The EZLN’s Words on the 22nd Anniversary
of the beginning of the war against oblivion
January 1, 2016
Good evening, Good morning compañeros, compañeras of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation bases of support, militia-men and militia-women compañeros/as, insurgent-women and insurgent-men, local and regional persons in charge, the authorities of the three levels of the autonomous government, compañeros/as promoters in different areas of work, compañeros, compañeras of the National and International Sixth and to all present.
Compañeras and compañeros, today we are celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the start of the war against oblivion.
During more than 500 years we suffered the war of the powerful from different nations, languages, colors and beliefs waged to annihilate us.
They tried to kill us, whether it was killing our bodies, whether it was killing our ideas. But we resisted.
As original peoples, as guardians of mother earth, we resisted.
Not only here and not only those of us the color of the earth.
In all the corners of the world where people suffered before and who suffer now, there were and there are dignified and rebellious people that resisted, that resist against the death imposed from above.
On the first of January of 1994, 22 years ago, we made public the “ENOUGH!” that we prepared in dignified silence for a decade.
Quieting our sorrow this way we prepared the outburst cry of our sorrow.
Our word thus was of fire.
To awaken those asleep.
To raise up those who fell.
To enrage those who conformed and gave up.
To rebel history.
To obligate her to say what had been silenced.
To reveal the history of exploitations, assassinations, plunders, contempt and exclusion that hid behind the history from above.
That history of museums, statues, textbooks, monuments to the lie.
With the death of our people, with our blood, we shook up from its slumber the world resigned to defeat.
It was not just words. The blood of our fallen these 22 years joined those from the previous years, decades, centuries.
We had to choose and we chose life.
That’s why, then and now, we live to die.
As simple as our blood painting the streets and walls of the cities that despise us now like they did before, it was our word then.
And continues being:
The banner of our struggle was our 11 demands: land, work, nutritious food, health, education, dignified housing, independence, democracy, liberty, justice and peace.
These demands were the ones that made us rise up in arms because they were what the original peoples and the majority of the people in this country and in the world lacked.
In this way, we struggled against exploitation, marginalization, humiliation, contempt, obscurity, and for all the injustices we lived caused by the evil system.
Because for the rich and powerful we were only useful as slaves, so that they could become richer and we poorer every time.
After living for so long under this domination and plunder, we said:
¡ENOUGH! ¡AND HERE OUR PATIENCE RUNS OUT!
And we saw that we had no other path than to take up arms to kill or die for a just cause.
But we were not alone.
We are not alone now.
Throughout Mexico and the world dignity has taken the streets and demanded space for the word.
We understood then.
From that moment on our way of struggle changed and we were and are a listening ear and an open word, because we knew from the beginning that a just struggle of the people is for life and not for death.
But we have at one side our weapons, we won’t put them away, they will be with us till the end.
Because we saw that where our listening was an open heart, the Boss put his word of deception, his heart of ambition and lie.
We saw that the war from above continued.
Their plan and objective was and is to make war against us until they exterminate us. That’s why instead of resolving our just demands, he prepared and prepares, he made and makes war with his modern weaponry, organizes and finances paramilitary groups, he offers and distributes crumbs, taking advantage of the ignorance and poverty of some.
Those bossy ones from above are fools. They thought that those who were willing to listen were also willing to sell themselves out, to surrender, to waver.
They were mistaken then.
They are mistaken now.
Because we Zapatistas are very clear that we are not beggars or useless ones that wait about for someone else to solve everything.
We are peoples with dignity, with decision and consciousness to struggle for true liberty and justice for all, for heshes. Without regard to color, race, gender, belief, calendar, geography.
That’s why our struggle is not local, or regional, or even national. It is universal.
Because the injustices, the crimes, the plunderings, the contempt, the exploitations are universal.
But rebellion, rage, dignity, the desire to be better are also universal.
That’s why we understood that it was necessary to build our life ourselves, with autonomy.
In the midst of great threats, military and paramilitary harassment, and the constant provocations of the evil government, we began forming our own system of governance, our autonomy, with our own education, our own health, our own communication, our way of caring and working for our mother earth; our own politics as a people and our own ideology of how we want to live as a people, with another culture.
