The example of dignity and courage of the Amador Valley

Zapatista Army of National Liberation
August of 1999

To the zapatista companeras and companeros of the community of Amador:
To the zapatista companeras and companeros of the regions who are supporting the dignified resistance of the zapatistas of Amador:
To the women and men of civil society who are accompanying, as peace observers, the indigenous of the Amador Valley:
>From Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
General Command - Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Sisters and brothers:

In the name of all the companeros and companeras of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, I send you our greetings and these words:

The example of dignity and courage you are now giving is reaching not only us, your EZLN companeros, it is also reaching workers, campesinos, indigenous, neighbors, housewives, students, teachers, artists and intellectuals, honest religious persons, retired persons, men, women, children and old ones from other parts of Mexico. And it is also reaching further than our country, which is Mexico. The news of the dignified resistance of the zapatista indigenous of Amador is reaching other parts of the world.

Those soldiers who are facing you are defending an unjust, arbitrary and criminal cause. Those soldiers know the same thing we know, that they are not there to help the people or to bring a better standard of living. Those soldiers are there so that the bad government's war will have a road from which to attack the communities who are not surrendering. In the radio, television and press which are at the service of the lie and of money, they are saying that those soldiers are there so that a highway can be built that will bring benefits to the indigenous peoples. They, the soldiers and the government, and we, know that is not true.

We know well that the highways the government has built have not brought one single benefit to the indigenous. Doctors have not come in with the highways, nor have hospitals been built, nor have teachers come, nor have schools been made, nor have materials arrived to improve the housing of the indigenous, the prices of the products the campesinos sell have not improved, nor are the goods that the indigenous must buy less expensive. With Zedillo's highways - because we must remind everyone that it is Zedillo who is waging the war against us - El Croquetas Albores is Zedillo's obedient lap dog who barks when they tell him to bark, and who is silent when they tell him to be silent - with the highways have come the war tanks, the cannons, soldiers, prostitution, venereal diseases, alcoholism, rapes of indigenous women and children, death and misery. Every highway that the government has made has shown that it has not brought any benefit, other than for those who enrich themselves at our cost, or who come to kill us, to imprison us and to humiliate us.

But, without having to go very far, there are the examples of the highways of San Quintin - the place where the PRIs have come to regret being so - the highways of Las Tasas or of Tani Perlas. With them, came the soldiers, as did their vehicles of war, construction materials came, but not to make schools or houses for the indigenous, but rather to make barracks, prostitutes and alcohol came, more expensive goods came, and 'coyotes' who buy our products even more cheaply, in addition to thieves and criminals, and to those who come to steal our valuable wood and to destroy our forests. Not one single benefit for the indigenous, but, however, much pain and suffering. The women, the mothers, the wives and the daughters of those indigenous are being used by the soldiers as prostitutes, they pay for them or they take them by force, and the indigenous who protests is threatened with death or is taken prisoner or is disappeared.

Ask the PRIs of San Quintin, let them tell you how they sold their women to the soldiers. Ask the women of San Quintin, let them tell you how they are used by the soldiers, how they now have venereal diseases that came along with the prostitutes who service the soldiers, how the little that their men make is spent on alcohol and prostitutes, how thefts and assassinations have increased, how fear and anxiety came by the hand of the Army and their highway. Ask them if they ever had any problems with the zapatistas, and they will tell you that we always respect them, they we never force them to stop being PRIs or to enter into war. Ask the women, and they will tell you that, when there was no other army than the EZLN, there was not as much drunkenness, nor prostitution, nor crimes, nor sadness, nor anxiety, nor fear.

The same can be said by the PRIs of all the communities where highways have entered. Their lives have not improved at all, and their children continue dying, highways and all, they continue being despised for being indigenous, and now it is not even worth it to them to be PRIs, because what the government wants is to break the zapatistas, and then the PRIs have to disguise themselves as zapatistas to give them a little support in that way.

This is the truth, companeros and companeras, we know it, and the PRI indigenous know it very well, those who have the curse of a government highway, and the government and their soldiers know it.

Now the government is speaking two great lies.

