The rejection of the Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas

[La Jornada, 6/12]
June 10, 1994

To the people of Mexico:
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 Zapatista National Liberation Army respectfully addresses itself to you to make known its response to the peace accord proposals presented to us by the supreme government during the Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas.

First: The Zapatista National Liberation Army, the majority of whose members are Indigenous peoples, rose up against the supreme government on January 1, 1994. The demands of the EZLN can be found in the Declaration from the Lacandona Jungle: work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, and peace. These demands are supported by the majority of the Mexican people, and the EZLN is fighting for the fulfillment of these demands for all Mexicans.

Second: After bloody fighting between our troops and government forces from the police and Federal Army, a national civil movement obligated us to stop the fighting and enter a dialogue with the supreme government. This dialogue took place in San Cristo'bal de las Casas at the end of February and beginning of March, 1994.

Third: During the dialogue, the EZLN presented a list of 34 demands whose resolution would lead to a peace with justice and dignity.

Fourth: The list of 34 demands addressed national and state concerns, some of which affected the entire population, and some of which only referred to campesinos and Indigenous peoples. The supreme government tried in vain to reduce the importance of our just struggle to local, Indigenous concerns. They even tried to reduce its importance to concerns in four townships in the southeastern state of Chiapas.

Fifth: Among the national demands that affect the entire population:

A: Free and democratic elections. These should be held with equal rights and obligations for all political forces.

B: In order to guarantee freedom and democracy, we demand the resignation of the head of the federal executive power, as well as the resignations of the illegitimate heads of the state executive powers. Upon the resignation of the president of the Republic, a transitional government should be formed that will organize free and democratic elections. We also demand the passage of legislation to guarantee the rights of citizens and groups of citizens, regardless of their party affiliation, to participate in the electoral process, as the highest political authority.

C: We demand a new federal agreement that will end centralism and permit autonomy for Indigenous communities and townships.

D: We demand a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed with Canada and the United States because the agreement doesn't correspond with Mexico's reality.

E: We demand dignified work and a just salary for all workers in the country and in the cities. We also demand that the Federal Labor Law be applied and respected for the benefit of the workers in the country and in the cities.

F: We demand an end to the looting of our national resources.

G: We demand the cancellation of all debts brought about by credit, loans, or taxes.

H: We demand solutions to the national problems of hunger and malnutrition that affect the Mexican country and cities.

I: We demand immediate and unconditional freedom for all political prisoners and poor people unjustly held prisoner in jails throughout the country.

Sixth: The supreme government avoided responding positively to these national demands of the EZLN, demands that are shared by broad sectors of the Mexican people. The events that happened after the dialogue in San Cristo'bal have shown the reason behind the EZLN's demands for democracy. The cowardly murder of Colosio, the imposed designation of Zedillo as the PRI's candidate, and the new enterprise with which the government hard-liners have been advancing, demonstrate that it would have been best for the nation if Salinas de Gortari had resigned as head of the federal executive after January 1. His keen desire to stay in power has kept our country in a permanent state of insecurity. His desire to continue his usurpation through election fraud, and now with Zedillo, has pushed our nation to the brink of civil war.

The electoral reform was incomplete. The continuing existence of a corrupt electoral process allows electronic fraud, and reinforces the usurpation of the people's will.

The reinforcement of the government's repressive apparatus, and the attempt to force the Federal Army to assume police duties, allows us to see very clearly that the goal of Salinas's group is not a transition to democracy, but to fraud.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army confirms what reality points out: There is no democratic impulse on the part of the supreme government. The state-party system must be destroyed. The EZLN reiterates the demands expressed in points one and two of the list presented in San Cristo'bal:

One: Free and democratic elections.

Two: The overthrow of the usurpers in the federal government and in the governments of the states of the Federation.

The EZLN broadens its demands:

A democratic transitional government and a new legislature are necessary. These new bodies should ensure, in law and in fact, that the fundamental demands of the Mexican people are carried out: the demands for democracy, freedom, and justice, demands that have been voiced by those without a voice, that have taken on a face in those who have no faces, and have taken on life in our deaths.

