Brothers and sisters of the National Indigenous Congress.
In the name of all the men, women, children, young people and elderly and bases of support of all the villages and Zapatista regions.
In the name of all the insurgent combatants and militia members who with dignity, rebellion and humility continue to stand in struggle for democracy, liberty and justice.
The Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation with respect and simplicity directs itself to the National Indigenous Congress in order to salute and recognize its effort in the loyal and honest struggle of the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Brothers and sisters of the assembly of the National Indigenous Congress.
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation expresses solidarity with the National Indigenous Congress and with all the indigenous communities of Mexico which struggle and defend the same cause of: liberty, rights, of dignity, of autonomy and of the self-determination of the Indian peoples.
Brothers and sisters, since we are unable to be with you in the great assembly of the National Indigenous Congress, we have then sent to you a delegation of 1,111 compaoeros and compaoeras from the bases of support of the different communities and regions who are our principal leaders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation; they carry with them the testimony of the dirty war imposed by the state and federal government against our communities and villages, and which in these last months has seen the considerable growth of the militarization of all our indigenous zones, the formation of paramilitary groups and paid and armed white guards by the state and federal government, trained and assisted by elements of the Federal Army and of Public Security with the objective of destroying the unity, and organization and put an end to the EZLN.
Our delegation comes to meet with you and with all the other indigenous brothers from all the states of our country, because we believe the moment has arrived to break the chains of the political and military blockade of the bad government which each day tightens even more against our indigenous communities.
That is why we decided to come out of the jungle and the mountains without permission from the bad government in order to find ourselves with our indigenous brothers, and demand the fulfillment of the San Andres agreements on indigenous rights and culture, which the bad government has refused to comply with its word and has given up as forgotten the voice of thousands of indigenous men and women and the non-indigenous of the Mexican nation, in order to join the demands of the indigenous peoples of Chiapas and of all Mexico.
Brothers and sisters, we are indigenous, our problems and necessities are not few nor are they simple, our pain and suffering are not new, we indigenous carry 505 years of oppression, of expulsion, of slavery and death; but also 505 years of resistance, of experience in the struggle and of rebellion.
In view of this situation of destruction and extermination to indigenous communities it is necessary to find other brothers of race and blood, unity is necessary, organization and the solidarity of all the Indian peoples of Mexico, of Latin America and of the world, it is necessary that we struggle together, that together we demand our rights to life, to land, to respect, to autonomy, to self-determination and to be taken into account as communities and members of a nation with all corresponding rights which we deserve.
Because we indigenous peoples have always been excluded, marginalized, and forgotten, outside of constitutional laws, outside of political, economic, and social plans of a nation; because we are indigenous we do not have the right to life, to land, to health, to education, we do not have the right to liberty, nor to decide and direct our own destiny.
Brothers of all ethnic groups and all languages who live in our nation; all these great injustices of discrimination, of humiliation and of being slaves in our own land so that we work harder than do animals because we are indigenous, and without being able to raise our voice before the bosses because we are considered inferior beings, were sufficient reason for our armed uprising on the first of January of 1994, because we had no other path.
Democracy, liberty and justice for all is our cause; to die so that others may live with justice and dignity is our thought. For everyone everything, nothing for us.
The EZLN rose up in arms to demand just solutions to all the demands of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Mexico.
The EZLN did not take up arms to conquer some political position or so that the supreme government can give us crumbs so we can conform.
The EZLN took up arms for: jobs, land, housing with dignity, nutrition, health, education, liberty, justice, independence, peace with justice and dignity, respect to the indigenous people and their culture and equality of rights between men and women.
The EZLN demands nation for all, one where those who live in her can live with rights and with dignity.
That is why we Zapatistas will always be with the struggles and with the national indigenous movement, which has an objective to defend rights, dignity, culture to conquer the place which belongs to us by right and by heritage, to rescue what has been snatched away from us such as our mother earth, our wealth which served the common good and not the enrichment of a few, our culture and our science which served to make great the communities and not to dominate them.
The Zapatistas will not stop struggling until our communities have what they do not have today, until our nation and its wealth can no longer be sold or handed over to foreign exploiters.
That is why the Zapatistas will never stop struggling! Will never surrender!
Will never sell ourselves, will never betray the blood of our heroes and martyrs!
First we will die rather than allow the Supreme One to snatch our banner of struggle!
To Live for the nation or to die for liberty!
Democracy, liberty, justice!
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee General Command,
Zapatista Army of National Liberation!
September of 1997
Translated by: Cecilia Rodriguez, NCDLJ