Where others wait for those from above to solve the problems of those below; we, Zapatista women and men, began to build our liberty by how we plant, how we build, how we grow, that is to say, from below.
But the bad government tries to destroy and end out struggle and resistance with a war that changes in intensity as it changes its deceptive politics, with their evil ideas, with their lies, using the means of communication to broadcast them and with the distribution of crumbs among the indigenous peoples where there are Zapatistas, to thus divide and buy consciousness, applying that way their counterinsurgency plan.
But the war that comes from above, compañeras, compañeros, sisters and brothers, is always the same: it only brings destruction and death.
They can change the ideas and the banners with which they arrive, but the war from above always destroys, always kills, never sows anything but terror and hopelessness.
In the middle of that war we have to walk towards what we want.
We could not sit down to wait for those to understand who do not understand or do not even want to understand.
We could not sit down to wait so that the criminal could disown himself and his history and convert himself, a repentant, into someone good.
We could not wait for a long and useless list of promises that would be forgotten a few minutes later.
We could not wait for the other, different but the same in pain and rage, to see us and seeing us see himself.
We did not know how to make.
There wasn’t nor is there a book, a manual or a doctrine that would tell us how to resist and, at the same time, build something new and better.
Maybe not perfect, maybe different, but always ours, of our peoples, of the women, men, children and elders that with their collective heart cover the black banner with the red star that has five points and the letters that not only names them but also names their commitment and destiny: E Z L N.
Then we searched in our ancestral history, in our collective heart, and with those who have stumbled, with faults and errors, we went building this that we are and which does not just keep us alive and resisting, but also raises us up dignified and rebels.
During these 22 years of struggle of resistance and rebellion, we continued building another form of life, governing ourselves as collective peoples that we are, based on the seven principles of rule by obeying, building a new system and another way of life like the original peoples.
One where the people rules and the government obeys.
And our simple heart sees that that is the healthiest way, because it is born and grows from the people, that is to say, it is the people who gives their opinion, discuss, think, analyze, propose and decide what is best for their benefit, following the example that our ancestors gave us.
As we will be explaining later, we see that abandonment and misery reign in the partisan communities, laziness and crime rules, community life is broken, mortally wounded.
Selling yourself to the evil government not only didn’t resolve your needs but added other horrors.
Where before there was hunger and poverty, they continue being but additionally there is hopelessness.
The partisan communities have converted into groups of beggars that do not work, they only wait for the next government aid program, or wait for the next election season.
And this will not appear in any report from the municipal, state or federal governments, but it is the truth that can be seen on the partisan communities: farmworkers that do not know how to work the land anymore, empty brick houses because neither the cement nor the metal sheets can be eaten, destroyed families, communities that only come together to receive government handouts.
In our communities maybe there are no cement houses, nor digital televisions or the latest model truck, but our people know how to work the land. What our people put on the table, the clothes we wear, the medicine that heals us, the knowledge that is learned, the life that happens is OURS, product of our work and of our knowledge. No one gives it to us.
We can say it without shame: the Zapatista communities are not only better off than they were 22 years ago. Their level of life is superior to those that have sold themselves out to the parties of all colors.
Before, to know who was a Zapatista you would look for a red bandanna or a ski-mask.
Now you only have to see if they know how to work the land; if they take care of their culture; if they study to learn science and technics; if they respect like the women we are; if they hold their head high and clear; if they see the autonomous rebel government positions as service and not as business; if when someone asks them something they don’t know, they answer “I don’t know… yet;” if when someone mocks them saying that the Zapatistas don’t exist, that they are just a few, she replies, “Don’t worry, we are going to be more, it won’t be long all of a sudden, but we will be more;” if they look far into calendars and geographies; if they know that tomorrow is planted today.
But yes, we recognize that we have much more to do; that we need to organize ourselves more and better.
That’s why we have to exert ourselves more to fulfill more and improve the work of governing ourselves, because here comes again the evil of evils: the evil capitalist system.
