The Words of Comandante Javier, welcoming the Ayotzinapa Caravan to the Caracol of Oventik, November 15, 2014
Brothers and sisters, parents of the 43 disappeared students, and Students and Teachers from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, state of Guerrero:
A very good afternoon to everyone!
In the name of our thousands of compañero and compañera bases of support of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, we warmly welcome you to this humble center, the Caracol II of Oventik, Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity, in the Highlands Zone of Chiapas, Mexico.
Those of us present here are representatives of our Zapatista communities, and we receive you with open arms in order to listen to your words.
Know that you are not alone! That your pain is our pain! That your rage is our dignified rage! And that with our actions we support the demand that the 43 students, disappeared by the bad governments’ criminal acts, be returned alive. May you feel at home here, because this place is home to all who struggle.
The Words of Comandante Tacho, at the opening of the EZLN Encounter with the Ayotzinapa Caravan, November 15, 2014
Compañeras and compañeros:
Fathers and mothers of the disappeared students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, state of Guerrero, Mexico.
To the students and to all of those accompanying this caravan, and everyone gathered here.
In the name of the boys, girls, young people, men, women, and elderly of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, we welcome you to this Caracol of Oventik, Caracol II, Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity.
Compañeras and Compañeros:
We the Zapatista Army for National Liberation want to hear your words of pain and rage, which we share.
We are not concerned with whether municipal presidencies are burning, nor with how many cars, doors, or palaces have been burnt.
What we want to hear is your pain, your rage, and the angst that comes from not knowing where your young students might be.
We also want to tell you that we Zapatistas have been accompanying you in the protests and mobilizations that have been held in Mexico and in the world. Though our acts of pain and rage do not appear in the paid media, we want you know that we have joined you with real and true actions.
This is why we want you to speak to us, and why we want to listen to you.
If we had known a few days earlier that you were coming, there would have been many of us here to greet and listen to you, many more than are here now. You can’t imagine the number of people who would have come.
Those of us who serve as representatives here today receive you with all of our hearts to listen to your pain and your rage.
The Words of the General Command of the EZLN, presented by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés upon concluding the event with the caravan of the families of the disappeared and students of Ayotzinapa, in the caracol of Oventik, November 15, 2014.
Mothers, Fathers, and Family members of our murdered and disappeared brothers in Iguala, Guerrero:
Students of the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero:
Brothers and Sisters:
We thank you with all our heart for sharing your word with us.
We know that in order to bring us your word directly, without intermediaries or outside interpretations, you had to travel many hours and endure fatigue, hunger, and exhaustion.
We also know that for you this sacrifice is part of the duty that you feel.
It is the duty to not abandon the compañeros disappeared by the bad governments, to not sell them out, to not forget them.
It is because of this duty that you began your struggle, even when no one was paying any attention and the disappeared brothers were being called “amateurs”, “rabble rousers” “future delinquents who deserved what they got,” “agent provocateurs,” radicals,” “hicks,” and “agitators.”
They were called those names by many of the same people who now crowd around your dignified rage for reasons of fashion or self-benefit, the same people who before tried to blame the Raúl Isidro Burgos Teachers College for what happened.
There are still some people above who try to blame the teachers college, attempting to create a distraction in order to conceal the real culprit.
It is because of this duty that you began to speak, to shout, to explain, to tell, to use your word with courage and with dignified rage.
Today, in the heap of empty words with which others clothe your dignified cause, there are already squabbles over who can take credit for getting you recognized, heard, understood, and embraced.
Perhaps no one has told you this, but it has been you, the families and compañeros of the dead and disappeared students, who, with the strength of your pain and its conversion into dignified and noble rage, have caused many people in Mexico and the world to awaken and begin to ask questions.
For this, we thank you.
We thank you not only for honoring us by bringing your word to our ears, humble as we are—we who have no media impact and no contacts in the bad government; we who are without the capacity or knowledge to accompany you, shoulder to shoulder, in the incessant coming and going of the search for your loved ones, who are now also loved by millions who don’t even know them; we who are without sufficient words to give you advice, relief, or hope.
