Demands Submitted by the Zapatistas during the Feb. '94 dialogue


March 1, 1994

To the Mexican people:
To the people and governments of the world:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the EZLN addresses itself to you with respect and honor to make known to you the list of demands presented at the dialogue table during the days of peace and reconciliation in Chiapas.

"We do not ask for charity or gifts. We ask for the right to live in dignity, with equality and justice like our ancient parents and grandparents."

To the People of Mexico:

The Indigenous people of the state of Chiapas, who have risen up in arms as the Zapatista National Liberation Army against misery and the evil government, present the causes of their struggle and their principal demands:

The reasons and causes of our armed movement are that the government has failed to find solutions to the following problems:

First: The hunger, misery and marginalization from which we have always suffered.

Second: The complete lack of land on which to work in order to survive.

Third: Repression, displacement, imprisonment, torture and murder as the government's response to the just demands of our people.

Fourth: The unbearable injustices and violations of our human rights as impoverished Indigenous people and campesinos.

Fifth: The brutal exploitation we suffer in selling our products, in our workday, and in the buying of merchandise of basic necessity.

Sixth: The lack of indispensable services for the majority of the Indigenous population.

Seventh: The government's lies, deceit, promises and intrusion that have lasted over 60 years. The lack of liberty and democracy to decide our destinies.

Eighth: Constitutional laws have not been followed by those who govern this country; instead they make us, the Indigenous people and campesinos, pay for even the smallest mistake. They lay upon us the weight of a law that we did not make, and those who did are the first ones to violate it.

The EZLN came to dialogue with the word of truth. The EZLN came to speak its word on the conditions that gave rise to its just war and to ask all of the Mexican people for a resolution to these political, economic and social conditions that led us to take up arms in defense of our rights and our existence.

Therefore, we demand...

First: We demand that free and democratic elections be convened with equal rights and obligations for all political organizations that struggle for power, with true freedom to choose one proposal or another, and respect for the will of the majority. Democracy is a fundamental right of all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Without democracy there can be no freedom, justice or dignity. And without dignity there is nothing.

Second: To ensure that there are truly free and democratic elections, it is necessary for the head of the federal executive and occupants of state executive offices who reached their positions of power through electoral fraud, to resign. Their legitimacy does not come from the respect for the will of the majority, but rather from its usurpation. Consequently, the formation of a transitional government is necessary so that there may be equality and respect for all political currents. The federal and state legislative powers, elected freely and democratically, should assume their true function of passing fair laws for all and ensuring their enforcement.

Another way to guarantee the realization of free and truly democratic elections is to legitimize, in the nation's great laws and at a local level, the lrgitimacy of the existence and work of citizens and citizens' groups who, without party militancy, will oversee the entire electoral process, sanction its legality and results, and guarantee, as the maximum authority, the legitimacy of the entire electoral process.

Third: The recognition of the Zapatista National Liberation Army as a belligerent force, and of its troops as authentic combatants and the application of all international treaties regulating armed conflicts.

Fourth: A new pact between Mexican Federation members to do away with centralism and allow regions, Indigenous communities, and townships to govern themselves with political, economic and cultural autonomy.

Fifth: General elections for the whole state of Chiapas and the legal recognition of all the political forces in the state.

Sixth: As a producer of electricity and petroleum, the state of Chiapas pays tribute to the nation and receives nothing in return. Our communities have no electric energy and the economic bleeding, a product of oil exports and internal sale, brings no benefits to the Chiapaneco people. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that all Chiapaneco communities receive electric energy and that a percentage of the income earned from the commercialization of Chiapaneco petroleum be applied to industrial, agricultural, commercial and social infrastructure projects for the benefit of all Chiapanecos.

Seventh: The revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed with Canada and the United States, since its present form it does not take into account the Indigenous population, and it sentences them to death because it does not include any labor qualifications whatsoever.

