July 19, 1999.
To: Asma Jahangir, UN Special Relator for Extrajudicial,
Summary And Arbitrary Executions
From: Subcomandante insurgente Marcos.
CCRI-CG of the EZLN
Madame Asma Jahangir:
I am writing to you in the name of the women, men, children and old ones of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
We know that we will be receiving not a few criticisms for what I am going to say, and for having wasted a good opportunity to reveal the Mexican government in their genocidal policy against the Indian peoples. But, for us, "political opportunity" has little bearing in the face of political ethics. And it would not be ethical, given our confrontation with the Mexican government, for us to turn to an international body that has lost all credibility and legitimacy, and whose death certificate was signed with the NATO bombings in Kosovo.
With their war in the Balkans, the North American government - disguised as NATO, and with the regimes of England, Italy and France as grotesque pawns - managed to destroy their primary objective: the United Nations (UN). The "intelligent" mega-police actions of the global gendarme, the US, made a fool of the once highest international forum. Violating the precepts that gave rise to the UN, NATO carried out a war of cynical aggression, attacked civilians indiscriminately and tried to delegate intellectual authority to the satellites, who, more than ever, demonstrated that they are useless to those who already have the visions and who have made the decisions. NATO's bellicose cynicism was superceded only by the "brilliant" statements of their chiefs and spokespersons. The "humanitarian war," "the error in good faith" and the "collateral damage" were not the only pearls of war they were selling (because they were already counting on passing the bill) in Kosovar lands.
"A NATO military person with a good number of stars on his chest made two statements in Brussels on Tuesday that caused chills: Out of a total of 35,000 air operations, more than 10,000 were directed at concrete targets. And the other 25,000? Could they have been carried out in error? If concrete targets exist, do non-concrete ones exist? What kind of target is a person? The second statement raised as many questions as the previous: NATO's objective was never to completely destroy the Yugoslav army, nor was it to reduce the country to ashes. Thank goodness, although one cannot help but think that, before ashes come embers, and before those, bits, and before those, pieces: to what size of material had they been thinking of reducing the country and its army? The postwar banquet is served, the news sent by Roger Waters' satellite fills the media all day long. When more is being said, that which cannot be said can be concealed all the better."
(Jordi Soler, in La Jornada, June 19, 1999).
The UN's complicity in the war in Europe was obvious, and, given our position regarding this war, the minimum of consistency leads us to distance ourselves from an organization that for years, it is true, did indeed carry out a dignified and independent role in the international arena. It is not so today. On one side and the other of the planet, the UN has turned into a predictable legal support for the wars of aggression that the great power of money repeats, without becoming glutted of blood or of destruction.
But, if the UN's silence was the accomplice of crime and destruction in Kosovo, in Mexico it has taken a more active role in the war the Mexican government is carrying out against the indigenous: in May 1998, at the request of the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], the government attacked the community of Amparo Aguatinta, beat up children, imprisoned men and women and militarily occupied the seat, then, of the Tierra y Libertad Autonomous Municipality. The results of the UN's "humanitarian work" in Chiapas are in the Cerro Hueco Jail in Tuxtla Gutierrez. More recently, today, July 19, 1999, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN, is delivering the United Nations Vienna Civil Society Prize to the self-styled Aztec Foundation. The Foundation, under the auspices of the native Milosevich, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, spends its time carrying out campaigns against drugs using cocaine addicts, promoting coup attempts and destroying indigenous schools with helicopters. For that: for its ties with drug trafficking and for its calls for coups, the Aztec Foundation will receive a medal and a certificate for 25,000 dollars from Mr. Annan.
And so we cannot have any confidence at all in the UN. And it is not out of chauvinism or in rejection of all things foreign. There have been here, risking their lives, liberty, belongings and prestige - men and women from the five continents, as international observers (we shall leave the term "foreigners" for those, like Zedillo and the members of his cabinet, who have no patria other than money). To go no further back, the International Civil Commission for Human Rights Observation (CCIODH) was here in February 1998. Not only are their initials larger than the UN's, so is their moral authority, their honesty, their commitment to the truth and the authenticity of their struggle for a peace with justice and dignity. Men and women from Germany, Argentina, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Andalucia, Aragon, Cantabria, Catalunya, the Basque Country, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia and Alicante: all defied the Mexican government's most ferocious xenophobic campaign so far this century. They documented everything in a report (that they dedicated to the indigenous Jose Tila Lopez Garcia, assassinated after having presented his community's denunciations to the CCIODH). Consult this report, it is inspired not only by the desire for a dignified peace, but also by veracity and honesty.
