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Narco News 2001

March 28, 2001

Remarks Now Translated from...

Esther, David, Zebedeo, Tacho & Marcos

Words of EZLN Translated by Irlandesa

Zapatistas in Congress

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 to dialogue.

First Zapatista to speak for 25 minutes:

Comandanta Esther

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa




Honorable Congress of the Union:

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 other countries:

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 anyone.

We did not come to defeat anyone.

We did not come to replace anyone.

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 gain public

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 are present.

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
confrontation, lost.

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 of the

You can now see that it is not so.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos is that, a Subcomandante.

We are the Comandantes, those who command jointly, the ones who govern our
peoples, obeying.

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 woman.

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 would refuse
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 won.

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 - and
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 agreement.

That is the country we zapatistas want.

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, another
two are in jail for defending fishing as a means of livelihood and opposing
pirate fishermen, and the remaining two have arrest warrants against them
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 other
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 for the

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 Mexican men
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,
humiliation, racism.

One where, always, formed by differences, ours is a sovereign and
independent nation.

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 moments.

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 which
safeguards the recognition of the indigenous, as well as maintaining and
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 Union,
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 in

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 for charity.

We, the indigenous, live in this fragmented country, condemned to shame for
being the color we are, for the language we speak, the clothes which cover
us, the music and the dance which speak our sadness and joy, our history.

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 poor and
gives impunity to the rich. It condemns our color and turns our language
into crime.

This proposal is accused of creating exceptions in political life, ignoring
that in the current one the one who governs does not govern, rather he
turns his public position into a source of his own wealth, and he knows
himself to be beyond punishment and untouchable as long as term in office
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 woman.


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 is
supposedly guaranteed in the Constitution.

The situation is very hard.

For many years we have suffered pain, forgetting, contempt, marginalization
and oppression.

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 living.

Meanwhile, we do not have drinkable water, electricity, schools, dignified
housing, roads, clinics - let alone hospitals - while many of our sisters,
women, children and old ones die from curable illnesses, malnutrition and
childbirth, because there are no clinics or hospitals where they can be

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 would not
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 they do
not have enough money to buy them, because it is they who care for the
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 the kitchen.

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 our consent.

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 curing, and
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 notice of
us as indigenous, and they have not taken us into account. They have
treated us just like any other thing. They say they send us help like
Progresa, but they do so for the purpose of destroying us and dividing us.

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 assembly,
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 working in
collectives, of respecting the land and of understanding life, which is
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 Gentlemen:

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 the people
of Mexico.

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
our forces:

First. - We are ordering Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, as military
chief of the regular and irregular forces of the EZLN, to carry out
whatever necessary in order to see that no military advance by our troops
is made into the positions which have been vacated by the federal Army, and
for him to order our forces to maintain their current positions in the

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 resolve
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 way
that there is no armed presence by the zapatistas.

Second. - We are giving instructions to architect Fernando Yañez Muñoz to,
in the shortest possible time, put himself in contact with the Commission
of Concordance and Peace, and, with government peace Commissioner, Senator
Luis H. Alvarez, and to propose that, together, they travel to the
southeast state of Chiapas and certify personally that the seven positions
are free of all military presence, and, thus, one of the three signs
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 in the
capacity of official liaison for the EZLN with the government peace
commissioner, and to work in coordination in order to achieve the
fulfillment, as quickly as possible, of the two remaining signs, so that
dialogue may be formally resumed: the release of all zapatista prisoners,
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 will allow
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 opened, to
facilitate a place within its walls so that there can be - if the
government peace commissioner accepts it - this first meeting between the
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 place,
and the public is informed as to what is agreed upon there.

Legislators, Ladies and Gentlemen:

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, their ears
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 joining its
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 during these
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 Gentlemen:

I am an indigenous and zapatista woman.

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!

Viva Mexico!

Viva Mexico!

Viva Mexico!





From the San Lázaro Legislative Palace, Congress of the Union.

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

Mexico, March of 2001.

Thank you very much.

Second Speaker

Comandante David

Began at 12 noon...

Legislators, Ladies and Gentlemen, of the Congress of the Union:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Guests of Honor:

Compañeras and 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 today we
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, those who
carry, in their flesh and in their skin, the color of the earth which we
simply are, those who carry the first and last names of the most first of
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 these
Mexican and American lands were already peoples and nations with long
histories and experiences. With advances in technical and scientific
knowledge, they had their own political, military, social, cultural and
religious organizations.

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, the water,
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 and of
their sovereignty.

