Brothers and Sisters,
Our indigenous leaders of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation have asked that I write these words to you to say that we are aware of the injustice of your situation and your just struggle. The hunger strike which you and your families have realized for more than three weeks, is a valiant approach for demanding what is true justice, your freedom.
It concerns us that the bad government continues to be deaf to the just demands of those who are deprived, through manipulation and lies, of their liberty. It worries us even more that you are obligated to undertake a hunger strike in order to demand justice. If the government cannot hear men and women who are allowed to die in order to say they are not willing to live as slaves, then it is less likely they will listen to peaceful mobilizations and protests through legal means that indigenous people make. By refusing to resolve your problem, the government of the state of Chiapas sends us a clear signal of war. With this deafness, the state government says that we should remain armed and in rebellion, because nothing can be resolved through legal and peaceful means.
How is it possible that those who say they rule these lands remain passive, while men and women of brown blood allow themselves to die in order to demand life? The arrogance and prepotence of the bad government continues to treat us like animals who are in the way of their egotistical plans. Through persecution, jailings, torture and assassination, the government fabricates guilt among innocent indigenous people. Meanwhile, the great criminals and thieves buy justice to their benefit and bribe judges, policemen, secretaries and subsecretaries of government. If instead of announcing public works which do not exist and making hollow and pusillanimous declarations for a dialogue and peace, Mister Ruiz Ferro would dedicate himself to making true justice among the disfavored, the panorama of this state with a indigenous heart would be better.
The CCRI-CG of the EZLN manifests its solidarity with you and with all those brothers and sisters jailed unjustly throughout the country. We demand that the state authorities stop throwing away their money on publicity for supposed works in favor of the Chiapanecan people, and that they instead attend to the liberation of the huger strikers in the jail at Cerro Hueco, and of others jailed unjustly all over the country.
In Chiapas and in all of Mexico the government fills the jails with poor and humble people. In Mexico and in Chiapas, the rich criminals continue to be free and to sit in government posts. This is not the peace we seek. If all is to remain the same, we will continue to be rebels and armed. All the events we can see are proof that a peaceful struggle is useless and sterile. How then can they ask us to transition to peace, if that peace is one of humiliation and death?
We are attentive to your struggle, brothers. The response you receive will be ours as well. If they allow you to die and do not resolve things with justice, then the peace we seek will continue to be distant. If they recognize your right to live in liberty, then we will learn that perhaps tomorrow is closer.
Indigenous Brothers and Sisters:
Imprisoned in the mountains or imprisoned in Cerro Hueco, we are the same. We both seek democracy, liberty and justice.
We struggle with arms, you struggle through peaceful means.
May the government demonstrate which is the appropriate means in Mexico to struggle for the rights of all human beings.
We salute you, indigenous brothers of Cerro Hueco! Do not give up, in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast thousands of indigenous people share with you a national hunger strike which demands...
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
for the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee
-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, October 23, 1996