Also, and above all, we thank you for your heroic determination, your wise insistence on naming the disappeared in the face of those responsible for this disgrace, for demanding justice in the face of the arrogance of the powerful, and teaching rebellion and resistance in the face of conformity and cynicism.
We want to thank you for the lessons that you have and continue to give us.
It is terrible and marvelous that the poor and humble families and students who aspire to be teachers have become the best teachers this country has seen in recent years.
Brothers and sisters:
Your word was and is for us a source of strength.
It is as if you have given us a source of nourishment, even though we were far away, even though we did not know each other, even though we are separated by calendars and geographies—that is, by time and distance.
We also thank you for sharing your word because we see now that others have tried to contain this firm and strong voice, this nucleus of pain and rage that set everything in motion.
And we see, hear, and read that now they speak of doors that before didn’t matter to anyone.
They forget that for a while now these doors have been meant to signal to those outside them that they had nothing to do with the decisions made inside.
They forget that these doors are now merely part of a useless shell within which sovereignty is simulated but servility and submission reign.
They forget that behind these doors there is just a huge mall which the people outside can’t enter, and where the broken pieces of what used to be the Mexican Nation are sold off.
We don’t care about those doors.
We don’t care if they are burned or adored, nor if they are seen with rage, nostalgia, or desire.
We care about your word, your word, your rebellion, your resistance.
There, on the outside, they are talking and arguing and making allegations over violence or non-violence, ignoring the fact that there is violence on most people’s tables every day. Violence walks with them to work and to school, goes home with them, sleeps with them, and without consideration for age, race, gender, language, or culture, makes a nightmare out of their dreams and realities.
We hear, see, and read that on the outside they are debating coups from the right or the left, who to take out of power and who to put in.
They forget that the entire political system is rotten.
It is not that this system has links to organized crime, to narco-trafficking, to the attacks, aggressions, rapes, beatings, imprisonments, disappearances, and murders, but that all of that is now part of its essence.
And we can’t talk about the political class as something separate from the nightmares that millions of people on this land suffer.
Corruption, impunity, authoritarianism, organized and unorganized crime: these are now the emblems, statues, declarations of principals, and practices of the entire Mexican political class.
We don’t care about the bickering, the agreements and disagreements, among those above over who will be in charge of the machine of destruction and death that the Mexican State has become.
We care about your words, your rage, your rebellion, your resistance.
We see, read, and hear the discussions being had out there about calendars, always the calendars of above, with their deceptive dates that hide the oppressions that we live today. They forget that hidden behind Zapata and Villa are the ones who actually remained in power: Carranza, Obregón, Calles, and a long list of names that, upon the blood of those who were like us, extended their reign of terror to our present day.
We care about your words, your rage, rebellion, and resistance.
And we read, hear, and see the discussions being had out there about tactics and strategies, methods, programs, what to do, who will be in charge of whom, who gives the orders, and where to look for direction.
They forget that the demands are simple and clear: they must be returned alive, all of them, not just those from Ayotzinapa; there must be punishment for those responsible at all levels and across the entire political spectrum; and they must do whatever is necessary so that this horror is never repeated, not against anyone in this world, even if they are not a famous or prestigious figure.
We care about your words, your rage, rebellion and resistance.
Because in your words we hear ours.
In those words we hear and say that no one takes us, the poor from below, into consideration.
No one, absolutely no one thinks about us.
They only appear to be concerned in order to see what they can take, how much they can grow, what they can win, how much they can make, what they can do and undo, what they can say and what they can keep quiet.
A few days ago, during the first days of October, when the horror of what had happened was just being discovered, we sent you some words.
They were small, as our words have been for some time now.
They were few because there are never sufficient words to speak of pain, to explain it, relieve it, or cure it.
So we just told you that you were not alone.
But with these words we meant not only that we support you, that although we are far away, your pain is ours, your dignified rage is ours.
Yes, we said this but not only this.
We also told you that in your pain and your rage you were not alone, because thousands of men, women, children, and elderly know firsthand that nightmare.
You are not alone, sisters and brothers.
