Today ends the National Plebiscite for Peace and Democracy


September 29, 1995

"La Realidad" Zapatista Center of Resistance
Rebel Municipality of San Pedro de Michoacan, Chiapas, Mexico

Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Today, September 29, 1995, ends a great social mobilization that included all of the Mexican territory and a good number of countries of the world. Today ends the National Plebiscite for Peace and Democracy, and a new stage in the national dialogue begins.

We want to thank the men and women of the CND who made up the Promotional Direction Committee, the brothers and sisters of the National Civic Alliance who made up the Organizational Direction Committee, the State Conventions, the State Civic Alliances and the dozens of thousands of Mexican men and women who promoted and organized this Plebiscite, whose main beneficiary was the process of peace.

Also we want to thank the men and women of the CND who participated in the International Linkages Commission, our brothers and sisters in North, Central and South America, in Europe, Asia and Australia, who organized the Plebiscite in their respective countries and who, being from distinct yet similar countries and histories, helped with their voice to speak the word of a new and better peace for the Mexicans.

The brothers and sisters of the Civic Alliance have made a great effort and given the country, and especially the government and the political parties, a beautiful lesson in honesty and organization. Through organizing the National Plebiscite, the Civic Alliance has proved to be a trustworthy channel for the dialogue of Mexican citizens amongst themselves. No one, not even the dullest members of the criminal bureaucracy that governs us, has dared to question the credibility of the Plebiscite.

This was possible because of the impeccable line taken by the Civic Alliance members.

Civilian Army

Good Health, brothers and sisters of the Civic Alliance. We give you our admiration and respect. You contribution to the cause of peace with justice and dignity is something that no one will ever doubt. We want to thank the men and women of the CND and those who, without being members of the CND, participated in the promotion of the Plebiscite. You represent the will of the civil society, the will of a new peace, a peace without hypocrisy, that is not an undercover war. Dozens of thousands of Mexicans mobilized knowing that the only reward would be the satisfaction of an accomplished duty; that not only did they not improve their economic situation with this work, which demanded effort, time and sacrifice, but they even had to spend money. These people are the same ones who have stopped the war every time the powerful required our blood and demanded our death: they stopped it in December 1994, February 1995 and now, in September 1995, the month of the motherland.

This civilian army has convinced us innumerable times, not with guns, lies, deceits or treason. They have convinced us countless times by showing us that the motherland, that strange sensation in our chest and that has not been buried by government cynicism and its devotion abroad, has other men and women who love this motherland in t he same way we love it, who are willing to do everything in order to free this motherland. They have convinced us by talking with us and listening to us, because before, no one listened or talked to us. They have convinced us by forcing us to stop saying "us" and "you". They have convinced us, by forcing us to think about "us" in a way that goes beyond weapons and masks. They have convinced us by showing us that the motherland is not the property of organizations or groups in power, that the motherland lives and is ours.

The people in the national and international art world, who selflessly and with good will collaborated in the call for peace represented by the Plebiscite, deserve special mention. Distant in time, place and culture, those men and women build a bridge uniting with those for whom oblivion was a perpetual condemnation, silence an ominous future and death a daily companion. The men and women workers of culture and art put their work to serve a just cause: peace and democracy. Their face is now a reminder not of neglect, nor deceit, nor pointless dream, but an invitation to do something to improve the reality in which we find ourselves.

Also the national artistic community held activities which managed to win an important battle in the Lacandon Jungle, the battle against Leshmaniasis or Mountain Leprosy. Today the dark skin of indigenous men, women, children and elderly have begun to heal and renew itself, thanks to the men and women of other colors, but equally human, who remembered them and helped.

There are many who make their names with films, plays, soap operas, magazines, books, and everything that is the daily cultural duties in Mexico. Starting today, their names will also have a place, not only in the marquis or in the cultural cocktail hours or in television or movie credits, but also in the heart of the indigenous of Chiapas, and their image is a print on the dark skin that is now healing and cleaning itself.

We can't offer them prizes that are traded in the cultural market, we have nothing to give them , but we are sure that they can write with pride in the long paper that describes their artistic development, the following" in the mountains of southeast Mexico there is a human being whose wounds I healed; whom I healed from oblivion and whose solitude I alleviated."

Perhaps they won't find a better role with these notes, nor a raise in income, nor better opportunities in the artistic field, nor perhaps will the number of their fans increase. But what is certain, at least for us, is that their status as human beings grew. They are, for us, giants, that is, our equals.

We especially want to thank those social groups who, like the Indigenous, have suffered from marginality and unfair treatment. We want to thank the women, the young men and women, the homosexuals and lesbians, and the prisoners. In different ways, and in different manners, these human beings suffer intolerance, persecution, mistreatment and disdain.. The voice of the always forgotten, of the eternally defeated, of the Mexican indigenous found an ear and support in them.