After the CCIODH, another group of Italian observers came, also in 1998. Things were worse for them than for the CCIODH, because they were summarily expelled by the current aspirant for the Mexican presidency, Francisco Labastida, and by the person who is now in charge of international public relations for his campaign team, and who was responsible at that time for hundreds of illegal expulsions, Fernando Solis Camara.
Thousands of men and women from all over the world have come here, all honorable and of good will, the majority of them young persons of the kind called "earringed," and who so bother the institutionalized left all over the world. They came here, and they saw what the government denies, a genocidal war. They left, many of them expelled, and they related, and they are relating, what they saw: an unequal war between those who have all the military power (the government), and those who only have reason, history, truth and tomorrow on their side (us). It is obvious who is going to win: we are.
And, not just alone, international organizations as well, such as Amnesty International, Americas Watch, Global Exchange, Mexico Solidarity Network, the National Comission for Democracy in Mexico-USA, Pastors for Peace, Humanitarian Law Project, Doctors of the World, Bread for the World, Doctors without Borders, and many others whose names escape me now, but not their histories or their commitment to peace.
For us, any of them, individuals or groups, have more moral authority and more international legitimacy then the United Nations, converted today into a cocktail party for the end-of-century neoliberal wars.
With good reason the government representatives (the pathetic Ms. Green, the similar Rabasa, El Croquetas Albores, etcetera) say they have nothing to fear from your visit. They do not fear it because they know the UN has been an accomplice to, and, in the case of the Tierra y Libertad Autonomous Municipality, part of, the war of extermination against the Indian peoples of Mexico.
According to what we have read and heard, you are an honest person. You probably entered the service of the UN during the time when that organization was preventing wars, supporting different groups who were victims of government injustices and promoting the development of the most needy. But now the UN promotes and supports wars, and it helps and awards those who are killing and humiliating the excluded of the world.
It has not escaped our attention that various international powers are nurturing the idea of using for their own benefit the rich oil and uranium deposits that exist under zapatista soil. Those, up above, are making complicated accounts and calculations and entertaining the hope that the zapatistas will make separatist proposals. It would be easier and cheaper to negotiate the purchase of the subsoil with the Banana Republic (Mayan Nation, they call it). After all, it is well known that the indigenous are satisfied with little mirrors and glass beads. Because of that, they are not giving up on their intent to involve themselves in the conflict and to manipulate it according to their interests. They have certainly not been able to, not on our side. Because it happens that the zapatistas take "National Liberation," the names of the EZLN, very much to heart and sword. And, anachronistic as we are, we still believe in "outmoded" concepts, such as "national sovereignty" and "national independence." We have not accepted, nor will we accept, any foreign interference in our movement. We have not accepted, nor will we accept, any international force being a part of the conflict, we will fight it with the same or more decisiveness that we have fought against those who decreed death through forgetting for 10 million Mexican indigenous. Those with moral authority and legitimacy will be welcomed, those who are not appendages of armed forces (such as NATO), or who have military forces at their service (such as the unhappily celebrated Blue Helmets of the UN), those who want to be part of the PEACEFUL solution of the conflict.
We do not need any help to make war, we can manage on our own. For the peace, we do, many are needed, but honest, and there are not many of those.
Do not be very unhappy, the UN is not the only official international body that collaborates with the Mexican government's counterinsurgency campaign. There you have the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose delegation in San Cristobal bordered on the sublime when speaking of servility and stupidity. At a meeting with displaced from Polhó, the CICR delegates stated, without even blushing, that the displaced are not in their homes because they are lazy and because they want to be supported by the Red Cross. To those imbeciles, who wander around under the CICR's purported flags of neutrality and humanitarian aid, the paramilitaries are an invention, the product of the collective hysteria of more than 7000 displaced indigenous; the 45 executed at Acteal in reality died of infections, and peace and tranquility reign in Los Altos of Chiapas. One can assume that Albores has already congratulated them (and has offered them some of his bones, because he is not very sharing we are told), and they are continuing to go about in their modern vehicles, fattening the curriculum vitae of that "distinguished" institution. Que tal? The CICR will surely be the next to receive an award from the UN in their "civil society" competitions.
