioner,
Luis H. Alvarez, and to propose that, together, they travel to
southeast state of Chiapas and certify personally that the seven
are free of all military presence, and, thus, one of the three
demanded by the EZLN for the resumption of dialogue.
Third. - We are also instructing
architect Fernando Yañez Muñoz to become
accredited with the federal government headed by Vicente Fox
capacity of official liaison for the EZLN with the government
commissioner, and to work in coordination in order to achieve
fulfillment, as quickly as possible, of the two remaining signs,
dialogue may be formally resumed: the release of all zapatista
and the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture
according to the Cocopa legislative proposal.
The federal Executive
now has, from this moment on, a secure, trustworthy
and discreet means for making progress in the conditions which
direct dialogue between the peace commissioner and the EZLN.
We hope he
makes good use of him.
Fourth. - We are respectfully
requesting the Congress of the Union, given
that it is here where the door to dialogue and peace have been
facilitate a place within its walls so that there can be - if
government peace commissioner accepts it - this first meeting
federal government and the EZLN liaison.
In the case of a refusal
by the Congress of the Union, which we would
understand, architect Yañez is instructed to see that
the meeting is held
wherever is considered appropriate, always and when it is a neutral
and the public is informed as to what is agreed upon there.
Legislators, Ladies and
In this way we are making
clear our will for dialogue, for the building of
accords and for achieving peace.
If the path to peace in
Chiapas can be seen with optimism now, it is thanks
to the mobilization of many people in Mexico and in the world.
We would most especially
like to thank them.
It has also been made
possible by a group of legislators, men and women,
who are now in front of me, who have known to open the space,
and their hearts, to a word which is legitimate and just.
To a word which has on
its side: reason, history, truth and justice, and
which, nonetheless, does not yet have the law on its side.
When indigenous rights
and culture are constitutionally recognized in
accord with the Cocopa legislative proposal, the law will begin
hour with the hour of the Indian peoples.
The legislators who today
opened thei door and hearts to us, will then have
the satisfaction of having fulfilled their duties.
And that is not measured
in money, but in dignity.
Then, on that day, millions
of Mexican men and women, and those from other
countries, will know that all the suffering they have endured
days, and in those to come, have not been in vain.
And if we are indigenous
today, afterwards we will be all those others who
are dead, persecuted and imprisoned because of their difference.
Legislators, Ladies and
I am an indigenous and
Through my voice spoke
not just the hundreds of thousands of zapatistas of
the Mexican southeast.
Millions of indigenous
from throughout the country and the majority of the
Mexican people also spoke.
My voice did not lack
respect for anyone, but nor did it come to ask for
My voice came to ask for
justice, liberty and democracy for the Indian
My voice demanded, and
demands, the constitutional recognition of our
rights and our culture.
And I am going to end
my word with a cry which all of you, those who are
here and those who are not, are going to be in agreement with:
With the Indian Peoples!
From the San Lázaro
Legislative Palace, Congress of the Union.
Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Mexico, March of 2001.
Thank you very much.
at 12 noon...
Legislators, Ladies and
Gentlemen, of the Congress of the Union:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Guests of Honor:
Compañeros, Representatives of the Indian Peoples:
People of Mexico and Peoples
of the World:
In the name of my race
and of our most ancient parents and grandparents of
these lands who gave birth and life to this great nation which
call Mexico and America, I speak.
Brothers and sisters of
all the peoples, of all races, of all languages and
cultures, and to all those in whose veins run indigenous blood,
carry, in their flesh and in their skin, the color of the earth
simply are, those who carry the first and last names of the most
whom we are, in fact, a part.
As everyone knows and
realizes, before our first parents and grandparents
suffered the Spanish invasion and conquest, those who inhabited
Mexican and American lands were already peoples and nations with
histories and experiences. With advances in technical and scientific
knowledge, they had their own political, military, social, cultural
They governed with indigenous
intelligence and wisdom.
They were peoples and
nations knowledgeable about life, science and the
universe. Peoples and nations who care for and loved the land,
and all of nature with which they interacted.
They had their own laws,
their leaders, their great priests, their gods,
their churches, their palaces and their army.
But one day they had to
confront a war of foreign invasion. Many men and
women fought with courage and dignity in defense of their people
But, in the face of an
unequal war, they were ultimately conquered, their
wealth was looted, their churches and laws destroyed, and their
subjected to slavery.
That is how our ancestors
were conquered and dominated.
And so began a long history
of pain and suffering, but also a long struggle
of resistance and rebellion.
Throughout almost 500
years, many men and women have been fighting
heroically in the defense of their lives, of their peoples and
dignity. Only in that way were they able to prevent their extermination.
Today, almost 500 years
of resistance and rebellion against oppression and
subjugation, after a long time of silence, of deep dream and
pain, of a
long time of remaining quiet, of tolerating and of waiting.
The Indian peoples, the
most first, those of us who are the color of the
earth, those of us who are of the maize, and of all nature.
Those of us
for whom collectivity and coexistence and sharing give life.
Those who for
almost 5 centuries have been subjugated, humiliated, stripped
of our mother
lands, of our wealth and of all rights. Those of us who are
ignored and excluded from our own land, those who have resisted
survived the wars of extermination.
By the peoples who have
sown in our minds and in our hearts hate,
bitterness, egoism, individualism, superiority, competitiveness
defeat of the other or the smaller - all foreign to our faith
and to our
For almost 500 years the
children and grandchildren of the conquistadors
did everything possible to exterminate us, in a multitude of
imposed their laws, their ideas, their policies, their beliefs
gods, all for the purpose of making ours disappear.
They broke our branches,
they withered our leaves and our flowers, and they
cut off our trunk, but they were never able to pull out our roots,
whence, once more, have sprung life and hope for a better world
Now, more than ever, our
hope is even greater that the fiesta of the word
must return once again. That the new day must dawn, the new
land for new
and free men and women.
Brothers and sisters,
today the awaited moment has arrived. The hour of
breaking the silence has come, of breaking the walls and the
The hour of the Indian
peoples has arrived, the hour of all.
Those without voice and
without face will, at last, have face and word,
which shall resound in all the corners of the land.
Because one day, in the
midst of the tempest and the storm, we were able to
communicate with each other, to meet each other, to listen to
and to join our word and our thoughts. We were made as strong
and as great
as the rivers which run and penetrate all the corners of the
the thunder which reaches the ears and the hearts of everyone.