But, in the face of an unequal war, they were ultimately conquered, their
wealth was looted, their churches and laws destroyed, and their inhabitants
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 of their
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 marginalized,
ignored and excluded from our own land, those who have resisted and
survived the wars of extermination.

By the peoples who have sown in our minds and in our hearts hate,
bitterness, egoism, individualism, superiority, competitiveness and the
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 ways. They
imposed their laws, their ideas, their policies, their beliefs and their
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, from
whence, once more, have sprung life and hope for a better world for

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 chains of

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 each other,
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 land. Like
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 we wanted
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 by
millions of indigenous brothers throughout the country and by all honest
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 peoples.
It would mean the building of a new society based on justice, on equality
and on respect for the indigenous, with all their diversity of languages
and cultures. A society where, as indigenous, we would not be humiliated,
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, because we
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, to
elect our authorities and to govern our peoples in accordance with the
manner of thinking, of understanding and of acting, according to our laws
and regulations as indigenous peoples. For centuries, and up to the
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 accord with
the Cocopa legislative proposal.

Constitutional recognition 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 which reside
in this patria.

The indigenous legislation was not Zedillo's, nor was it Señor Fox's, nor
the EZLN's.

It was drawn up by legitimate legislators, Deputies and Senators from the
country's four main political parties, members of the Commission of
Concordance and Peace (Cocopa), with the full authority and rights granted
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 ease.

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 towards
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 the
conflict, diminishing the possibility of achieving a peace with justice and

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 to the
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, to
defend and to see that the Cocopa legislation is fulfilled and expressed in
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 to demonstrate
our political will for dialogue and to honor our word, we accept it. We
made this proposal ours, and we shall, with all the indigenous peoples,
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 of the
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 Legislative Palace.

Congress of the Union.

By the CCRI-CG of the EZLN.

Mexico, March 28, 2001.

Next to Speak for 15 Minutes

Comandante Zebedeo

Citizens, Deputies:

Citizens, Senators:

To all Indigenous Groups in Mexico:

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 of joy.

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 have day.

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 they have
experienced ever since their infancy, ever since their childhood and since
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 of
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 6.

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 materials
for their studies.

Many cannot study because they cannot cover the cost, and even less so with
financial cooperation.

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 that their
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 being

We see their mouths gagged, being pistol whipped.

We see them tortured with electric prods.

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
of law."

And I ask myself, what is that?

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 of the
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 law. But
there are millions who have been violated, and our violators have gone
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 houses. They
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 the
campesinos, with the understanding that their land is untouchable if they
have the certificate…where is its use?

We are asking this question again!

Where is the protection supposedly offered by agrarian certificates, when
they invade our lands, when they build their factories in our places of
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 and
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 effort to
understand that what they want is respect for their rights and equity in
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 and
culture, which will benefit all the indigenous groups in our country.

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 for this.

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 exclusion aside.

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 people and
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 Senators:

Brother Deputies, Sister Deputies:

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, to the
workers, to the taxi drivers, to the drivers, to the shop owners and street
vendors, to the artists, to the teachers, to the doctors, to the neighbors,
to the mechanics, to the engineers, to the lawyers and to the people of
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 their ballots
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 came by
paying their fare, spending their sole centavo which they had earned from
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 their
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, and others
for other necessities.

Do not, in response to these problems, turn the "X" they awarded you into a
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 peoples.

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 you spoke
during your is the moment to fulfill it. Today is the
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.

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

Mexico, March of 2001.

Next to speak for 15 minutes...

Comandante Tacho

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 and from
the heart.

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 one can
demonstrate - being as good as one's word - what one is committed to, and
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 treaties,

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
we are.

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 most first
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 from further
back than yesterday, we came from the most first word. We are the
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 the
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 change.

Because the true word is not something that is modernized, it does not
become outdated.

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 never be
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 word.

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 already

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 in our

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, when the
outstanding tables are finished - on democracy and justice, the one on
wellbeing and development, the special table on women's rights, and what is
agreed at these remaining tables is carried out - we are saying that the
dialogue will be over then, because the causes which began the conflict in
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 together in
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 best
efforts about the feelings we experience of forgetting, of poverty and

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 will find
written provision in the greatest law of Mexico, which is the Constitution
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
most important.

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 of the
indigenous peoples of Mexico were recognized, and that the Chambers of
Deputies and Senators - through the constitutional recognition of
indigenous rights and culture - helped to follow the path of dialogue and
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 remember
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 people -
that we do not want to die, that we want to live in the world together,
without forgetting, without poverty, without desperation and without

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 how to
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 Union.

