The EZLN accepts agreements regarding indigenous rights and culture

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:

Brothers and sisters:

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a Mexican organization that struggles for democracy, liberty and justice for all the world, has finished counting the votes to decide whether to formalize the first minimal agreements with the supreme Mexican government within the boundaries of the dialogue of San Andres. The first of six stages of the dialogue process and negotiation has finished, and it addresses the themes of indigenous rights and culture.

Since the dialogue in San Cristobal in 1994 the EZLN has been committed to the path of dialogue to seek a political solution to the war initiated on January 1, 1996. Since then all of the initiatives for a new, just and dignified peace have come from the EZLN and the national and international civil society, and all of the initiatives of war have come from the supreme government. Now that this stage has ended, we want to tell you what was and is our thinking in this democratic process of internal consultation regarding the agreements reached.

Based on the above, we present:

The results of the consultation of the Zapatista bases regarding Mesa #1 on indigenous rights and culture. Several dozens of dozens of thousands of men and women were consulted, the majority of whom are indigenous.

Of the 100% of the bases of support for the EZLN consulted, 52% were women and 48% were men.

Of the 100% of the men and women making up the Zapatista bases of support consulted: 96% supported the following positions:

a) Reject the lack of a solution to the grave national agrarian problem and insist that Article 27 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States take on again the spirit of Emiliano Zapata, summarized in two basic demands: the land belongs to the person who works it, and land and liberty.

b) Reject the lack of jurisdictional recognition of the autonomy of municipalities and regions by complying with the resolutions of the National Indigenous Forum held in San Cristobal de las Casas in January 1996.

c) Reject the lack of a solution to the demands for the right to information and justice and political rights which were detailed in phases 1 and 2 of the table on indigenous rights and culture and in the National Indigenous Forum in January 1996.

This same 96% also supported the following;

d) Accept and formalize with the supreme government the following minimal accords, the first in this long process of constructing a just and dignified peace:

1. The agreements and commitments stated in the documents of joint pronouncements by the government and the EZLN regarding national themes, with the specifications stated above.

2. The agreements and commitments stated in the document of resolutions for Chiapas; from the state government, the federal government and the EZLN, with the specifications stated above.

e) Make a declaration by the EZLN and its advisors regarding the demands which have not been resolved and which are related to the results of phase 1 and 2 of the table on indigenous rights and culture and the National Indigenous Forum and to which the EZLN commits itself to sustain as its own demands and to continue struggling for their solution.

2% supported the complete rejection of the results of phase 3 of the table on indigenous rights and culture. 1.4 percent abstained.

0.6% supported a vote of confidence in the CCRI-CG of the EZLN so that it make the decision.

As a result the Zapatista villages that rose up in arms against the supreme government to demand democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexicans ordered the delegates of the EZLN to the dialogue in San Andres Sacamach'en de los Pobres that they carry out the following directions:

First. That they explain to the brothers and sisters of the body of advisors for a peace with dignity and justice, to the people of Mexico, and to the peoples and governments of the world, the process of consultation that was carried out amongst the men and women who make up our Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Second. That they formalize the minimal agreements, which we have agreed to, with the supreme government.

Third. That they continue with the dialogue, insisting in the demands that we have stated to them as a result of this consultation.

Fourth. That they inform all of the brothers and sisters of all of the Mexican indigenous peoples about what we have decided.

Fifth. That they continue until the fundamental demands that were the basis for our just uprising are fulfilled: democracy, justice and liberty for all Mexicans.

In this consultation the following considerations are to be taken into account:

First. Profound agreements regarding the reform of Article 27 of the Constitution were not achieved, which is the problem of land. It was agreed that it should be addressed again in the table on well-being and development. This is important because the problem of land is the principal issue for the Zapatistas and all the indigenous people and campesinos of Mexico. We can not accept leaving Article 27 of the Constitution unchanged; we should insist on it in the subsequent tables.

Second. Recognition of local and regional autonomy was not achieved. This point was partially addressed with the recognition of the right of the indigenous people to "free determination", but the problem of autonomy is still pending and it is necessary to insist that the just indigenous demand be achieved.

Third. The government had to accept national themes after it had said that it would not address any national question. It became clear that the problem of Chiapas could not be resolved if the national problems were not resolved. This was a victory because the table in San Andres, which had been called a state-level discussion, became a national dialogue.

Fourth. The agreements on constitutional changes and in national laws open a great space for indigenous participation. With these agreements the national and independent indigenous movement has an umbrella that lets it advance in its struggles for their rights and demands. As a result of what has been accomplished new demands can be advanced and the national indigenous movement can organize to demand the fulfillment of these agreements and to demand more.

Fifth. The agreements for Chiapas represent the most advanced ones in all of the Mexican Republic, and this will help so that in other states there is organizing to demand that they have the same rights.

Sixth. The agreements represent a victory of a new form of dialogue and political negotiation that no one has ever done. The EZLN negotiated cleanly and openly and invited everyone to negotiate together with the EZLN. The results of San Andres are not only a result of the EZLN but also the advisors and guests who represent or participate in the best of the national independent indigenous movement.

Seventh. Together with the results of the National Indigenous Forum they create a program of struggle for the indigenous movement.

In summary the agreements benefit the national indigenous movement and the local advances are not few.

However they continue to be only paper agreements, but with the National Indigenous Forum it is possible to create a movement that demands that the agreements be fulfilled and that continues with the demands that the indigenous organizations and peoples present in the forum agreed upon but are yet pending.

We know that we still have the military pressure surrounding us and the government has no intentions of diminishing its pressure; it is this way because the bad government wants to obtain through force what it can not get through reason. The government offered to lessen the military pressure if the EZLN renounced its national demands and accepted local solutions.

The Zapatista villages had to choose: if we only think about our problems and we look for agreements that only benefit us, then we are like other organizations that are only interested in their own concerns and nothing else matters to them; we would remain a local organization, limited to Chiapas, or even only one part of Chiapas.

We can not renounce our national struggle to obtain local benefits; knowing that if we insist upon the national demands, the government will continue its repressive blows, the EZLN reaffirms its commitment to the poor of Mexico.

This was and is our thinking by which we conducted the consultation on the first minimal agreements. The consultation of the Zapatista bases of support was not just a democratic exercise within the EZLN: it is the fundamental base of the legitimacy of our organization and the guarantee that we are following the interests of the people and not the interests of individuals or a group.

The struggle for indigenous rights has not ended, just a step on the road of liberation has been taken. This, liberation, will only be fulfilled and completed when it exists for all the Mexican brothers and sisters who deserve democracy, liberty and justice.

The struggle for indigenous rights continues, follows, will continue...


From the mountains of the Mexican southeast
Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee--
|General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mexico, February 1996

La Jornada, February 15, 1996
Agrarian and Judicial Problems, Pending
The EZLN accepts agreements regarding indigenous rights and culture 
Translated by Julia Sanchez, 
M.P. National Center for Democracy, Justice and Liberty 

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