"... Those who bear swords aren't the only ones who lose blood or who shine with the fleeting light of military glory. They aren't the only ones who should have a voice in designating the leaders of the government of a people who want democracy; this right to choose belongs to every citizen who has fought in the press or in the courts. It belongs to every citizen who identifies with the ideals of the Revolution and who has fought against the despotism that has ignored our laws. Tyranny isn't eliminated just by fighting on the battlefield; dictatorships and empires are also overthrown by launching cries of freedom and terrible threats against those who are executing the people... Historical events have shown us that the destruction of tyranny and the overthrow of all evil governments are the work of ideas together with the sword. It is therefore an absurdity, an aberration, an outrageous despotism to deny the people the right to elect their government. The people's sovereignty is formed by all those people in society who are conscious of their rights and who, be they civilians or armed, love freedom and justice and who work for the good of the country."--
Paulino Marti'nez, Zapatista delegate to the Revolutionary Sovereignty Convention, Aguascalientes, Mexico, on behalf of Emiliano Zapata.
October 27, 1914
To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
Brothers and Sisters:
The Zapatista National Liberation Army, on a war footing against the government since January 1, 1994, addresses itself to you in order to make known its opinion:
Mexican Brothers and Sisters:
In December, 1993, we said, "Enough!" On January 1, 1994, we called on the legislative and judicial powers to assume their constitutional responsibility and to restrain the genocidal policies that the federal executive imposes on our people. We base our constitutional right in the application of Article 39 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States:
"National sovereignty essentially and originally resides in the people. All political power emanates from the people and its purpose is to help the people. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government."
The government responded to this call with a policy of extermination and lies. The powers in Mexico ignored our just demand and permitted a massacre. However, this massacre only lasted 12 days. Another force, a force superior to any political or military power, imposed its will on the parties involved in the conflict. Civil society assumed the duty of preserving our country. It showed its disapproval of the massacre and it obliged us to dialogue with the government. We understand that the ascendancy of the political party that has been in power for so long cannot be allowed to continue. We understand that this party, a party that has kept the fruits of every Mexican's labor for itself, cannot be allowed to continue. We understand that the corruption of the presidential elections that sustains this party impedes our freedom and should not be allowed to continue. We understand that the culture of fraud is the method with which this party imposes and impedes democracy. We understand that justice only exists for the corrupt and powerful. We understand that we must construct a society in which those who lead do so with the will of the people. There is no other path.
This is understood by every honest Mexican in civil society. Only those who have based their success on the theft of the public trust, those who protect criminals and murderers by prostituting justice, those who resort to political murder and electoral fraud in order to impose their will, are opposed to our demands.
These antiquated politicians plan to roll back history and erase the cry from the national consciousness that was taken up by the country after January 1, 1994: "Enough!"
We will not permit this. Today we do not call on those weak powers in Mexico that refuse to assume their constitutional duties and which permit themselves to be controlled by the federal executive. If the legislature and the judges have no dignity, then others who do understand that they must serve the people, and not the individual, will step forward. Our call transcends the question of presidential terms or the upcoming election. Our sovereignty resides in civil society. Only the people can alter or modify our form of government. It is to them that we address this Second Declaration from the Lacandona Jungle.
First: We have respected the international conventions of warfare while we have carried out our military actions. These conventions have allowed us to be recognized as a belligerent force by national and foreign forces. We will continue to respect these conventions.
Second: We order all of our regular and irregular forces, both inside national territory and outside the country, to continue to obey the unilateral offensive cease-fire. We will continue to respect the cease-fire in order to permit civil society to organize in whatever forms they consider pertinent toward the goal of achieving a transition to democracy in our country.
Third: We condemn the threats against civilian society brought about by the militarization of the country, both in terms of personal and modern repressive equipment, during this time leading up to the federal elections. Without a doubt, the Salinas government is trying to impose its will by fraud. We will not permit this.
Fourth: We propose to all independent political parties that are suffering from intimidation and repression of political rights--the same intimidation and repression that our people have suffered for the last 65 years--that they declare themselves in favor of a government of transition toward democracy.
