The State of Mexico, the Ninth Stele

SEPTEMBER: The State of Mexico, the Ninth Stele

(The prosperity of the rich is built, with the complicity of the politicians, upon expropriating from the poor)

By times flying and by times rolling, by times cloud and by times stone, the hand and eyes reach the ninth month of the calendar: September. And, upon reaching September, they also arrive in the state of Mexico. This is the most populous state in the Mexican Republic (more than 13 million in the year 2000), and the one with the greatest social contrasts: a few powerful (whose names are commingled with those of politicians) of overweening, wealth, and many poor with a poverty which would sadden if it were not for the dignity with which they resist.

The state of Mexico has almost one million indigenous. Zapotecos, Totonacas, Otomi'es-H~a~u'es, Nahuas, Mixtecos and Mazahuas, among others, are living and resisting in the face of one of the greatest expropriations in this country's history.

The cloud is genuinely disconcerted: in these lands, one need not travel far in order to see great commercial centers and luxurious recreational areas, and, a few meters away, communities without the most minimal of services. If anyone would like an example of what neoliberalism is planning for our country, one need only take a turn through the state of Mexico. Here, sickeningly opulent wealth, and unbridled corruption in the political class (PAN, PRI and PRD - and the dwarves - who not only compete in the elections, but also in seeing whose crime is the best organized), coexist with an extreme poverty, and with a dignified resistance.

Just as these lands are entered into, a leaflet thrown on any street names and accuses:

"State of Mexico: Den of Criminal Politicians: Jose' Antonio Ri'os Granados, Tultitla'n, PAN, theft of 90 million pesos; Jose' Antonio Domi'nguez, Atizapa'n, PAN, murder and theft of 300 million; Eulalio Esparza Nieto, Chalco, PRI, theft of 20 million; Rigoberto Amado Quintanar, El Oro, PRI, expropriation, abuse of authority and damage to others' property; Juan de la Cruz Ruiz, Temascalcingo, PRI, expropriation; Rafael Pe'rez Marti'nez, Tequixquiac, PAN, expropriation; Zeferino Rese'ndiz Segura, Tenancingo, PRI, abuse of authority and slander; Fernando Covarrubias, Zavala, Cuautitla'n Izcalli, PAN, nepotism and theft; Edelemira Gutie'rrez, Cuautitla'n, PAN, embezzlement; Roberto Zepeda Guadarrama, Chapa de Mota, PAN, abuse of position; Guillermo Espinoza Gonza'lez, Huixquilucan, PAN, fraud; Fe'lix Ismael Germa'n Olivares, Teca'mac, PAN, theft and diversion; Agusti'n Herna'ndez Pastrana, Ecatepec, PAN, theft, diversion and administrative irregularities; Ignacio An! guiano Marti'nez, Coyotepec, PRI, theft, diversion; Miguel Bautista Lo'pez, Nezahuaco'yotl, PRD, theft, administrative offenses; Julian Angulo Go'ngora, former mayor of Cuautitla'n Izcalli, PAN, theft and bribery of 20 million; Sergio Gami~o, former mayor of Coacalco, PAN, theft and bribery of 20 million; Carlos Cornejo Torres, former mayor of Chimalhuaca'n, PRI, murder. (Sources: Congress of the State of Mexico, Internal Financial Office and General Accounting Office)."

The cloud, perhaps a bit dizzy from the journey, makes her ruffled way through the Mexican skies:

There is San Salvador Atenco, where expropriation, disguised as an airport, was stopped by a strength which surprised politicians and businessmen. But the airport did not arrive by itself, it included highways. The campesinos of Atenco have found out that the Salinas de Gortari family had been acquiring lands outside the municipality, right at the junction of two highways, for the construction of a five star hotel complex. The Popular Municipal Council of San Salvador Atenco is being harried by the political parties to take part in elections, as if they did not have up to 300 arrest warrants hanging over them.

What you see over there is Ecatepec, which is not the golfing Bishop Cepeda's henhouse, but land of dignity which resists. The municipality was trying to expropriate land there, land which had been earmarked for housing, for a six lane highway that was to be more than one hundred meters wide. This highway was to go from Ecatepec towards San Salvador Atenco, and it was to be part of the connection of the Mexico City airport. The expropriation attempts are still ongoing, even while the airport has been cancelled.