Thanks to the Mexican women, the always forced into submission, silence and conformity, those who broke free from the double prison enclosing them and went out into the streets, the fields and all the activities of social life and said: "Here we are. We have come to bring the voice of others, who like us, refuse a senseless, sterile and silent death. The Mexican women, the single ones, the married ones, the widows, the divorced ones, all those who are always named according to their relationship to a man: the singles to possess, the married ones possessed, the widows and the divorced women who have lost their owner. The Mexican women, no longer just single, married, widowed or divorced, those who no longer are owned or to be owned. The Mexican women now speaking and making themselves heard. The Mexican women so uneasy, so upset, so not women, the Mexican women. And the other uneasy ones, the other upset ones, the Mexican indigenous thank them.

Thanks to the young Mexicans, the always postponed, the too immature to demand, the right age to be exploited. The young Mexicans, to whom all rationale is denied, who are accused of not having their own ideas, whose authentic aspirations are denied, who are assumed to be manipulated, always deceived, always confused. The young Mexicans always treated as a bothersome but passing illness, the current sin and future regret. Those condemned to shame themselves in tomorrow's submission of today's proud rebellion. The meat of the barrios, the drugs, prostitution, death, disenchantment. The young Mexicans filling all of what the cynicism of Power left empty. , which is to say, everything. The young Mexicans carrying the voice and image of the other rebels, of the other eternal sub-citizens, the other sub-human, of the other "immature-manipulated-confused-tricked", of the others who thank them today: the indigenous Mexicans.

Thanks to the Mexican homosexuals and lesbians, the always persecuted, the always obliged to be shamed and to be hidden, the always sick, the undesirables, the target of the barrel of the gun of intolerance and hypocrisy, the identity as a synonym for insult and disqualification, the "you are a whore" as a judge, jury and executioner. The Mexican homosexuals, the "whores" that are less "whores" than the valiant one who populate the national lie, the dignified struggle for equality in the difference. The Mexican homosexuals responding to the voice of the other persecuted, the others hidden by shame, the others synonymous with insult, the "you are an Indian" as a historic disqualification and cultural incapability, the others more Indian, is to say more intelligent than the wise men who populate the national lie, of the others of the dignified struggle for equality in differences, of the others who appreciate the listening, the voice and the ear, of the others: the Mexican indigenous.

Thanks to the Mexican prisoners, to the incarcerated for the historic crime of being poor, the put aside from the stupid normality that is sicker than those who are decreed to be abnormal, the prisoners for thinking what they think or simply for thinking in a country where intelligence is a crime, the prisoners for thinking that words follow thinking and that acting plants one's thinking, like a seed is planted, the prisoners for believing, for struggling, for trying to be better together with others and not alone, the prisoners for refusing to be criminals, which is to say, to be accomplices in the crime of not doing anything.

The Mexican prisoners breaking through with letters the walls of the penitentiaries, making a joke of the vigilance and stupid penal codes. The Mexican prisoners responding, speaking, saying "here we are, we are listening to you" to the other criminals for being poor, to the other transgressors of the law of oblivion and indifference, the other abnormals who combat the normality of racism and lies, to the other illegals for thinking, for speaking and for acting, to the other criminals of today and heroes of tomorrow, tot he others who refuse to be accomplices of the crime of treason to the Motherland that those who are the government today commit, to the other prisoners of history: the Mexican indigenous.

First we should say that now that we have the complete results, now that the Plebiscite has ended, we declare the Promotional Direction Committee, the Organizing Committee for the Young People's Plebiscite, and the International Linkages Commission dissolved. The men and women who participated in them are honorable men and women who fulfilled the commitment that we asked of them. Their work has ended. Thank you.

The Plebiscite Ended

For us there wasn't three Plebiscites, for us it was a great Plebiscite with three parts. For this reason, today as we receive the results of the Young People's Plebiscite and the International Plebiscite and along with those of the National Plebiscite, we say that the Plebiscite has ended and we are expressing our thanks to all of you. For us there isn't a first class, second class or third class Plebiscite. For us the word of a 12-year-old young person is valued as much as that of an 86 year old elderly person, the word of the Greeks, the Spaniards, the French, the Italians, the English, those from the United States, those from South America, those from Asia and those from Australia.

All of you were able to overcome many difficulties to get to this day and to provide good reports to those from whom we sought help and participation in this effort of the country. The initial derision of the government later became harassment and sabotage. Your effort and the actual nature of the National Plebiscite enabled the partial opening of the difficult terrain of the electronic communication media.

The Plebiscite was treated in two fundamental ways by the electronic media: on the one hand, it was ignored, and on the other it was ridiculed (such as in the case of TV Azteca). We should recognize that, however, there were other electronic media which reported with objectivity the nature of this exemplary citizenry effort and that some spaces were opened within the principal television monopoly. The reaction of the Powerful to the communication media, especially the electronic ones, was displayed again with regard to the National Plebiscite. Some demonstrated that they are controlled by the system by their lack of credibility and the scarcity of legitimacy, and they tried to keep their distance; others (like TV Azteca) bet that everything would be fixed, and they replaced the Pharisees of yesterday.