Eighth: Article 27 of the Magna Carta [a reference to the Mexican Constitution] should respect the original spirit of Emiliano Zapata: Land is for the Indigenous people and campesinos who work it, not for latifundistas. We want the large tracts of land that are in the hands of ranchers, national and foreign wealthy land-owners, and other people who occupy a lot of land and are not campesinos, to be passed over to the hands of the people who have absolutely no land, as it is set out in our Revolutionary Agrarian Law. The redistribution of lands should include agricultural machinery, fertilizers, insecticides, credits, technical assistance, improved seeds, cattle, and fair prices for our products such as coffee, corn and beans. The land that is redistributed should be of good quality, and it must be accessible by roads, public transport, and have adequate irrigation systems. Campesinos who already have land also have the right to receive the support mentioned above to facilitate their work and improve production. New ejidos and communities should be formed. The Salinista reform to Article 27 of the Constitution should be annulled and the right to the land should be put back into our Magna Carta.

Ninth: We want hospitals to be built in all of the municipal seats, and that they have specialized doctors and sufficient medicine to attend to all patients, and rural clinics in the ejidos and communities, with training and fair salaries for health representatives. Already-existing hospitals in the area should be rehabilitated as soon as possible and have complete surgical services. Clinics should be built in large communities, which have sufficient doctors and medicine to more closely attend to the needs of the people.

Tenth: That Indigenous people be guaranteed the right to true information about what happens on local, regional, state, national and international levels, through an Indigenous radio station that is directed and managed by Indians.

Eleventh: We demand that housing be built in all rural communities in Mexico and be provided with all necessary services, such as: light, potable water, roads, sewage systems, telephones, public transportation, etc. And also that they have the advantages of the city, such as televisions, stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, etc. The communities should have recreational centers for the healthy diversion of residents: sports and culture that dignify the human condition of Indians.

Twelfth: We want an end to illiteracy in Indigenous communities. For this we need better elementary and secondary schools in our communities, which have free teaching materials and teachers with university degrees who are at the service of the people and not just there to defend the interests of the wealthy. In municipal seats there should be free elementary, secondary, and preparatory schools. The government should provide uniforms, shoes, food and all study materials for free. Centrally located communities that are far away from the municipal seat of the respective townships should have boarding secondary schools. Education should be completely free, from preschool through university, and it should be available to all Mexicans regardless of race, creed, age, sex or political affiliation.

Thirteenth: That the languages of all of the ethnicities be official and that their teaching in primary, secondary and preparatory schools and at the university level be mandatory.

Fourteenth: That our rights and dignity as Indigenous peoples be respected and that our culture and tradition be recognized.

Fifteenth: We do not want to be subject to the discrimination and scorn which we, the Indians, have always suffered.

Sixteenth: As the Indigenous people that we are, we demand that we be allowed to govern ourselves autonomously, because we no longer want to be subject to the will of national and foreign powers.

Seventeenth: That justice be administered by the Indigenous communities themselves according to their customs and traditions, without intervention from illegitimate and corrupt governments.

Eighteenth: We want to always have dignified jobs with fair salaries for all workers, both in the countryside and in the cities of the Mexican Republic, so that our brothers and sisters are not forced to resort to bad things such as drug trafficking, delinquency and prostitution in order to survive. The Federal Labor Law should be applied to rural and urban workers with bonuses, loans, vacations, and the true right to strike.

Nineteenth: We demand fair prices for our products of the fields. For this we need to have free access to a market to buy and sell without being subject to the coyotes who exploit us.

Twentieth: That the plundering of the riches of our Mexico and above all Chiapas, one of the Republic's richest states, but one in which hunger and misery grow every day, cease.

Twenty-first: We want all debts, whether they be credits or loans and taxes with high interest rates, to be cancelled, as these cannot be paid back due to the poverty of the Mexican people.

Twenty-second: We want an end to hunger and malnutrition, because they alone have caused the death of thousands of our brothers and sisters both in the countryside and in the city. In every rural community there should be cooperative stores supported economically by the federal, state and municipal governments, and the prices in these stores should be fair. Moreover, there should also be transport vehicles, owned by the cooperatives, for the transport of merchandise. Moreover, the government should send free food for all children under 14 years old.

