They haggled with us on fundamental issues

San Andres Sacam Ch'en de los Pobres
January 18, 1996

To the people of Mexico:
To the national and international press:
To the peoples and governments of the world:

Brothers and sisters:

This delegation of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, present in this first part of the resolving plenary of the table on Indigenous Rights and Culture, states the following:

First.- The rising up in arms of an army of indigenous was necessary. The war, the death, the suffering of our companeros, was necessary so that today the federal government commits, on paper, to push forward the recognition of our existence and our rights.

It should be cause for national shame that only in the last decade of the 20th century, almost 200 years after our country was born, has the government begun to show signs of recognizing our existence and our rights.

The recognition of our right to free determination, to our autonomy, to our right to freely associate, to apply, in our own spaces, indigenous laws regarding the concepts of people and territory; our right to a political representation nationally and at the states' level, and certain basis for a judicial pluralism.

But at the same time the federal government has haggled with us over a series of fundamental demands.

The rising up in arms of an army of indigenous people was necessary in order to make ourselves heard and so that the most basic demands of the indigenous people and of all the people of Mexico open up even slightly the spaces for being heard.

Second.- One of the principle causes of the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has been the oppression, injustice and marginalization in which we the indigenous peoples of Mexico have been submitted. We decided to take up arms because the voices of our peoples were not being heard, because our demands were not being addressed, because the law, when it was applied, was used only to persecute us and repress us and was never used to achieve justice for us.

We rose up to demand a justice that did not simply achieve some certain remedies, but rather a justice that can only be achieved with a profound transformation of political, social and economic relations.

A transformation that could not be limited to the indigenous people nor to Chiapas. A transformation that has to include the entire Mexican society, all of its structures, all of its forms of existing.

We are absolutely convinced that without national democracy, without liberty and justice, it will not be possible that we, the indigenous people, occupy the place that belongs to us.

Third.- In this resolving plenary of San Andres Sacam Ch'en we did not come alone. We came accompanied by the intense mobilization of the indigenous peoples in many forums, community assemblies, meetings at the state and national levels, discussions in universities and in the press. We came with the force of the National Indigenous Forum convened by the EZLN during the first days of this year. With the force of more than 500 delegates coming from 178 indigenous organizations, members of 32 indigenous peoples. We also came with the committed support from our advisors, honest men and women from all sectors of Mexican society, indigenous and non-indigenous, who brought here the best of themselves and of the others who could not be here, determined to add their efforts to ours. We came with this force and even with all of this they haggled with us on our demands.

Fourth.- Now we are going to the consultation, to hear the word of our peoples regarding these commitments and proposals, but we say this clearly: words and commitments that are proposed as serious and firm will be useless if the harassment of our peoples and other peoples in other states persists; if throughout Chiapas the will of the people continues to be denied and the post-electoral conflicts, against all reason or justice, are prolonged; and if public forces continue to be used to remove our indigenous brothers and sisters who through their own decision and organization seek respect for the will of the majority.

The signs of reducing tension must be full lighted so that they reflect that the government is determined to advance along the paths of the dialogue. The signs, with actions, must be fully lit so that they allow the realization of the consultation with our peoples. The government has now the opportunity to continue with determination to open new paths, new doors. The government has the possibility to demonstrate that war is not the road.


Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee
--General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mexico, January 1996

La Jornada, January 20, 1996 "They haggled with us on fundamental issues," stated a communique

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