Further along is Nezahuaco'yotl, where young students, street youth, punks, and secondary, preparatory, normal and Cebetis teachers, are linking together study, culture and resistance. And look at the Chalco valley, where the Independent Collective of Popular Culture is engaged in work aimed at increasing political awareness among the people there.

It is Atizapa'n that can be seen now. There the PAN governor ordered the assassination of councilor Mari'a de los Angeles Tamez Pe'rez on August 5, 2001. The councilor, just 27 years old, was supporting the struggle of the comuneros in this municipality. Perhaps some progress might be made in the investigation of her assassination if they were to take a look at the property development companies and Resistol Industries and the Frisa Construction Company. It is Atizapa'n where the comuneros are maintaining the defense of 1467 hectares of land which legally belong to them. A group of high level officials and businessmen (from the Frisa Construction company) are trying to expropriate those lands. In the Lomas region of San Andre's Atizapa'n, there are problems with the electricity supply, because the distributorship is in the process of being awarded to individuals, and the same thing is happening in San Andre's. The Frisa construction company, a business which is in litigation with the comuneros of San Andre's, wants to build a commercial center and colonial residential development similar to Santa Fe, which will be linked with Chilucan and Valle Escondido. The company has established a paramilitary group in order to confront the comuneros. Some of the lands are in the Atizapa'n forest, and Resistol Industries is trying to use the land there for their company. The comuneros are opposed to that, and they are trying to establish a community center and a cooperative (without any change in land use and continuing as communal property) in order to be able to work the lands with their families. The cooperative is called Smallyl.

The powerful even have their sights set on a football field. They are trying to turn it into an exclusive garden for a development, leaving out the residents of El Potrero, San Lorenzo, La'zaro Ca'rdenas, Jardines de Atizapa'n and San Andre's. In the Hacienda del Pedregal development, residents were cheated by two development companies (First City and Grupo Novo) who wanted to charge them more than had been stipulated in the contracts.

Here in Atizapa'n there is a noble and combative group of young punks. Some of them are grouped in the Information Network of Autonomous Liberation Voices (RIVAL), they have a news report and, along with the music gigs, they hold talks about what is going on in Mexico and in the world. They circulate a fanzine with the very straightforward and evocative name of Bitter Patria. When someone refers to Atizapa'n as Atizapunk they are giving name to an exemplary effort of cultural resistance.

In Nicola's Romero, the comuneros discovered that the ejidal commissioner was doing business with their lands, and now there are more than 20 cases of fraud, extortion and expropriation of their predios through deception. He has also been threatening to beat up the ejiditarios if they say anything.

The municipality wants to take the well away from residents of Loma la Cruz and Clavo de Oro, fourth section of San Isidro, in order to give them piped water which comes from the Lerma River instead. The reason they want to take the well away from them is because they want to supply the factories which have set up on an irregular basis in the development. And that is not all. It is known that many of the residents of these developments are suffering from renal insufficiency. The reason can be found in La Colmena River, where the cardboard and plastics factories discharge their waste products, which contaminate the wells through the subsoil.

In Cuautitla'n Izcalli, in the San Juan Atlamilca development, the avarice of businessmen and officials is uprooting trees in order to build highways. After the trees, the houses will follow. In the Axotlan development, the municipal government is draining a lake in order to divide it up into lots immediately afterwards. The residents, upon learning of the situation, looked into what the cause of the problem was, and they discovered that the municipality was opening trenches so that the water could flow through them. Residents began filling in the trenches with whatever they had at hand, and the lake was filled once more.

In Tlaneplantla, residents of San Andre's Atenco and Lomas de San Andre's are maintaining the defense of their houses due to the threat from the widening of the avenue. The same thing is happening with residents of Pancho Villa, where, in addition to the row over the avenue, they are organizing against those parties which hold offices in the municipality, because they have been granting permits to bars and pubs close to schools.

The cloud has seen something now. What she sees is Huixquilucan. Located west of Mexico City, along with Cuajimalpa and the Alvaro Obrego'n delegation, they shelter Santa Fe, neoliberalism's model city. Surrounding it, though, there is only poverty, problems with traffic jams and irregular urban growth, and the people are living in hills with horrible water, drainage and sewage services.