Fifth: We reject the manipulation and the attempts to separate our just demands from the demands of the Mexican people. We are Mexicans, and we will not put aside our demands nor our arms until we have democracy, freedom, and justice for all.
Sixth: We reiterate our disposition toward finding a political solution to the transition to democracy in Mexico. We call upon civil society to re-take the protagonist's role that it first took up in order to stop the military phase of the war. We call upon civil society to organize itself in order to direct the peaceful efforts towards democracy, freedom, and justice. Democratic change is the only alternative to war.
Seventh: We call on all honest sectors of civil society to attend a National Dialogue for Democracy, Freedom and Justice.
For this reason we say:
Brothers and Sisters:
After the start of the war in January, 1994, the organized cry of the Mexican people stopped the fighting and called for a dialogue between the contending forces. The federal government responded to the just demands of the EZLN with a series of offers that didn't touch on the essential problem: the lack of justice, freedom, and democracy in Mexican territory.
The offers with which the federal government responded to the demands of the EZLN are limited by the system of the political party in power. This system has made possible the continuation of certain sectors in the Mexican countryside that have superseded the power of the Constitution, and whose roots have maintained the party in power. It is this system of complicity that has made possible the existence and belligerence of the caciques, the omnipotent power of the ranchers and businessmen, and the spread of drug-trafficking. Just the fact that the government offered us the so-called Proposals for a Dignified Peace in Chiapas provoked tremendous agitation and an open defiance by these sectors. The single-party political system is trying to maneuver within this reduced horizon. It can't alienate these sectors without attacking itself, yet it can't leave things as they are without having to face the anger of the campesinos and Indigenous peoples. In other words, to go through with the proposals would necessarily mean the death of the state party system. By suicide or execution, the death of the current Mexican political system is a necessary precondition, although it is not sufficient, for the transition to democracy in our country. There will be no real solutions in Chiapas until the situation in Mexico as a whole is resolved.
The EZLN understands that the problem of poverty in Mexico isn't due just to a lack of resources. Our fundamental understanding and position is that whatever efforts are made will only postpone the problem if these efforts aren't made within the context of new local, regional, and national political relationships--relationships marked by democracy, freedom, and justice. The problem of power is not a question of who rules, but of who exercises power. If it is exercised by a majority of the people, the political parties will be obligated to put their proposals forward to the people instead of merely relating to each other.
Looking at the problem of power within the context of democracy, freedom, and justice will create a new political culture within the parties. A new type of political leader will be born and, without a doubt, new types of political parties will be born as well.
We aren't proposing a new world, but something preceding a new world: an antechamber looking into the new Mexico. In this sense, this revolution will not end in a new class, faction of a class, or group in power. It will end in a free and democratic space for political struggle. This free and democratic space will be born on the fetid cadaver of the state party system and the tradition of fixed presidential succession. A new political relationship will be born, a relationship based not in the confrontation of political organizations among themselves, but in the confrontation of their political proposals with different social classes. Political leadership will depend on the support of these social classes, and not on the mere exercise of power. In this new political relationship, different political proposals (socialism, capitalism, social democracy, liberalism, christian democracy, etc.) will have to convince a majority of the nation that their proposal is the best for the country. The groups in power will be watched by the people in such a way that they will be obligated to give a regular accounting of themselves, and the people will be able to decide whether they remain in power or not. The plebiscite is a regulated form of confrontation among the nation, political parties, and power, and it merits a place in the highest law of the country.
Current Mexican law is too constricting for these new political relationships between the governed and the governors. A National Democratic Convention is needed from which a provisional or transitional government can emerge, be it by the resignation of the federal executive or by an electoral route.
This National Democratic Convention and transitional government should lead to the creation of a new constitution, and, in the context of this new constitution, new elections should be held. The pain that this process will bring to the country will be less than the damage that would be caused by a civil war. The prophecy of the Southeast is valid for the entire country. We can learn from what has already occurred so that there is less pain during the birth of the new Mexico.
