March 19, 2001.
To the People of Mexico:
To the Peoples and Governments of the World:
Brothers and Sisters:
First. - Ever since the EZLN made public its decision to march to Mexico City, it has been clear about the march's objectives:
1. - To engage in dialogue with national civil society in order to gain its support in the struggle for the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture in accordance with the Cocopa legislative proposal.
2. - To engage in dialogue with the Congress of the Union in order to argue the goodness of the Cocopa proposal and the importance and urgency of recognizing indigenous rights in the Constitution.
Second. - The results are obvious:
1. - The Indian peoples of all of Mexico have joined with the EZLN and with the National Indigenous Congress in the dignified struggle for the recognition of their rights, and they have openly expressed their support for the Cocopa legislative proposal.
2. - Civil society has turned this demand into a national outcry. Without regard to color, race, sex, economic position, ideology, religious belief, size or age. Mexican civil society has overwhelmingly demonstrated for an end to racism and discrimination now, for the recognition of Indian rights in the Constitution, and for the fulfillment of the 3 signals necessary for the resumption of dialogue between the government and the EZLN.
3. - Public opinion and international civil society have joined in this demand of all Mexicans. They have demonstrated on the five continents for respect for difference and for inclusion for those who are now excluded.
4. - Vicente Fox's government has paid more attention to the media impact of the march than to the obvious popular, national and multi-class support which the march for indigenous dignity has awoken during its journey through 12 states of the federation and during its stay in Mexico City.
Instead of fulfilling the 3 signals, and thus taking advantage of a delegation of the CCRI-CG's stay in the Federal District, Senor Fox has been handing out statements left and right, without actions to back them up, and he has played with the anguish and suffering of hundreds of indigenous families who remain, barely surviving, far from their homes, because their homes are being occupied by the Fox Federal Army.
5. - The Congress of the Union has been held prisoner by those who prefer to close their eyes to the national and international mobilization. The most reactionary legislators have openly defied the consensus and support which the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress have achieved for the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
For seven days, since March 13, the EZLN has waited patiently for the Congress to accept its willingness to engage in dignified and respectful dialogue. In response to this willingness, those who are holding the Congress hostage responded first with an unworthy and disrespectful proposal, whose only purpose was to salvage the pride and arrogance of legislators who are refusing to engage in dialogue and to recognize indigenous rights. Notably, legislators from the National Action [PAN], headed by Senator Diego Ferna'ndez de Cevallos.
Following our demand, those who are manipulating the Congress of the Union preferred to return to the fatuous game of holding up discussion with Fox in order to engage in the settling of internal accounts among the wings which are fighting and, in addition, the leadership of the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Thus the popular demand for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture was set aside.
The EZLN regrets that internal wheeling and dealing, power fights, the conservative groups which confuse the tribunal with an exclusive members club, have won out in the Congress of the Union. As well as those who want to use us in order to settle their accounts, positive or negative, with the Fox team.
They are trying to do politics in the Executive and in the Federal Legislature as if nothing has changed in this country. As if the Indian peoples can be treated exactly as they have been being treated throughout the almost 200 years that Mexico has been a nation.
The Indian peoples will no longer go around, nor shall we go around, knocking on doors in order to beg them to listen to us and to attend to us. The demand for our dignity is not only ours, it is also that of all honest Mexicans and all the good people in the world.
Only reactionary politicians assume that they can act with the same racist, arrogant and authoritarian positions of the times of colonialism and Porfirio. These positions are no longer tenable in the Mexico of today.
Because Mexico can now be defined as before and after the March of Indigenous Dignity, a march which included all the Indian peoples and hundreds of thousands of Mexicans. During this march, the people left the role of spectator and participated, directly or indirectly, in it. The zapatistas showed ourselves to be open to dialogue. We disarmed ourselves for this mobilization. We exposed ourselves openly to any attack, visiting dozens of public plazas throughout the more than 3000 kilometers, and we were able to meet with the people. We did not impose anything on anyone. We persuaded through the justness of our demand, for the recognition of the rights of the Indian peoples, and, in addition, along with the people, we rediscovered the dignity and hope that exists in all honest Mexicans.
Mexican society, the Indian peoples and the zapatistas arrived with our heads held high. Not to bring down the government, not to challenge the system, not to impose a way of thinking. But to engage in dialogue and to convince that the indigenous deserve a dignified place at the side of all Mexicans. In order to achieve this we made this march, and we did so with dignity. We did not march in order to beg or in order to negotiate a dignified space. We marched for respect.
Now, more than ever, the separation between the government and the people is not only marked, it is also in conflict. The government is openly defying society and looking on it with contempt.
Given the choice between politicians and the people, the EZLN does not hesitate: it is with the people. It is from them that we have received the attentive ear and the respectful word. We shall never lower our heads in front of the politicians, nor will we accept humiliations and deceptions. We will not wait in line in order to be given "received" stamps on our historic demands.
Third. - In response to the above:
1. - The EZLN has decided to end its stay in Mexico City and to begin the return to the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. The stubbornness of the political class is clear. The people, the Indian peoples, national and international civil society are convinced of the justness of our demands, and they have unconditionally supported us. The EZLN will continue to seek and to build inclusive spaces for the participation of everyone who desires a truly new Mexico. The constitutional recognition of indigenous rights must take place, and we will seek new means of struggle in order to achieve it.
2. - This Thursday, March 22, 2001, the zapatista delegation will hold a farewell event in front of the Congress of the Union, in order to thank the Mexican people, the international community and Mexico City for their help and hospitality during the march and during the stay in Mexico City.
3. - The EZLN is calling on all social, political, non-governmental organizations, groups and individuals, men, children, women and old ones, of Mexico City to accompany the delegation during the event on March 22 and to listen to what the Congress of the Union did not want to hear.
4. - The EZLN is calling on social and political organizations and individuals in the Mexican province to participate with us on March 22 in the event in front of the Congress of the Union and to mobilize in their states and municipalities.
5. - The EZLN is calling on international civil society and solidarity committees throughout the world to make their voices heard on that day, March 22, along with ours, and to reject the politics of exclusion being practiced by the Mexican executive and legislative branches.
6. - On Friday, March 23, 2001, the zapatista delegation will leave Mexico City for the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, following a route which will be announced in due course.
7. - We shall report to our communities concerning this twofold result of the march: the stubbornness of those who are the government, and the great support of the people in Mexico and in the world. The mobilization of regular everyday people has only just begun, and nothing is going to stop it. With the zapatista communities, who are those who sustain and govern us, we shall seek the means to continue marching along with the people who, like us, are fighting for an inclusive, tolerant, just, democratic and free Mexico.
Brothers and Sisters:
We are going. With all of those whom we are, we shall return.
>From the National School of Anthropology and History.
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Mexico, March of 2001.
Translated by irlandasa