The plebiscite is a form of dialogue

Mexico, August 25, 1995

To Mexican men and women:

Brothers and Sisters:

Today August 27 we Mexicans have the opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves that we can dialogue amongst ourselves without the need to humiliate one another, without having to impose unjust conditions. Today the National Plebiscite is called by the EZLN, tomorrow it will be other plebiscites and other organizations. The plebiscite is a form of dialogue. The dialogue is possible amongst those who treat one another with respect, who recognize one another. Isolated and persecuted, with thousands of indigenous people as hostages of the occupation army, reduced to the category of a group of criminals, the EZLN again offers a bridge of hope to the people of Mexico and to the peoples of the world that recognize in our struggle their own: the struggle for democracy, liberty and justice.

A great sector of the country, that which makes it a nation and in which originally lived the sovereignty, heard the Zapatista word and responded, speaking out anew, despite the government and the political parties which view with jealousy everything that to them appears as competition in their miserable fights for the pieces of power.

Something has changed...

Independent of the Zapatistas and not infrequently going beyond its proposals, new historical actors are emerging in the battered political life of Mexico. The crime made government tries to ignore a people no longer willing to keep quiet, no longer willing to tolerate more, no longer willing to let it go on, no longer willing to forget. The "Enough!" multiplied. The stupidity of the group of criminals who hide themselves behind the official shield succeeded in breaking through the encirclement that its stupidity had placed around the EZLN.

The ridiculous blow against the workers of Route 100 put the dignity of workers in the city's streets; the deafness to the democratic cries of the people of Tabasco caused the Exodus for Dignity from the southeast to unite with that of the central part of the country. The cowardly assassination of the campesinos in Guerrero, Veracruz and Hidalgo created a bridge of dark blood with the indigenous of Chiapas; the militarization of the country's capitol reminded the capitol's residents that they have the right to be citizens. The effects of an economic program imported from a foreign country (even in its language) democratized the misery and put millions of Mexicans at the same level as the indigenous of the southeast.

The government's complicity with the modern usury by suits and ties generated, as a response, a broad movement of citizens, the Barzon, which has resisted being stripped of all that it has achieved with its work and effort. The culture of impunity and deception found response in women from broad sectors who, in their own way, demanded responses from those who should give them: the head of the federal Executive. In other parts, groups of Mexican men and women found the common thing that enabled them to grow: dignity. To all these Mexicans, to all of you, we direct ourselves to ask your opinion and so that we can talk amongst ourselves. You have offered us a hand as one is offered to a brother.

This August 27th three great citizen efforts unite: that of the National Democratic Convention in the promotion of the National Plebiscite, that of the National Civic Alliance in its organization, and that of thousands of Mexicans who, without belonging to either one have participated in the preparations for this great citizenship fiesta. It is the hour of the word, and the National Plebiscite is the place to speak and to listen.

To all of you, to our brothers and sisters, we are speaking and listening.

We, the Zapatistas, have been great because all of you have given us a place in your hearts, and you have raised us up to your shoulders. From there we have been able to see farther, we saw that it wasn't the past that was the destiny that we had yearned for, that the old words had been so worn out that they damaged those people who used them. We were able to see beyond the mountains and history; we saw that the tomorrow does not have to be sterile or useless like the one that the criminals who govern our skies offer us. We saw that, amidst the political doctrines and religious beliefs, we Mexicans could make sense of the past that we had seized, and above all, construct a new relation that would allow us to have dignity, be better, be human.

We aspired to be your equals, not greater nor less. During the centuries we have been the babies of a grotesque nation. Accumulated immense wealth in a handful of traitors to the fatherland, poverty democratized amongst the millions of workers and employees in the country and the city, the indigenous not even reaching the category of citizens, of human beings.

We have talked with our history and she has told us that the struggle serves to expand itself until it reaches all Mexicans, that we should not aspire to dominate or have power, but also not subordination or slavery. Equality, say our dead. Equality in the democracy, in the justice, in the liberty. No longer the garret of the shames of the country over our bones. No more the desperation as our patrimony. No more shame as the inheritance for those who follow after us.

The government is ending its last preparations for a new military offensive. It looks to the National Plebiscite for a political direction. It views the citizen participation in the ballot boxes on August 27th as a thermometer that will indicate whether this is the moment for the traitorous blow, or whether it should postpone it for more appropriate times. The war has always been a privilege of the powerful; for the dispossessed remains only resignation, submission, a miserable life, the indigenous death. But no more. We Mexicans have found in the truth the weapon that the great armies can not conquer. Talking amongst ourselves, dialoguing, we Mexicans walk against the current. In the face of crime, the word. In the face of lies, the word. In the face of death, the word.

Brothers and sisters:

It is not much that we have done, it is true. We have found ourselves in a new country, in a country that has nothing to do with the one that the speeches of the government and the electronic media draw and color. We have found ourselves in a country willing to listen to those whom no one has listened to before, willing to give life to those who have always died in oblivion, willing to talk with those who have always been ignored, willing to include us in the "we" that is covered by the flag with the red and green sides, with the white heart, with the eagle devouring the serpent.

This country which we found on January 1, 1994 and that continues living despite the terror that they want to submit the country to is a proud thing. We are Mexicans, we have always been so. Today it is an honor to call ourselves Mexicans. One of our missions has been completed: we reminded the nation of what its roots were; the mask of a false prosperity was removed by dark hands and old steps. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We are the product of the union of the knowledge and indigenous resistance with the rebellion and courage from the generation of dignity that lit with its blood the dark night of the decades of the 60s, 70s and 80s. From this union we learned to be firm; we have learned to be Mexicans, to live struggling to be worthy of the country that covered us, and to not withhold from it any sacrifice, even including death for its liberty.

We have learned to speak and to listen, to walk without exclusions, to respect the distinct levels and thinkings, to not impose our ideas and not to decree obedience to history, but above all to recognize and correct our errors. And it is from all of you from whom we have learned all of this. All of you have taught us that we are not alone, that our truth can not be imposed as an absolute truth. That to recognize our errors does not make us less, and that to talk of our failures does not dirty our words. No few times we have talked and acted as if the truth and the right did not have any other place than ours, as if we were the possessors of the better road, as if we were the only ones and the best ones. We have hurt good people, but not out of arrogance. Learning we continue to develop and make ourselves new . We are not the same ones as those of December 1993. The EZLN is no longer only the army with a majority of its members indigenous people who rose up in arms against the supreme government. The EZLN is, now and forever, a hope. And the hope, like the heart, is on the left side of the chest.

We are now the product of all of you, of your word and of your nourishment. Today it no longer "all of you" and "we". We are the same.

We are.

>From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Subcomandante insurgente Marcos

La Jornada, August 27, 1995
(translated by Cindy Arnold, Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice)

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