And we have to know how to confront it. We already have 32 years of experience of struggle of rebellion and resistance.
We are what we are.
We are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
We are even if they do not name us.
We are even if with silences and slanders they forget us.
We are even if they do not look at us.
We are in the steps, along the way, at the origin, in destiny.
And in what we are we see, we look, we hear sorrows and sufferings near and far in calendars and geographies.
And we looked before, and we look now.
A bloody night, more if it were possible, extends over the world.
The Bossy One not only insists on continuing to exploit, to repress, to despise and to plunder.
He is bent on destroying the entire world if that gives him profits, money, pay.
It is clear that the worst is coming for everyone, for heshes.
Because the multimillionaire rich of a few countries, continue with the objective of plundering all the natural wealth in all the world, everything that gives us life like water, land, forests, mountains, rivers, air; and everything beneath the soil: gold, oil, uranium, amber, sulfur, coal and other minerals. Because they do not consider earth as the source of life, but as a business and they convert everything into a commodity. And they convert commodities into money, and that’s how they want to completely destroy us.
The evil and the bad have a name, a history, an origin, a calendar, a geography: it is the capitalist system.
It doesn’t matter how they paint it, it doesn’t matter what they name it, doesn’t matter what religion they dress it in, it doesn’t matter what flag they raise.
It is the capitalist system.
It is the exploitation of humanity and the world she inhabits.
It holds in contempt everything that is different and that does not sell out, does not surrender, does not give up.
It is the one that persecutes, jails, assassinates.
It is the one that robs.
In front of him arise, are born, reproduce, grow and die saviors, leaders, bosses, candidates, governments, parties that offer solutions.
Just like another commodity, recipes are offered to solve problems,
Maybe some still believe that from above, where the problems come from, the solutions will come.
Maybe there are still some that believe in local, regional, national and world saviors.
Maybe there are still those that wait for someone to do what we are supposed to do ourselves.
That would be good, yes.
Everything easy, comfortable, effortless. Just raise your hand, cross out a ballot, fill out a form, applaud, yell out a slogan, join a political party, vote to throw out one and let another one enter.
Maybe, we say, we think, we Zapatista women and men that are what we are.
That would be good, but it isn’t.
Because what we have learned as the Zapatistas that we are and without anyone having taught us, if it hasn’t been from our own way, it is that no one, absolutely no one is coming to save us, to help us solve our problems, to relieve our pains, to gift us the justice that we need and that we deserve.
Only what we do ourselves, each one according to their calendar and their geography, according to their collective name, their thought and their action, their origin and destiny.
And we have also learned, as the Zapatistas that we are, that is only with organization that it is possible.
We learned that if one, he, she, heshe, becomes enraged, it is beautiful.
That if several, many, heshes become enraged then a light is turned on in a corner of the world and that light is able to illuminate for a few instances the entire face of the world.
But we also learned that if those enraged indignations organize… Ah! Then it is not a fleeting light that illuminates the earthly roads.
Then it is like a murmur, like a hum, like a temblor, that begins to sound lightly first, then stronger later.
As if this world were giving birth to another world, a better, a more just, a more democratic, a more free, a more human… or a humyn… or humanoa world.
That’s why today we began this part of our word with a word from before, but that continues being necessary, urgent, vital: we have to organize ourselves, prepare ourselves to struggle, to change this life, to create another form of life, another form of self-governance, for ourselves our peoples.
Because if we do not organize ourselves, we will become more enslaved.
There is nothing to left to trust in capitalism. Absolutely nothing. We have already lived hundreds of years in their system, we have already suffered the four wheels of the carriage of capitalism: exploitation, repression, plunder and contempt.
All that remains is trust among ourselves, men and women, where we do know how to build a new society, a new system of government, with the just and dignified life that we want.
Because now no one is safe from the storm of the capitalist hydra that destroys our lives.
Indigenous people, agriculture workers, workers, house wives, intellectuals, men and women workers in general, because there are many workers who struggle to survive every day, some with a boss and others without, but that fall into the same claws of capitalism.
Which is to say there is no salvation from capitalism.