Huixquilucan, because of the fact that it is adjacent to that poor copy of North American Houston which is Santa Fe, has been undergoing two important processes: on the one hand, the expansion and growth of excusive new walled towns for the wealthy of Mexico City: La Herradura, Interlomas and Bosque Real. The latter two are already provided with a full array of services: perfectly paved streets, drainage, potable water (which does not come from the Cutzamala system, but from springs in the region), first world hospitals, elementary and middle schools and "highly prestigious" universities.

Those residents of Huixquilucan who live in the so-called popular and rural areas, however, have watched municipal presidents from all the parties come and go, without anyone having done anything to improve services in highways, drainage, sewer, health, schools, etcetera. In all of Huixquilucan, there is only one technical university, and the number of preparatory schools can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

PRI and PAN municipal presidents have taken good advantage of the reforms to Article 27 of the Constitution. Every since the 1990s, they have been allying themselves with construction companies in order to put pressure on campesinos for land use changes.

Out of close to 25 towns in Huixquilucan's rural region, only three have maintained communal land possession. Two of them, San Francisco Ayotusco and Santa Cruz Ayotusco, have been engaged for more than five years in an agrarian judgment for the recognition of all their communal lands. Only 120 hectares have been recognized, while more than 5000 are at stake. Meanwhile, Santiago Yancuitlapan and other towns here are fighting to defend their water.

The cloud flies from vain Santa Fe to La Marquesa. Here there is a history to be learnt from. A history of dignity which resists, which does not give up.

And, as always happens in these kinds of occasions, a history where women set the example.

In the month of October in 2002, residents of La Marquesa found out that a group of national and foreign businessmen, supported by Montiel's government and with the knowledge of ejidal and communal authorities, had set their sights on these lands. The project was circulated among all their groups within the private sector, but not one single word to the populace. The reaction was not long in coming: comuneros, ejiditarios and settlers organized various meetings in order to discuss the matter and to express their absolute rejection of what they characterized as a covert sale of their lands and forests. According to the information the populace obtained concerning ejidal lands in Acazulco, there was an attempt being made to build a theme park in La Marquesa. Ejiditarios were to be paid a sum of money to rent the land for three years. With the slogan "All Mexico to La Marquesa," the project's goal was to exploit urban tourism from Mexico City.

La Marquesa - with its 1580 hectares - was declared a national park in 1938, and it was left in the hands of the Otomi' community of Acazulco. Thus far the federal government has expropriated various properties, among them lots for the Federal Electricity Commission, the Pemex pipeline, the Institute of Nuclear Research, the widening of the old Mexico-Toluca highway and the Mexico-Toluca highway, among others. The only compensation they have received for all of these expropriations is an artisans sales center - which has never been usable -, a pair of swings and a slide. They have never been paid for the expropriations. Now they are trying to expropriate the lands where the hamlet of La Marquesa is located, where 380 families live. Federal, as well as state, officials are trying to get land use regularized in order to do away with ejidal ownership and to sell them to 57 large companies - which have formed a board that does not include the community of Acazulco.

The following are some of the companies engaged in this lucrative deal: Tribasa, Bayer, Televisa, TV Azteca, Kaufman &broth, Mercedes Benz, Bancomer, Volkswagen, Crisa, Los Encinos Golf Club, Fraccionamiento San Marti'n, Herberts, Sacsa, BMW, Bernardo Quintana, Fiesta American Hotels, Clemente Serna, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Cerveceri'a Modelo, Holiday Inn Hotels, Cerveceri'a Cuauhte'moc, Bimbo-Barcel and Nestle'.

In May-September of 1999, the state government and a group of individuals offered area residents a series of courses in hotel and food management. The residents asked them what the courses were for, and the officials never responded. Currently, residents of La Marquesa are looking into how to confront the new expropriation (where they are trying to pay them $1.70 per square meter) in an organized and legal fashion. Mexican state officials are exerting pressure on them to remove them from the commercial area of La Marquesa.