Special mention should go to those few media and some radio programs which did not hesitate in supporting an effort of peace in the middle of the war going on within the group governing that is difficult to ignore.

Independent of this incomplete hole in the larger communication media, the promoters of the Plebiscite developed ingenious and creative initiatives that deserve to be recorded in the history, in small letters, of this country, for the history that matters, that transforms and enriches. Young people and women principally achieved breaking through the fence which the government has had around the society and they began a dialogue whose real impact will be seen in the near future.

All of you, against everything, against everyone, lifted up a cause, the cause of peace and democracy. All of you, with all of the power and without anything to gain, lifted us up again, you took us out of oblivion again, you took us to you, you and yours felt together with us again, you heard us, you talked with us. You have earned the greatest things that we have. You have earned now and for ever that we will call you "brothers".

And this is the most important thing that we wanted to say today, that we wanted to show to you, that we wanted the others equal to all of you but who are not here to hear, that we wanted to have taken to all corners of the country and the globe. Only a pair of little words like us, forgotten like us, denigrated like us, butt of jokes like us.

Thanks, brothers and sisters!

The search for becoming human

The National Consulta has spoken, it has answered and, in agreement with the definition of a dialogue, it now is our turn to speak. We would like, therefore, to talk a little about the results of the Consulta, both the National as well as the Young People's and the International.

More than 1 million, 300 thousand human beings, in Mexico and the world, took the time to respond to the questions that an armed group, clandestine, without face, and in a corner of the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, put forth. One million, 300 thousand men and women who responded not to the questions of the EZLN but to the effort of the dozens of thousands of organizers and promoters who invited them to dialogue and convinced them to do so. The quantity is a triumph, a triumph of all of you.

The biggest lesson, the most important teaching of this Consulta is that, yes, we can organize ourselves to talk and to listen, without being tutored or given permission by anyone we can construct the mechanisms for dialoguing. The results of the Consulta show that yes we can, that there are dozens of thousands of human beings willing to work and seek a way to a better world, a world that no one has promised us or given us, a world that we can construct ourselves as we want it and not as the Powers want it to be.

We have made the Power of Money tremble. It has noticed that there is something that it can not buy or sell, that dignity has begun to organize. The Power of Money is afraid because the meeting of dignities signifies its end, its rapid passage to becoming a nightmare that passes, the end of an historic stage ruled by arrogance and stupidity.

The Consulta was an exercise in the sovereignty of human beings over themselves. The Consulta was an act of affirmation in the face of the great Power. The Consulta was a warning to the powerful.: WE do not need you!

The Consulta was part of this never ending search: the search of becoming human.

The Six Questions

From the answers to the six questions of the Consulta we can also draw some conclusions: Questions 1, 2,3, and 6 were answered, by the majority, affirmatively. This means that:

(a) The base of a program for struggle is in the sixteen points. That these demands are the most important ones and it is not enough to enunciate them but rather we have to go further, to advance not only a plan of struggle that brandishes them, but that also provides an alternative program to solve them.

(b) The necessity of a broad front regarding this program. The feeling of being the majority by this part of civil society that participated in the Consulta exists because the wills that are seeing something new and better are uniting and walking together even while respecting their differences.

(c) The minimum conditions that would render the armed struggle useless and permit civilized and peaceful participation of the citizenry in politics.

(d) The recognition of a fact: the growing and outstanding participation of women in the struggle for the solution of the great national problems. Nothing was authorized or given to women. Everything was what they earned or are earning of their own right.

We should reflect upon the results of questions 4 and 5 and give our response. This requires an effort of internal dialogue and a public response. That's the way we will do it..

In addition to these initial reflections about the results of the Plebiscite there are facts that come up immediately; a first response to the will for peace and democracy expressed in the National Consulta has been given already by the EZLN by means of their delegation to the dialogue in San Andres Sacamch' en do Los Pobres. To a new government initiative whose objective was to break off the dialogue definitively, the delegation of the EZLN responded with a proposal that dismantled the theme of negotiation regarding the procedural rules and set the peace process on a new path. CONAI helped with these efforts and the sensibility of the legislators of the COCOPA helped. They were able to see in the Consulta that which the stupid blindness of Power kept the government from seeing: the nation's support for the demands of the EZLN and its will for a new peace, just and dignified.

The EZLN has now given an initial response to the more than one million men and women of Mexico and the world who participated in any of the three stages of the Consulta for Peace and Democracy: the National Consulta, the Young People's Consulta, and the International Consulta. It was the position of the EZLN which succeeded in getting the dialogue out of the agony in which the government's delegation had gotten it.