This dawn in which I am writing these lines, the moon is a scythe of cold light. It is the hour of the dead, of our dead. And you should know that the zapatista dead are very restless and talkative. They still speak, despite the fact that they are dead, and they are shouting history. They are shouting it so it does not sleep, so that memory does not die, so that our dead will live shouting...
Ocosingo, the 3rd and 4th of January, 1994. Federal Army troops take the municipal seat of Ocosingo - in zapatista hands since the dawn of January 1 - by assault. Following orders from the then Brigadier General Luis Humberto Portillo Leal - who had been chief of the 30th Military Zone - Infantry major Adalberto Perez Nava executed 5 members of the EZLN. General Portillo Leal had ordered the execution of the zapatistas, whether or not they were armed. The instructions were to take no prisoners, all of them should be dead (they should only avoid doing so if the press were present, because that would damage the Army's image). The Second Infantry Captain, Lodegario Salvador Estrada, executed other zapatista indigenous. Days later, in the offices of the Department of National Defense, an Infantry Second Lieutenant, Jimenez Morales, was executed by military personnel in order to have him take the blame for the assassination of 8 indigenous in the IMSS hospital in Ocosingo. We did not invent any of this information, you can corroborate it in the act by the Department of Justice of the United States, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Immigration Court of El Paso, Texas, signed by Bertha A. Zuniga, Immigration Judge of the United States, dated March 19, 1999. Case Jesus Valles Bahena, A76-804-703. In this file, the officer Jesus Valles Bahena narrates why he had to desert from the Army, after having been threatened with death by Colonel Bocarundo Benavidez for his refusal to carry out orders for summary executions. Along with Valles, other officers refused to carry out instructions for assassination. Their fate is unknown.
These, Madame Jahangir, are the names, civilian and fighting, of those executed in Ocosingo, Chiapas on January 3 and 4 of 1994:
Comandante Hugo or Senor Ik´, Francisco Gomez Hernandez.
Second Lieutenant Insurgente for War Materiel Alvaro, Silverio Gomez Alvarez.
Insurgente for War Materiel Fredy, Bartolo Perez Cortes.
Infantry Insurgente Calixto, (his civilian name cannot be revealed).
Infantry Insurgente Miguel, Arturo Aguilar Jimenez.
Miliciano Salvador, Eusebio Jimenez Gonzalez.
Miliciano Ernesto, Santiago Perez Montes.
Miliciano Venancio, Marcos Perez Cordoba.
Miliciano Amador, Antonio Guzman Gonzalez,
Miliciano Agenor, Fernando Ruiz Guzman.
Miliciano Fidelino, Marcos Guzman Perez.
Miliciano Adan, Doroteo Ruiz Hernandez.
Miliciano Arnulfo, Diego Aguilar Hernandez.
Miliciano Samuel, Eliseo Hernandez Cruz.
Miliciano Horacio, Juan Mendoza Lorenzo.
Miliciano Jeremias, Eliseo Sanchez Hernandez.
Miliciano Linares, Leonardo Mendez Sanchez.
Miliciano Dionisio, Carmelo Mendez Mendez.
Miliciano Bonifacio, Javier Hernandez Lopez.
Miliciano Heriberto, Filiberto Lopez Perez.
Miliciano Jeremias, Pedro Lopez Garcia.
Miliciano German, Alfredo Sanchez Perez.
Miliciano Feliciano, Enrique Gonzalez Garcia.
Miliciano Horacio, Manuel Sanchez Gonzalez.
Miliciano Cayetano, Marcelo Perez Jimenez.
Miliciano Cristobal, Nicolas Cortes Hernandez.
Miliciano Chuchin, Vicente Lopez Hernandez.
Miliciano Adan, Javier Lopez Hernandez.
