Marcos to National Democratic Convention (CND) in Aguascalientes Chiapas, August 1994


The following presentation was read by Subcomandante Marcos at the opening of the plenary of the first session of the National Democratic Convention (CND) in Aguascalientes Chiapas. on the 8th of August 1994. It appeared in the August 10th. issue of La Jornada


National Democratic Convention
Honorable Democratic Convention.
Democratic Convention Presidency, Delegates, Guests, Observers, Brothers and Sisters.

Through my voice speaks the voice of the EZLN,

Aguascalientes, Chiapas, a Headquarters, a bunker, a weapons factory, a military training center, an explosives magazine.

Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, Fizcarraldo's Jungle Ship, the delirium of neo-zapatism, a pirate ship. The anachronistic paradox, the tender madness of the ones without a face, the absurdity of a civil movement in dialog with an armed movement. Aguascalientes, Chiapas, hope in successive steps, hope in the small palms that preside over the stairway, to better reach the sky, a sea snail's hope, which from the jungle calls for air, the hope of those who did not come but are here, the hope that the flowers that in other lands die, may live in this one. Aguascalientes, Chiapas, for the EZLN 28 days of work, 14 hours a day, 600 men-women per hour, 235,200 men-women hours of work in total, 9,800 days of work, 28 years of work, 60,000,000 old pesos, a library, a presidium in the semblance of the bridge of a transatlantic ship, simple benches for 8,000 conventionists, 20 guest hostels, 14 cooking fires, parking for 1,000 vehicles, an arena for assaults.

Aguascalientes, Chiapas, a common effort by civilians and military, a common effort for a change, a peaceful effort by armed people, and before Aguascalientes, they said that it was madness, that no one could, from the limits set by guns and face masks, be successful in convoking an electoral reunion on the eve of the election. And before Aguascalientes, they said that no sensible person would respond to the call of a rebel group, outlaws, of which little or a lot is known, to the light that lit up January, to the obsessive language that tried to recover old and worn words; democracy, liberty, justice. The covered faces, the night passage, the mountains enabled as hope, the lonely indigenous glance that for centuries has pursued our barreling attempt towards modernization, the stubborn rejection of hand-outs to demand the apparently absurd: for everyone everything, for us nothing.

And before Aguascalientes, before Aguascalientes, they said there was little time, that nobody would risk embarking on a project that, like the Tower of Babel, announced its failure from the very place and time in which it was convoked.

And before Aguascalientes, they said that fear, the sweet terror that has fed from their very birth the good people of this country, would end up imposing itself, that the evidence and comfort of doing nothing, that of sitting and waiting to observe, that of applauding or booing the actors in this bitter comedy that is called mother-land, would reign together with other evidences in the proverbial name of the people of M#xico, civil society.

And before Aguascalientes, they said that the insurmountable differences that fragmented us and pitted us one against the other, would prevent us from turning towards a common point, that the omnipotent State party and the avoidable things that around it take form: presidencialismo, the sacrificial bondage of liberty and democracy to the chains of stability and economic bonanza, of fraud and corruption as a national idiosyncrasy, justice prostituted by handouts, despair and conformity elevated to the status of national security doctrine. And before Aguascalientes, they said that there would be no problem, that the convocation to a dialog between an outlaw group and a mass that is amorphous, disorganized and fragmented down to the familial microcosm, the so-called civil society, would have no echo nor common cause, that the reunited dispersion, can only cause a dispersion towards immobility.

And before Aguascalientes, they said that there would be no need to oppose the celebration of the National Democratic Convention, that it would abort by itself, that it was not worthwhile to sabotage it openly, that it was better that it explode from within, that it be apparent in M#xico and to the world that nonconformity was incapable of coming to an agreement, that therefore it would be incapable of offering the country a national project that was better than the one that the institutionalized and stabilized revolution had offered us, along with the pride of now having in Mexico 24 forefathers of international money. That's what they were betting on, exactly that, that's why they allowed the convocation to be sent, that's why they did not prevent you from coming here; the foreseen failure of the CND, should not be attributed to the powerful; that it be evident that the weak are weak, because it is evident that they are incapable of being anything else, they are weak because they deserve it, they are weak because they desire it to be so.

And before Aguascalientes, we said that yes, that it was madness, that from the horizon that is opened by guns and face masks, yes it was possible to convoke a national reunion on the eve of the election and be successful, do you need a mirror?

If one sits to lament the painful lessons of history, that prudence allows us today, the constant drumming of doing nothing, of waiting, of despairing, the senseless and tender fury of for everyone everything, for us nothing, would find the ears of others, in those others that are falsely exchanged between us and you.

And before Aguascalientes, we said that there was enough time, that what was missing was shame for being afraid of trying to be better, that the problem with the Tower of Babel was not in the project but in the lack of a good system of ties that bind and the lack of a good translating team. The failure was in the poor attempt, in sitting down to see how the tower was raised, how it stopped and how it crumbled. In sitting down to see how history would give an account, not of the tower, but of those who sat down to wait for its failure.