With this first response to the national and International civil society, the EZLN succeeded in overcoming the foolishness of the gray and mediocre little men of the government, those bureaucrats of the negotiated death, of those renegades from dignity, those salaried traitors, made in the image and appearance of their boss, and whose only diversion is to humiliate the Indigenous, making fun of their way of speaking, their dress, their struggle, their being Indians. Set on having the peace process fail, and concerned only with keeping their paychecks and commissions, they were beaten by the great national and international mobilization which was the Consulta, which shook them and made the accept what they had said that they would never accept: a dialogue based on respect and seriousness.

The exhausted dialogue of San Andres, gained a new life not in the will of the government but in the voices of hundreds of thousands of men and women who demanded that the powerful and their subservient bureaucrats change their attitude at the negotiating table. The dawn of San Andres Secamch'en de Los Pobres was made possible by the Consulta.

However, this first response is not enough. The question that more than one million three hundred thousand human beings who cast a ballot with their opinion on a street corner is still pending. The response to the 7th question is still pending. .

And after the Consulta, What?

To begin to respond to this question we have to quickly recall what 1995 has meant for Zapatism, the national situation and the international situation.

In reference to Zapatism, we can say the following:

Stage 1: It was characterized by the political transition and the military offensive of the government. Putting aside the fact that they had already begun the dialogue with the EZLN, the supreme government concretized their betrayal on February 9 1995 with those stupid arguments about the supposed military preparations of the EZLN, the supposed unmasking of the supposed Zapatista leaders, and the supposed application of the supposed legality of the supposed government. Trying to cover the lack of legitimacy of their actions with the thin veil of legality, the evil government put the entire country at the edge of a civil war. Instead of what they assumed and expected, the government had to confront an immediate and massive social mobilization of repudiation. During the first days of the offensive they were able to carry forward their strategy of social mobilization of destruction and persecution of civilians accused of being Zapatista. For this they counted on the support of the electronic communication media, and with the people on their payroll in the print media. The so-called "Iruegas" doctrine, the strategy that replaces legitimacy with legality, failed. An illegitimate action can not gain agreement with an imposed legality. The popular protests, in Mexico and around the world, that far surpassed those of January 1994, were successful at stopping the machine of death that had begun to walk. A commission of legislators called COCOPA was able to realize that this idiotic action would take the nation toward an endless descent, and presented the Law of March 6, 1995 that provided a legal way out of the illegal stupidity that had overrun legitimacy.

Stage 2: Based on the law of March 6, 1995, the government tried again to take up the idea of dialogue and negotiation. The Legislative Branch, the Law of March 6, and COCOPA opened the hope that things could return to their line. But the "Iruegas Doctrine" continued to help the Executive and the lack of definition in the government's policy with regard to Chiapas ended up being displacement by EMB. An outstanding political person, opposed to the regime and committed to the peaceful struggle for democracy he put forth a good effort and achieved the so-called "Meeting in San Miguel" on April 9, 1995. Without the intervention of this person, the start of the dialogue and negotiations would have been impossible. Meanwhile, the civil society look up new initiatives to secure the fragile peace that the new law allowed.

The first Peace Camps were established, and the meeting in the San Miguel ejido, in the municipality of Francisco Gomez, Chiapas, took place.

Stage 3: The agreements achieved in San Miguel were quickly betrayed by the government, just 10 days after having been agreed to. The racist vocation of the Federal Executive was clearly demonstrated in the so-called "San Andres I". The indigenous mobilization which sought to protect their own from a new betrayal was denigrated by the government's delegation which refused to dialogue surrounded by Indians. One person representative of the government's stupidity distributed a video full of lies and ensnared the communication media in the lie. The lie didn't hold up long, but the stupidity of the government would have many more opportunities show itself in the gray delegation that was sent to the dialogue in San Andres. Full of traitors and hypocrites, the government delegation did not just try to humiliate the Zapatista delegates. The distinct ideas regarding ways to reduce tensions simply hid a fundamental difference regarding what the dialogue should be about: a humiliation as the government delegation tried to impose, or a negotiation as the EZLN proposed.. Having put aside the ways to reduce tensions, the discussion regarding the Procedural Rules were a new opportunity for the government to cause the dialogue to fail.

Stage 4: the consulta for Peace and Democracy again found receptive ears in COCOPA, and its initiative, along with the mature wisdom of the Zapatista delegation enabled the meeting of San Andre VI to end well, and the stage that we are in now to begin.

Analysis of the National and International Situation But the ineptitude of the government did not just show up in the dialogue of San Andres. The national situation reflects a deep crisis in all aspects of the country's life. The economic crisis can be summarized in the equation that, today, the rich are fewer but richer, and the poor are poorer and poorer. This is the final cry of the continuation of an economic policy whose only objective is to pay tribute to international financial capital. The social crisis is seen in the fact that crime is increasing at the same rate as the corruption of the public security forces, and the social fabric is being torn apart by the impact of the economic crisis and the lack of political solutions. The political crisis (moral and ethical) ties up the parties and births a lack of trust and skepticism. The cultural crisis (the communication media)

Within the group in power all rules were broken. There is a process of accommodation that searches, with futility, the means to survive.