The EZLN has its idea of what system and proposal are best for the country. The political maturity of the EZLN as a representative of a sector of the nation is shown by the fact that it doesn't want to impose its proposal on the country. The EZLN demands what is shown by their example: the political maturity of Mexico and the right for all to decide, freely and democratically, the course that Mexico must take. Not only will a better and more-just Mexico emerge from this historic synthesis, but a new Mexico as well. This is why we are gambling our lives: so that the Mexicans of the future can inherit a country in which it isn't shameful to live...
The EZLN, in a democratic exercise without precedent in an armed organization, consulted its component bases about whether or not to sign the peace accords presented by the federal government. The Indigenous bases of the EZLN, seeing that the central demands of democracy, freedom and justice have yet to be resolved, decided against signing the government's proposal.
Under siege and under pressure from different sectors that threatened us with extermination if the peace accords weren't signed, we Zapatistas reaffirmed our commitment to achieve a peace with justice and dignity. In our struggle, the dignified struggle of our ancestors has found a home. The cry of dignity of the insurgent Vincente Guererro, "Live for the country or die for freedom," once again sounds from our throats. We cannot accept an undignified peace.
Our path sprang out of the impossibility of struggling peacefully for our elemental rights as human beings. The most valuable of these rights is the right to decide, freely and democratically, what form the government will take. Now the possibility of a peaceful change to democracy and freedom confronts a new test: the electoral process that will take place this August, 1994. There are those who are betting on the outcome of the elections and the post-election period. There are those who are predicting apathy and disillusionment. They hope to profit from the blood of those who fall in the struggles, both violent and peaceful, in the cities and in the countryside. They found their political project in the conflict they hope will come after the elections. They hope that the political demobilization will once again open the door to war. They say that they will save the country.
Others hope that the armed conflict will restart before the elections so that they can take advantage of the chaotic situation to keep themselves in power. Just as they did before, when they usurped popular will with electoral fraud, these people hope to take advantage of a pre-electoral civil war in order to prolong the agony of a dictatorship that has already lasted decades. There are others, sterile nay-sayers, who reason that war is inevitable and who are waiting to watch their enemy's cadaver float by...or their friend's cadaver. The sectarians suppose, erroneously, that just the firing of a gun will bring about the dawn that our people have waited for since night fell upon Mexican soil with the death of Villa and Zapata.
Every one of these people who steals hope supposes that behind our weapons are ambition and an agenda that will guide us to the future. They are wrong. Behind our weapons is another weapon: reason. Hope gives life to both of our weapons. We won't let them steal our hope.
The hope that came with the trigger came about at the beginning of the year. It is precisely now that the hope that comes with political mobilizations takes up the protagonist's role that belongs to it by right and reason. The flag is now in the hands of those who have names and faces, good and honest people who have the same goal that we yearn for. Our greetings to these men and women. You have our greetings and our hope that you can carry the flag to where it should be. We will be standing there waiting for you with dignity. If the flag should fall, we will be there to pick it up again...
Now is the time for hope to organize itself and to walk forward in the valleys and in the cities, as it did before in the mountains of the Southeast. Fight with your weapons; don't worry about ours. We know how to resist to the end. We know how to wait... And we know what to do if the doors through which dignity walks close once again.
This is why we address our brothersand sisters in different non-governmental organizations, in campesino and Indigenous organizations, workers in the cities and in the countryside, teachers and students, housewives and squatters, artists and intellectuals, members of independent political parties, Mexicans.
We call all of you to a national dialogue with the theme of democracy, freedom, and justice. For this reason, we put forward the following invitation to a National Democratic Convention:
We, the Zapatista National Liberation Army, fighting to achieve the democracy, freedom, and justice that our country deserves, and considering that:
One: The supreme government has usurped the legality that we inherited from the hero of the Mexican Revolution.
Two: The Constitution that exists doesn't reflect the popular will of the Mexican people.
Three: The resignation of the federal executive usurper isn't enough and that a new law is necessary for the new country that will be born from the struggles of all honest Mexicans.