Miliciano Anastacio, Alejandro Santis Lopez.
During those days, there were more who died, but they fell in combat, and were not executed.
Where, in addition to execution, there was brazen torture, it was in Morelia, then the municipality of Altamirano. On January 7, 1994, the Army entered the community and kidnapped Severiano Santiz Gomez (60 years old), Hermelindo Santiz Gomez (65 years old) and Sebastian Lopez Santiz (45 years old). A little later, their remains - with signs of fractures and with clear evidence of having been executed - were found. The analyses of the remains was carried out by specialists from the Physicians for Human Rights NGO.
Torture and execution were the methods also used by the "glorious" federal Army in the municipal seat of Las Margaritas, Chiapas. There, during the first days of combat, Major Teran (who had been previously tied to drug trafficking in the region) kidnapped, tortured and executed Eduardo Gomez Hernandez and Jorge Mariano Solis Lopez in the neighborhood of Plan de Agua Prieta. Those executed had their ears and tongues cut off.
These deaths, our deaths, do not find rest. The butchers of Ocosingo and the assassins and torturers of Morelia and Las Margaritas continue to be free and to enjoy health and prosperity. Thousands of shadows are pursuing them now, and they are competing for the honor of seeing justice done.
Last year, contrary to what their propaganda for international consumption says, the government renewed its armed clashes with zapatista forces. On June 10, 1998, a military column, heavy with infantry, tanks, planes and helicopters, attacked the community of Chavajeval, in the municipality of San Juan de la Libertad (to the zapatistas) or El Bosque (to the government). The zapatista troops repelled the attack, and a heavy exchange of fire began, that was broadcast by a national television channel. Our troops brought down a helicopter, and, frustrated and angry, the soldiers repeated themselves, but they attacked the community of Union Progreso that same day of June 10, 1998. There they took 7 zapatista militia prisoners and summarily executed them. These are their names:
Miliciano Enrique, Adolfo Gomez Diaz.
Miliciano Jeremias, Bartolo Lopez Mendez.
Miliciano Jorge, Lorenzo Lopez Mendez.
Miliciano Marcelino, Andres Gomez Gomez
Miliciano Gilberto, Antonio Gomez Gomez.
Miliciano Alfredo, Sebastian Gomez Gomez.
Miliciano Pedro, Mario Sanchez Ruiz.
(The television reporter who covered the military attack on Chavajeval received the national journalism prize. Over indigenous and rebel blood, his employers rewarded him, sending him to cover the campaign of one of the two intellectual assassins of Union Progreso - the other is Zedillo - the then Secretary of Government and now presidential aspirant, Francisco Labastida Ochoa).
This is the Mexican federal Army, the one that now wants to present an innocent image, announcing the dispatch of almost 7000 more troops to the Selva Lacandona, with the story that they are going to plant little trees. Everyone is silent. The military chief says that the 7000 are going unarmed, and the 7000 arrive armed. Everyone is silent.
This is the "new" government strategy that has been promised you by the pathetic character named Rabasa Gamboa (who is paid, and paid well, for coordinating emptiness). And since we are on this subject, a new bray by Rabasa clarifies that Acteal was not an execution.
This time he is right: Acteal, and all the policies followed by his boss Ernesto Zedillo, is GENOCIDE.
This is the history. With Ernesto Zedillo's gaining of power - through assassination - the federal Army gained cover and money in order to bring up their longing for blood and death.
Seeking to improve the Army's depleted public image, paramilitary squadrons were activated, organized by active duty soldiers, trained by soldiers, equipped by soldiers, protected by soldiers, directed by soldiers, and, in not a few cases, created by soldiers, as well as by Institutional Revolutionary Party members. The objective was, and is, clear, it was, and is, about turning the conflict around and presenting it to the international public (the national public does not even minimally matter to them) as an inter-ethnic war, or, as the corrupt PGR tries to present it, as an inter-family war. The names chosen by the soldiers to baptize their new paramilitary units reflect their great imagination: Red Mask (their greatest "military" success: the Acteal massacre). Peace and Justice (responsible for the assassinations of dozens of indigenous in the north of the state). Chinchulines (they act in the North and in the Selva). Anti-Zapatista Indigenous Revolutionary Movement (they have training camps in military barracks in the Canadas, and are financed by the state PRI delegation). Los Punales (they are active in Comitan and Las Margaritas). Albores of Chiapas (they are directly dependent on El Croquetas Albores Guillen, they wear green caps and their war cry is "Albores carries through!").