The crimes that follow will be its undoing. Whatever might be the result, it does not include us, as we are not its victims. None of the factions in conflict are thinking about the nation; they are searching for their own well being, their own survival. The ordinary citizen does not exist in the best of cases, in the worst of cases he/ she is expendable. For the Power and her internal struggles we are all dispensable, without regard for whether we're ordinary citizens, cardinals, candidates for President of the Republic, secretaries of political parties or magistrates. They continue imposing the politics of the loss of sovereign will, delivering the Nation to the international financial markets. Oil and sovereignty, once synonymous in the history of the country, today in the government's policies, are mutually exclusive.

With the popular struggles, nuclei of resistance are forming, isolated and in search of unity. Chiapas, Guerrero, Tabasco, Ruta-100, the excluded from UNAM, El Barzon, are only examples of a wider movement of popular resistance that persists, although dispersed but yet willing to coordinate together, even though it hasn't been accomplished yet.

The disorder, the lack of trust, the anger of the majority, known as the Mexican people, are the constants. The hope is still small, but it persists.

In the face of the chaos created by the government rise "alternatives" for power: the leadership of the PAN, whose apologists should be reminded of the declarations of their president in the sense that he was in favor of having a "multinational military force" intervene in Mexico; the impossible political "center" that the leadership of the PRD seeks, declaring without [embages] the replacement of the "legal fight" for the "struggle by agreement", which is nothing but an elegant form of saying "give up"; the reformed PRI that offers the politicians of yesterday as an option to the ineptitude of the technocrats; the efforts at self-government or of new forms of what is called "government of the people, for the people, by the people," which is to say, democracy: 1985, 1988, Alianza Civica, the boom of the NGOs, the EZLN, Tepotzlan, El Barzon, the union Ruta-100, the civil resistance in Tabasco, the movement of excluded students in UNAM.

In the international panorama, chaos is already the form that distinguishes the new world order.

World War IV is already being waged by the financial markets: the United Europe, Japan, North America, three great belligerent powers that are not national, but that represent only financial capital. The modern armies are being formed by information and economic specialists. The new battle camps are in the stock markets.

The process of globalization and her real antithesis, the pulverization of the nation states, is the future that is offered to the entire world.

War continues its logical journey of resource distribution and possession, the division between countries is now replaced by the division between parts of a country. The nation state is confronting itself. The new enemy of this new war is ourselves.

Neoliberalism, as a theory of modern chaos, of the destruction of humanity, is the ideological inheritance of the Nazis and the founding theory of wars for "ethnic purity" and intolerance. Neoliberalism is the theory of modern war. Its objective is, as in all wars, the destruction of the enemy: humanity- physically and morally.

However, in the midst of all this, there is appreciation for the global left's finding again its original banner: the human being. Just barely glimmering lightly, but now with its own brilliance, those who believed they were defeated realize that their work had not ended, that there was still something to be done, that history had not ended...

What's next?

It's simple to respond to this question. Nationally, what follows is to reconstruct the motherland that is now falling apart. Internationally, to reconstruct humanity that today is systematically destroyed. In summation, what follows is to fight and to win.

This is our answer to the question "And now what, after the Consulta? We invite you to join us and we will respond together. No more asking you to work and then we wait here. Now, to make real the "we" that we offered you.

On the national level...

The next step is to organize a big table of national dialogue in which there are the principal political and social forces of opposition who are not political parties. They, those grand gentlemen of politics, the elite who decide or believe they decide the destinies of the nation, think that the rest of the Mexicans don't deserve a space next to them.

But the transition to democracy will not come from this non- existent table of dialogue, it will come from where it has to come, from the will of the Mexicans from below, from the people.

That is to say, we are going to leave the government and the political parties to make their dialogue and their political agreements for electoral reform and such things, but we are going to continue to insist in a dialogue with people, with the population, in search of new forms of organization which are not like the old kinds of political organizations.

This is what we think: a national table of dialogue amongst everyone who doesn't have a voice, a giant table of national dialogue which looks for a way to unite those who truly struggle for national liberation.

What we want is that the people of Mexico hear us and not the government. The people of Mexico is whom we want to hear from and not the government. We expect to reach an agreement with the Mexican people so that together we can make the transition to democracy. From the government we can only expect lies, treason and deceit. Liberty, democracy and justice can only be constructed by ourselves, no one is going to give it to us.

This is our response to the question "And after the Consulta, what?"

