According to the EZLN support bases visiting the capital, the government treats them like a "foreign enemy," because of the fact that they are demanding to be treated as Mexicans. And they are bringing a recurrent message, with two points: "That the federal Army leave the communities of Chiapas, and the San Andres Accords be carried out," as Gabriel sums up, who is the one of the four who speaks the most.
Nothing that hasn't been heard before, but urgently now. The four indigenous, their faces covered with ski-masks, come from the two communities that have been the most seriously damaged by militarization in recent weeks.
Wherever they stop, Gabriel, Veronica, Marin and Luisa are living testament. At noon yesterday, their backs turned to the Legislative Palace of San Lazaro - while the Secretary of Government was appearing before the Deputies - they demonstrated though their words, and through their simple presence, that there was still much lacking in order "to bring the zapatista words to the ears of the government," as Gabriel said.
"The soldiers in our community are a war," Veronica said.
That is what separates the federal government's words from the concrete government actions perceived by the communities in resistance. They are once again speaking to them of peace, while making them feel the threat of repression and war even more.
"We came here in order to explain the militarization," Gabriel simply puts it, in an interview with La Jornada. "Civil society, the residents of this city, have invited us, so that they can find out, in our words, about the militarization in Amador Hernandez, and also in San Jose La Esperanza."
In a firm voice, and with his mouth barely visible through the closed gash in his ski-mask, Gabriel added: "We came to say that the federal Army is destroying the Selva, contaminating the water. They made a helicopter camp close to the field that was just beginning to yield corn, when the soldiers destroyed it. Now nothing can be done with that field. It's going to be lost."
A Tzeltal from Amador, Gabriel relates that when the soldiers set themselves up, there was no notification. "Nothing. They said they had the right to go wherever they wanted, that they are the Mexican Army, that's what their commander told us, and we told him that we have rights as ejiditarios, and we didn't want them coming to destroy our plot and closing off our passage."
Regarding the "threats" received by topographical engineers in Amador Hernandez, Gabriel noted: "It's completely false. It's an excuse so the government can put in its army, and advance into the community of Amador and set up their barracks there."
As a consequence," what the women, children and our brothers, the men, are most suffering from is that we no longer have peace to work," he proceeded. "We're accustomed to going to the fields every morning with our machetes and our water. We can't do that anymore, because the Army stops us to search us, asking us where we're going, who we are, what time we're going to return and what work we're doing. And many of us don't know how to speak Spanish," said Gabriel, assuming the plural voice of the others, since he also speaks Spanish. "And we're afraid they're going to start bothering us, beating us. We've never had to answer to anyone. We work freely, and return peacefully."
Veronica then spoke on this issue, while she passed their small child, Pedro - who stayed calm throughout the entire interview - into Gabriel's arms. "The women are continuing our sit-in in Amador Hernandez. We have been protesting peacefully, and we are going to continue resisting there, where the military siege is, and demanding that the Army withdraw. The women told them we don't need them to be there, that they bring many things, prostitution, they destroy the forests, all of that, and they are threatening us. They handle their weapons like they want to shoot. The women completely reject the presence of the military."
Marin then speaks of the situation in his community, San Jose La Nueva Esperanza, after "the shootout by the Mexican Army, like I've already explained, it was because they wanted to come into the community." He said that, on the day he left his house to come to the Federal District, the rumors were continuing that the federal Army "was going to try to enter again."
He continued: "The people are waiting, not working really normally. There has been no calm since August 25. The companeros who were detained were beaten up very badly, one had his head beaten, the other's hand was cut with a machete, and the other has a broken rib. They can't continue working, they're still affected."
Concerning his companero, Hermino, who was shot that day, he said: "He's still serious. They're taking care of him, but he's not well yet."
For this landing on capital lands, the zapatista delegates split up their days, one with the ENAH community, another with the Consulta coordinators, and a third with the UNAM student strikers. Regarding this, Gabriel said: "Civil society has received us well. And the students there demonstrated in the Zocalo that they reject the federal Army being in our communities."
And he says:
"We do not accept, as the indigenous we are, the government threatening us. As the Mexicans we are, the government has no right to threaten us.
"The Mexican hymn that we sing, and that the Army itself sings, says to defend Mexico from a foreign enemy. I am not foreign. I am not a foreigner. I am Mexican, I am indigenous. They, as well. Now the government is making us foreigners, and they treat the foreigners who bring money as Mexicans. Everything is backwards.
"We came to be in solidarity with other struggles, because their cause is the same, for the country, that it not be sold, that they don't privatize it, or take it away from the Mexicans. The students are defending education, which should be free. That's why we told them yesterday in the Zocalo that they're not alone."
Veronica speaks, while beginning to nurse Pedro, who is always calm, no matter what.
"We need the peace observers. They are going to speak of things. That the government occupied the ejido, but they are paying so that bad information gets out."
'It is said that the students came to manipulate the indigenous, to stir them up.'
"Yes, that's what was said," Veronica said, with a bit of angry annoyance in her voice.
"But we have been resisting for many years. If they hadn't come, we would be doing the same thing: rejecting the soldiers."
Gabriel intervenes: "When the students arrived in Amador Hernandez, we had already turned back two attacks by the soldiers, and one in the helicopter field they had made. Now the people know that the soldiers are hurting us."
And he says, confidently, while Pedro - who is sleeping beatifically with his hair in a tangle - is returned to his arms: "Civil society is also telling the government that, instead of sending their soldiers, they should carry out the San Andres Accords, better to give the money to move the Army."
Regarding the Government's 'open letter' to the EZLN, they said that it was made public when they had already left their communities. "We have not spoken with the companeros, because we were on the road. We have to see what the people in the villages say. We only speak about what we know. That is why, when we do speak, we do it for all the communities. That is our responsibility."
Luisa, who has remained silent, says: "The children are afraid of the helicopters, and the planes, night and day. We have expressed our support for peace. We have told that to Albores, who is supposedly the governor of the state of Chiapas."
For Veronica, "the soldiers are a war, nothing more, it doesn't make any difference if the government sends messages. We want the government to understand us. We are there because they are our lands."
At noontime, cold and dark, in front of the Legislative Palace of San Lazaro, Luisa heatedly said: "We have to throw ourselves into our struggle and our work. We are going to work struggling."
While the Secretary of Government was appearing in front of the Deputies, on a railing of stones that served as a grandstand, Gabriel, Luisa, Veronica and Marin directed themselves towards some one hundred persons, who were between them and the avenue. Motorists blew their horns when they saw the masked ones.
As a symbolic gesture, members of civil organizations hung barbed wire along the San Lazaro railing, a reminder of what was happening in Amador Hernandez, at the same time as Diodoro Carrasco was explaining the good intentions of the federal government.
And Marin said, into the cold air, looking towards the Candelaria de los Patos: "We all have pain. Life is painful for all of us. It is not right that we should have to give our lives for our rights. That cannot be."
The Secretary of Government had never before been so close (physically) to flesh and blood zapatistas, and yet so far away. Just the wire was separating them. From the high roofs of San Lazaro, hundreds of white sheets of paper began raining down on the deserted esplanade, that divided the street rally from the official's appearance. On one side the pages read: "Army, get out of Chiapas." And, on the other side: "Zapata vive." And, at the bottom, the giant national shield of green stone that adorns the façade of the Legislative Palace.
Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada _____________________ Translated by irlandesa