And so it
came to pass that our words and our thoughts were joined, which
the great and powerful to believe and to listen to.
That collection of thoughts,
of true words and just demands of the Indian
peoples, the "San Andrés Sakamch'en de los Pobres
Accords," signed by the
federal government and the EZLN, which is known about and defended
millions of indigenous brothers throughout the country and by
persons in Mexico and in the world, because they are convinced
that in the
San Andrés Accords are deposited the words, thoughts,
feelings and just
historic demands of the Indian peoples of Mexico, known today
as the Cocopa
legislative proposal in matters of indigenous rights and culture.
Approving and bringing
this proposal to the constitutional level would mean
guaranteeing life, respect and fundamental rights for the Indian
It would mean the building of a new society based on justice,
and on respect for the indigenous, with all their diversity of
and cultures. A society where, as indigenous, we would not be
marginalized or excluded any longer.
Where we would no longer
have to rise up in arms in order to be listened to
and to be taken into account as peoples.
Where we would no longer
be persecuted, imprisoned, discriminated against,
or be treated as inferiors, only because we speak our language,
practice our culture, or because we dress differently.
As native peoples of these
lands, we have the right and the freedom to live
in dignity, we have the right and the freedom to organize ourselves,
elect our authorities and to govern our peoples in accordance
manner of thinking, of understanding and of acting, according
to our laws
and regulations as indigenous peoples. For centuries, and up
present moment, we have not had that right.
The only means of guaranteeing
the exercise of these Indian rights is the
constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture in
the Cocopa legislative proposal.
of Indian rights means reducing an historic debt
with the native peoples of these lands.
It means that, as indigenous,
we are yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The approval of this proposal
would guarantee unity and respectful and
harmonious coexistence between all the languages and cultures
in this patria.
The indigenous legislation
was not Zedillo's, nor was it Señor Fox's, nor
It was drawn up by legitimate
legislators, Deputies and Senators from the
country's four main political parties, members of the Commission
Concordance and Peace (Cocopa), with the full authority and rights
them by the law and by the Congress of the Union.
The approval of this Cocopa
legislation will open the path to dialogue and
But it is necessary that
we make this path wider and better, so that all of
us who truly desire that peace will be able to travel it with
There are, nonetheless,
those who want to put up great roadblocks, so that
we will stumble, or so that that sole path which is leading us
peace with justice and dignity will be closed.
The approval and respect
for the Cocopa law - which captures the most
essential of the San Andrés Accords - is necessary.
Because the denial and
rejection of this proposal would mean the failure to
fulfill the signed accords and a lack of political will to resolve
conflict, diminishing the possibility of achieving a peace with
Because this would also
mean ignoring the existence of the indigenous
It would mean attempting
to exterminate us and to erase us from history.
That, as indigenous peoples,
we have to be treated in the same way, to be
persecuted, subjugated and excluded from all our country's political,
economic and social development programs.
But that long history
of pain and suffering should be ended once and for
Our peoples will no longer
remain passive. Our voices and our cries of Ya
basta! will never again be silenced.
Our people are, and shall
be, the creators and owners of their own history.
The March of Indigenous
Dignity - begun from the mountains of the Mexican
southeast on February 24, with the support and participation
of millions of
indigenous and non-indigenous brothers from Mexico and the world
- made it
possible that today, on March 28, 2001, from these legislative
halls of the
Congress of the Union, we would be able to direct our messages
nation and to the entire world.
So that our words would
be listened to, and our just demands as indigenous
and non-indigenous peoples of Mexico would be taken into account.
That is why there are
thousands and millions of indigenous and
non-indigenous brothers here today, in order to lift up our voices,
defend and to see that the Cocopa legislation is fulfilled and
the Mexican Constitution.
Even knowing that this
Cocopa bill does not contain everything that was
agreed to between the parties in San Andrés, but in order
our political will for dialogue and to honor our word, we accept
made this proposal ours, and we shall, with all the indigenous
defend it and demand its complete fulfillment.
Because it will be the
guarantee that the indigenous have a dignified place
in our country. That we have the right to life, education, health,
dignified housing, food, and to the land which is our mother.
That as peoples we will
be able to exercise our right to autonomy and to
free determination, which consolidates and guarantees the unity
peoples, but it does not divide or balkanize, as some have accused.
Only in that way will
it be possible to construct the peace with justice
and dignity which we Mexicans desire and need.
It is a task and an historic
responsibility for all Mexicans, a duty and a
commitment of all citizens, above their individual interests.
Fighting always so that
true democracy, liberty and justice for all might
exist and be made real in this nation.
From the San Lázaro
Congress of the Union.
By the CCRI-CG of the
Mexico, March 28, 2001.
to Speak for 15 Minutes
To all Indigenous Groups
To National Civil Society:
Brothers and Sisters:
When the people cry out,
they do not so because they want to.
They do not do so out
They do not do so because
they are bored in their homes.
They do not do so because
they are bored in their work.
They do so out of necessity,
the sole necessity of having some bread in
their lives every day.
In our country we have
many brothers who are also made of flesh and blood.
Who drag themselves along,
sacrificing their work in search of something to
So that they will not
wake up dead tomorrow.
So that tomorrow will
Not a day of joy.
Only so that they might
live without ceasing to breathe with the lungs
nature has gifted them with.
The poor, the worst off
of all, do not even think.
They cannot even think
about enjoying free moments with their sad family at
some table filled with smiles.
Many men and women in
our country have begun suffering the misery doubly,
by ending their sad lives, taking poison, because they realize
that they no
longer have any other solution, because of the unbearable crises
experienced ever since their infancy, ever since their childhood
they became an adult.
Many of our fellow men
also end up tying a noose around their necks, and
they kill themselves with no remorse, and they do not do so out
manliness, nor because they are crazy, nor because of some illness.
No, they do not do so
because they want to. Some do so because they are
ridden with debt, with no means of paying it.
They do not do so out
of laziness, because they do not want to work.
They do so because their
work does not allow them enough for necessities.
Because the cost of what
they buy is higher than their humble salary.
Some kill themselves because
they realize that life does not even have a
future waiting for them, even though they go to work from 6 to
They become ill from working
so hard, they become malnourished from working
so hard, from working so hard without seeing any returns, and
their old age
comes early from working so hard.
The same thing happens
with the children. Many do not go to their classes
because their papas do not have money to buy them their school
for their studies.
