The Urban Indigenous’ Role in the ’94 Zapatista Uprising
As Told By “Delegate Zero” in His Meeting with La Hormiga Residents
By Concepción Villafuerte
January 5, 2006
SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS, JANUARY 4: Domingo López Angel and his exiled indigenous evangelical compañeros knew about the Zapatistas’ 1994 armed uprising before hand, and helped the rebel troops to escape the federal army in San Cristóbal as it persecuted and bombed Zapatista communities.
What follows is a sketch of these events, which Subcomandante Marcos revealed this Wednesday during a rally with the Council of Indigenous Representatives of the Chiapas Highlands (CRIACH) in the La Hormiga neighborhood, in the northern part of the city,
“I want to begin by telling you about a mystery that happened, a long time ago, when the EZLN was still unknown.”
“We began to see that we needed to speak with the indigenous compañeros who lived in San Cristóbal, especially with those in the La Hormiga neighborhood. We thought it was necessary to respect the way they were already organized, and that we needed to find their leaders. It was November or December of 1993, and I came personally with two compañeros, a man and a women, Tzotzil members of our army, and we began to climb the stairs higher and higher; we entered a dark room and began to speak with one of you. We told him that we were going to rise up in arms, and that we wanted to advise them because it was likely that there would be problems and we didn’t want there to be any suffering, but that we were also inviting them to support this struggle we were beginning if they wanted to. And I was more or less explaining to this brother, who is here today, what it was that we wanted and what we were going to do.
“The compañero listed attentively and respectfully, and finally said to me: ‘I tell you that we will see how our heart feels, and if your struggle is good, we will support it.’ As I was taking my leave of him I said, ‘my name is Marcos,’ and he said to me, ‘my name is Domingo.” This all happened before it was known what the EZLN really was.
“In the first hours of the uprising, on January 1, 1994, and then on the 2nd and 3rd, our forces began to be attacked by planes and helicopters from the federal army, and several of our troops were trapped here in the mountains around San Cristóbal; those who remember those times remember the images of the planes dropping bombs.”
“It was the brothers from La Hormiga, the taxi and bus drivers, who, without asking anything in return, began to move our troops toward safer places.
“I remember that I gave one of them, I don’t know if he’s here today, a shotgun that we had seized from those cabrones from the armed forces, and I said to him: ‘We Zapatistas will not forget what you are doing for us.’ And these brothers, most of them evangelicals and Chamulas, all of them indigenous, from this neighborhood of La Hormiga, gave us a hand and helped us and saved the lives of many of our compañeros. At that time there were no photos, compañeros, no cameras, no microphones, no interviews; there were bombs and bullets, and it was here, in this part of San Cristóbal, with the indigenous people who built this city and those who were expelled to here, that the EZLN found its first alliance and first support from the humble and simple people.
“I told those transporters, our brothers, that we Zapatistas would not forget what you did for us back when we weren’t famous, when we were nothing, when the orders that all the soldiers had were to kill us all… we guard and keep that in our hearts.
“It is an honor to come back here, to see you, to hear you and to repeat to you what we said to those brothers back then and what I come to say to you now. Thank you, compañeros of La Hormiga, and thank you to the other compañeros who have come from other organizations.
“They tell me that the name of the compañero to whom I gave that shotgun and told that we would not forget is named Juan Gómez Ruiz, and that he is now in prison for political acts, because of political repression from the government. We hope then that our voice reaches him there, that he remembers that morning when I personally expressed that recognition to him.”
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