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
dignified life.

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

Liberty and

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.

Next Speaker

Juan Sánchez

Indigenous National Congress

Purépecha from Michoacán

We are born of clay, we live by corn, we live with pain, and from the pain is born our hope.

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 Us!

Next Speaker

María de Jesús Patricio

Indigenous National Congress

(Text to come)

Next Speaker

Adelfo Regino Montes

Indigenous National Congress


(Text to come)

First Statement by Legislator

from CD Deputy of the

Convergence for Democracy Party

José del Río Virgen

State of Mexico

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 peoples...

They came 3,000 kilometers through 12 states to be with us today. That's good... We want their participation.

Seize the moment to recognize the opportunity before us... The people understand and even Durito understands...

Mexico wants concrete results from this meeting... maybe we can make a new direction for this nation. Thank you.

Second Statement by Legislator

From PT Deputy for the

Labor Party

José Narro Cespedes


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.

Next Speaker

From PVEM Deputy for the

Green Ecologist Party


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...

Next Speaker

from PRD Deputy for the

Democratic Revolution Party

Aldárico Hernández Gerónimo


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 laws...

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? 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:

from PAN Deputy for the

National Action Party

Carlos Raymundo Toleda


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 path...

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 some questions:

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. Thank you.

Next Speaker

from the PRI deputy of the

Institutional Revolutionary Party

Vitálico Coheto Martínez


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 responses:

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 groups?

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.

Answers to the Questions

from Adelfo Regino Montes

Indigenous National Congress

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 and racism...

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.

More Questions from Legislators

From PAS Deputy from the

Social Alliance Party

Q. If some uses and customs don't recognize the rights of women, what legal means will the women have to correct them?

From PT Deputy from the

Labor Party

Félix Castellanos Hernández


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 the country?

I speak specifically for indigenous from the Costa Chica of Guerrero who were assassinated fighting for their rights.

From PVEM Deputy from the

Green Ecologist Party

Erika Spezía Maldonado


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 women too.

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.

From PRD Deputy from the

Democratic Revolution Party

Ramón León Morales


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?

From PAN Deputy from the

National Action Party

Alba 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?...

From PRI Deputy of the

Institutional Revolutionary Party

Santiago López Hernández


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?

Response from Indigenous National Congress

María de Jesús Patricio

We think the problems are not just those of the indigenous peoples but of the entire country.


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 Mexican women...

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 to change.

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 Cocopa law.

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 will end.

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....

Thank you.

Next Speaker...

From the PT Deputy for the

Labor Party

Alberto Anaya Gutiérrez

Nuevo León

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 today.

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!

From the PVEM Deputy of the

Green Ecologist Party

Nicásia Domínguez



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 peoples...

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 are abandoned...

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... Thank you.

From PRD Deputy of the

Democratic Revolution Party

Martí Batres

Mexico City

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 and medicine!

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 die."

Thank you very much.

From the PAN Deputy of the

National Action Party

Martha Martínez Macías


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 of others.

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 for Mexico.

Next Speaker

From the PRI Deputy of the

Institutional Revolutionary Party

José 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 country...

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.

EZLN Response

Comandante Zebedeo

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.

Right Now, the Congress Members have spontaneously begun singing the national anthem.

The Zapatista Delegates Rise to Stand and Salute.

A Huichol Delegate Plays his Fiddle in Melody.

¡Viva México!

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

From Outside the Congress Hall

Our 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 of a
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 Consulta.

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 society of
Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro,
Guanajuato, Michoacán, the State of Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero, the Federal
District and Mexico City - who accompanied us throughout this final phase
of the mobilization which is called the March of the Color of the Earth.

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 Gabino
Palomares? - they said Gabino Barrera on the radio here, does anyone know?
- and all those who have helped us. Like it says in that Oscar Chávez song
- 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, many
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 the hands
we reached out for. The hands we saluted close up or from a distance, the
hands which entwined themselves in the security bands in order to protect
us. Those which went to great effort to prepare our food, those which
built and equipped the places we spent the night in. Those which wrote us
letters and words of support and encouragement. Those which cared for us
during the nights and in the dawns, those which were lifted high on that
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. The
ones which voted yes during the March 22 sessions in the Chamber of
Deputies and the Senate. Those which we did not see, but which became
tense with anxiety, sharing ours, and which are now applauding, sharing our
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 you aunt,
thank you brother-in-law, thank you cousin, nephew, niece, godmother,
godson and goddaughter.

Thank you Mexico. We're going, really.