No one is going to lead us, it us ourselves who will lead us, taking into account how we think about how we will resolve each situation.
Because if we think there is someone who will lead us, well we’ve seen how we were led during hundred of years before and within the capitalist system, that it did not serve us the fucking downtrodden. For them yes, because there yes, just sitting, they made money to live.
They told everyone “vote for me,” I am going to struggle so that there is no more exploitation and then when they get their post where they make money without sweating, automatically forget everything they said, they begin to create more exploitation, to sell what little is left of the wealth of our countries. Those traitors are useless, hypocrites, parasites, that are worthless.
That’s why, compañeros and compañeras, the struggle hasn’t ended, we are just beginning, we have been at it for just 32 years of which 22 have been public.
That’s why we should unite even more, organize ourselves even better, to build our ship, our house, that’s to say, our autonomy, because that it is what is going to save us from the great storm that nears, we have to strengthen our areas of work and our collective work.
We have no other choice than to unite and organize ourselves to struggle and defend ourselves from the great threat of the evil capitalist system, because the wickedness of criminal capitalism that threatens humanity will not respect anyone, it will sweep away everyone regardless of race, party, or religion because it has already demonstrated for years that they have misruled, threatened, persecuted, jailed, tortured, disappeared and assassinated our people in the countryside and in the city all over the world.
That’s why we say to you, compañeros, compañeras, girls and boys, youth and youth-heshes, you new generations are the future of our peoples, of our struggle and history, but you have understand that you have a task and a responsibility: follow the example of our first compañeros, of our elder compañeros, of our fathers and grandfathers and of everyone who started this struggle.
They, men and women, marked the path, now it’s our turn to follow and maintain that path, but this is only achieved by organizing ourselves in each generation and in generation, understand that and organize yourselves for that, and in that way go all the way to ends of our struggle.
Because you young people are important for our peoples, that’s why you should participate in all the levels of work that there are in our organization and in all the areas of work of our autonomy, and that it be the generations that continue guiding our own destiny with democracy, liberty and justice just like our first compañeras and compañeros are teaching us now.
Compañeras and compañeros, we are sure that we are going to achieve what we want, everything for everyone, that is liberty, because our struggle is now advancing little by little and the weapons of our struggle is our resistance, our rebellion and that for our true word there are no mountains or borders that can stop it, our true word will reach the ears and hearts of other brothers and sisters across the whole world.
It’s to say that we are more every day who understand the struggle against the gravest situation of injustice, in which we’re held, that the evil capitalist system causes in our country and in the world.
We are also clear that throughout our struggle there have been and there will be threats, repressions, persecutions, evictions, contradictions and harassment from the three levels of the evil governments, but we should be clear that the evil government hates us because we on a good path; and if it applauds us it’s because we deviating from our struggle.
We do not forget that we are the inheritors of more than 500 years of struggle and resistance. In our veins flow the blood of our ancestors, who bequeathed us their example of struggle and rebellion and to be the guardians of our mother earth because from her we were born, in her we live and in her we will die.
Compañeras, compañeros Zapatistas:
Compañeros, compañeras, compañeroas of the Sixth:
Sisters and brothers:
This is our first word of the year that is beginning
More words will come, more thoughts.
Little by little we will be showing our view, our heart that we are.
Now we just want to end by saying that to honor and respect the blood of our fallen it is not enough to remember, miss, cry, or pray for them, but that we should follow their example and continue the work that they left us, make in practice the change that we want.
That’s why compañeros y compañeras for this important day it is the time to reaffirm our consciousness of struggle and of committing ourselves to continue going forward, whatever the cost and whatever happens, we will not allow the evil capitalist system to destroy what we have conquered and what little we have been able to build with our work and efforts during more than 22 years: ¡Our liberty!
Now is not the time to go backwards, to be discouraged or to be tired, we should be more firm in our struggle, firmly maintain the words and examples that were bequeathed to us by our first compañeros: of not surrendering, of not selling out and of not giving up.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of
Zapatista Army of National Liberations.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, January first, 2016.
Translated by the Chiapas Support Committee, Oakland, CA.