Words of the EZLN at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN)

Words of the EZLN at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN)

March 16, 2001

Brother and sister students and teachers of the Poly. Students, teachers from the vocational schools. Students and teachers from the Metropolitan Autonomous University. Men and women from women's and neighborhood groups and from the peoples' markets, from the unions and church base communities.

Brothers and sisters from the Azcapotzalco zone and the Gustavo A. Madero delegation.

We would like to thank the brothers and sisters from the Polytechnic for having invited us to their home in order to meet with them and with all of you, and in order to be able to speak our word to you, and to be able to listen to yours.

We have come from very far. We are zapatistas. We came together with our brothers and sisters from the National Indigenous Congress.

We came in order to speak with you, and also to talk with those who make the laws here, in the land which grows upwards, yes, but on your, and our, backs.

Brother, Sister:

The National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN have demanded dialogue with all the legislators of the Congress of the Union, with all the Deputies and Senators.

We assume that the Congress of the Union is the house of the citizens, and those who are now in it are only there temporarily.

The Congress as the seat of legislative power transcends the partisan viewpoints of those who make up the legislature.

Our movement, our struggle, is demanding an end to racism as national culture and as state policy.

And then, in response to our demand, they offer to receive us in the kitchen, in the maid's room, in the laundry room, in the backyard, on the sidewalk. For us to continue here, as we have indeed been, ever since this nation took the name of Mexico, waiting outside the officials' offices.

Centuries waiting outside the house of the governments so that, after a while, employees of the officials would come out to see us and tell us: "Yes, we're going to look into your matter. Come back in a few days." And then we came back and they say to us: "Your matter still hasn't been resolved, because the official is very busy. Come back in a few days," and so on, for months, for years, for decades, for centuries.

This mentality is being repeated now, by some legislators, specifically by Senor Diego Ferna'ndez de Cevallos, who says that the poor of Mexico do pay attention to the indigenous and their demands.

Mexico is already poor, and it is because it pays attention to individuals like Ferna'ndez de Cevallos, who think that the country is a hacienda, that we Mexicans are peons, and that the Congress of the Union is a company store.

They are trying to deal, with racist attitudes, with those who are demanding an end to racism.

The Congress should accept that it cannot deny dialogue to the indigenous movement. And, by refusing to receive it in the full house, by ordering it to a corner, to the kitchen or to the laundry room, that is what it is doing: turning the demands of the Indian peoples into a nuisance, and dialogue with the legislators into laundry room gossip.

But there are ever fewer up there who are applauding the insolence of the little king and the feudal gentlemen's' posturing which Senor Ferna'ndez de Cevallos is indulging in.

And down here, no one is applauding.

Because, who, who is poor, does not have Indian blood in his veins? Who, who is poor, has not heard the same words in response to demands for justice, for democracy, for liberty?

Brother, Sister:

Up there, the powerful are concocting arguments and excuses in order not to meet with us.

Meanwhile, those of us who are poor continue to be beaten up.

Legislators like Ferna'ndez de Cevallos are discussing at length whether or not masks are legal, but they are willing to approve taxes on medicine and food in just a few minutes.

If we don't already have enough for medicine, now they will be taking another bite out of our wages, and that tax will be going into the pockets of the bankers.

If we are already eating poorly, now we will have to pay taxes in order to eat poorly, and the money they take away from us will go into the pockets of the bankers.

That is how it is, brother, sister.

They take away from the one who has little or absolutely nothing.

And they give more to the one who has everything.

The economic packages which are coming out of the Congress of the Union mean nothing to us but more taxes, price increases, salary reductions, more unemployment, fewer work benefits, lower budgets for education, less housing, fewer services, less food, fewer lands, fewer hospitals, fewer doctors, less medicine.

For these economic laws, there is indeed agreement and swiftness.

But for our demands there are setbacks, slowness, holdups.

Brother, Sister:

They take our lands away from us, and on them, for the bosses, we put up airports, and we will never travel in a plane. We build highways, and we will never have an automobile. We build entertainment centers, and we will never have access to them. We put up shopping centers, and we will never have money to shop in them. We build urban zones with all the services, and we will only see them from afar. We erect modern hotels, and we will never stay in them.

In short, we are putting up a world which excludes us, one which will never accept us, and which, nonetheless, would never exist without us.

And we are you.

You made the house, you put in the electricity, the water, the plumbing. You paved the street. You planted the garden. You built the furniture. You painted the walls. You set the tables. You got the food. You prepared the meal.

And you are left outside.

Another came in and occupied the house.

Another is the one whose life is illuminated. Another, the one who cleans himself up. Another, the one who goes in the vehicle. Another, the one who uses the furniture. Another, the one who enjoys. Another, the one who is fed.