Many cannot study because
they cannot cover the cost, and even less so with
Mexico also has men and
women of blood who struggle against what they can
see with their eyes: injustice, inequality.
For making use of their
conscience, for worrying about the entire weight of
the cross carried by their people. They confront patiently so
demands will be resolved and listened to.
Through this unending
struggle, we see these men and women being chipped
away with words. We see their hands being tied and we see them
We see their mouths gagged,
being pistol whipped.
We see them tortured with
We see them mutilated
with a coup de grace to the head.
We see them tortured,
their fingers being chopped off with blades.
We see them being undressed
in the cold of night, being thrown into some
tank of water.
We see how, because they
are honest with their struggle, crimes are
invented for them.
We see our older brothers
imprisoned for 5 to 10 years in order to pay for
their crime of fighting and of speaking the truth.
On the other hand, we
also see our assassins being safeguarded and
protected by the law.
For being so cruel and
for killing humble men.
For being such brilliant
planners of repression against the people in
That is why they are promoted
to very high positions, as a reward,
according to how violent they are.
That is how the Mexican
people have been manipulated. That is how they
have trampled on our dignity.
The blood of the poor,
the lives of the poor, have served as an elevator
for vampires made men.
I am somewhat ignorant
of the Constitution and the laws in the country.
Even if I were to read
it, I would not understand it as many Mexicans do.
But I do understand that
when someone has committed some infraction, he
should be punished according to the gravity of the crime.
All Mexicans, whether
or not we know how to read, have heard of the "rule
And I ask myself, what
I answer myself, I do
not understand how the great majority of Mexicans do
not equally not understand it.
We do not understand because
they have changed its meaning to a bad one,
which only favors the minority which has acted as the protector
wealth of just a few.
It has allowed them to
steal from us the little we have, for freedom of
expression. They have a law which protects their use of the
there are millions who have been violated, and our violators
unpunished, and the ones doing that are the leaders and government
There is also a law which
supposedly protects our humble homes, so that no
one can enter without authorization. But, in this instance,
they have not
only broken down doors, they have burned and destroyed entire
have invaded and seized ejidal lands.
We do not understand very
well that it is the Department of Agrarian
Reform's function to grant certificates of agrarian rights to
campesinos, with the understanding that their land is untouchable
have the certificate
where is its use?
We are asking this question
Where is the protection
supposedly offered by agrarian certificates, when
they invade our lands, when they build their factories in our
work, and we suffer the damages they inflict for our entire lives.
If we demand our rights,
we are humiliated. If we defend ourselves and
offer resistance, they kill us.
Currently there are thousands
of men who are deprived of their rights in
jail for having organized.
Consequently, there are
thousands of boys and girls who are going through
difficult times, without any money to buy their clothes and medicine
with no way of continuing their studies.
Many, many women have
been left humiliated because their compañeros have
been carried off to jail.
It makes our hearts weep,
we the poor, for our disappeared fighters and
examples who have left their children forever.
Many desperate children,
growing up without knowing their parents.
Many women widowed, in
desperate circumstances, without hope of a better
These lives are without
price. It cannot be paid for in money, this
spilled blood. It is possible to be respected, by making an
understand that what they want is respect for their rights and
justice, without distinction.
This closed conscience
- the changing of these lives is in your hands,
carrying out what is within your reach.
You can guarantee the
rights, denied for many years, in order to achieve
Achieving peace depends
on your conviction. It depends very much on your
Today you have two paths
to follow and to decide upon: the one which helps
peace, or the one which is silent in the face of war.
If you want Mexico to
begin living in peace, you will have to make use of
your ears and take on the task of legislating indigenous rights
culture, which will benefit all the indigenous groups in our
You can stop the persecution
of the indigenous, the imprisonment of
indigenous, the spilling of indigenous blood, the death of indigenous.
We are calling on you
Learn to listen, carry
out your commitments with sensitivity. Let us
change Mexico with actions. Let us leave stubbornness behind.
Let us put racism and
There has been so much
talk about change in this country, but this change
does not exist for us.
Because as long as indigenous
groups are looked upon as foreigners, there
will never be change.
The change we want should
start from the communities, from the individual
places, from the ranches, from the municipalities, so that the
government, together, can say that now change has indeed arrived.
Because if only the ones
above say it, that will mean only change for a
few, as we have experienced up to now.
Brother Senators, Sister
Brother Deputies, Sister
You did not come to occupy
these places on your strength alone.
Do nor forget that it
was thanks to the people, I repeat, thanks to the
students, to the housewives, to the campesinos, to the indigenous,
workers, to the taxi drivers, to the drivers, to the shop owners
vendors, to the artists, to the teachers, to the doctors, to
to the mechanics, to the engineers, to the lawyers and to the
Mexico in general.
This working class which
makes up our Mexico lent their time, they went to
the ward they belong to, they waited in line in order to mark
with an "X".
They made use of their
right, putting up with hunger. Some came on foot,
others came on horseback, on burros, on bicycles. And others
paying their fare, spending their sole centavo which they had
their work or from selling their product.
They gave you that vote
of confidence, and they did not so out of pleasure.
Nor did they do so because they thought you were attractive.
They went where they had
to go, and they knew how to listen, they marked
their paper for you, because they trusted in you to respond to
problems which they have every day.
Some suffer persecution.
Others suffer from the fabrication of crimes.
Others because they want their pieces of land to be legalized,
for other necessities.
Do not, in response to
these problems, turn the "X" they awarded you into
cross of forgetting.
And, since you demonstrated
your capacity for listening, we also want to
see your capacity for legislating the rights of the indigenous
You owe the people much.
This debt cannot be paid with money.
If you want to gain the
trust of the Mexican people, if you want to pay
your debt, if you want to be loyal and faithful to the words
during your campaigns...today is the moment to fulfill it. Today
moment for settling accounts, so that what you promised does
not end up
remaining just promises.
Carry out your responsibility
for the good of Mexico. Carrying it out will
also benefit you, improving your political careers.
As far as we are concerned,
we are not telling you to stop your work.
No, we are not thinking
that. It is up to you, but, above anything else,
carry it out and work if you want to be good representatives
of the people.
To be a representative
requires much responsibility, seriousness,
commitment and, always, thinking of a future for everyone.
From the Legislative Halls
of San Lázaro, Congress of the Union.
Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Mexico, March of 2001.
Next to speak
for 15 minutes...
Citizens, Deputies and
Senators who are in these legislative halls of San
Lázaro, Congress of the Union.
