<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Marcos: The Government Is a Middleman, Selling Off the Country to the Capitalists that Want Everything

Instead of Looking Up Above, We Must Look Inside Ourselves, Says Delegate Zero to Campesinos and Indigenous in Querétaro

By Bertha Rodríguez Santos
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Querétero

March 6, 2006

LA VERACRUZ, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO: The government is destroying the country by acting as a crafty middleman that, taking advantage of its own laws, is taking everything from the Mexicans that are “from below” to hand it over to the business class, said Subcomandante Marcos today. For that reason, he said, another Mexico needs to be built, through the National Plan of Struggle, which includes writing a new constitution.

Marcos stood before about four hundred peasant farmers and indigenous Ñahñú people who gathered to demonstrate against Mexico being a nursery for young people bred to work in the United States, as well as government policies that seek to make the campesinos — the rural peasant farmers — disappear. After listening to words about the struggles of several local communities to defend their land and natural resources, “Delegate Zero” warned that those who hold political power “are a bunch of cabrones (bastards) who are destroying the country and selling everything.”

During his appearance in this community in the Sierra Gorda mountains — his second of the day — several campesinos said that officials from the federal Department of Agrarian Reform (SRA in its Spanish initials) have tried to impose the Program for the Certification of Communal Land Rights (PROCEDE) on their ejidos (community-owned farmland), to facilitate the privatization of their lands.

A farmer from the town of Agua Fría said that the government “wants to see the campesinos disappear. We’re in their way because they are businessmen; we have the little land that they still don’t.”

He said that many campesinos fall into the trap of thinking that their land is not valuable, and even doubt that there is wealth hidden beneath the hills. Nevertheless, he said that many companies are interested in the minerals here.

There are large marble deposits in this area, in addition to silver, gold and mercury mines throughout the state.

Identifying himself simply as Clemente, the farmer called on all those present to defend their land and what it holds, because that is the basis of life. “Soon we’re going to have to pay for water, for wood; we won’t be able to herd animals anymore, we won’t be able to say anything when they come to cut down the forests, because this time it will be the government doing it.”

Later, Marcos said that for campesinos to accept the PROCEDE program “would be like digging you own graves and then just waiting for them to throw the last bit of dirt on top of you.”

Responding to the insistence of some of those present for him to make a statement about the electoral process and the uncertainty expressed by some in this respect, and responding to the question of what is to be done asked by many people upon seeing the disaster their communities are suffering, Subcomandante Marcos made himself clear: “We are not going to be candidates because we are not political parties and we are not going to talk with the government’s cabrones because we already did that once before” and the government did not honor the agreements signed.

He explained that with the Other Campaign, “instead of talking to the big politicians we came to talk to the simple and humble people. Not to tell them not to vote; we came to ask them to think.”

“These cabrones are destroying the country and selling off everything. They want even the land that hardly serves to grow crops. They want it all, every last little corner.”

He said that the present government is one of businessmen who want the land — but not to use it to produce, as it was used before, but to sell it.

“The government is a middleman right now. And what it is taking from the people it is going to sell cheaply.” He who is really in charge, Marcos added — the businessman and the capitalist — is not content with having, for instance, just eight factories, but rather wants more… that piece of land right there… he wants it all”

“The government is the middleman that takes everything from you, with its deceit and with its laws. It takes the land, the rivers, the forests…”

He cited the example provided by the inhabitants of the town of Toluquilla, who denounced the government’s intention to pay them 20 Mexican cents (two U.S. cents) per square meter of land, in order to appropriate an archeological zone.

“They give you 20 cents per square meter, the government sells that for 3 pesos (30 cents) and then the rich man starts speculating at 700 pesos ($67) per square meter. Then they’re going to build a highway and install power lines, but no one cares about us. You people won’t be here, there will be shopping malls instead.”

The threat, he warned, is that the entire country is going to be destroyed. And according to what he has seen in the eleven states he has toured so far, Delegate Zero feels that “this cannot be confronted from above, and I’m sorry if this disillusions anyone, but, for example, here in Querétero a former (rightwing) PAN politician is now a candidate of the (leftwing) PRD.” Later he spoke of people like congressman Manuel Camacho Solis, who was in former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s camp during the Zapatistas’ fruitless attempts at dialog, but is now with PRD candidate López Obrador.

He said that the aim of the Other Campaign is not to tell the Mexican people whether or not to vote, but rather to reflect on what their conscience tells them and to consult “their hearts.”

Nevertheless, he indicated that “instead of looking up, we look downward.” Ideas are being exchanged between indigenous people, mestizos, women, construction workers, bus drivers, students… anyone willing to speak. In that way, a National Plan of Struggle is being formed, which does not aim simply to reform the current constitution, but to write a new one, one that includes laws that truly favor the country’s poorest and most marginalized.

Dominga Maldonado said that the country’s current reality, in which thousands of children are pushed to immigrate to the neighboring country to the north, is something that “I cannot accept for my children.” After describing a whole series of unfortunate situations in which immigrants are forced to live she commented that “Mexico has become a nursery that breeds young workers for the United States, and I am against that.”

As he began his speech, Subcomandante Marcos told of the pain that the indigenous Zapatistas felt before they rose up in arms against the landowners and the government. He spoke of the plundering of their lands, of deaths from curable diseases, of the discrimination of a racist Mexico and of injustices that are very similar to those spoken of by the people in Querétero.

With his unique style of expressing himself, Delegate Zero made the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and the Other Campaign laugh when he told how “a whole load of Zapatistas, the men, women and elders, and one child who somehow came down, too — you know how mischievous they are” took over seven towns in the state of Chiapas. He told of how during the occupation of the City Hall of Sán Cristóbal de las Casas, right in the middle of the New Yeas celebration, the rebels the rebels didn’t see the rich “who were drinking, shouting and shooting off fireworks,” and did not see the police “except for their asses as they ran away.”

At another point, he referred to the decision-making power that the Good Government Councils are developing in the autonomous municipalities of Chiapas. In these autonomous governments, he said, the newly established rights of women have been a pain in the ass for some men, who, nevertheless, have to recognize the courage of their compañeras’ struggle.

The most painful truths are also told with a dose of humor.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America