Brother and Sister Cybernauts:
The EZLN rose up in arms on January 1, 1994 in demand, among other things, of respect and recognition for the Indian peoples of Mexico. As of January 12, 1994, the zapatistas, listening to the voices of national and international civil society, suspended their armed actions and entered into a process of dialogue, seeking a negotiated solution to their demands. After 2 years, in February of 1996, the EZLN and the Mexican government signed the first San Andre's Accords (taking the name of the seat of dialogue, San Andre's Sakamch'en de Los Pobres, a Tzotzil municipality in Los Altos of Chiapas). These first Accords were on indigenous rights and culture. The Mexican government committed itself, among other things, to constitutionally recognizing the rights and cultures of the Indian peoples of Mexico. In response to the government's failure to honor its word, a group of Mexican legislators from the Commission of Concordance and Peace (Cocopa), drew up a legislative proposal in the month of December, in 1996, what has subsequently been referred to as the "Cocopa Law". Up until the end of the end of the administration of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leo'n, the government had refused to carry out the Accords, and the EZLN kept the dialogue suspended.
When Vicente Fox's government took office, and he offered the fulfillment of the pending Accords and a negotiated solution to the conflict, the EZLN responded, demonstrating their willingness to walk the road of peace, making it clear that it was demanding a serious, respectful and real dialogue. The EZLN asked the Fox government for 3 signals which would indicate the government's commitment to dialogue and negotiation.
With these signals, the EZLN was waiting for a response to 3 questions which are fundamental for the success of the peace process: Is Fox in charge of the federal army, and is he willing to abandon the military route as a solution to the conflict? Does the government recognize that the zapatistas are social fighters and not criminals? And, will there be no repetition of the history of humiliation, contempt and racism against the Mexican indigenous?
Up to this moment, Fox's government has responded that it is and is not willing to abandon the military route, or that it is more or less willing. This is because it has withdrawn only 4 of the 7 positions which were demanded, and it has attached conditions for fulfilling the remaining 3. Concerning the zapatista prisoners, only 19 of the more than 100 who are in the country's jails have been released. They are continuing to be used as hostages, and, keeping them imprisoned means that the government is still thinking about using the police-military option. Concerning the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture, the so-called "Cocopa Law" is already in the Congress of the Union. In order to secure its approval, the EZLN has decided to send a delegation to Mexico City for the purpose of engaging in dialogue with federal legislators.
Fox's government has resorted to a publicity strategy in order to build an image of peacemaker, and to project the image of an intransigent EZLN, arguing its fear that the zapatistas, when they see the signals fulfilled, are going to ask for more and to draw out the conflict. The zapatistas do indeed keep their word. If they have asked for only those 3 signals, they will not add more. As soon as they are fulfilled, they will sit down to dialogue.
Regarding the zapatista march to Mexico City, the country's powerful (the high clergy, the political class, businesspersons and the army) have wanted to supplant the discussion with trivialities: for example, concerning ski-masks and weapons. Concerning the ski-masks, the EZLN has made it clear that they form part of their zapatista selves, and they will go with them in place. Concerning weapons, the EZLN has said, time and time again, that it respects the Law for Dialogue, and the trip will be made unarmed.
In some areas of government, the threat has been used that the zapatistas will be apprehended because the law protects them only in Chiapas. This is false. The law allows travel throughout national territory, and the zapatista march is, therefore, legitimate and legal. There is no legal argument against it.
The EZLN has repeated in its last communiques that it will go to Mexico City to engage in dialogue with the Congress of the Union, that it will engage in dialogue along its route with civil society, primarily with the Indian peoples and the National Indigenous Congress, and that its objective is the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
Regarding the military positions which have yet to be withdrawn, the EZLN has made it clear that their dismantling would in no way affect the military capacity of the federal Army. That there are no civil populations whatsoever who are demanding that government troops remain in those places. And that the number is 7 because it is a symbolic number for the zapatistas.
The EZLN will not make contact with the government until the signals are completed, because it does not want dialogue to again be a deception. The zapatistas want dialogue to take place and for it to be successful so there can, in that way, be an end to the war, to the causes which led to it, and in order to be able to engage in politics like any other Mexican citizen.
Vale. Salud and may those who make history finally find a place in it.
>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, January of 2001.
Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN _______________________ Translated by irlandesa