The "new" government strategy for Chiapas is in plain view: in the ejido of El Portal, in Frontera Comalapa, a group of zapatista families demand that water service be restored, which was taken away from them by PRI soldiers in complicity with the municipal president there. Zapatista indigenous demanding anything is something the government cannot tolerate, given that, for them, the only thing the zapatistas should be receiving is blows and bullets. In response to the zapatista civil demonstration, the government mobilized the police. The PRI's, emboldened by the presence of the police, charged the zapatistas with sticks and shots, two zapatistas are seriously wounded. The police act rapidly and detain the zapatistas! accusing them of criminal association for having been found with ski-masks. With the alacrity afforded by the "State of Law" in Chiapas, a state government helicopter transfers the prisoners, in order to be tried "for breaching the peace" (because, in Chiapas, demanding potable water is an attack against the peace). The two wounded are fighting for their lives in the hospital, those who fired are free and healthy, and, in Government Palace, the new "victory" is being celebrated in the war against the EZLN. You will see none of this in the written or electronic press, too concerned with giving the front pages or the news headlines to Albores' barking dogs or to the PRI aspirants' fair of hypocrisy and fallacies. Zapatista indigenous imprisoned, beaten, wounded or assassinated are no longer news in Mexico. They are part of daily life.
This is the "new" federal government strategy for Chiapas, of Zedillo's government. There is nothing new about it, nor is it a strategy, it is the same stupid pounding that assumes that those who have known how to resist for 500 years, will not be able to do so for a year and a half.
Concerning Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, one must say now what everyone will be saying tomorrow: he is a man of no word, a liar and an assassin. This is what we are saying today. When he leaves Los Pinos, everyone (even those who are treating him with respect today) will be repeating it, and all his corruption and crimes will come to public light. Persecution, exile, jail: these are the probable stations for his future. It does not make us unhappy, our dead do not make us unhappy.
I read in the press that you have had meetings with some non-governmental organizations in Mexico City, and you will have others during your visit to Chiapas, these days. I congratulate you, may you have the good fortune and the honor to personally know men and women who - without official and/or institutional paraphernalia - have confronted every kind of threats and persecutions for their work in defense of human rights in Mexico.
I will not put any names here, because, in Mexico, and especially in Chiapas, the NGO's that are fighting for human rights are military objectives for the federal Army. But any of these NGO's, whether the smallest or the most newly created, have more moral authority in the Mexico of below than the UN does. Regardless, perhaps you are not to blame, and it is only the great leaders of the UN who have accepted, without even protesting, the sporadic role of spokespersons for NATO, and being accomplices in the Mexican government's war of extermination against the Indian peoples.
Nonetheless, we are not pessimists regarding the future of the international community. The UN's failure is not humanity's failure. A new international order is possible, a better one, more just, more human. In it, there will have to be a dominant place for all those international and national NGO's (who, unlike the UN, do not have at their service - or are at the service - of military forces), and for all those men, women, children and old ones who understand that the future of the world is being debated between the exclusionary difference (the war in Kosovo) and the world where many worlds fit (of which, zapatismo in Chiapas is, almost, a suggestion).
With them, and especially for them, the world will some day be a place where war will be a disgrace and peace a reality, and the relators for the various human rights violations, specimens whose only arena of action will be researching the pre-history of humanity.
Excuse the tone, Madame Asma Jahangir, it is not that this is a personal matter against you, it is just that the organization you represent no longer represents anything. That, and also that we do not forget Kosovo, nor Amparo Aguatinta, nor Ocosingo, nor Morelia, nor Las Margaritas, nor Union Progress, nor anything. Whatever, that is what is happening, that we do not forget.
We do not forget.
Salud and may dignity never forget memory, if it were to lose it, it would die.
>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos.
Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN ______________________ Translated by irlandesa