Twenty-third: We ask for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and unjustly imprisoned poor people in all the jails of Mexico and Chiapas.

Twenty-fourth: We ask that the Federal Army and Judicial and Public-Safety Police no longer enter rural zones, as they will only intimidate, evict, rob, repress and bomb campesinos who are organizing to defend their rights. Because of this, our people are tired of the presence of soldiers and Public-Safety and Judicial forces, because they are so abusive and repressive. That the Mexican government return the Pilatus planes, used to bombard our people, to the Swiss government. The refund money should be channeled to programs to improve the life of rural and urban workers. We also ask that the government of the United States of North America take back its helicopters, as they are being used to repress Mexicans.

Twenty-fifth: The Indigenous campesinos took up arms because they have nothing but their humble shacks. When the Federal Army bombarded the civilian populations, it destroyed these humble homes and all of their few belongings. For this reason we ask and demand that the federal government compensate families that have suffered material losses due to air raids and actions by federal troops. We also demand indemnity for widows and orphans of the war, both civilians and Zapatistas.

Twenty-sixth: We Indigenous campesinos want to live in peace and tranquility and want to be allowed to live according to our rights to freedom and a dignified life.

Twenty-seventh: That the penal code of the state of Chiapas be eliminated, as it does not allow us to organize, except with arms, because legal and peaceful struggles are repressed and punished.

Twenty-eighth: We ask and demand an end to the expulsion of Indians from their communities by the caciques who are supported by the state. We demand a guarantee that all expelled people may return freely and voluntarily to their lands of origin and that they be compensated for their lost goods.

Twenty-ninth: Indigenous Campesino Women's Petition

We, Indigenous campesino women, demand the immediate solution to our urgent needs, which the government has never resolved:

A: Childbirth clinics with gynecologists so that campesino women receive necessary medical attention.

B: That child care facilities be built in the communities.

C: We ask the government to send sufficient food for the children in all rural communities including: milk, cornflour, rice, corn, soy, oil, beans, cheese, eggs, sugar, soup, oats, etc.

D: That kitchens and dining halls be built for the children in the communities, which have all the necessary services.

E: We demand the construction of community corn dough mills and tortilleri'as based on the number of families in each community.

F: That they give us poultry, rabbit, sheep and pig farm projects, and also that we be provided with technical assistance and veterinarians.

G: We ask for bakery projects, which include the provision of ovens and ingredients.

H: We want artisan workshops to be built, equipped with machinery and raw materials.

I: Markets in which to sell our crafts at fair prices.

J: That schools be built where women can get technical training.

K: That there be preschools and maternal schools in rural communities, where children can play and grow in a morally and physically healthy way.

L: That as women we have sufficient transportation for the products we produce in our various projects.

Thirtieth: We demand that Patrocinio Gonza'lez Blanco Garrido, Absalo'n Castellanos Domi'nguez and Elmar Setzer M. be tried politically.

Thirty-first: We demand that the lives of all EZLN members be respected and a guarantee that there will be no penal process or any repressive action brought against any EZLN members, combatants, sympathizers or collaborators.

Thirty-second: That all organizations and commissions for the defense of human rights be independent or non-governmental, because government human rights organizations only hide the arbitrary actions of the government.

Thirty-third: That a National Commission for Peace with Justice and Dignity be formed, composed primarily of people who are not in the government or any political party. And that this National Commission for Peace with Justice and Dignity oversee the fulfillment and implementation of the accords that the EZLN and the government arrive at.

Thirty-fourth: That the humanitarian aid for the victims of the conflict be channeled through authentic representatives from Indigenous communities.

While these just demands of our people are still unresolved we are prepared and committed to continue with our struggle until we obtain our goals.

For us, the smallest of these lands, those without face or history, those who arrived with truth and fire, those of us who come from the night and the mountain, those true men and women, the dead of yesterday, today, and always...for us nothing. For everyone, everything.

Justice!
Democracy!
Freedom!

Respectfully,
From the Mexican Southeast.
CCRI-CG of the EZLN


To the Mexico page