Again transformed back into stone, the cloud slips into the San Jero'nimo church, in the town of Acazulco. There is an assembly going on, and more than 300 Otomi's indigenous are heatedly discussing the subject of the tourism project, which they have only learned about through rumors. A group of young people from the ejido are presenting the project they are trying to impose and giving out information about private investment projects in the region which are threatening their rights over the lands and water. "They told us they were going to build a park that was going to be for the benefit of the community. That they were going to invest one million dollars and they were going to lease the lands," states an Acazulco youth, who has a university education. A lady replies: "How are we going to live if they take the land away from us?" Older women are nodding their heads and talking among themselves in Otomi'. Indignation is growing. Just a year ago they expropriated 13.5! hectares from the hamlet of La Marquesa, and they wanted to pay 120 pesos in compensation. Today the ejidal commissioner says that it is possible to sell, but for a little bit more money per cubic meter, "which is an obscenity," says Antonio, an elderly ejiditario who is now selling quesadillas by the side of the Mexico-Toluca highway, "the most expensive in Mexico," he adds. One of the ejiditarios, by the name of Jose', proposes that the ejidal and communal authorities should appear in order to clarify their position. The word continues among these Otomi's: "The only solution is to organize ourselves. We can't remain passive. We have to defend our way of life, our land, our culture. They want to trick us. They tell us they're going to give us work, but they want to exterminate us as peoples and communities. They see it as a business deal, we see ourselves as the rescuers of our peoples. The dignity of the people cannot be bought with crumbs." Night falls, and the ! people, very upset, are waiting for the arrival of the community a one of the representatives have appeared out of fear of the people. They agree among themselves to convene an assembly of ejiditarios in order to reach a joint decision with the entire town.

Like water flowing downhill, information about the tourism project spills throughout the town. Photocopies of the investment proposal circulate, but ejidal and communal authorities deny that they are the truth. One week later, in the face of pressure from Acazulco residents demanding information, the commissioner of ejidal property decides to convene the 370 ejiditarios in order to present the theme park project. The idea is to leave the rest of the populace out of the decision making. Since the lands are ejidal, the legal decision belongs to the ejiditarios, and so the agrarian representatives attempt to convince them of the project, saying that they will be partners, and they will be paid a goodly sum of money if they agree to lease the land.

The meeting is convened in the ejidal auditorium, in the middle of Marquesa. And the stone goes there. In addition to those who have been convened, dozens of Acazulco residents, mostly women, arrive. The women and young people grow indignant and begin struggling to enter. "They won't let us in because the rich people want to go over the heads of the poor, they want to talk behind the people's back, but the decision belongs to the town. It's not the ejiditarios who are in charge here, but the entire town," shouts Do~a Cleotilde, some 60 years old. The people are very angry. Over the last few days, officials from the National Water Commission emptied Salazar Lake (which would be part of the tourism project), without advising any of the town officials. The women are kicking the glass door: "We want to come in, let us in, we want to know about the program that's being brought in. They want to have their meeting in secret. The land belongs to all the people," they shout ! angrily.

Isabel Marcial Cesa'reo responds to them that he does not know what they are talking about, "it's a false alarm," he manages to say before being silenced by the indigenous women who berate him: "No matter what happens, we're going to defend ourselves." One group of ladies manage to get in through force. They are angry, no one is going to try and remove them now: "We want information, for you to tell the truth. We're campesinos and we are defending our rights, we used to go easy on swindles. Sometimes we stayed quiet and we were afraid, but we don't want that anymore. We have the right to come in." In the face of the pressure and in the midst of shouting, the ejiditarios decide to allow everyone in. After they come in, a confused discussion ensues, with everyone speaking at once, with complaints from the women and young people. Commissioner Guadalupe Espinoza Salinas states that the National Water Commission had emptied the dam in order to carry out repair work with t! he cortina. Afterwards she says that everything concerning the tourism program "are just rumors, if anyone has any information they should say so, because everything that has been said is false." Shouting and debate break out. "Who ordered the dam to be emptied? That's criminal," can be heard. Now the representatives from the Mexican state Agrarian Confederation arrive. They have links with the local government, who are the promoters of the investment project. When they are introduced in order to explain the matter, the people run them off because they don't want to hear them. "We don't want anything from you, we aren't going to sell the land, or rent it or anything," the women shout. A young person from La Marquesa who is studying at the UNAM, intervenes. She explains that the only thing the people want is information, because they are always trying to expropriate their lands. "The most expensive highway in Mexico passes through our lands, and we can't use it for f! ree." She explains that "there are many companies that want to in , they tell them they're going to be partners, but then who can throw them out when they don't follow through?" The commissioner, in a more conciliatory tone, insists: "We have to defend the land, we saw the project, and it seems good to us, we want you to see it."

The response is quick in coming, men and women, in unison, silence him with one single shout: "The land is not for sale or for rent, let that be clear."

