Brothers and sisters of the National Indigenous Congress:
Brothers and sisters of national civil society:
Brothers and sisters of international civil society:
Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
When the seventh month of last year came to pass, the rains were beginning to prevail in the mountains of the Mexican southeast. We then went to speak with our foremost ones, and we spoke to them thusly:
"The one who said he was eternal and fixed has fallen, he was brought down by the brother, the sister, the one who has name and face but, being small, seems to be without name and without face, the one who is like us, the one who is the color of the earth and all colors, the one who is below, the one who, like us, is denied tomorrow.
"In the place of the one who fell is one who seems to be nothing but the same. He talks much and says that all things have changed. But our debt is still unpaid, since the most first of these lands and this history are still an unresolved matter, a closed issue to the ones who are the government, both old and new.
"We see the brother and sister from other lands, of varied languages, their ear attuned, their word generous and friendly. Their heart is great today, although the one who hears little and speaks much tries to make it small.
"Thus we are asking you, brother and sister chiefs, what we who are governed by you should do."
"It is fine," said our main ones. "We are going to ask our most ancient ones. You wait here and, as always, hone your machetes and the word, hone hope, that is."
We did not wait for long, because the foremost ones returned soon. They returned and looked to see if the edges of the machetes were good, and then they gave the word:
"We have now spoken with our most ancient ones, and they gifted us with a word which says what and how and where and why.
"Open your hearts, then, guerreros, zapatista women and men, our Vota'n Zapata, guardian and heart of our people."
And thus spoke to us our most ancient foremost ones:
"It is the hour of the word. Put, then, the machete away, continue to hone hope. The mountain circles seven times, seven the river which lays under it. It speaks with seven of our deaths. Seven times it makes a ship of the sea. Seven times it closes your hut. Seven times it dresses the color of the earth and seven times reveals the word. Because seven is coming now, and seven is the shell for the one who feels it strongly. Because now comes the spiral, which can be path within and without, route and hope.
"With that done, prepare your feet which we spoke you, open your eyes and your ear, which we are, attentive. Become our word once again. You will no longer be you, now you are us. Do not be upset by everything which the one who speaks much has to say. It is merely noise, rude music. Nothing will be given you. Nothing that is not fought for by us. Nothing will be presented to us. Nothing that we do not take hold of will belong to our house. Nothing that we do not struggle for will live with us. And so walk the path, walk the land of the other, of the other who is, like us, of the color of the earth, and who is from the land that is, like us, all the colors of the earth.
"Walk, walk and speak. Take our face now, take color and word from the earth. Take our voice now, go with our gaze. Make yourselves our ear in order to listen to the word from the other. You shall no longer be you, now you are us.
"Go down from the mountain and seek the color of the earth that is in this world. Walk for seven days, and raise the color from the earth. Seek the other colors which speak with the one of the earth. Teach the heart of the other. Be small in front of the weak, and, along with him, you shall become great. Be large in front of the powerful, and do not tolerate in silence our being humiliated, which shall increase in your journey.
"With the humble, be humble. With the arrogant, do not tolerate anything that smacks of mockery or lie. Do not forget your mission. And always keep your distance from that which draws away from you. Speak, thus, to the we who are the collective color and which is throughout Mexico. Make room for all those colors which coexist with the color of the earth.
"Ignore borders if the word is sister of the other. Be suspicious of he who speaks much, and listen attentively to he who wisely remains silent. Call the great collective, which the nation demands, to be with us. Join dreams and sorrows. Walking, join tomorrows. Once again become greater echo of those who, in Indian lands, are silent.
"Do not be silent concerning any pain, no matter how distant, make it yours and speak. Tell the other he is brother and she is sister. Seek place for the color of earth and hope to bear fruit. See the house of the Pure'pecha, older brother and great sister nobility. Use the word with respect with him.
"Greet those who govern those lands obeying. Give our embrace to all those peoples who give pride to the color of the earth, and ask him respectfully for permission to speak. If there is no permission, lower your head and be silent. If there is permission, lower your head and speak.
"Speak to your foremost heart. Ask for shelter and hospitality there. There you will find support and the other who is us in color and in tomorrow.
"Arrive then, on the seventh day, arrive and seek from the color of the earth mutual dignity arisen. For seven times seven join sorrows and hopes. For seven times listen to what the word says of he who is the color of the earth and hope.