There is a new step that we have to take together,: to create a giant table of national dialogue , without the government. Our idea of national dialogues is not one of sitting down with the grand gentlemen of the national politics, but rather sitting down with the civil society. This is what we want to tell COCOPA so that this will be the "format" of participation of the EZLN in the national dialogue.. What we want is a "special forum" with our guests and our agenda .. This great table of national dialogue between the EZLN and the civil society is what we ask the COCOPA to support, as part of their contribution to the peace process.

If the COCOPA asks the EZLN to participate in the national dialogue "for the reform of the State", and they are looking for a format, well then we will tell them that the format that we want is this one of dialoguing with the civil society, a table in which the EZLN and other independent forces such as the NGOs, Ruta Cien, Barzon, individual citizens, social organizations, unregistered political organizations, etceteras.

We want to propose to COCOPA that it be the link of this giant National Dialogue with the table "for the reform the state". We want them to be the ones who sit with the political parties and the government and present them the results of this National Dialogue. We also want to ask them to agree to present the proposals that result from this National Dialogue in the Congress of the Union. We want to propose that they participate more actively in the process for peace with democracy not only in Chiapas , but in all of Mexico. If citizens have a space where they can express themselves and be listened to , they will not have to resort to the argument of weapons to be heard. The COCOPA has the historic opportunity to become an important player in the transition to democracy. It is their turn to respond and affirm the independence of the Legislative Power with respect to the Executive power.

If the COCOPA accepts, then good, and if they don't, it doesn't really matter, since regardless, we will find a way to do it, a way to carry the voice of the civil society to the high forums of national politics. But this is not all, we invite you to begin now to work in this new stage of National Dialogue. We invite you to work in a new relation with EZLN and civil society. We invite you to

1. Form local, municipal, regional and state Civil Committees of Dialogue

2. The object is to lead into a Civil Table of National Dialogue

3. The themes will be:

a) The Nation program based on a program of struggle and the equitable participation of women: the 16 points

b) The National opposition Front project

c) New Political relationships among organizations, the government and the citizens and a new relationship between the Nation and the indigenous people.

d) The creation of a new independent political force based in the EZLN.

4. Characteristics: no party affiliations, not conditional, not organically committed except to one cause: the reconstruction of the country. Open, civil, not clandestine, not illegal, protected by the Constitution.

5. Registry Offices: The central one in the EZLN and accredited affiliates throughout the country.

6. New Aguascalientes: We want to offer to the civil society that we the civilian indigenous Zapatistas and the civilians of the cities (NGOs, etc.) begin to work together. The Zapatista support bases have created "centers of Zapatista resistance" that is to say, villages or communities that continue with resistance, without accepting anything from the government. These populations are our flags, are our symbols of Zapatista resistance.

We invite you to make many Aguascalientes as a response to the destruction of the Aguascalientes of Guadelupe Tepayac, and that these Aguascalientes be in the centers of resistance. We want to say to civil society: "let's go make many Aguascalientes and we need you to help us. We are going to have centers of resistance and there we want you (the civil society) and me (EZLN) to do something together for the well-being of the indigenous people: we'll put a good hospital that won't be from the government, with medicines, doctors, equipment, etc. with schools and classrooms with children's toys and studios and schools for women, with its own theater and cinema , sports and all that. But with nothing from the government. That way, together, we will make a place where the people are in charge, where it can be seen that we don't need the government, where it can be seen that the Mexican people can have dialogues and come to agreements. Where we can construct a peace with justice among ourselves, without the government and its armies and its police.

We want to demonstrate that the people can do for themselves without help from the government and we want you to help us to keep the flag of Zapatism standing firm, and to maintain the flag of Zapatista dignity in many places. If the government wants to attack us it will have to destroy not one Aguascalientes but many, it will have to destroy schools, libraries, hospitals, children's toys, theaters, cinemas, dance halls, and it will have to show the world its true face: that of murderers of all that signifies humanity.

These are our 6 proposals for work in response to your 6 answers to the 6 questions which we made...

On the international level...

Create an intercontinental meeting of all the forces that fight for humanity, that is to say, against Neoliberalism.

Brothers and sisters:

From the first of January 1994 we have talked and we have listened. We have participated since then in a dialogue we were not ready for and which we never had dreamed of: the dialogue with women and men who, without arms but with faces, fight for the same flag that wraps us all: the flag of the eagle devouring the serpent, the flag of the white flanked by green and red, the flag which in its center shamelessly declares our indigenous roots, the flag which should always be rescued from the bandits that hold it hostage in the National Palace, the flag that makes us brothers, the Mexican flag.

We will not forget what made us be born, what has put in the place where we are now.

We the insurgents have a historic inheritance that was given to us by the transgressors of the law of yesterday, the criminals of the past, those persecuted of before, the Hidalgos, Morelos, Allendes, Pipilas, Ortiz de Dominguez, Narciso Mendozas, Guerreros, Minas, Galeanas, Guadelupes, Francisco Villas, Emiliano Zapatas. We the insurgents, the heirs of Madera, of Arturo Gamiz and of the generation of the dignity of the political-military movements of the seventies and eighties, we have the right to a future without hiding places and shames.

