The History of Dolores Hidalgo, according to Marcos

Marcos enters Dolores Hidalgo in August 2005 | Photo: Mary Ann Tenuto Sánchez.

[In August 2005, the community of Dolores Hidalgo, now one of the EZLN’s new caracoles, hosted a preparatory meeting for the Other Campaign. The late figure of SCI Marcos gave an opening speech that included the words below.]

Compañeros and Compañeras,

Now to finish our speech, I’m going to tell you a story. Zapatista compañeros and compañeras told me parts of it and other parts I saw and I experienced. If there are any imprecisions, let’s leave it to the historians to clarify. With its verifiable facts, its legends, its inaccuracies and its gaps, this is part of our history, the history of the EZLN.

This place where we are was a finca (estate) called “Campo Grande.” The history of this place is a squeezed synthesis of the history of indigenous Chiapanecos; and, in some respects, of all the indigenous peoples of the Mexican Southeast, not only of the Zapatistas.

“Campo Grande” did honor to its name: more than one thousand hectares (2, 470 acres) of good land, on level ground, with abundant water, roads especially made to take out cattle and precious woods, landing strips so that the owners don’t get dusty or muddy traveling over the dirt roads so that they could reach their small planes, and thousands of indigenous who they exploit, despise, rape, deceive, incarcerate and murder. Then, the agrarian reform of the PRI, of the institutionalized revolution, was concretized in Chiapas like this: the good lands on level ground to the finqueros (estate owners), the rocky lands and hills to the indigenous.

The owner of “Campo Grande” was Segundo Ballinas, known among the older inhabitants of these parts as a murderer, rapist and exploiter of the indigenous, principally of women, boys and girls. Then the finca was divided: one part was called “Primor” and its owner was Javier Castellanos, one of the founders of the Union of Property Owners of the Second Valley of Ocosingo, one of those associations with which the finqueros disguised their “white guards” (paramilitaries); the other part was called “Tijuana” and its property owner was a Mexican Army colonel, Gustavo Castellanos, who kept the people subjugated with his personal garrison. Yet another part was the property of José Luís Solórzano, a PRI member and its candidate to different positions, known in the area for his broken promises, his barefaced lies and his arrogant and derogatory treatment toward the indigenous. Thus, in these lands the Power in Chiapas was synthesized: finqueros, the Army and the PRI-Government. To that bad trinity, Chiapas could be a cattle pasture, a hacienda for exercising the derecho de pernada (the right of rape), even with little girls, a shooting range on human targets, and one of the laboratories of the most modern of the PRI’s “democracy:” here it was not necessary to know the candidates, not even their names, or their proposals, nor even know the date of the election, nor what the options were, nor having identification. Wow, it wasn’t even necessary to go to the polls.

In each electoral process, in the municipal headquarters (cabecera) of Ocosingo, on the premises of the associations of property owners and cattle ranchers, the day filling electoral ballots was paid for with sandwiches and a soft drink. Of course that “democracy” had its excesses: in some of the elections before 1994, the PRI obtained more than 100% of the vote. Perhaps there were too many sandwiches and soft drinks.

In an August like this one that receives us here, but in 1982, the finqueros (estate owners) and their white guards violently evicted the inhabitants of the Nueva Estrella village. They shot, beat and took the indigenous men prisoners. Some were murdered. The women were set aside and were obliged to watch as they burned their homes. They took everything away from them. In time they returned. Still, when someone asks them why they returned after everything they did to them, they respond with this gesture.

In 1994, on the first of January, thousands of indigenous people from this Tseltal zone, together with thousands more from the Tojolabal, Chol and Tzotzil zones, after 10 years of preparation, covered their face, changed their names collectively as the “Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional” (Zapatista National Liberation Army), rose up in arms. The finqueros fled, their white guards did the same thing, and they left abandoned the weapons with which they sustained their domination. The Zapatistas recuperated the lands. Look: they didn’t “take” them, but rather they “recuperated” them. That’s what the compañeros and compañeras called this act of justice that had to wait dozens of years to complete. These lands that were indigenous lands and that were usurped, were now indigenous lands again. They have been, then, recuperated. The lands were distributed. Hundreds of indigenous families, who before were crowded into a space of 5 acres, founded, together with other landless indigenous people from other villages in the zone, this Zapatista town that today receives us. Those who were attacked by the finqueros in 1982, among others, now inhabit this town.

This new Zapatista town is named “Dolores Hidalgo” and, according to what the founders tell me, veterans of the ’94 uprising, the significance of “Dolores” is about the pain that we have from more than 500 years of resistance, and the name of “Hidalgo” is for Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla that fought for the Independence of Mexico.

Notice that they said “500 years of resistance” and not “500 years of domination.” In other words, despite the domination, they have never stopped resisting it. And when we talk about domination, that is, when we tell our history, we also talk about resistance. And now I’m not talking about our history as the EZLN, but rather about our common history, the one we share with you, with your organizations and your movements. Our common history is that, where anyone says: “I command and dominate,” we, you, we say: “I resist and rebel.”

But the Zapatistas that founded “Dolores Hidalgo,” don’t refer only to resistance. They also name her pain: the pain along the way, the pain of tiredness, the pain of those who betrayed them on the trajectory, the pain of defeats, the pain of mistakes, and, above all, the pain of going forward despite all the pains.

You will tell us about your history as an organization and as a movement, about your pains, about your resistance and rebellion. Surely, we will recognize each other in more than one story. Many of the others will seem alien to us. But we will learn about you in all of them. And we will say to you what we have already said to others: that we want to continue learning.

We will learn, with you and with many more like you, to think well, to say well and to feel well when we say: “compañero, compañera.”

Welcome Compañeros, welcome compañeras!

Muchas Gracias,

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

August 20, 2005

English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee







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