Marcos' Speech at Indigenous Forum

January 7, 1996

Indigenous Brothers and Sisters who participated in this Indigenous National Forum:

Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

We want, first of all, to give thanks to the legislators of the Commission for Condord and Peace (COCOPA) and the members of the National Commission for Intermediation (CONAI), presided by Samuel Ruiz Garcia, for the efforts they realized to make possible our presence in this forum. We want to give public recognition for their work with the supreme government to obtain the guarantees and facilities that made possible our trip from the jungle to our being here with you.

Both the COCOPA and the CONAI demonstrated once again, only a few days before this day that joins us here, their will and determination for a just and dignified peace, and to make sure the road of dialogue continues to be the only one to resolve the war initiated more than two years ago.

I want to thank also my companeros bosses, the comandantes of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (CCRI-CG del EZLN), for the opprotunity they gave me to attend this improtant reunion. Their indications and orientations have demonstrated for many years to have the wisdom and the patience of our more ancient brothers.

But I want to especially thank all the indigenous brothers and sisters who, from different parts of Mexico and the world, have sacrificed and gone through suffering and losses to be present here to speak and listen to the paths toward the place that the original inhabitants of thse lands deserve. It is for us a great honor. The best reward to the blood of our brothers fallen in combat and the suffering and scarcities of our brothers and sisters in the indigenous Zapatista communities, is having the opportunity to speak and listen to you and to us. Receive our military salute and accept us as your youngest brothers and sisters, your learners, your followers, your companeros.

In order to correspond with this joy, I ask that you allow me to tell you a story that I heard 10 years ago by the mouth of one like you, a great knower with dark skin and indigenous blood.


The evening was about to stop being so. There was a brilliant grey that announces the dawn. The Old Antonio finished fixing two bags of pergamino coffee and sat next to me. I waited for the encounter to help me cross a population where there were no companeros. The crossing would be by night. At daybreak, January emerged and 1986 dawned. Times to still be hidden, to be occult from those we would become a part of later. I looked toward the west and, ambushed behind the pipe's smoke, I tried to dream of a different morning.

Old Antonio remained silent and barely made the necessary noise to make one of those cigarettes that announces smoke an stories. But Old Antonio did not speak. He stayed there looking toward where I was looking and waited, patiently, until I spoke: "Until when will we be hiding from our people?," I said while the last mouthful of smoke escaped through the bowl of the pipe.

Old Antonio coughed and decided finally to light the cigarrette and the word. Slowly, as one who heals hope, Old Antonio re-lighted the evening with . . .


"In the very early beginning of the worlds, where later our greatest grandfathers walked, the greatest gods, those who gave birth to the world, the first, came down to speak to the men and the women of corn. It was an evening as this one, of cold, blinking rain and sun. The first gods sat to talk with the men and women of corn to agree on the path tobe walked by the real men and women. Because these gods, who were the very first, who gave birth to the world, were not bossy as the gods that came later. they were not bossy the first gods, they sought the good agreement between them and the men and women of corn. They sought to always arrive at the good path together, with good accord and good word. So they were in this evening, which was of the world the very first, speaking the greatest gods with the men and women of corn - with their equals.

They agreed to seek the good agreements with other men and women, with other languages and other thoughts. The men and women of corn had to walk very far within their heart to seek the words that other men and women, that other colors, that other hearts would understand.

So they came to agreement on the work for the men and women of corn to make a good world. So they agreed that 7 were the very fist tasks, the most important to make us new. And the fist 7 gods spoke, those who gave birith to the world, saying that 7 were the tasks that should be accomplished so that the world is made good and make us new. The greatest gods, 7 they were becasue 7 were the winds or th skies that gave rood to the world and as such the first gods said that these were the 7 skies; the seventh wind of NOHOCHAACYUM, the great father Chaac. In the sixth wind the CHAACOB or gods of rain. In the fight the KUILOB KAAXOB. In the fourth wind the guardians of animals. In the third wind the bad spirits. In the second, the gods of the wind. Inthe first, immediately on top of the earth, the BALAMOB that care for the crosses of the pueblo and the corn stalks. In the deepness was KISIN, the god of tremor and fear, the devil.

- The first gods also said that there wre 7 colors and 7 the number they counted. And the story of the colors, I have already told you the other day and the one of the 7 tasks I will tell you later if there is time and a way for you to listen and a way for I to tell you - hurried Old Antonio while the last brightness of his cigarette extinguished.