We the insurgents will receive our only pay by accomplishing our responsibilities.

We the insurgents are also all of you. You and we, the insurgents of today, need to recognize the giant subterranean river that communicates and links us in all this time: the Motherland.

You and we, the insurgents, have a cause, our movement is a movement which is legitimate because legitimate is the cause that in our hands becomes the flag: the cause of democracy, liberty and justice.

The cause of the insurgents, the cause of "for everyone everything, nothing for ourselves."

You and we, the insurgents, are persecuted like criminals by a false and hypocritical legality, the legality which imposes, with the force of stupidity, on those who with blood and mud stain the national dignity: those from the evil government.

The future that they offer us is that of the exiled, of the renegade, the eunuch, of the sterile repetition, of that without reason. They offer the democracy of oblivion, the liberty for money and crime, justice as impunity, as the exclusive possession of power.

The government lies so much that at times it seems to behave in agreement with the lies it spreads. But at times the government should remember that the Nation is not formed only by the serpent of power, but by some other things. And the result is that those other things, us, have had to learn to govern ourselves by ourselves.

Like 185 years ago in Dolores, like 85 years ago in the center of the country , like 30 years ago in Madera, like 27 years ago in the student movement, like 10 years ago in the earthquake which shook the city of Mexico, September is the time that the Country speaks, our country. In Tepotzlan, in Tabasco, in Ruta 100, in Chiapas, in the Ciudad Universitaria, in the movement of the Barzon against usury, in the awakening of the indigenous nation, in all the corners of the country, the Homeland lives.

Today, as always, the Power does not listen. Today the Power does not dialogue, it monologues. The Power does not negotiate, it compromises. The Power doesn't fulfill commitments, it cheats. The Power doesn't keep its word, it betrays. The Power doesn't live, it kills.

They are no longer a government. They can continue thinking that they are, and that they will recuperate from the political crisis and that all will return to the way it was before. But already they have been overthrown, the emptiness of power should be filled with a new alternative for its exercise.

The country has been destroyed, we should reconstruct it. Us. We can construct, us, the peace that the powerful refused to construct.

We need to disregard the government, we should construct that which was first taken from us, then destroyed, and whose rubble is now for sale. To reconstruct the motherland.

The dialogue needs to be between us. From confrontation with ourselves we can create a new proposal of Nationhood. A historic project for the country, the redemption and the reconstruction of the Motherland. No longer any more of that which they want to offer us, or impose upon us, now that which we want, which we need, the only thing possible, the only thing dignified, the Motherland where democracy, liberty and justice are communal and equitable.

This is what follows: the National Dialogue between all the political patriotic forces to discuss and carry out a new historic project of Nationhood, the dialogue to find, together, the road to democracy, liberty and justice, the road to the Motherland, the road to Mexico.

>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

For the Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee
--General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, September 1995

P.S. That which gives tactical and strategic lessons

A September dawn of mud and rain surprised us in that year in which another earthquake shook the apathy and the isolation within ourselves of a country then called Mexico. Old Antonio revived the campfire in which we took refuge. Old Antonio knew that trying to dry ourselves was useless. As the mud dried it returned to crusty earth that bruised our skin and memories. Old Antonio thought, as I did, not in the mud which plastered up to our hair, but in driving away the chasquistes and mosquitoes which feasted on our damp arrival. After the ceremony of the fire followed one of tobacco and, between the smoke of one and the other we began a talk about the war for independence.

Old Antonio listened and agreed with a glance as my words brought back Hidalgo, Morelos, Guerrero, Mina, Pipila, and Galeana. I did not repeat a learned history nor recite a lesson, I tried to reconstruct the solitude of these men and women and their pledge to continue onward despite the persecution and the slander which they suffered. I hadn't finished, but when I spoke of the long resistance of the guerrilla of Vincente Guerrero in the Mexican mountains Old Antonio interrupted me by clearing his throat in that way of his which announces that a new wonder had arrived at his lips, as the warmth of the smoke form his pipe reached his lips.

-That reminds me of something- said Old Antonio while he blew to revive the fire and his memories. Here, between insurgents past and present, between the meeting of smoke and fire, Old Antonio unloaded, like someone frees from a heavy but valuable load, words which I relate...

The story of the sword, the tree, the rock and the water

Old Antonio chewed at the pipe. He chewed the words and gave then form and meaning. Old Antonio spoke, and the rain stopped to listen and the water and the darkness rested.