Seek your word among the families of the little boys and girls murdered in the ABC daycare in Sonora; among the organizations for the disappeared in Coahuila; among the families of the innocent victims of the drug war, a war that has been lost since it began; among the families of the thousands of migrants killed and disappeared across Mexican territory.
Seek it among the daily victims in every corner of our country who know that it is the legal authority that beats, annihilates, robs, kidnaps, extorts, rapes, imprisons, and murders them, and that this authority is dressed sometimes as organized crime and sometimes as the legally constituted government.
Seek it among the indigenous peoples who, since before time was time, possessed the wisdom to resist, and there is no one who knows more about pain and rage than they do.
Seek out the Yaqui and you will find yourselves.
Seek out the Nahua and you will see that your word is embraced.
Seek out the Ñahtó and the mirror you find will be mutual.
Seek out the people who rose up in these lands and whose blood gave birth to this Nation before it was called “Mexico,” and you will know that below, the word is a bridge that can be crossed without fear.
This is why your word has strength.
Because millions have seen their reflection in your word.
Many will say this, and although the majority will keep quiet, they too make your demand theirs, and inside themselves they repeat your words.
They identify with you, with your pain and rage.
We know that there are many who are asking things of you, demanding things; they want to take you in one direction or another, to use you or tell you what to do.
We know that there is a lot of noise coming your way.
We don’t want to be one more noise.
We only want to tell you not to let your word fall.
Do not let it grow faint.
Make it grow so that it can be heard above all of the noise and lies.
Do not abandon your word, because in it walks not just the memory of your dead and disappeared, but also the rage of those who today are below so that those above can be there.
Sisters and brothers:
We think that perhaps you already know that you may be abandoned, and that you are prepared for this.
It may be that those who crowd around you right now in order to use you for their own benefit will abandon you and scuttle off in another direction seeking another trend, another movement or another mobilization.
We are telling you this because it is already part of our own history.
Estimate that there 100 people who accompany you in your demands.
Of those 100, 50 will switch to a new fad when the calendar turns.
Of the 50 who remain, 30 will buy the forgetting that is already being offered on a payment plan, and they will say that you no longer exist, that you didn’t do anything, that you were a farce to distract from other issues, that you were an invention of the government so that such and such party or such and such politician could not advance.
Of the 20 left, 19 will run away terrified at the first broken window. Because the victims of Ayotzinapa, of Sonora, of Coahuila, of whatever geography only occupy the media spotlight for a moment and observers can choose not to see, not to listen, not to read, or to turn the page, or change the channel or the station. A broken window, in contrast, is a prophecy.
And so, of the original 100, you will see that there is only one left. [i]
But that one will have discovered themselves in your words; their heart will have opened, as we say, and in their heart, pain and rage will have taken root.
Not just for your dead and disappeared, but for this one who, out of the 100, must keep going.
Because this one, just like all of you, will not give in, will not give up and will not sell out.
Part of this one percent, perhaps the smallest part, is we Zapatistas.
But not just us.
There are many, many more. [ii]
Because as it turns out, the few are only few until they find others.
And then something terrible and wonderful happens.
Those who thought they were few and alone discover that we are the majority, in every sense.
And so the world must be turned over, because it isn’t fair that the few dominate the many.
And because it isn’t fair that there are dominators and dominated.
Sisters and brothers:
We tell you this according to our ways of thinking, which are our histories.
You, in your own histories, will listen to many more ways of thinking, just as you have honored us by listening to ours.
And you have the wisdom to take up the thoughts you see to be of value and discard those you don’t.
We Zapatistas think that the changes that really matter, profound changes, the kinds that create other histories, are those that begin with the few, not with the many.
But we know that you know that although Ayotzinapa may go out of style, although the grand plans, strategies, and tactics fail, that although moments of conjuncture go by and other interests and forces come into fashion, that although all those who today hover around you like vultures that thrive on the pain of others, although all of this happens, you know and we know that everywhere there is a pain like ours, a rage like ours, and a determination like ours.
We Zapatistas invite you to seek out that pain and rage.
Seek it, find it, respect it, speak and listen to it; share your suffering.