All who find ourselves
today in front of the highest tribune in our Mexican
nation, to the People of Mexico and the World.
Brothers and Sisters of
the National Indigenous Congress.
For almost 500 years we
have been cultivating the seed of truth, we, all
the indigenous of Mexico.
We inherited the most
valuable of history, the memory of our oldest
grandfathers, the true word.
For the most first peoples,
law was the true word, and it walked among
them, and it walks among all of us.
Because, with the first
men and women, the ones with which truth walked,
words were always kept.
And that is why it is
said that men and women who keep their word are men
and women of much law.
Because they carried out
what they had committed themselves to with their
That is why the failure
to keep one's word was, and is, a shame for them,
for our most old.
Because when the word
fails, trust in the word is lost, and they do not
believe it again.
That is why they never
failed to respect the word.
The word kept gives trust.
The word brings them to
believe in it, and not doubt it.
Because the word kept
is respected always.
Because, in an even previous
time, our oldest grandparents knew that the
word did not live in the mouth, but the word comes from thought
That is why the word is
serious, respectful and fulfilled. That is why
love, affection, trust are the key of truth which the true word
- being as
good as its word - found.
That is why when we, the
zapatistas, also speak, we are very sincere.
Because we have the legacy
of our grandparents, who left us and taught us,
for generations, that the true word is the only one with which
demonstrate - being as good as one's word - what one is committed
it is the true word.
In our peoples, today
and always, our words are sincere, and this word
gives credibility and trust.
Not like what exists in
our country and in the world today, where it is no
longer the word which gives trust and security.
They wanted to block that
word, the first of our oldest grandparents,
through deception, sowing mistrust, buying with money so that
it would in
that way be forgotten.
They wanted to conceal
the most first word, they wanted to forget it,
offering the world of money of the marketplace, of free trade
They wanted to block us
out, saying that we are all equal.
That we already live in
a country of equality, the best one.
In that way they wanted
to deceive us with falsehoods and lies.
Our people were looking
about, they stopped and they asked themselves, what
the ways of the most first old ones in fact were, and are.
These things are not ours,
they bring many papers which we do not
Let them go away, it is
something else which you want.
We only want to be recognized.
That they truly give us
a place in our history, and that they respect us as
So spoke our grandparents,
the most old, the first, they did not allow
their word to be lost.
It remained once more
in wise hearts. That is why they could not lie,
they could not deceive the first word, those who peopled these
lands, those who gave it name and memory.
Because of that, Ladies
and Gentlemen, Deputies and Senators of the
Congress of the Union of our country Mexico, we want to tell
you that we,
the zapatista indigenous, are the legitimate heirs. We came
back than yesterday, we came from the most first word. We are
descendents, those who first peopled these lands.
And that is why, when
we spoke our word - that we accepted the Cocopa
legislative proposal on indigenous rights and culture - we respect
commitment of our word.
We said we were going
to defend it. We also kept and respected our word
because that is how we have been taught, and our word does not
Because the true word
is not something that is modernized, it does not
They will never be able
to change the true word, because it has its roots
in the deepest part of the heart of mother earth, and they will
able to do away with her.
That is why we want to
tell you today that we, the zapatistas, are always
going to carry out what we have committed ourselves to with our
That when these 3 signs
are fulfilled, we are going to continue dialogue.
We are not going to ask
for more than we have already said, because, when
we commit ourselves to something, we know how to keep our word.
It is our
guarantee, and we will honor it, keeping our word which we have
Because the only thing
we have is our word.
What we are telling you
here, we are not going to fail.
Nor are we going to deceive
you, even less could we tell you lies.
For us, those of the Zapatista
Army of National Liberation, the words we
speak to you are sincere words which are born in our hearts and
That is why we are insisting
on the fulfillment of the 3 signs, that when
they are carried out, what follows is dialogue.
And today I want to inform
you, in front of this Chamber of Deputies and
Senators, and before the people of Mexico and the world, that,
outstanding tables are finished - on democracy and justice, the
wellbeing and development, the special table on women's rights,
and what is
agreed at these remaining tables is carried out - we are saying
dialogue will be over then, because the causes which began the
1994 will be resolved.
We, the zapatista rebels,
are not going to add more things, because adding
more things on is not good in the eyes of the Mexican people
and the world.
Once our demands are met,
the people of Mexico will experience a real
peace, with democracy, liberty and justice for all the people
of Mexico, as
far as that is possible.
All the indigenous peoples
of Mexico have made the Cocopa proposal ours,
because it captures our words which we spoke when we gathered
the great collective in San Andrés Sakamch'en de los Pobres
in order to
give our word.
All the indigenous and
non-indigenous peoples made it ours, because the
word is ours, and we are giving all of you our thoughts and our
efforts about the feelings we experience of forgetting, of poverty
We are giving you, as
representatives of the people, our words through the
Cocopa legislative proposal.
That is why we hope that,
as good Senators and Deputies, you can make a law
which recognizes that the indigenous peoples of all of Mexico
written provision in the greatest law of Mexico, which is the
of the United Mexican States.
This Cocopa legislative
proposal. There is our word, there is the dream of
millions of indigenous, and all of you know that.
We, the zapatistas, have
always spoken to you with truth. Do not doubt us.
We will know how to keep
our word, the greatest, the most valuable, the
When all is fulfilled,
memory, history will say that our word was always
faithful and sincere.
At the same time, in the
history of our country - which is the Mexican
Republic - it will be written that in the year 2001 the rights
indigenous peoples of Mexico were recognized, and that the Chambers
Deputies and Senators - through the constitutional recognition
indigenous rights and culture - helped to follow the path of
negotiation, incorporating the rights of the most first peoples.
That is why the first
word has lived for 5 centuries. But today we are
appearing once again in the heart of our lands, those who today
the name of Tenochtitlan.
That is how those who
peopled these lands, under the same sky, were called.
And today we have come,
in other times, along with the true word, in order
to tell you - as Senators and Deputies who represent the Mexican
that we do not want to die, that we want to live in the world
without forgetting, without poverty, without desperation and
We want to live in our
own country. We do not want to be divided. We want
you to give us a place, a way of living as we do, in fact, know
live, with respect and unity.
We, the zapatista indigenous,
did not come to take away your work as
Deputies and Senators.
Even less to destabilize
the government, because that is not what is going
to resolve the problems of our peoples.
