503 years later, the persecution continues

October 12, 1995

To the People of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:

Brothers and sisters:

Today we are remembering our oldest elders, those who initiated the long struggle of resistance against the arrogance of power and the violence of money. They, our ancestors, taught us that a people with pride is a people that does not surrender, that resists, that has dignity. They taught us to be proud of the color of our skin, of our language, of our culture. More than 500 years of exploitation and persecution have not been able to exterminate us. We have resisted since that time because history has been made through our blood. The noble Mexican nation rests on our bones. If they destroy us, the entire country will plummet below and begin to wander without direction or roots. A prisoner of the shadows, Mexico would negate its tomorrow by denying its yesterday.

Today we are a fundamental part of a country whose governing officials has a foreign vocation and look with disdain and repugnance at our past. For them we are a bother, an obstacle that must be eliminated silently. Their cruelty is seen today as a form of charity; death looks for paths which are not so noisy; it looks for the complicit darkness and the silence which hides. They have already tried to exterminate us. Different doctrines and many different ideas have been used to cover ethnocide with rationality.

Today, the thick mantle with which they try to cover their crime is called neoliberalism, and it represents death and misery for the original people of these lands, and for all of those of a different skin color although an indigenous heart that we call Mexicans.

Today, the conquerors continue to persecute the indigenous who are rebellious. In the supreme government today the modern invaders of our lands live. They pursue the indigenous people covered by the flag with the red five-pointed star, the flag of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation. But not only the Zapatistas: death decreed by the powerful pursues all of the indigenous Mexicans, including those of fair skin. Our brothers in Guerrero suffer the intolerance of the viceroy who is supported by the central power; our brothers in Tabasco suffer the imposition of the dirty money of drug trafficking; in Veracruz, Oaxaca, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi the blood of the dark ones is pursued by political bosses disguised as government officials; in the north our Indian brothers pay with death and poverty to the empire of drugs and crime that the bad government has constructed; in the central and western part of the country brutality and disdain walk in disguise behind the word "progress".

The servant of the powerful smiles while he negotiates overseas the price of the motherland. The arrogant one thinks that he has won and that there are no Mexicans with dignity left under our skies. He thinks that death will complete what oblivion and silence have tried to end. They offer a nation of shadows, docile and humiliated. They seek a price for that which can not be bought: Mexican dignity. Indigenous blood is nourishment for Mexican blood. The color of the skin does not define the indigenous person: dignity and the constant struggle to be better define him. Those who struggle together are brothers and sisters, regardless of the color of our skin or the language that we learned as children. What matters is the national flag, the one that acknowledges the indigenous foundation of a nation that until now has condemned them to despair. What matters is the national shield, which prevents the serpent of power from conquering. What matters is the land which sustains us in history and prevents us from abandoning ourselves. What matters is the sky that is carried on our shoulders, the sky that today hurts but that will heal our vision. Mexicans matter and not those who sell us by knocking on foreign doors.

What matters is our oldest elders who received as a gift the word and the silence in order to know themselves and to touch the heart of the other. Speaking and listening is how true men and women learn to walk. It is the word which gives form to that walk which goes inside. It is the word which is the bridge to cross to the other. Silence is what the powerful offer our pain in order to make us small. When we are silenced we remain very much alone. speaking heals the pain. speaking we accompany one another. The powerful uses the word to impose his empire of silence. We use the word to renew ourselves. The powerful use the silence to hide his crimes. We use silence to listen to one another, too touch one another, to know one another.

This is the weapon, brothers. We say, the word remains. We speak the word. We shout the word. We raise the word and with it break the silence of our people. We kill the silence, by living the word. Let us leave the powerful alone in what the lie speaks and hushes. Let us join together in the word and the silence which liberate.

Today, October 12th, 503 years ago the word and the silence of the powerful begin to die.

Today, October 12th, 503 years ago our word and our silence began to resist, to fight, to live. Today, 503 years after beginning, we remain here. There are more of us and we are better. We are of many colors and many are the languages which speak our word.

Today there is no shame in our heart because of the color of our skin or our speech.

Today we say we are Indians and we say it as though we are giants.

Today 503 years after the death which was a foreigner arrives to bring us its silence, we resist and we speak.

Today 503 years later, we live..

Long live indigenous Mexicans!


>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee
General Command
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mexico, October 1995

La Jornada, October 13, 1995

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