Because we know when different sufferings encounter each other, they do not seed resignation, pity, and abandon, but organized rebellion.
We know that in your hearts, regardless of your creeds, ideologies, and political organizations, the demand for justice enlivens you.
Do not let yourselves break apart.
Do not become divided, unless it is in order to advance further.
And above all, do not forget that you are not alone.
Sisters and brothers:
With our small strength but with all of our heart, we have and will continue to do everything we can to support your just struggle.
We have not said much so far because we see that there are many interests—with those of the politicians above first in line—that want to use you to their liking and at their convenience, and we do not and will not join the predatory convergence of those shameless opportunists who do not care in the least if the missing are returned alive, but want only to grease the wheel of their own ambitions.
Our silence has signaled and continues to signal respect, because the size of your struggle is gigantic.
That is why our steps have been in silence, in order to let you know that you are not alone, that your pain is our pain, as is your dignified rage.
That is why our tiny lights were lit where nobody noticed except us.
Those who view this effort as no big deal or who don’t know about it at all, who scold and demand that we speak and that we declare our position and add ourselves to the noise, are racists who look down on anything that does not appear above.
It is important that you know that we support you, but it is also important that we know that we support a just, noble, and dignified cause, like the one that animates your caravan throughout the country.
Because for us, knowing that we are supporting an honest movement is a source of nourishment and hope.
How terrible it would be if there were no honest movements, and in all of the vast below that we compose there was merely a replication of that grotesque farce above.
We think that those who look to and count on the calendar from above or a particular deadline or date will abandon you as soon as a new event appears on their horizon.
Running after a situation and opportunity which they did nothing to create and which they at first looked down upon, they now wait for “the masses” to clear the path to Power and for one name to replace another up above so that nothing changes below.
We think that the moments that transform the world are not born on the calendars above, but are created by the daily, stubborn, and continuous work of those who choose to organize themselves instead of following the current trend.
This much is true: there will be a profound change, a real transformation in this and other suffering lands around the world.
Not one but many revolutions will shake the planet.
But the result of these will not be a change of name and logo in which those above continue to be above at the cost of those below.
Real transformation will not be a change of government, but a change of relation, where the people command and the government obeys.
It will be one where the government is not a business.
Where the fact of being woman, man, other, [iii] child, elderly, young person, a worker in the countryside or city, does not mean living a nightmare or falling prey to the enjoyment and enrichment of those who govern.
Where women are not humiliated, the indigenous are not looked upon with disdain, where the young person is not disappeared and those who are different are not satanized, where childhood is not turned into a commodity, where the elderly are not discarded.
It will be one where terror and death do not reign.
One where there are neither kings nor subjects, neither masters nor slaves, neither exploiters nor exploited, neither saviors nor saved, neither bosses nor followers, neither commanders nor commanded, neither shepherds nor flocks.
Yes, we know it won’t be easy.
Yes, we know it won’t be fast.
We know this, but we also know that it won’t be a change in names and letters on the criminal building of the system.
And we know it will happen.
We know that you and everyone else will find your disappeared, that there will be justice, that for all those who have suffered and continue to suffer this sorrow will come the relief of having answers to the what, why, who, and how. And upon these answers not only will punishment be brought to those responsible, but the necessary measures constructed so that this can not happen again and that to be a young person or a student, a woman, a child, a migrant, an indigenous person, or whoever, will not mean being a target for the executioner in turn to identify his next victim.
We know that this will be so because we have heard something, among many things, that we have in common.
We know that you, like us, will not sell out, will not give in, and will not give up.
Brothers and sisters:
On our behalf, we want only for you to take with you this thought that we express from the bottom of our collective heart:
Thank you for your words, sisters and brothers.
But above all, thank you for your struggle.
Thank you, because upon knowing you, we now see the horizon…
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
For the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee–General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Mexico, on the 15th day of November of 2014, in the twentieth year of the war against oblivion
[i] The text uses “uno, una, unoa” for to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.
[ii] The text uses “muchos, muchas, muchoas” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.
[iii] The text uses “otroa,” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.
Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista
November 15, 2014