Our desire, that of the
indigenous peoples of Mexico, is for our rights to
be recognized, and we sincerely believe in the Congress of the
The future of the Mexican
people is truly in your hands. Because of the
honorable trust which the people have given you, we believe that
it is all
within your just reach.
We also believe that
the people of Mexico deserve to live a just and
All of us are deserving.
We only want to tell you
that the true word walks in our hearts in our
journey, we, those of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
That our word speaks the
truth to you, the true word in our hearts.
The desire is felt in
our hearts to live in a more human, more just and
more dignified country.
We fight with the word.
We walk alongside it.
The times have come together
and are walking with the word.
And the echo of its voice
which shouts has been heard in the furthest
corners of this world which shouts
For the recognition of
our indigenous rights and culture, and for the
building of a just and dignified peace.
Viva the people of Mexico.
Vivan the indigenous peoples of all Mexico.
Live for the patria or die for liberty.
Thank you very much.
We are born of clay, we
live by corn, we live with pain, and from the pain is born our
We are people of true
blood and here we are... Mother Earth formed us...
We come from the heart
of the earth, from the five corners, from the seven colors, red,
brown, black, yellow, white, green and blue... (he lists the
56 names of indigenous groups throughout Mexico)
We have collected the
word from all the peoples we are...
We are those who have
international economic rights... We are those of whom the international
agreements that say all the peoples have the right of self-determination...
That's why we come with full respect to this body to seek constitutional
recognition of our rights...
We are respect. We are
song. We are music and weavings. We are history and culture.
We are our own history...
We have language, we have
culture, we have tradition, we have will, today more than ever...
We know that in our towns
we are capable of governing ourselves...
We can take care of our
concerns with love, develop them, preserve them... We know how
to care for our towns... our lands, our rivers... our animals...
We want to exercise our autonomy not as a form of separation
but as a form of common liberty...
We have our cultures,
our arts, our sciences, our laws, our peoples, our authorities...
We continue to live...
We conserve our way to
maintain the world... for our people and the spirits of our ancestors...
We will never forget the peoples that we are... They took us
from our lands, our mountains, our rivers, our sacred places...
And we guarded them secretly in the mountains to survive... The
conscience has awakened of the peoples that we are...
In other countries they
have seen our resistance, our dignity... only in this, our country,
we don't exist... In the 70s we began to talk to each other,
in the 80s we began to organize, in the 90s we came close to
the light when we signed the San Andres Accords... When the Cocopa
made a bill to reform the constitution, this initiative became
ours because it came from our word... In the Indigenous National
Congress with representation of our peoples we have spoken our
word... in our regions, municipalities, meetings and assemblies...
the initiative of Cocopa became our word...
We come to tell you that
the Cocopa law is our word... the constitutional recognition
of our peoples, our rights, our autonomy...
Never again a Mexico Without
de Jesús Patricio
(Text to come)
(Text to come)
CD Deputy of the
for Democracy Party
del Río Virgen
Q. Our indigenous brothers
have been forgotten since the beginning... To solve their problems,
we make politics... we seek solutions by consensus... The indigenous
and their culture are not our adversaries and much less our enemies...
We support the indigenous
rights law... a signal of democracy, justice and liberty... against
arrogance... In recent years the government has lied, and tried
a military solution... Mexico has a debt with the indigenous
They came 3,000 kilometers
through 12 states to be with us today. That's good... We want
Seize the moment to recognize
the opportunity before us... The people understand and even Durito
Mexico wants concrete
results from this meeting... maybe we can make a new direction
for this nation. Thank you.
PT Deputy for the
The indians of this country
were here before the Spanish and before the Mexican State...
How can we forget the
disregard of the people?... the injustices... The robbery of
their lands comes engraved forever in our memory... The time
is now and we don't want to wait until the future...
The rich and reactionary
are worried about loosing their privileges...
We want to consecrate
the indigenous rights and culture...
In our constitution there
are general rights but also specific rights... Their systems
of living have existed since before the conquest... globalization
and the politics of neoliberal delivery threaten them...
Autonomy is to recognize
them as new subjects of their own existence... Friends of the
General Command of EZLN, thank you very much.
PVEM Deputy for the
The Green Party honors
the grand contribution that the indigenous Mexicans have made
to our country...
Today, we celebrate the
union of the indigenous peoples and the presence of the Zapatista
Command and the Indigenous Congress... We support the initiative
of President Fox, of the Cocopa commission... it will unite us
to meet with our only duty as legislators... to respect the identities,
cultures and forms of social organization of the peoples... So
that they can then decide their internal form of government and
their role in society...
PRD Deputy for the
This is a memorable day...
I speak as a legislator and as an indigenous person...
Welcome. Mexico lives
important transformations... We must be effective... it won't
be worth anything to be listened to if we don't arrive at concrete
We, the legislators, have
a duty to make pacts to solve problems... The indigenous peoples
are the first Mexicans... The PRD ratifies its full support to
the indigenous law...
To give autonomy to indigenous
peoples would signify the separation of the country? ...to the
contrary... What would it mean if the indigenous peoples had
access to their own media outlets? What harm would be done?
Next to speak:
PAN Deputy for the
Compliance with the law
is the preservation of order in Mexico... We want for our state
of Chiapas a dignified peace for all.. in the name of PAN, we
have said for 60 years to a violent system... We have said that
the indigenous communities have their own identity and must be
respected within the political organization of the nation...
We are a country with
historic memory... Some of those of the regime who kept the Indians
down now want to reinvent themselves as defenders of the indigenous...
We invite the EZLN to
participate peacefully by political means... the PAN in Chiapas
and all Mexico... are for the peaceful path and not the violent
The San Andres Accords
are analysed and discussed... they can be a new form of life
for indigenous communities... we should open ourselves to what
other ethnic groups think, to what other Mexicans think... The
construction of a new Mexico is the responsibility of us all..
We invite the EZLN to
show in front of all the Mexican people the same will. I ask
Is the EZLN ready to accept
different opinions before the legislative commissions?
Is the EZLN ready to accept
that there are parts of the Cocopa law that could be made better?
I await the response.
the PRI deputy of the
We're not going to fall
into the game between political parties... We will not put any
interest ahead of the cause of the indigenous peoples of Mexico..
Your presence in this
hall has great meaning... It represents a firm signal of willingness
to arrive at agreements for the country. I am sure that the convincing
nature of reason exists here...
