Words of the EZLN to the Indigenous National Congress


March 4, 2001.

People of Nurio:
Pure'pecha Brothers and Sisters:
Brothers and Sisters of the National Indigenous Congress:
Brothers and Sisters from National Civil Society:
Brothers and Sisters from International Civil Society:

Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

The history which has gathered us together today is not new.

The grievances which convoke us are not new.

Our struggle is not new.

Neither sorrows nor combat have time or owner.

We are born to them, and they are everyone's.

Sorrow unites us and makes us one, even though we are many.

These sorrows are:

Amuzgo Brother, Sister:

They mock our clothing, our customs, our culture, everything which makes us ourselves to ourselves. They turn identity into something shameful.

Cora Brother, Sister.

They persecute our history, persecuting us. Many times persecuted, we are indigenous so the one who persecutes might have meaning.

Cuicateco Brother, Sister.

They stifle us with their lies. They lie without, and create an image of us of apathy and discouragement. They lie within, and make us an image of resignation and stasis.

Chiapa Brother, Sister.

They tamper with our name. They call us in another way, ignoring our history, and they force us to call ourselves as they call us and not how we ourselves call us.

Chinanteco Brother, Sister.

Our homes are lacking in all services. We live in poverty, we die in poverty and in poverty our children are born and grow up. Our houses are coffins where our families are crowded together. We do not have potable water, we do not have electricity, we do not have sewage systems, we do not have construction materials.

Chocholteco Brother, Sister.

Our communities are crowded together, out of sight. They deny our existence, and, since they cannot do away with us, they then conceal us from themselves and from others.

Chol Brother, Sister.

They wrench us from our homes with poverty and we have to travel far, away from our own, so that our arms might serve the powerful in exchange for a poverty which will once again wrench our homes from us.

Chontal Brother, Sister.

They make war on us in many ways. Sometimes with bullets, sometimes with deceit, sometimes with poverty, sometimes with jails. Always with forgetting.

Guariji'o Brother, Sister.

Today memory is a crime. We are memory. We are indigenous. We are criminals. Our blood fills jails and cemeteries. This is the sentence: prison and coffin for memory.

Huasteco Brother, Sister.

We live fewer years than they do, we become ill more than they do, twice the number of our children die compared to theirs, we have more accidents than they do. We have more death. But we have fewer hospitals, we have fewer doctors, we have fewer nurses, we have fewer medicines, we have less life.

Huave Brother, Sister.

Our work is poorly paid. Coyotes and caciques ally with each other in order to steal from us with their pricing. Long and painful working days are converted into just a few coins which are not enough for anything.

Kikapu' Brother, Sister.

We work with work in order to have work so they will give us work and thus be able to work our work.

Kukapa' Brother, Sister.

The music of our words is noise to their ears, and they would have their noise become music to our ears.

Mame Brother, Sister.

We live in a corner and they corner us in it. Smaller and smaller is the air which is left for us, and the ground and the sky.

Matlatzinca Brother, Sister.

History is clear: we contribute the deaths, the blood, the pain, our houses and devastated countryside, our dead peoples dying mortal deaths.

Maya Brother, Sister.

We have no teachers because we have no schools, and we have no schools because we have no teachers. Government educational programs consist in teaching ignorance to our people.

Mazahua Brother, Sister.

They contaminate the water, they turn it into merchandise, they steal it, they sell it. They leave the land without sustenance so that the land will die of thirst.

Mayo Brother, Sister.

They make us confront each other. They sow discord between us and put the death of the brother in the hand of the brother.

Mazateco Brother, Sister.

Our food is meager and poor. We know of meat, milk and eggs by name, but those names are always lacking on our tables. The only things which abound on our tables are our children's', and our, hungry mouths.

Mixe Brother, Sister.

As women, we are thrice slain. Slain as poor persons. Slain as indigenous. Slain as women. They kill us three times.

Mixteco Brother, Sister.

Alcohol is poison for our blood, and the price we pay for the poison only serves to fatten the powerful. We ask for food and we receive alcohol, which corrupts our joy and ends up saddening our hearts.

Na'huatl Brother, Sister.

If we suffer injustices and unfairness and we protest, we are crushed. If we demand our rights, we are crushed. If we speak, we are crushed. If we organize, we are crushed. If we resist, we are crushed. Repression is always the response we receive. We never receive the attentive ear, the sincere word, sisterly generosity. Always threats, jail, death.

~ah~u Brother, Sister.

To the powerful, our color represents weakness, backwardness, ignorance, malevolent resentment, bad jokes, the contemptuous gesture.

O'Odham Brother, Sister.

They want to purchase our dignity, the only thing left without a price. If we cannot do so, then they persecute us, they imprison us, they kill us.

Pame Brother, Sister.

They take our lands in order to sow and reap the death which is made candy in veins and lungs. They take the profits, we are the flesh for the jails.

Popoluca Brother, Sister.

Even though we, the indigenous, work very hard, we do not make progress. And the one who does not work makes progress at the price of our poverty. We work and we reap poverty, the rich does not work and he is rewarded with riches.