One is that the EZLN is opposed to progress coming to the indigenous communities, that the EZLN is opposed to the indigenous living better, that that is why the EZLN is opposed to the highways.

You, companeros and companeras, know well that this is not so, you know well that the EZLN wants highways that bring true peace, and not war.

The EZLN wants highways that bring hospitals, schools, dignified housing, good food, better prices for the products of the countryside, land improvements, recognition of the democracy the indigenous practice, which is much better than that suffered by others.

We want the highways to serve so that the wealth that is in the chiapaneco soil will be for the benefit of all Mexicans, and not for it to be sold to foreign money, we want the highways to be for Mexico's independence and sovereignty, and not for the great and powerful to order us about as if we were their slaves and to buy this country as if it were cheap goods.

When the highways bring peace, and not soldiers and war tanks and alcoholism and prostitution and misery and diseases and fear, then the zapatistas will be the first in the work of building them.

But, as long as the highways serve to increase oppression, misery and death among the indigenous communities, the zapatistas will be opposed to them, we will resist. Even though we suffer in the resistance, even though they attack us, even though they imprison us, even though they kill us, even though they tell lies about us, we will not permit the government's actions that only cause death, misery, neglect and fear.

And if we do so, it is not for us, we do so for millions of Mexican men and women who are poor like us. They deserve for the national riches to be for their benefit, and not for the gang of thieves who are in the government.

The soldiers who are there, in Amador, know that I am speaking the truth, they know we are fighting for liberty, democracy and justice for all Mexicans, including them and their families, their parents, their spouses, their children. They well know that a day will come in which justice will live in Mexico, and that they, the soldiers, are serving injustice, the lie, crime and death. And that we, the zapatistas, are serving truth, justice and life.

The soldiers that are there know that we do not fear them, neither them, nor the tens of thousands in all of Chiapas. They know that their weapons do not frighten us, nor their war tanks, nor their planes, nor their helicopters, nor the barking of their boss, Albores. They know we are willing to confront them, and that we will not allow things to be again as they once were in these lands, when a hen was worth more than the life of an indigenous, and where contempt and forgetting were the only things an indigenous received in exchange for his work.

The soldiers that are there know who the zapatistas are and what we want. If they could speak freely and without fear, they would say that we are speaking the truth, that our cause is just and that their families are being messed with, and they need someone to fight for them. They know we zapatistas are needed.

Another lie the government is telling is that those women and men of civil society who are accompanying you as peace observers are the ones who are agitating you to be opposed to the soldiers' presence. The government says that these teachers, students, researchers and workers came to give you bad advice so that you would rebel.

I know that makes you laugh. You and I know well that many of you were already aware and preparing the rebellion when these persons were barely boys and girls. You and I know well that rebellion and dignity did not come to us from the city, but rather it came from the history of resistance and heroism of the Indian peoples. You know well that you had already rebelled against the presence of the soldiers when no one from civil society had arrived. You know well that the zapatistas rose up and arms and shouted "YA BASTA!" when everyone was silent and forgetting. We know all of this very well.

But the government and its media are carrying out a strong campaign against these people, who are good, noble and generous. They want the dignified and true peace, that is why they have come to you in order to be together with you and to oppose the war. They are great Mexican men and women, no matter what their age, whether they are very young or very old.

We know that it gives you and us much pride to know that there are Mexican men and women like them, who are willing to face all the dangers, as long as they are defending peace, democracy, liberty and justice.

That is why I am asking, in the name of all the zapatista peoples, of all the insurgent and militia troops, of all the officials and committees, to look after these people, to treat them well, to protect them and to always see that they are comfortable and happy and healthy and happy. They represent thousands who cannot come to accompany us, but who wish to do so.

And so this was my word, companeros and companeras. I tell you that zapatista companeros from the Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Mamo, and other regions, are already mobilizing. We will be waiting to see how everything goes, but it is clear that we are not going to surrender.

Thank you for listening to me, companeros and companeras, that is all that my heart has to say to you right now.

I send greetings to all those whom I have known for 15 years, when I came to these lands for the first time.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
For the CCRI-CG of the EZLN.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
Translated by irlandesa

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