You are left with a dirty and dark corner for a home.

Water is scarce for you, dust and mud run under your feet. You see the garden, from afar, from behind the bars. You have the floor to sit on, the ground to sleep upon. You are on this side of the wall, the outside one. And poverty joins you at your table.

If you become ill, endure it. If you are hungry, endure it. If you are thirsty, endure it. If you live badly, endure it. If they don't pay you fairly, endure it. If you do not find work, endure it. If they humiliate you, endure it. If they steal what you do have, endure it. If your relatives die, endure it. If you have only despair to bequeath to your children, endure it. If they do not let you speak, endure it. If they do not listen to you, endure it. If they ignore you, endure it. If you die, endure it.

They lied to us. They told us that that there would be room for everyone in this place we call Patria. That is why we built it. That is why we fought for it. That is why we died for it. That is why we live it. That is why we carry it on our backs.

They lied to us. The house where we are is not one.

The one which has the light, prosperity, progress, joy, hope, is theirs, those who, being few, have everything.

The street and the countryside are for us. They call our destitution home.

To have us accept what we lack, to democratize despair, anguish, fear, defeat.

It is not enough for them that we, who are many, have little. They also take away our pride, they humiliate us, they do not look at us, or they look down on us.

If we demand our rights, we are troublemakers, and for us there is persecution, jail, beatings, torture, the grave.

We commit an offense, and it is a victory for them. We are the disadvantaged, and prosperity is for them. We, the ugly, and beauty is for them. We, the evil, and goodness is for them. We, the filthy, and health is for them. We, the backward, and progress for them.

But we built this house that does not admit us today. We did so for everyone. Not just for some, not for the few. For everyone, including ourselves.

But we are outside.

And we must be silent, endure, resign ourselves.

How long?

They say until forever. And this infuriating forever is the one that our children, and our children's children, will find. There will always be for us, and for those who follow us, a lie, a deception, a beating, a death.

How long?

They say until forever. They will forever confiscate the wealth, justice, liberty, democracy, hope, the tomorrow.

We do not fit into the calendar they impose upon us, only they do.

How long?

What is missing is our answer.

That of the student, that of the neighbor, that of the teacher, that of the housewife, that of the employee, that of the unemployed, that of the street vendor, that of the disabled, that of the typist, that of the seamstress, that of the delivery person, that of the comedian, that of the service station attendant, that of the telephone operator, that of the waiter, that of the waitress, that of the cook, that of the mariachi player, that of the sex worker, that of the circus performer, that of the mechanic, that of the car wash person, that of the indigenous, that of the worker, that of the campesino, that of the driver, that of the fisherman, that of the taxi driver, that of the stevedore, that of the street child, that of the flight attendant, that of the pilot, that of the office worker, that of the brother, that of the media worker, that of the professional person, that of the religious person, that of the homosexual, that of the lesbian, that of the transsexual, that of the artist, that of the sailor, that of the soldier, that of the sportsman, that of the bricklayer, that of the market tenant, that of the taco and sandwich seller, that of the windshield washer, that of the parking lot attendant, that of the bureaucrat, that of the man, that of the woman, that of the child, that of the young person, that of the old one, that of whom we are.

How long?

Young Brother, Sister:

It does not matter that you study, that you work, that you make an effort, that you sacrifice, that you try. You will leave school and you will find there are no jobs, and, if there are any, they are poorly paid. Graduating from a public school is good for nothing but third rate employment. The first and second class ones graduate from the private schools.

And they try to dominate you, domesticate you. If you dress differently, they are suspicious of you. If you talk in a different way, they are suspicious of you. If you listen to other music, they are suspicious of you. If you dance in a different way, they are suspicious of you. If you are young, they are suspicious of you.

If a crime takes place, you are blamed first. If there is a punishment, you are punished first and most severely. If something turns out badly, you are to blame.

It doesn't matter if you are rebellious. They will wait until you get over it. They will help you to "mature" by beating you up, insulting you, raping you, persecuting you, killing you, dominating you. It doesn't matter if you know a lot, it doesn't matter if you have abilities, it doesn't matter if you are worth a lot, your intelligence doesn't matter.

You do not matter to them.

You have to endure. You have to be broken. You have to surrender.

How long?

And that is why we came to the house of the Polytechnic, to ask: "How long?"

And we came to the house of the Polytechnic to speak to the one who is, like us, the color of the earth.

To tell him that we have already answered, and we want to ask him to help us, to support us, to make himself one with us and, with us, to answer the question of "How long?' with this: "Until today and that's it, until here and that's it, no more now, ya basta, never again, never any more."

That is why we came to the house of the Polytechnic, to shout, with everyone,


>From the National Polytechnic Institute, in Zacatenco.

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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