We the members of the
PRI ask the following questions, appreciating, beforehand, your
Q. I would like more precision
if an indigenous community is composed of a single ethnic group
or a shared territory, and will this include different ethnic
Q. Ethnic groups like
the kikapoos who arrived after the conquest and others: will
they respect the rights of Indigenous women?
We will not end with this
meeting a question as important as the justice of the indigenous
demands. Thank you.
to the Questions
Adelfo Regino Montes
I appear at this podium
to offer answers to the questions by the legislators in this
Congress of the Union. After the signing of the San Andres Accords
between the federal government and Zapatista Army of National
Liberation, we all had the hope that our rights would be recognized
with dignity and justice... We understand the proposal by the
Cocopa elaborated on Nov. 29 1996. We all had in our hearts and
minds that in that winter of 1996, finally our rights would be
recognized in the constitution. Our sadness has been great when,
in the first days of the first month of 1997, the indigenous
peoples of the country found the negativeness of the government
that then was given to the constitutional reforms formulated
by the Cocopa commission.
Never has a single word
been said about the merits. There are always the excuses of technical
character. They said there were legal and technical problems.
They never gave the true motive to refuse the Cocopa proposal.
We want to say to you, in front of the country and the world,
that the recognition of indigenous rights, of the rights of our
people, is a question of all humanity. That's why we come with
our hearts and thinking to that of each of you. With all hope,
we say to you to please listen to us, to the ancient word, the
true word, the noble word of our people.
We the indigenous don't
want privileges, nor do we desire to separate ourselves from
this country or to be above its laws. All we ask is recognition
of what our communities have already done. If you have ever had
the opportunity to visit an indigenous community, then you have
seen how we organize ourselves... This form of resolving our
conflicts is what is called normative indigenous systems...
The local norms live together
although they might be different, they feed each other. They
live together because being different and being more we can resolve
each one of the challenges in our communities, muncipalities
and regions. That's why we say that our norms and traditions
must be respected.
These norms and traditions
also undergo change... Nothing in this world stays static...
the norms change, and also the indigenous norms are changing...
With these norms we want our autonomy. With the basis of these
norms we are constructing our autonomy... in the communities
where we live, work, dream and speak to each other and congratulate
each other day after day... There is where the first term of
autonomy must be recognized... It's no other thing than recognizing
the reality, something that already exists... I sincerely wish
that the laws will serve reality.
What good are laws that
don't serve reality?
We raise our voice to
say that the law should serve reality.
Autonomy will strengthen
the states rights that are so often spoken of at this podium..
Our Zapatista brothers have told us that the unity is what has
not come and that's why Mexico has suffered, has poverty, has
inequality... Autonomy can strengthen our unity as Mexicans,
our democracy... Democracy is the power of the people... Many
of you have said that the Democracy is in the neighborhoods and
communities... Why not, then, accept it, when it involves our
towns? Why not accept it when autonomy is also a means to accept
democracy in our country? Democracy is not just speaking a word,
but also to speak from below. It is also the autonomy that we
the indigenous people have created from below...
We don't want autonomy
in the air, but in a physical space, the one that we have. Our
communities, communal farms, have a physical and material form...
Enough already that they
steal petroleum, electric power and hardwood from our towns and
there are no lights nor sidewalks or schools where our children
can study. How can this be? That we the Mexican indians, original
owners of the land, and at the same time we live in poverty?
How can this be?
... We the indigenous
are not saying that we want to own the petroleum and the soil
and the resources that belong to the country. We want them to
serve the entire country and not just a few that they have served
in recent years. These benefits first are for us, and also with
our comprehension that we need resources to grow and develop
ourselves, to bloom. That's why there is no reason when they
accuse us of wanting privileges, that we want to separate from
this country, to balkanize this country. When we think about
indigenous autonomy and the reconstitution of our peoples we
are not only thinking of those who are in the forests, mountains
and jungles. We are also thinking about our brothers who have
migrated. The price of our coffee has hit bottom. The price of
our corn has hit bottom. You already know this. We don't have
enough to eat in our communities ... and so we need to migrate
and to cry, leaving our children and our women... We have come
to the cities as housewives, as farmers... We don't do it because
we want to travel or go on vacation, but because we have something
inside called hunger when there is not even a centavo to eat
or to send our kids to school... That's why we migrate...
But what do we find in
the cities... We find discrimination... We find exclusion...
they look down upon us in the street, they see us as bad on the
job, because we are the color of the land... We find closed doors
in the cities...
This has a name... discrimination
That's why we explain
a pluricultural society...
We want a country where
all the Mexicos that exist fit, where all the different ones
that we are exist... We want a multicultural country... We want
the education that our children receive not only speaks of the
Indians that existed before in Teotihuacan, in Monte Alban, of
the Olmecos, but that we who live today are spoken of. That our
peoples exist today....
We also need that the
problem if immigration is addressed. We also need that the problems
of development in our communities is addressed. We also need
specific programs for immigrant indigenous who leave the community
to seek hope...
We also speak of the respect
for the other. We are proposing reconciliation. Autonomy is also
a form to reconciliate...
We can return to find
ourselves... They have divided us in many ways. They have divided
us through farmer conflicts. They have divided us through political
parties. They have divided us in many ways. You are witnesses
to all of this. We the indigenous don't want more division and
confrontation. We want unity. In the end, we are brothers. In
the end, we are sisters. Autonomy is a way to reconcile...
This is the message. At
root, it is being transmitted from our towns. It is the message
that our Zapatista brothers have insisted upon...
We, the indigenous people,
have the vocation of peace, of autonomy and of respect when we
are also respected.
Brothers and sisters,
the demands and proposals of our peoples are demands for life
itself. They are nothing else. It's that we want to live, that
we want to continue existing. We don't want to leave. We want
to stop, here in this podium, what some have called ethnocide.
We want to live with our
language, our clothing, our color, as we are.
We want our sons and daughters
to also have it...
This life, this culture,
that is rich, that has a good color, we also want to share it
with you. We also want to share it with Mexico and with the world.
The Cocopa initiative has found our root, our reason for being.
It's an intiative in favor of life and liberty of our peoples.
Thank you very much.
PAS Deputy from the
Q. If some uses and customs
don't recognize the rights of women, what legal means will the
women have to correct them?
PT Deputy from the
It's an honor to share
this podium with you, delegates of EZLN, because this tribune
is not private property of anybody.