Four: Every form of struggle is necessary in order to achieve the transition to democracy in Mexico.
Considering these things, we call for a sovereign and revolutionary National Democratic Convention from which will come a transitional government and a new national law, a new constitution that will guarantee the legal fulfillment of the people's will.
This sovereign revolutionary convention will be national in that all states of the federation will be represented. It will be plural in the sense that all patriotic sectors will be represented. It will be democratic in the way in which it will make decisions by national consultations.
The Convention will be presided over, freely and voluntarily, by civilians, prestigious public figures, regardless of their political affiliation, race, religion, sex, or age.
The Convention will be launched by local, state, and regional committees in every ejido, settlement, school, and factory. These committees of the Convention will be in charge of collecting the people's proposals for the new constitution and the demands to be completed by the new government that comes out of the Convention.
The convention should demand free and democratic elections and should fight for the people's will to be respected.
The Zapatista National Liberation Army will recognize the National Democratic Convention as the authentic representative of the interests of the Mexican people in their transition to democracy.
The Zapatista National Liberation Army is now to be found throughout national territory and is in a position to offer itself to the Mexican people as an army to guarantee that the people's will is carried out.
For the first meeting of the National Democratic Convention, the EZLN offers as a meeting-place a Zapatista settlement with all of the resources to be found there.
The date and place of the first session of the National Democratic Convention will be announced when it is appropriate to do so.
Mexican Brothers and Sisters:
Our struggle continues. The Zapatista flag still waves in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast and today we say: We will not surrender!
Facing the mountains we speak to our dead so that their words will guide us along the path that we must walk.
The drums sound, and in the voices from the land we hear our pain and our history.
"Everything for everyone," say our dead.
"As long as this is not true, there will be nothing for us.
"Find in your hearts the voices of those for whom we fight. Invite them to walk the dignified path of those who have no faces. Call them to resist. Let no one receive anything from those who rule. Ask them to reject the handouts from the powerful. Let all the good people in this land organize with dignity. Let them resist and not sell out.
"Don't surrender! Resist! Resist with dignity in the lands of the true men and women! Let the mountains shelter the pain of the people of this land. Don't surrender! Resist! Don't sell-out! Resist!"
Our dead spoke these words from their hearts. We have seen that the words of our dead are good, that there is truth in what they say and dignity in their counsel. For this reason we call on our brother Mexicans to resist with us. We call on the Indigenous campesinos to resist with us. We call on the workers, squatters, housewives, students, teachers, intellectuals, writers, on all those with dignity, to resist with us. The government doesn't want democracy in our land. We will accept nothing that comes from the rotting heart of the government, not a single coin nor a single dose of medication, not a single stone nor a single grain of food. We will not accept the handouts that the government offers in exchange for our dignity.
We will not take anything from the supreme government. Although they increase our pain and sorrow, although death may accompany us, although we may see others selling themselves to the hand that oppresses them, although everything may hurt and sorrow may cry out from the rocks, we will not accept anything. We will resist. We will not take anything from the government. We will resist until those who are in power exercise their power while obeying the people's will.
Brothers and Sisters:
Don't sell out. Resist with us. Don't surrender. Resist with us. Repeat along with us, "We will not surrender! We will resist!" Let these words be heard not only in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, but in the North and on the peninsulas. Let it be heard on both coasts. Let it be heard in the center of the country. Let it cry out in the valleys and in the mountains. Let it sound in the cities and in the countryside. Unite your voices, brothers. Cry out with us: "We will not surrender! We will resist!"
Let dignity break the siege and lift off of us the filthy hands with which the government is trying to strangle us. We are all under siege. They will not let democracy, freedom, and justice enter Mexican territory. Brothers, we are all under siege. We will not surrender! We will resist! We have dignity! We will not sell-out!
What good are the riches of the powerful if they aren't able to buy the most valuable thing in these lands? If the dignity of the Mexican people has no price, then what good is the power of the powerful?
- Dignity will not surrender!
- Dignity will resist!
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
-General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army
Mexico June, 1994.