And before Aguascalientes, we said that fear, that the seductive terror that is expelled by the cloacas of power, that fed us since our birth, can and should be put aside, not forgotten, not looked over, but simply set aside. That the fear of remaining a spectator be greater than the fear of attempting to look for a common point, something that unites, something that can transform this comedy into history.

And before Aguascalientes, we said that the differences that fragmented us and pitted us one against the other, would not prevent us from turning toward the same point: the avoidable system that castrates, the system of evidences that oppress, of murderous common places. The State party system and the absurdities that within it are invested with value and institutionalized. The hereditary dictatorship, the cornering of a struggle for democracy, liberty and justice, in the arena of the impossible, as a utopia. The electoral mockery elevated to the image of computational alchemy, to the status of national monument, of misery and ignorance as a historical vocation of the dispossessed, democracy washed with the detergent of imports and anti demonstration water cannons. And before Aguascalientes, we said that there was no problem, that the convocation to a dialog between those that are without face and armed and the disarming facelessness of civil society would find common cause, that the reunited dispersion and good dialog could provoke a movement that might finally turn this shameful page in the history of Mexico.

And before Aguascalientes, we said that there would be no need to oppose the celebration of the CND, that it would be precisely that, no more no less than a celebration, the celebration of a fear broken, of the first teetering step towards the possibility of offering to the nation an enough is enough that not only has an indigenous and campesino voice, an enough is enough that adds, that multiplies, that reproduces, that triumphs, that can be the celebration of a discovery: that of knowing ourselves, not now with a vocation for defeat, but of thinking that we have the possibility of victory on our side.

That is what we are betting on, that is why the anonymous and collective will that has as a face a red star with five points, symbol of humanity and struggle, and as a name four letters, symbol of rebellion, has lifted on this place, forgotten by the history of governmental studies, of international treaties, of the maps and routes that money takes, this construction that we call Aguascalientes, in the memory of previous attempts to unite this hope. That's why thousands of women and men with their faces covered, for the most part indigenous people, raise this tower, the tower of hope, that's why we set aside, for a time, our guns, our rancor, our pain for our dead, our conviction for war, our armed way, that is why we constructed this place for a gathering that if it is successful it will be the first step to deny us as an alternative. That is why we raised Aguascalientes, as the seat for a reunion which if it fails will compel us to take up once again and with fire the right of all to a place in history.

That is why we invite you, that is why we are happy that you have come all this way, that is why we hope that maturity and wisdom will allow you to discover that the principal enemy, the most powerful, the most terrible, is not here seated among you.

That is why with all due respect, we address the CND to ask in the name of all men and women, of all the children and old people, of all the living and dead of the EZLN, not to heed the words of those who predict the failure of this convention, that you search and find that which unites us, that you speak true words, that you not forget the differences that separate us and that with which greater frequency than desirable pits us one against the other, that you set them aside for a moment, some days, some hours, the minutes sufficient to discover the common enemy. This we ask respectfully, that you not be traitors to your ideals, your principles, your history, don't be traitors and deny each other, we ask you respectfully that you take forth your ideals, your principles, your history, that you be firm, that you be consequent, to say enough is enough to the lies that today govern our history.

The EZLN participates in the CND with 20 delegates, each one with a single vote, we want thus to make two things clear, one is our commitment to the CND; the other is our decision not to impose our point of view, we have also rejected all possibilities of participating in the presidency of the CND, this is the convention for the peaceful search for change, and should in no way be presided by armed people, we are thankful that you give us a place, one more among the rest of you to say our words.

We want to say that if anyone doubts it, we have no misgivings of having taken up arms against the supreme government, we repeat that they left us no alternative, we do not regret taking up arms nor covering our faces, we do not lament our dead, we are proud of them and we're ready to offer more blood and more death if that is the price to achieve a democratic change in M#xico. We want to say that we are unmoved by the accusations that we are priests of martyrdom, that we are warlike, we are not attracted by the calls of sirens and angels to give us access to a world that looks upon us with disapproval and distrust, that disdains the value of our blood and offers fame in exchange for dignity, we are not interested in living as we now do, much has been asked with inquisitive perversity by those who seeks to confirm suppositions regarding what the Zapatistas want to do with the CND, what is it that the Zapatistas hope of this convention, it is asked; some would say, a civil treaty; the eight columns of the national and international press, argue others; a new justification for their warring zeal, say others; a civil endorsement of war, is ventured on the other side; the platform for the resurrection of the forgotten world of the system, they fear in some official party, as they put a price on the official party; a space to enjoy the leadership of a Left without an apparent life, they murmur in the opposition; the endorsement of a defeat, is heard in the conspiracies beyond the grave from where eventually might come the bullet that would attempt to silence us; the platform so that Marcos might negotiate a post in the next administration towards modernity, is deduced in some brilliant column by some brilliant analyst, engaged in opaque political intrigue. Today, before this CND, the EZLN responds to the question; what do the Zapatistas hope for from the CND? Not a sinister civilian wing that extends war to every corner of the country, not journalistic promotion that reduces the struggle for dignity to a sporadic splash on the front page, not more arguments to adorn our uniform of fire and death, not a soapbox for political calculations, for groups or subgroups in search of power, not the doubtful honor of being the historical vanguard of multiple vanguards that we are subjected to, not the pretext for being traitors to ideals and deaths that we take with pride as an inheritance, not as a springboard to reach a desk, an office, in some bureau, in a government, in a country.

