Letter to Indigenous Leadership in U.S.

March of 1997

To: The Leadership of the Indigenous Peoples of the United States of America
From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, CCRI of the EZLN

Brother and Sisters:

I write these words to you in the name of the children, elders, men and women, all of them Indigenous Mexicans, of the Zapatista communities in the Mexican Southeast. We want you to receive our recognition of your stature as Indigenous peoples and human beings, and we want you to accept our salute sent by my hands from all the indigenous rebels of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

We have taken up arms against the bad Mexican government because the demands of the indigenous peoples have not been resolved. The Indian peoples, for the Mexican government and the great Power which sustains it, are nothing more than objects for tourism, producers of arts and crafts, an uncomfortable nuisance for neo-liberal modernization. For the powerful in Mexico, the indigenous are not human beings with rights and legitimate aspirations, they are only museum pieces and legends and past histories. But our indigenous communities want a life with dignity and justice, a life where they can continue to be indigenous without it signifying misery and death, a life with respect. This is why we declared our selves as rebels and why we have said "Enough is Enough" to the oblivion with which they want to annihilate us.

Today we await a response for peace from the government of Mexico which has not arrived. Not respect, or a life with dignity, or a new peace has been acknowledged by the Mexican government to the indigenous people of these lands. The powerful see us as small and weak and they believe they can conquer us and make us surrender with their great machines of war. The big North American government supports the government of Mexico. With money, machines of war and military advisors, the government of the USA supports the persecution and assassination of Mexican indigenous blood. The money, equipment, weapons, and the military advisors are not used by the government of Mexico to improve lives of its inhabitants, to combat drug trafficking and to bring peace to Mexican lands. No, that money, those people and those weapons are used to asphyxiate, to persecute, jail and assassinate an attempt at indigenous dignity.

But our struggle is not just that of the Zapatistas of the EZLN, our struggle is that of all the Indian peoples of America, the struggle to recognize our differences and our right to an inclusive autonomy, which makes us a part of, with full rights, the great human concert.

That is why we direct our small words to you. You, the Leaders of the dignified Indian peoples of North America, have the true word and the path of dignity. Your great wise men have shown you the path for understanding justice in the cries of the first peoples of Mexican lands. You will know how to understand our cries, and we are sure, you will know how to extend to us your hearts and your hands in order to achieve the peace which we desire and we deserve.

Your word is heard with attention and respect by the big government of the United States of America, that is why we ask you to support us with your mediation. We do not want the war, nor what does not belong to us, nor our destruction or enslavement. We want peace, we want to conquer our right to become better human beings, we want to create our world and be respected inside it, we want liberty.

We ask you, great leaders of the Indian peoples of North America, to intervene before the powerful who governs the United States of America and to tell him to stop his support for the war against our people and the persecution of our ideals. We serve no foreign interest, we serve only our history and our desires for dignity, democracy, liberty and justice.

We ask this of you, great Indian leaders. We ask for you support and your accompaniment in a struggle which is that of all human beings in any part of the world, the struggle for liberty.

Health to you and may the earth which is mother and root nurture tomorrow.

From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast
-Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos,
Mexico, March of 1997.

Translation by Cecilia Rodriguez, National Commission for Democracy in Mexico

To the Mexico page