Pure'pecha Brother, Sister.

Our language is persecuted. They fear it for what it says and denounces. They fear it because it allows past history to be seen. They fear it because today it rebels. They fear it because it announces a tomorrow. They fear our language, that is why they pursue and kill it.

Rara'muri Brother, Sister.

What matters to the powerful in these lands is not us, but rather the resources which are within it. And so the tree is made dead in order to be made wood, and the wood is made money and the money prosperity for the powerful. For us, adversity.

Tenek Brother, Sister.

We are a decorative object, a bright and colorful adornment, forgotten in a corner of society. We are a picture, a photograph, a weaving, a craft, never a human being.

Tlahuica Brother, Sister.

Our children grow up educated in fear. They fear growing up, they fear being Indians, they fear the other who is not Indian, they fear being children.

Tlapaneco Brother, Sister.

They do not want to give us any space other than that of the museums of ancient, past things, which will be left behind in an already far distant yesterday.

Tojolabal Brother, Sister.

Our towns are filled with armies which are occupying our lands, destroying our forests, polluting our waters, profaning our churches, dismantling our homes, introducing drugs, alcohol and prostitution. They pursue us with hunting dogs, planes, helicopters, war tanks and thousands of soldiers.

Totonaco Brother, Sister.

For us, justice is a cruel shameless joke or mausoleum or bars or disappearing. Being indigenous is a punishable crime, which is not written in any legal code, but is in the minds of the police and the judges.

Triqui Brother, Sister.

Humiliation is the future they offer us. In it, we will always have to lower our heads in front of the powerful, be the butt of jokes and contempt, be inferior, forgettable.

Tzeltal Brother, Sister.

Our good lands are being occupied by the rich, and they throw us onto stony ground, where the land will barely squeeze a sigh.

Tzotzil Brother, Sister.

They finance, organize, arm and train paramilitary groups in order to kill us. And then they present the killings as if they were fights between campesinos, as "inter-community conflicts," as if the hand which killed were dark and not as it actually is, the color of money.

Wixaritari-Huichol Brother and Sister.

They steal our lands from us and the powerful conceals his theft behind laws made to serve them and to hurt us. Thanks to the law, the powerful have turned our lives and our history into a crime.

Yaqui Brother and Sister.

The power above tries to buy our consciences, to corrupt us in order to turn us into slaves, into servile animals to conceal justice behind the lie.

Zapoteco Brother and Sister.

The economic policies of the powerful force us to abandon our land and to emigrate to the United States. Besides leaving behind our families, our history, our culture, our home, our land, our friendships, our people, we must then confront the armed racism of the border police and the fascist ranchers. Death forces us to leave our land and, by leaving, we must confront death.

Zoque Brother and Sister.

They corner us so we will betray the blood which gives us life, so we will serve the powerful in his dirty work of erasing the color of the earth.

Brothers and Sisters of the Indian peoples which we are today:

We are nothing to the powerful but a figure in his accounts. We are a bothersome number. One number in the balance sheet. They measure us in order to disappear us. To measure their time and cost. They measure us in order to exploit us. To measure their time and profit. They measure us in order to control us. In order to measure their time and expense.

Brother, Sister...

Amuzgo Cora Cuicateco Chiapa Chinanteco Chocholteco Chol Chontal Guariji'o Huasteco Huave Kikapu' Kukapa' Mame Matlatzinca Maya Yucateco Mayo Mazahua Mazateco Mixe Mixteco Na'huatl ~ah~u O'Odham Pame Popoluca Purepecha Rara'muri Tenek Tlahuica Tojolabal Totonaco Triqui Tzeltal Tzotzil Wixaritari-Huichol Yaqui Zapoteco Zoque

Brothers and Sisters:

Today they want to make us fashionable. Today they want to make us entertainment, passing news. Today they want to make us short-lived and transitory again, fleeting, disposable, dispensable, forgettable.

When has history been fashionable?

When has memory been up for sale?

When have the roots been a transient shop window?

When is the past momentary?

When is wisdom dissoluble and transitory?

When is firmness fleeting?

When are the foundations disposable?

When can one do without tomorrow?

When can it be forgotten that they are because we are?

Forty Indian peoples, of the 57 in Mexico, have been received in the house of Pure'pecha.

It was in Nurio, Michoaca'n. So it was recorded by our scribes.

We were reunited by sorrow and hope.

Sorrow and hope will make us walk once again, like yesterday, like always.

But now we do not go alone.

Not alone from ourselves.

Not alone from the others.

We will march once more now, but the 7 days which will carry us to the land which grows upwards, to the one which makes laws, shall tremble with all the indigenous which we are.

Though we have been united by sorrow, though hope unites us, nothing shall have meaning if we are not united by tomorrow.

Democracy!
Liberty!
Justice!

>From the Pure'pecha community of Nurio, Michoaca'n.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, March of 2001.


Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN ______________________ Translated by irlandesa

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