In the middle of the assembly, Javier Pe~a speaks, and he introduces himself as leader of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Eastern Sierra of the state of Mexico and a member of ANIPA, which has complained that they want to sell ejido lands. He speaks about how some parts of the ejido have been sold illegally, like the gas station, a cabin and a section of the forest.

The commissioner berates him: "We know that Pe~a and his people are inciting the people over the Plan Puebla Panama, but what they want is to be deputies or councilpersons and get trips abroad." Other members of the commission and some women remind him that he did not have the moral authority to denounce anything, since he had defrauded a valley to the tune of 20,000 pesos, and that he had even been put in jail because of that. The former commissioner recalls that, when Javier Pe~a held that ejidal position six years ago, the expropriation of La Marquesa's urban area was implemented, and he hadn't done anything to prevent it, nor had he filed any legal charges. And more, it was said that he wanted to negotiate a payment of 5 million pesos as compensation, while telling the people they were asking for 2 million. "And now he says he's defending the ejido. That's defrauding the people." Javier Pe~a's brother makes excuses for his relative: "We all make mistakes," he says.! He recalls that a group headed by Javier Pe~a went to Los Pinos, "we met with Xochitl Ga'lvez, who is a friend of Javier's (Pe~a), he told us that Fox didn't accept what happened in Atenco because he's not going to go over the people." Voices can be heard complaining that Pe~a was trying to "negotiate behind the people's back." Someone else tells him that he what he's looking for is a seat as deputy for some party. Javier Pe~a tries to defend himself, but it is to no avail. The people do not listen to him. Despite his having introduced himself as the leader of the Peoples Alliance - ANIPA.

The assembly continues, and in the end they vote to reject the project, and to not allow their lands and forests to be seized. The authorities act as if they are going to resign, since they have been defeated.

The people take the word, saying that that was not the important thing. The issue was putting any attempt to sell the land behind them, and that had been accomplished. Because of that, the authorities' main disgrace had been in having to account for themselves in front of the people, and to be seen by everyone. That was the main punishment, and they allow them to continue, with the warning that it was clear that they could not sign any papers or do business with anyone, without the town's approval. "We all have to defend the land, why should we fight among ourselves. The day we lose the ejido, we'll no longer have anyone to fight with. That is why the entire town has to reject the foreigners' tourism project," says the young Otomi' who studies at UNAM.

In the end, the assembly adjourns and the people go to look at the dam in order to verify whether it is true, as has been said, that it is beginning to fill again. Looking at the spume of water that is growing and increasing in level, everyone turns around to look at each other and smile proudly, certain that, this time, the men and women of Acazulco have opposed the business plans of those who coveted their land in order to turn it into a business.

The stone, also smiling, once again becomes cloud and remembers what a lady, of more than 60 years, had said, proud of having said it in Otomi': "In the lands of our ancestors who defended it with their blood, we must know how to safeguard the land we inherited. That is why we are not going to sell anything, nor are we going to give up."

On the subsequent days of the calendar: Montiel made public his support of the project to reorder La Marquesa as well as the fact that he would be working against those who weren't in agreement. Javier Pe~a appeared everywhere he could in order to say that he had "defended" La Marquesa, and he is a replacement candidate for the PT for the fourth district. The ejidal commissioners are trying, along with the CNC and the state government (directly with Montiel), to once again impose their project.

The cloud flies to Atlapulco. For the towns which border the Ana'huac valley, like Atlapulco, in the highest part of the Toluca valley and the Valley of Mexico, their status as tributaries of cities such as Huixquilucan, Lerma and the Federal District have raised them up in peaceful resistance for several years now, since their forests are the ones which recharge oxygen to the metropolises, while the lack of water is drying up their own lands so that it can go to large industries and luxurious vacation centers.

Atlapulco has a history worthy of being reclaimed. Up to a few years ago, it had been one of so many populations which had lost the vestiges of its indigenous past, which was unaware that its geographical position linked it with Chalma and Malinalco before the Conquest. But it so happened that, while some excavations were being done, they first found a ~ah~u glyph, and, later, the remains of a Teotihuacano temple. This immediately awoke the interest of its residents in recovering their history and claiming their origins. San Pedro Atlapulco is halfway between Toluca and DF, buried in the middle of the Oyameles forest, and the famous Valley of Silence is found in its lands. Its geographical and strategic position is unparalleled. It is called, with good reason, the "lookout," because it is situated on the highest apex of the Valley of Mexico and of the Toluca valley. Today, like many other indigenous enclaves in the state of Mexico, Atlapulco, which belongs to the munici! pality of Ocoyoacac, is embarking on resistance in defense of its territory, its history and its culture, on the banks of the largest city in the world.