Not the designation of a interim government, not the rewriting of a new Constitution, not the formation of a new constitutive body, not the endorsement of a presidential candidate to the presidency of the Republic of pain and conformity, not war.

Yes to the beginning of a construction that is greater than Aguascalientes, the construction of peace with dignity, yes to the beginning of a greater effort than the one that lead to Aguascalientes, the effort toward a democratic change that includes liberty and justice for the majority that has been forgotten. Yes to the beginning of the end to a long nightmare known by the grotesque name --the History of Mexico, yes to the moment to call all who do not and cannot take the place that some want us to take, the place from where all the opinions emanate, all the routes, all the answers, all the truths, we will not do it. We hope that the CND will provide the opportunity to search and find some one to whom we might present this flag that we found alone and abandoned in the palaces of power, the flag that we snatched with our blood, with our blood which flows from the painful prison of museums, the flag that we cared for day and night, that accompanied us in war and that we want to have in peace, the flag that we now present to this CND, not so that they retain it and dole it out to the rest of the nation, not to supplant probable armed protagonisms, proved civil protagonisms, not to abrogate representativity and somesialismos.

Yes to the struggle so that all Mexicans can call it their own, so that it can again become the National Flag, your flag companeros.

We hope that this CND, the peaceful and legal organization of a struggle, the struggle for democracy, liberty and justice, the struggle that we found ourselves compelled to take up, armed and with our faces denied. We hope from this CND true words, the words of peace, but not the words of surrender to a democratic struggle; the word of peace, but not the word that surrenders the struggle for freedom; the word of peace , but not the word of pacifist complicity with injustice.

We hope that this CND has the capacity to understand the right to call itself representative of the feelings of the nation it is not a resolution that will be approved by vote or consensus, but rather something that has yet to be won in the barrios, in the ejidos, in the colonies, in the indigenous communities, in the schools and university, in the factories, in businesses, in the centers of scientific investigation, in the artistic and cultural centers, in all the corners of the country.

We hope from this CND the clarity to realize that it is only a step, the first of many that will be necessary to take even under more adverse conditions than the present ones.

We hope that this CND has the courage to assume the color of hope that many of us in M#xico see in it, including ourselves, that it should demonstrate that the better men and women in this country place their means and strength toward a transformation that is the only possibility of transformation that is the only possibility of survival of these people, the transformation toward a democracy, liberty and justice.

We hope that this CND has the maturity to not convert this space into an internal, sterile and castrating settling of accounts.

We hope from this CND, finally a collective call to struggle for that which belongs to us, for that which by rights belongs to the good people, that is simply, our place in history. It is not our time, it is not the hour for arms, we stand aside, but we do not go away. We hope that the horizon is opened and we are no longer necessary, until we are no longer possible, we, the ever present dead, who must die again in order to live. We hope that this CND is an opportunity, the opportunity that was denied us by those that govern this country, the opportunity to return with dignity once having fulfilled our duty of remaining underground.

The opportunity to return again to the silence we hold still, to the night from whence we emerge, to the death that we inhabit, the opportunity of disappearing in the same way we appeared at dawn, without a face, without a future. The opportunity to return to the bottom of history, to the bottom of the dream, to the bottom of the mountain.

It has been said mistakenly that the Zapatistas have placed a time-limit for the resumption of war, that if on the 21st of August things do not turn out the way the Zapatistas want the war will begin. They lie, to the people of M#xico, nobody, nobody, not even the EZLN, can impose time-limits or give ultimatums. For the EZLN there are no time-limits other than what the civil and peaceful mobilizations determine. To them we are subordinate, to the point of disappearing as an alternative.

The resumption of war will not come from us, there are no Zapatista ultimatums for civil society. We wait, we resist, we are experts at this.

Struggle. Struggle without rest. Struggle and defeat the government. Struggle and defeat us. Never will defeat be so sweet, as when in a peaceful transition toward democracy, dignity and justice are victorious.

The Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee, General Command of the EZLN, has presented you with Aguascalientes, so that you may gather to agree not for immobility; not for sterile skepticism; not the exchange of reproaches and compliments; not as a tribune for personal promotion; not as a pretext for war tourism; not for a fraudulent unconditional pacifism; not for war, but for peace at any price.

Yes, to discuss and agree on a civil, peaceful, popular and national organization in the struggle for freedom and justice. The CCRI-CG of the EZLN, presents you now with the national flag, to remind you what she represents: Motherland, History and Nation, and to commit you to what it should mean: democracy, liberty and justice.

Greetings, fellow conventionists. For you Aguascalientes was raised. For you it was constructed, in the middle of an armed territory, this space for peace with justice and dignity.

Thank you very much

Democracy, liberty, justice.

From the mountains of the southeast of Mexico.
Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee-General Command of the EZLN
Mexico, August of 1994.

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