Our only question is:
Will the indigenous rights law not interfere with the laws of
I speak specifically for
indigenous from the Costa Chica of Guerrero who were assassinated
fighting for their rights.
PVEM Deputy from the
Above all, permit me to
salute the Armed Forces for their work, for without them peace
would be much farther away.
The women and children,
we are the most marginalized of the people. Because some men
- indigenous and not indigenous - don't recognize our rights.
As Comandanta Esther said... we need democracy for the indigenous
My question: How will
human rights be fully protected in the communities? How will
the rights of the women be respected?
What are the uses and
customs that you wish to preserve? And which can you disregard
to protect the rights of indigenous women?
And how to restore the
damage done to the environment?
We would like your opinions
and thank you, in advance, for your response.
PRD Deputy from the
The PRD is convinced of
the urgency to legislate for the indigenous peoples. It is imperative
to achieve the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples.
Does autonomy mean the
separation from the Mexican State?
PAN Deputy from the
Leoníla Méndez Herrera
The National Action Party
has chosen the peaceful path... We believe in peace... We have
come to this meeting... We believe in the word, through dialogue...
the voices that are distinct but equal...
We know that the word
and the vote mean more than weapons... we want a dignified peace
and just for all...
You say you want justice
and not charity. We agree... We, the PAN deputies, can say...
we want a good law. Listen to us... a good law that will be good
for the indigenous...
We want for you and for
all, justice, not charity...
Today, a new government,
fruit of the vote given by the Mexican people... gives disposition
for the peace...
(Heckles from the audience)
We ask, why don't you
sign the peace?...
PRI Deputy of the
Speaks first in Tzotzil...
We know that many people
of Chiapas and of Mexico still don't know about the initiative...
Q. Are you prepared to
meet with all the peoples and accept their definition of autonomy?
Indigenous National Congress
de Jesús Patricio
We think the problems
are not just those of the indigenous peoples but of the entire
They say that the Cocopa
law will harm women. To the contrary, we need it...
It will not only be indigenous
peoples that benefit from this law, but all Mexicans... and all
The indigenous peoples
are not men and women, we are whole families..
We believe it is necessary
to continue getting rid of these problems and we do it every
day... in continuous struggle...
They tell us that uses
and customs attack the life of the indigenous peoples. They always
talk about the bad ones, but not the good ones. They don't talk
about our mutual aid, to work together to build houses!
Also, another positive
custom is to seek justice to repair the damage before punishing
the guilty one.
Our grandparents say,
consensus is more important than majority vote.
...Also that political
office is a service and not a privilege...
They always talk about
our bad customs. We also have good customs. And these are the
customs we want to preserve. The bad ones, we want the right
They accuse us of violating
human rights. Why do they always talk about the signals of the
indigenous communities. Why don't they speak of the imposed harms.
Like the massacre of Aguas Blancas. Why not Acteal? These remain
in silence. Right now we want that our voice be taken up in the
We know that the National
Indigenous Movement was not born in 1994. It has years. Only
since 1994 when it shook Mexico did the people see we exist...
That's exactly why, as
we have been the first inhabitants of this country, we have had
autonomy. It has not ended. That's why we are still here. Only
now is the theme of autonomy a conflict... They say we want to
create a nation inside a nation. That's not true. We just want
to live together...
In Nurío there
were 43 indigenous peoples of Mexico. Some where not there but
they were at other national assemblies. We saw that it was necessary
to be united and to live with the rest of society...
This grand task, that
not only is for the indigenous peoples, the civil society is
present and has accompanied us. And now we await the response.
We invite you, then, so
that this doesn't end here. That it continues. That the initiative
of the Cocopa be passed. We believe that with this the problem
We, the indigenous peoples,
trust in you. You are the voice, the representation, of Civil
Society, of some indigenous peoples. This will not be in vain...
In your hands, is the
decision. And we are awaiting this decision....
the PT Deputy for the
The surprise is that after
more than 300 years of the Spanish conquest, when the revolutionary
Mexico of reform began, in spite of the robberies and bosses,
we found ourselves with the indigenous peoples resisting.
They are present here
And the Congress needs
to consider this.
We are concerned that
we don't meet with all the legislators here today. It's worrying
that a faction, that of the PAN, has made a rule to not be present.
They don't want to listen. They refuse to listen after 500 years
to give the indigenous what is their right. We want to say to
them that the march of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
through all the states that it traveled had a rotund support
of the Mexican population that wants resolution to this conflict.
I'm not talking about the conflict that began on January 1, 1994,
but a conflict of 500 years.
The indigenous form 56
ethnic groups in the entire country. The Labor Party calls upon
all the legislators to comply with the last signal to begin the
dialogue: the law of indigenous culture and rights and of constitutional
amendments that recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples.
This will open the doors so that dialogue will work once again,
that communities can again develop in peace... The law includes
the rights of women, and of development... The law would permit
that all Mexicans will be protected by the Mexican constitution.
Support the indigenous rights and culture law!
the PVEM Deputy of the
Some ethnic groups need
to be invited to exercise tolerance...
The technological advances
don't serve us... But nobody can deny that society can not live
in harmony with an environment based on consumption. We the indigenous
have always lived caring for the earth...
This was included in the
San Andres Accords. We in the Green Party understand the importance
of the natural resources and the need to protect the indigenous
Today, everything that
gives us life is destroyed. Nothing is maintained. This is a
clear example that beginning with the conquest and colonialization,
our environment was not cared for to the point that, today, they
It's clear that we need
the participation of the indigenous at the national level to
care for our natural resources...
That's why it is important
that we have had the chance to live the day of today... To solve
the path that permits that the only method to resolve problems
is dialogue. In the Green Party we understand this. We hope the
society will do the same and make it hers...
That's why we celebrate
this meeting of today... so that the branches of the government,
executive, judicial and legislative, together with the Zapatistas,
will move forward, but also with flexibility... If we want to
make this great initiative concrete for the Mexican people. Comandante
of the Zapatistas: you and I have the same concern. Support me
as an indigenous woman, so that we can all win... and the initiative
of the Cocopa law will be an advantage for all indigenous peoples...
PRD Deputy of the
Some don't want to listen.
We listen to them even though they don't listen to others. To
listen doesn't mean to agree. It means to recognize that others
have different opinions...
We listen to those who
have been ignored... The institutions are able to survive change...