So speaks Mario Flores Jua'rez, the president of the San Pedro Atlapulco communal property commission and Juan Dionicio:

"We are a community that's 45 minutes from the city (Mexico City) if you come by the toll-free road, but a half hour if you take the toll road. We're close to another large city, Toluca, whose urban band, incipient, is approaching, as is the municipality of Lerma, an industrial area which is undergoing rapid growth. On August 14, 1946, the federal government recognized and titled 7110 hectares to our community, 3800 of which are communal forest lands. The rest is settlement or lots. Our community was titled jointly with two other agrarian centers: San Miguel Almaya and Santa Mari'a Coaxusco, in the municipality of Capuluac. As a community, we act as a real curb on the growth of urban blight, but we also provide environmental services to Lerma, to Toluca, to Huixquilucan and to the Federal District, because of the forest we have. That's why it's vital for us to defend our land. That is what is driving us to publicize our situation and why it's important for the public to! understand the importance of our community. Defending the forest is a measure that was taken by the assembly. They are invaluable oyamel forests which supply or maintain the renewal of the aquifers. There are springs in these forests which supply the municipality of Huixquilucan, the municipality of Lerma, and even DF.

As a community, we are concerned about maintaining surveillance programs during low water level periods, between February and May, when fires are the order of the day. We have community brigade programs against fires. The comuneros, in prevention brigades, cut trenches against the fire. It's a communal work, which isn't recognized or remunerated. Cultural ideas are the basis for conservation, because work is implemented communally. On the other hand, once the process of urbanization begins, the kind of organization that can understand the forests, the land, the territory, and other elements that allow the community to be understood, is uprooted.

The forest, and everything that is created within it, is considered sacred by our community. The thousand year old relationship of our people with their mountains and with their waters has allowed the persistence of our culture and the conservation of the environment, and a large part of our religious activities and beliefs are tied to the forest. The destruction of our lands therefore involves the destruction of our culture."

>From Atlapulco, the cloud flies to San Pedro Tlanixco, in the municipality of Tenango del Valle. Its primary problem is water as well, since the state government awarded the Tlanixco River to the flower growers of Villa Guerrero. The ejiditarios do not want to give up. The commissioner of San Pedro stated: "We are not going to allow our community's water to be expropriated. The government granted an entire river to the flower growers of Villa Guerrero, but that water is ours. We are at the point of their exterminating us."

Further along, in Xalatlaco, the community is defending its lands, forests and water, in the face of Mercedes Benz' avarice.

This is the story that is repeated in the indigenous communities of the state of Mexico. It is the same history of expropriation, deception, corruption, repression. But resistance has now also become common history for all these towns. "For all," the cloud repeats, and, just as she found a leaflet when she entered these lands, the air is rustling another leaflet as she takes leaves of its skies:

"For everyone, everything.

Caciques and politicians from the three political parties (PRI, PAN and PRD) want to expropriate our lands from us. The defense of communal property is important for us and for the future of our children because:

1. If we conserve our lands, we will be able to continue supporting ourselves from them.

2. Our children and grandchildren will have housing with communal lands.

3. If we allow small ownership, the municipality will charge us property tax and for water use, making us poorer and expelling those who do not pay. In case you do not know, the property tax in Huixquilucan is the highest in Latin America.

4. We already know that we have never received anything from the municipality, since they deliver to the big investors. The avenues, streets and water pipes are the products of our community's work. The property tax will be one more piece of plunder for the politicians who enrich themselves with our daily work.

5. The urban expansion of multimillionaires (Bosque Real) is approaching our lands. What have the people who have sold their lands gained? Are they living in better conditions? Do they have more schools, hospitals, cultural centers? On the contrary, these programs take away our land from us, they cut down the forests, they waste huge amounts of water and condemn us to poverty. We do not even have a health center, and the few schools we do have are in very bad condition. The politicians from all the parties govern for the rich and against us. YA BASTA! We do not believe in politicians anymore, but in what we can do. Let us defend our lands and our community!"

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January of 2003.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
Translated by irlandesa 

To the Chiapas and the Zapatista rebellion page