To the Commission of Concordance and Peace
Congress of the Union
United Mexican States
Legislators, ladies and gentlemen:
Through the national press we take note of your letter directed to us. The frivolity with which you noted our denunciation is regrettable, but it now gives us an indication of your interest and real willingness regarding the search for peace.
Since it can be seen that what interests you is learning the means through which you may communicate with us, and the place, date and time for a meeting, rather than knowing about what is really going on in these lands, I will respond to your concerns:
The absence of a mediatory body (a product of the "pointed" behavior of the Zedillo-Labastida-Orive trio) makes it impossible to define a stable and reliable channel for the exchange of official communication. In addition, the growing aggressiveness of the military towards the indigenous communities, and towards members of national civil society who approach the conflict zone, makes it enormously difficult to turn to them to exchange messages with the Cocopa. And so, while these conditions persist, our communication with the legislative commission will be through public communications, and the obverse should obtain. It has been this way up until now, and it has been shown to be effective. As long as no mediatory body exists between the parties in conflict, or no liason body between the Cocopa and the EZLN, with all the necessary guarantees and facilities for its task, public communication will be an adequate channel.
The other possibility is direct meetings between the Cocopa and a representative delegation from the CCRI-CG of the EZLN. This is impossible in the conflict zone: Rabasa, the pilot, can say what he wants, but here the military does not hear him (nor even less, obey him), and the aggressive and intimidating patrols continue. Since you announced your decision to go to La Realidad for the purpose of "bringing about a direct meeting with the zapatista leadership," the federal army has increased their patrols there, and it has increased the number and the aggressiveness of its checkpoints in the surrounding areas. According to what we have read, you intended to be in La Realidad from November 6 to 8, for the purpose of "bringing about a meeting with the EZLN," it can be expected that during those days the pretense would be put in place, and everything "would be calm and normal," but we have not been able to approach either, because the military is obstructing our movements every day now. Since October 25, and at least up until today, November 4, a column of 40 artillery vehicles is making two daily patrols around the community of La Realidad.
There is no point in lending oneself to the game of the day ("the zapatistas come up with excuses for the dialogue with the Cocopa"). That is how things are, so we have decided to meet with you at the time and the place which will allow us to attend with a high level delegation, and for which public opinion can guarantee that adequate measures will be put in place for that meeting. Responding to your request for place, date and hour for a meeting, we respond:
We agree to the meeting, and this will take place in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in two sessions: on November 20, 1998, at 6:00 PM; and on November 22, 1998, in the same place, at 6:00 PM, both meetings INDEPENDENT of the meeting between the EZLN and civil society.
The CCRI-CG of the EZLN has now increased their delegation, so that the meeting with the Cocopa will be of the high level which the situation demands. The meeting will be direct, without intermediaries.
In order for this meeting to occur, it is necessary for the Cocopa to commit itself to guaranteeing the security and wellbeing of the delegates from the zapatista command during their transfer and stay. The participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR) will be necessary for the transfer. The comandantes will be picked up on November 19, 1998, in the following locations: La Realidad, Oventic and La Garrucha. On November 23, 1998, the comandantes will return to their original locations, at the same points from which they left. We hope that, aside from the CICR personnel, legislative members of the Cocopa will offer to accompany our delegates during their arrival and departure transfers. During their stay, a security band will be necessary by the International Red Cross, in addition to that by civil society. The location for the Cocopa-EZLN meeting should be secured and prepared by the Cocopa. In addition, we are expecting all the necessary facilities for our delegation during their trip and stay.
We also ask you to build and to maintain stable security conditions which will allow direct meetings between the Cocopa and the zapatista leadership. The previous model, in which the day you arrive everything is calm, is a ridiculous farce. We will not lend ourselves to that.
>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
In the name of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous
- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos
Mexico, November of 1998
P.S. I do not know if this letter will manage to reach you before your trip to La Realidad. In any regard, it is good that you go. Even if it is only for 2 or 3 days that the military will be leaving those good people in peace, they will be welcome.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SPANISH IN MEXICO BY THE CCRI-CG OF THE EZLN TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH BY irlandesa FOR THE ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATIONNUEVO AMANECER PRESS- N.A.P.To know about us visit: http://www.nap.cuhm.mx/nap0.htm *When reproducing NAP's translations; please give credit*