Economic policies that are exclusive from the executive branch
are one thing... but we say, let us not divide ourselves over
the Indigenous Law, better to do it with the bill to tax food
The indians are the poorest
people of the country from the richest regions... We listen to
those who have come from far away in place and time... It would
be unjust to not approve indigenous rights because it is not
a paradise between men and women... However, in Juarez City (of
the PAN party) hundreds of women are assassinated, but it's not
an indigenous community...
What they ask to be put
into this law is already in it... We have in Mexico more than
100 indigenous languages... They don't want to be outside of
the country and the law, as you say. To the contrary, they want
to be inside the law and the constitution...
The constitution has been
changed to give autonomy... to the banks of Mexico... but not
the indigenous rights?
Autonomy doesn't mean
separate territories... its diversity within the very same Mexico...
The Cocopa law doesn't
contain everything the government wants, but neither does it
contain everything the Zapatistas wanted. It's the middle ground!
To end, I wish to read
from Octavio Paz, who 7 years ago said: "the world is indigenous...
Zapatismo is a traditional movement and revolutionary movement
of certain realities hidden and repressed... So that Mexico doesn't
Thank you very much.
the PAN Deputy of the
The PAN congress members
have listened carefully to the representatives of the Zapatista
Army of the National Liberation and the INdigenous National Congress.
Their words have been respectful. We appreciate that. And we
also appreciate that our words be listened to...
The PAN party says that...
we are here to listen and to speak... This is our decision. In
1939 our party began... for the peaceful path... We have seen
the arrival of our issues. This is the place to make laws...
We want a reform that
guarantees the rights of the indigenous without harming the rights
We want to support the
initiative sent by the president.
We congratulate the EZLN
for its willingness to achieve peace expressed today.
Put down your arms and
become a political force.
We want your force to
translate into votes. That is how the peace is achieved.
Organize yourselves to
struggle for rights.
Put yourselves to the
test of the ballot box.
PAN is for the peace and
the PRI Deputy of the
Feliciano Moo y Kan
Today, we listen to the
words of the indigenous peoples. And now you will listen to the
words of an indigenous brother...
Today is a great day for
the indigenous peoples of Mexico... the voice of the first descendants
of the people of this land has been listened to. Today we begin
a new age in which never again will there be a Mexico without
the indigenous peoples.
We will not fall into
the provocation of some legislators that want to make themselves
the story... Never before in this hall has there been such a
wide demand on behalf of the indigenous peoples... Everyone is
ready to recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples of this
The indigenous law is
not the end of the demands, but it is the beginning of a great
national agreement to begin the path...
Today's event has no losers,
only winners, the more than 10 million indigenous of this country...
We will work on this with
imagination, generousity and historic memory, so that the indigenous
peoples of this country can be proud of its Congress...
We are convinced that
the popular projects are convincing, so that in the 21st century
no Mexican will have to take up arms to petition the government...
We are for peace, as a
principle. We salute this dialogue with the House of Representatives...
without demagoguery, so that the democratic space is strengthened...
They awoke the Mexican
conscience with arms...
The PRI legislators join
in this path. Thank you very much.
Good afternoon. In the
name of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. We appreciate
that you have listened to us, that you have opened the door to
a possible peace. That is our entire word. Buen provecho.
Now, the Congress Members have spontaneously begun singing the
Zapatista Delegates Rise to Stand and Salute.
Delegate Plays his Fiddle in Melody.
Originally published in
Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
Outside the Congress Hall
Word for Everyone
Message from Subcomandante
Insurgente Marcos to civil society gathered in
front of the Chamber of Deputies [3/28/01]
We would like to tell
you that with this act - and I am referring to this
act we are participating in right now - we are marking the end
mobilization begun with the Fifth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona.
A mobilization which began
in 1998, and which, in 1999, two years ago, in
March, achieved one of its greatest shining moments with the
We would like to thank
the three million persons who voted that day for the
recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
Thank you to those who
mobilized then, and thank you to the millions who
are mobilizing now.
I would like to give special
thanks to my compañero chiefs, the Comandantes
and Comandantas of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee.
We would also like to
send our appreciation, in a greeting which is quite
far away in distance, but very close in our hearts, to our zapatista
peoples, to the support bases, the men, women, children and old
ones of the
We would especially also
like to thank the indigenous brothers in all the
corners of the Republic who came here - the people from civil
Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro,
Guanajuato, Michoacán, the State of Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero,
District and Mexico City - who accompanied us throughout this
of the mobilization which is called the March of the Color of
We want to thank them...we
are finished now. Tomorrow we are going to pack
our knapsacks and leave for our return journey back to our place.
We want to tell you something,
we want to ask you to go to your homes, to
your workplaces, and tell your friends, your families, that,
thanks to you,
a boy called Pedro - Pedrito, we say - is going to be able to
return to his
house after six years and one month of living in the mountains.
Thanks to you the Tojolabal
indigenous community of Guadalupe Tepeyac will
no longer have "in exile" as its last name, and now
it will once again be
just Guadalupe Tepeyac, zapatista.
We would also like to
thank the artists and intellectuals who helped us
organize this event: the teacher Oscar Chávez, the teacher
Palomares? - they said Gabino Barrera on the radio here, does
- and all those who have helped us. Like it says in that Oscar
- who agreed to my request to sing it, that "along with
you we were able to
make the world in another way, but it is not done being changed,
things are going to have to be done for it to turn out well,
but at least
it's not like it was before." We're going.
We can return now, brothers
of the National Indigenous Congress. We are
not going with empty hands. We are going with them full of all
we reached out for. The hands we saluted close up or from a
hands which entwined themselves in the security bands in order
us. Those which went to great effort to prepare our food, those
built and equipped the places we spent the night in. Those which
letters and words of support and encouragement. Those which
cared for us
during the nights and in the dawns, those which were lifted high
March 11 this year in the capital Zócalo. Those which
were made indignant
when the stubbornness of a few tried to close the path of dialogue.
ones which voted yes during the March 22 sessions in the Chamber
Deputies and the Senate. Those which we did not see, but which
tense with anxiety, sharing ours, and which are now applauding,
joy. Our hands are full with your hands, and hands - everyone
knows - are
the shape which hearts take on when they meet.
Thank you brother, thank
you sister, thank you compa, thank you brother,
thank you bud, thank you ñero, thank you ñera,
thank you papa, thank you
mama, thank you son, thank you daughter, thank you uncle, thank
thank you brother-in-law, thank you cousin, nephew, niece, godmother,
godson and goddaughter.
Thank you Mexico. We're