Then comes the silence in which Old Antonio re-forges smoke and dreams. A small lightning in the match of his hand and the smoke continues:

"So the men and women of corn agreed in fulfilling the 7 tasks so that the world was made good. And they looked to where the sun and the moon take turns to sleep and asked the first gods how much they should walk inorder to fulfill the 7 tasks that serve to make a new world. So the first gods said that 7 times 7 they will walk the 7 because that is how the number came out which reminds us that not everything comes in pairs and that there is alsway room for another. So the men and women of corn said good and returned their sight to the mountain that served as a small box keeping the breasts of mother earth in turns, one by day the other by night. And in seeing this, the men and women of corn asked themselves how would they know how many times is 7 times 7 walking the number 7; and the first gods said that they did not know either becasue they were the first gods, but they did not know everything and they also had to study a lot; and that is why they would not leave but remained with the men and womenof corn to learn together the new. So they made a reunion among the first gods and the men and women of corn and they thought together so that together they could find the good path that would make the world new.

And so there they were, that is thinking themselves, that is knowing themselves, that is speaking themselves, that is learning themselves, that is being when the rain hung right in themiddle of the afternoon without falling or getting up, just being there; and the men and women of corn remained there seeing and also the first gods; and just there a bridge of light and clouds began to paint itself and from the mountain came the bridge and to the valley went the bridge and then clearly it could be seen that the bridge of colors, clouds and light did not go anywhere nor did it come from anywhere but was just there, on top of the rain and the world. And the bridge of light, colors and clouds had 7 colors like stripes. And the first gods and the men and women of corn saw again and again they was the bridge that did not come nor go anywhere, it was just there and then they understood that the bridge of colors, clouds and light does not come nor go but serves tocome and go; and so they became happy al lwho were thinking themselves and learning themselves and they knew tha that was the good - to be a bridge so tha the good worlds come and go, the new ones that we make for ourselves. And quickly the musicians brought out their insturments and quickly the first gods and the real men and women of corn pulled out their feet and they began to dance because the had been thinking themselves and knowing themselves and speaking themselves and learning themselves. And now that they finished dancing themselves, they met again and found that 7 times 7 meant that 7 rainbows of 7 colors had to be make walking so that the 7 main tasks could be fulfilled. And so it was known also that at the end of the 7 there were 7 more because the bridges of clouds, colors and light do not come nor go, they have no begining and no finaly, they do not start nor end, but continue to cross from one side to the other. And that is the agreement arrived at by the first gods and men and women of corn, the real ones, they spend their lives making bridges, and bridges are also made in death. Bridges always of colors of clouds and of light, bridges always to go from one place to the other, to carry out the tasks that give birth to the new world, that makes us good 7 times 7, walking the 7, the men and women of corn, the real ones. Making bridges they live, making themselves bridges they die. . .

"The Old Antonio becomes quiet. I stare at him and am about to ask him what does that have to do with my question about how long will we be hiding, when a light renews his look and smiling he signals the mountain to me, to the west. I turn around and see a rainbow that does not come nor go, that is just there, bridging worlds, bridging dreams . . .

Today, in the seventh day for the year's awakening, up to 6 rainbows appeared inthe path. Contradicting the anguish in the chest and the dry asfixia of keeping awake the night before, a bridge, a curve of light, of clouds and of colors, 6 time reminded of Old Antonio and his story of 7 rainbows. I passed the path waiting the appearance of the seventh and the cold brought other memories of a dawn tow years ago when with bombs and soldiers the dark skinned Enough is Enough! dawned the world. Two years ago, in these same lands, indigneous dignity awoke and awoke us. The pain was not little nor small was the death. But that is another story and I only wanted to tell you that just here was the seventh rainbow, in this reunion or forum in which we are thinking ourselves, speaking ourselves, learning ourselves, knowing ourselves. And I want to tell you that this, your and ours, is the seventh rainbow, the seventh rainbow that we have to make ourselves to give birth ourselves to new worlds. So we need only 7 times 7 to walk the 7, to say and tell ourselves that we have finished the 7 tasks that give birth to the good world, to the one that makes us new.

Thank you brothers and sister. Welcome the rainbow, welcome the bridge, welcome the step that takes and brings, welcome always the word that walks, yours, ours, that of everyone that is us.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, on the seventh day of January of 1996


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