"Our oldest ancestors had to confront the stranger who came to conquer these lands. The strangers came to give us other ways, other words, other beliefs, other gods and another justice. It was his justice only so that he could have it and strip us of ours. Gold was his god. His superiority was his belief. Lies were his words. Cruelty was his way. Ours, the greatest fighters fought them, there were great battles between the aboriginal of these lands to defend the land from the foreigner's hand. But great also were the forces that the foreign hand brought. Great and good soldiers fell fighting and died. The battles continued; there were few warriors left, and the women and the children took up the arms of those who fell.

So, the wisest of the ancestors met and told the story of the sword, the tree, of the rock and the water. They told of the olden times and that far away in the mountains things that men need to work and defend themselves were brought together. The gods went around as it was their custom to do, which is to say that they were sleepy because the gods who were not the most powerful gods--those who birthed the world, the first ones-- were very lazy. It was the man and the woman spending their physical energies and growing in heart in one corner of the dawn. The night was silent. It was quiet because it knew that it had little time left. And so the sword spoke.

--A sword like this--Old Antonio stopped and brandished a two-edged machete. The light of the fire created some sparks, just an instant, then the dark returned. Then Old Antonio continued:

"So the sword spoke and said:

--I am the strongest and I can destroy everything. My edge cuts and I give power to the person who takes me and death to those who confront me--

--Liar!--said the tree--. I am the strongest, I have resisted the wind and the most ferocious torment.

The sword and the tree fought. The sword fought strong and hard, and confronted the sword. The sword struck and struck until it had chopped the trunk and felled the tree.

--I am the strongest--the sword said again.

--Liar!--said the stone---. I am stronger because I am hard and old, I am heavy and full.

And so the sword and the stone fought. The stone fought hard and strong and confronted the sword. The sword beat and beat and could not destroy the stone but it broke it into many pieces. The sword was left without a sharp edge and the stone was in many small pieces.

--It is a tie!--the sword and the stone said and the two cried because of the futility of their battle.

Meanwhile, the water in the ditch only watched the battle and said nothing. The sword looked at it and said:

--You are the weakest of all! You can't do anything to anyone! I am stronger than you! --and the sword attacked the water in the ditch with great force. It made a great scandal and noise; it shocked the fish and the water did not resist the blow of the sword.

Little by little, without saying anything, the water returned to its original form, enveloping the sword. And it continued its path to the river that would take it to the great body of water that the gods made to heal their thirst.

Time passed and the sword in the water began to grow old and rust, losing its edge, and the fish came near it without being afraid and made fun of it. With shame the sword withdrew from the water in the ditch. Without an edge and defeated, it complained: I am stronger than it, but I couldn't hurt it, and it, without fighting, has beaten me!

The dawn passed and the sun came to wake up the man and the woman who had slept together in order to renew themselves. The man and the woman found the sword in a dark corner, with the stone in pieces, the tree felled and the water in the ditch singing..."

The ancestors ended the telling of the history of the sword, the tree, the stone and the water and said:

"There are times when we have to fight like we were the sword in the face of the animal; there are times when we have to fight like the tree in the face of the torment; there are times when we have to fight like stones in the face of time. But there are times when we have to fight like the water in the face of the sword, the tree and the stone. This is the hour to make ourselves like the water and to continue our path to the river which will take us to the great water where the great gods soothe their thirst, those who birthed the world, the first ones".

--That's what our ancestors did--said old Antonio--. They resisted like the water resisted the most fierce blows. The stranger came with his force, surprising all the weak ones, thinking that he had won and in time he started to become old and rusty. The stranger ended up in a dark corner full of shame and without understanding why, if he had won, he was losing.

The old Antonio again lit his pipe and the firewood and added: --That's how our oldest and wisest ancestors won the great war against the stranger. The stranger left. We are here, like the water in the ditch, we continue to go towards the river that has to take us to the great water that soothes the thirst of the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, the first ones...

The dawn left and with it old Antonio. I continued in the path of the sun, to the west, crossing a ditch that snaked towards the river. In front of the mirror, between the sun of the dawn and the sun of the afternoon is the tender caress of the midnight sun. An alleviation that is hurting. A water that is thirst. A meeting that continues to be a search...

Like the sword in the tale of old Antonio, the government's offensive in February entered without any difficulty into the Zapatista territories. Powerful, lumbering, with a beautiful handle, the sword of Power beat the Zapatista territory. Like the sword of the tale of old Antonio, it made a lot of noise and scandal, like it, it surprised some fish. Like in the tale of old Antonio, its blow was great, strong...and useless. Like the sword in the tale of old Antonio, it stayed in the water, rusting and aging. The water? It continued its way, enveloping the sword, and without paying any attention to it, going to the river which will have to take it to the great water where the greatest gods soothe their thirst, those who birthed the world, the first ones...

Vale again.
Health and that the water alleviate and quench.

The Sup sailing the lower ditch.


(translated by Ann and other members of the New York Committee for Democracy in Mexico and Cindy Arnold, National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice)


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