The government tried to reduce the demands for autonomy to the Indigenous communities, and thereby leave intact the centralist power structure that magnifies the power of the federal executive in a dictatorial manner. The demand for the autonomy of the townships was tossed aside. The law promised by the government to recognize the political, economic, and cultural autonomy of the Indigenous communities follows the usual line: a law that doesn't resolve the deep-rooted problems, that isn't consensed upon within the Indigenous movement, and that is to be approved undemocratically. Violating its own offer that the General Law of the Rights of the Indigenous Communities would respond to "the demands, opinions, worries, and political consensus of the Indigenous communities," and that it would be enhanced by "a group of specialists," the law merely focuses on an expedient application of Article Four of the Constitution.

To the demand for a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the government responded by continuing with an economic project that has done nothing but increase poverty in our country and deceive their foreign business partners by promising them economic stability and social peace in Mexico. The government agreed to make a "careful evaluation of the effects of NAFTA" within 90 days. This "evaluation" hasn't been carried out, but the government doesn't have to spend time or money on an "impact evaluation commission." The impacts of NAFTA can be observed in any poor household in Mexico.

As a response to the national demand for dignified work and a just salary, the government continued with its economic policies; these policies increase unemployment and underemployment and reduce workers' purchasing power. The corruption of the unions is still the base that sustains the neoliberal economic project. The demand for an end to the looting of our national resources is tossed aside, and the government's response tries to reduce it to an ecological problem. A national policy to defend our country's natural resources does not exist. To the demand for the cancellation of all debts incurred by the impoverished classes of the nation, the government responded with a promise for a study, the result of which would surely be to postpone the problem.

As with the aforementioned points, the government tried to reduce the demand for a solution to the problem of hunger and malnutrition to certain regions of Chiapas. As if hunger only affected the Indigenous peoples of the mountains and the jungle, and as if social programs could be eaten, the government promised infant nutrition programs.

They laughed at our demand for freedom for all political prisoners and for all poor people unjustly held in jails throughout the country. They promised to set up a commission that would study the cases. The unjust Mexican judicial system, a system that only favors the rich, will remain intact.

In all, the EZLN's just national demands were not in any way answered by the federal government. Therefore, the EZLN rejects points 1, 2, 4, 7, 18, 29, 21, 22, and 23 of the government's peace accord proposals.

Seventh: Among the EZLN's demands on the part of Mexican campesinos were:

A: A demand that Article 27 of the Constitution respect the original spirit of Emiliano Zapata: The land belongs to those who work it.

B: A demand for the construction of hospitals and clinics with doctors and medicines in every rural community in the country.

C: A demand for a just price for products from the countryside, an end to the current middle-man arrangement and an end to the direct exploitation of campesinos as rural workers.

D: A demand that the Army and police stop acting for the benefit of landlords and caciques in rural communities.

Eighth: The supreme government refused to answer the campesinos' national demands. The government's refusal to change Salinas's reforms to Article 27 of the Constitution, and to return the right to land to the Constitution, was repudiated by broad sectors of campesinos throughout the country. The current reforms to Article 27, the base of neoliberal policies in the countryside, should be changed. The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States should reflect Emiliano Zapata's struggle.

The government's response to our demand for hospitals, clinics, doctors, and medicines for the Mexican countryside was limited to offers that only would have affected the conflict zone. The rest of the Mexican countryside would have been forgotten.

To our demand for just prices for products from the countryside and an end to the current middle-man arrangement, the government responded by offering the services of Procampo, an agency that is only efficient at corrupting campesino leaders and buying their votes for the state party. The government's solution to the problems of Mexican campesinos, campesinos who are fighting for survival, is promises of projects.

To our demand that the police and military leave rural areas, the government responded by promising changes in the justice system. These changes would mean an increase in troops in the countryside and an increase in repressive measures. They still intend to force the Federal Army to assume police powers. The power of ranchers, backed by the economic strength of the government, is holding campesinos and Indigenous peoples hostage.

In all, the EZLN's just demands on the part of Mexican campesinos were not satisfactorily answered by the government. Some of their responses pointed to partial or local solutions. Therefore, the EZLN rejects points 8, 9, 19, and 24 of the peace accord proposals.

