During the last few days a group of teachers from Section 9 of the National Union of Education Wokers (SNTE) were unjustly detained and incarcerated. These teachers are accused of various crimes for having demonstrated inside the seat of the Senate Chamber, demanding respect for their rights.
The teachers have been demanding the recognition of their democratically elected union officials for months, which is being denied them by the SNTE leadership.
The Section 9 teachers did not violate the law, nor did they confront the senators, when they entered the Senate of the Republic. The Senate Chamber is neither the property of the Legislature nor of the Executive, it is the property of the Republic, of those who form it and who make it function every day.
By demanding that the senators listen to their demands, the teachers were not kidnapping, they were merely demanding that the most basic practice of good government, that is, listening to the governed, be practiced by those who say they represent the people.
By demanding the democratization of their union, the teachers were not mutinying, trying to de-stabilize "the institutions of the Republic," they were merely repeating, in person, the feelings of the entire teaching profession and the labor unions in Mexico.
Through the work and grace of judicial alchemy (and by some senators of the Republic), teachers who demand their rights are now on the same level as those who cut off ears and fingers in order to obtain money from their victims' families. The senators were not taken as hostage, what is being taken hostage is justice in Mexico.
We must not permit this 'legal' crime, not just for the sake of the imprisoned teachers, but also because what is being judged to be mutiny and kidnapping is the right of the citizens to be listened to, and to demand that those who govern, govern obeying.
We zapatistas support the imprisoned teachers, and we join in the widespread condemnation of this injustice.
We call on the people of Mexico to mobilize themselves in order to avoid this precedent being set, of characterizing political and social struggle as a crime. Those who struggle for the rights of citizens should not be treated as criminals, but should receive responses and solutions to their just demands.
We all demand, along with the teachers, that which is the desire and the right of all Mexican men and women.
>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mexico, January of 1999
Originally published by La Jornada _____________________ Translated by irlandesa La Jornada Monday, January 18, 1999.