"If it is necessary, seven times seven shout and seven times seven remain silent. Open your heart then, and, with it open, listen to other words. Let speak the word of those who are as we, in the color of the earth which we are. Do what we tell you, one part speaks and the other is silent, so that it can be said in the land which grows upward, which they call city.
"Tell them, then, who we are who are speaking through your mouth. With that done, then let the word which is to come follow. Which is tomorrow. That which seeks a place for he who has the color of the earth, hope.
"Call on all to struggle for what belongs to everyone and to harm no one. A dignified place for those of us who are the color of the earth, hope."
Brothers and sisters:
We are indigenous and we represent the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, which rose up in arms against the supreme government seven years ago, and which holds high its banners of democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexicans.
We came from a race of guerrero indigenous. The blood which runs through us is from the ancient Mayans. It is that which gives us life and which arms us. We are guerreros.
We are the last of a generation of men and women who have been collectively entrusted with being guardians and heart of our peoples.
As guerreros, we are beings of sword and word. With both, we must safeguard the memory which our peoples are, and which allows them to resist and to aspire to a better tomorrow.
As guerreros we were prepared in the sciences and the arts, in honor and war, in sorrow and hope, in silence and the word.
We are guardians, we do not take anything away from anyone, nor do we permit anyone to take anything away from us. If they shout, we shout. We respond softly to he who speaks softly to us. If they attack us, we defend ourselves. And he who insults or threatens us, receives our contempt, and we wield the word like sword.
As guerreros, we are as those who order us, those whom we serve with honor, for whom we give life or death, who give us face and who name us, those who told us to come here, those who are our strength, even though they still speak in the shadows.
We are those who are commanded by all the colors which are in the color of the land. We are the most small. They call us zapatistas. We are asking you for a place among you, for us guerreros, a space for the ear and the word.
Brothers and sisters:
Yesterday, March 2, 2001, it had been seven days since we came down from our mountains. With the seventh journey complete, we have arrived in Pure'pecha lands in order to participate in the Third National Indigenous Congress.
Here we have been received by the indigenous community of Nurio, Michoaca'n, to whom we are grateful not only for their hospitality, but also for the work and sacrifice involved in carrying out all that was necessary for us to be able to carry out our work.
During the seven days that we have been travelling, we have gone through nine states of the Republic: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Quere'taro, Guanajuato and, now, Michoaca'n. We shall also have to journey through the state of Mexico, Guerrero and Morelos before arriving in Mexico City.
We are going to speak with the one who makes the laws, so he will see that in the land of Mexico there is no place for those with the color of the earth. We are going for the recognition of our rights, as indigenous and as Mexicans. We are going for what they stole from us, what they have denied us, what we do not have and what, however, we want, we need and we deserve.
Many words have nurtured us on our journey.
Words which have the color of the earth and which speak dignity.
We are seeking more words so that tomorrow and hope might be expanded. We are seeking this from those who, being the color of the earth, are called:
Aguacateco, Amuzco, Cakchiquel, Chatino, Chichimeca, Chinanteco, Choho, Chol, Chontal, Chuj, Cochimi, Cora, Cucapa', Cuicateco, Guariji'o, Huasteco, Huave, Huichol, Ixcateco, Ixil, Jacalteco, Pa'pago, Pima, Popoloca, Popoluca, Pure'pecha, Quiche', Seri', Solteco, Tacuate, Tarahumara, Tepehua, Tepehuan, Tlapaneco, Tojolobal, Kanjobal, Kekchi', Kikapu', Kiliwa, Kumiai, Lacando'n, Mame, Matlatzinca, Maya, Mazahua, Mayo, Mixe, Mixteco, Motocintleco, Na'huatl, Ocuilteco, Opata, Otomi', Paipai, Pame, Papabuco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Yaqui, Zapoteco, Zoque.
But we are not seeking other voices only from he who is other and who struggles and walks with us. Word which all the colors which speak in the world has. Our word walks in all words. Our small light, our hope, shines in all lights.
We are of the color of the earth. The hour and tomorrow are of the color of the earth. It is the hour of dignity, the hour of the bridge which is also window. It is the hour of looking and looking at ourselves, without shame and without fear. It is the hour of struggling for dignity for the color of the earth and hope.
Salud indigenous brothers and sisters!
Salud Pure'pecha brothers and sisters!
Salud Mexican brothers and sisters!
Salud brothers and sisters of all colors!
Que viva forever the color of the earth which we are!
>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