Ninth: Among the EZLN's demands on the part of Indigenous peoples were:

A: The right of Indigenous peoples to timely and true information by means of an independent Indigenous radio station.

B: Complete and free education for all Indigenous peoples.

C: The official status of Indigenous languages. They should be taught at all levels of education.

D: Respect for the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples.

E: An end to discrimination and racism against Indigenous peoples.

F: Cultural, political, and judicial autonomy for Indigenous peoples.

G: Respect for the Indigenous peoples' right to freedom and a dignified life.

H: Social and economic support for Indigenous women.

Tenth: The supreme government partially answered these demands on the part of Indigenous peoples.

Although the government promised Indigenous peoples their own independent radio station, their response to our demands for education was limited to offers of selective scholarships that would leave most Indigenous peoples without an education. The rest of their response to our demands was limited to promises of studies and programs. These were to be carried out in time-frames that have, for the most part, already passed.

In all, the partial responses of the government to our demands and their failure to carry out previous agreements lead us to reject points 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 27, and 29 of the peace accord proposals.

Eleventh: Among the EZLN's demands at the state level were:

A: General elections in Chiapas and legal recognition of all political forces in the state.

B: Electricity for rural Chiapas and the use of a percentage of state profits for the commercialization of oil.

C: Indemnities for victims of the war.

D: Elimination of all limitations on political movements in the Penal Code of the State of Chiapas.

E: An end to evictions and the free and voluntary return of those who have been evicted to their land, along with compensation for damages suffered.

F: Political trial of Patrocinio Gonza'lez Garrido, Absalo'n Castellanos Domi'nguez and Elmar Setzer.

Twelfth: The supreme government failed to respond satisfactorily to the EZLN's demands at a state level.

Electoral reform in Chiapas doesn't permit groups that are not parties to organize and take part in the elections. To our demand for electricity for rural Chiapas, the government responded with programs and promises. Evictions continue and those responsible are still not punished. There are only promises of economic support for Indigenous peoples in the state, and when some of these promises are carried out, it is in exchange for votes. A political trial of the three ex-governors who are responsible for forcing us to take up arms was omitted from the proposals.

In all, the government's unsatisfactory answers, and our lack of trust in the government's willingness to carry out their promises, lead us to reject points 5, 6, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30 of the peace accord proposals.

Thirteenth: Finally, the EZLN demanded its recognition as a belligerent force by the government. The Mexican people, by means of different organizations, has given us this recognition.

To our demand for recognition as a belligerent force and for the recognition of our troops as true combatants, the government responded by offering respectful and dignified treatment for all members of the EZLN. It also offered us legal registration as a political force.

The government can't even guarantee the security of those who are part of the government. We cannot hope for a respectful and dignified treatment of those who have taken up arms in a just struggle for democracy, freedom, and justice. The EZLN was formed as an army to demand respect for the will of the people. The usurping government still refuses to respect this will.

The reasons behind the birth of the EZLN still exist. The EZLN will continue its armed struggle until our demands for democracy, freedom, and justice are achieved. The EZLN agrees to follow international treaties that regulate combat and warfare. The EZLN has held true to these treaties and we will continue to do so.

The EZLN reiterates its demand that it be recognized as a belligerent force, and that its troops be recognized as true combatants. To this end, the EZLN will go to different international forums to demand this recognition from the peoples and governments of the world.

The recognition of the EZLN as a belligerent force is necessary for the dialogue process to have a firm base to develop from.

Fourteenth: The supreme government presented its peace accord proposals during the dialogue in San Cristo'bal de las Casas. The EZLN responded by explaining that it had to consult all of its members; the people who make us up are those who gave us the order to go to war and only these people can order us to make peace. After a period of time, we have finished with the consultations. This is our response to the government's proposals.

Fifteenth: Through the foregoing communique', and in light of the free and democratic vote of those who are part of the EZLN, we say NO to the supreme government's peace accord proposals. We see this as a close to the dialogue of San Cristo'bal. We reiterate our disposition to continue in search of a political solution that will lead to a peace with justice and dignity. We call on all progressive and independent sectors of society to attend a national dialogue for a peace with democracy, freedom, and justice.

We will not surrender!



From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
-General Command of the EZLN

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