EZLN communique
"to the soldiers and commanders of the Popular Revolutionary Army"

Zapatista Army of National Liberation Mexico
August 29, 1996

To: the soldiers and commanders of the Popular Revolutionary Army

From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
General Command of the EZLN

I write to you on behalf of the men, women, children and elderly of the support bases of the EZLN, of the men and women soldiers, regular and irregular of the EZLN. We have become familiar with your recent interviews and statements from your leaders through the national media. We are aware of the respectful tone you use to refer to us. We respect those who respect us. That is why we do not respect the government, because it does not respect us.

But today I write to you in reference to an issue which you point out in your declarations. Concretely I refer to your declaration that "if a wrong should arise which would make the EZLN abandon its dialogue, they would have our modest support, as they now have our respect" (La Jornada, August 27, 1996). As you have learned by now through the press, our communities have decided to suspend their participation in the dialogue which is, once again, in crisis. The reasons for this decision are delineated in a respective communique and I will not repeat them. I only want to say that we do not want your support. We do not need it, we do not seek it, we do not want it. We have our resources, modest, true, but they are ours. Until now we are happy not to owe any political organization, national or international, anything. the support which we seek and need, is that of national and international civil society, their peaceful and civic mobilizations is what we await. Of the first, weapons and soldiers, we have enough. Of the second, military actions, we have the capacity we have and this is enough! What we seek, what we need and want is that all those people without a party and organization make agreements about what they want and do not want and become organized in order to achieve it (preferably through civil and peaceful means), not to take power, but to exercise it. I know you will say this is utopian and unorthodox, but this is the way of the Zapatistas. Too bad.

Go on with your path and let us follow ours. Do not save or rescue us. No matter our fate, we want it to be ours. Do not worry about us. We will not attack you. We have not fallen into the game of the dominant power which promotes the confrontation between the "good" and the "bad" guerrilla. You are not our enemy nor will we be yours. We also do not view us as "rivals in the direction of the struggle in Mexico," among other things because we do not aspire to conduct any other struggle which is not that one for our dignity. We do not agree with any of the pejorative labels which they have given you (and which yesterday they gave to us).

To make those labels useless and inapplicable, cost us a great deal. Besides death, it cost us a great deal of work and political patience. We did not win our legitimacy with our weapons; we won it with long years of political labor with those who are now our leaders: the indigenous communities, and with the dialogue (which we have sought even at the risk of our own security, autonomy and independence) with national and international civil society. This is what I meant when I said that the EPR had to win its legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Mexico. I did not say this to deny it to you, but to point out that it is not the political leaders (even when they are guerrillas) which give legitimacy to a movement, nor the declarations of bureaucrats (and it is laughable that yesterday they ran over each other to call us "terrorists" without a social base and product of a "foreign" implantation of elements of radical university groups with a 70's ideology. Now these same people run over themselves to say that you are the "terrorists" and the ezeealen has an "authentic social base")

However, it is useful to point out and repeat, that we are different. And the difference is not what you and others have insisted upon, that you do not dialogue with the government, that you do struggle for power and that you have not declared war, while we do dialogue (attention; we do this not only with the government but in a much larger sense with national and international civic society); we do not struggle for power and we did declare war on the Federal Army (a challenge they will never forgive us). The difference is that our political proposals are diametrically different a and this is evident in the discourse and the practice of the two organizations. Thanks to your appearance, now many people can understand that what makes us different from existing political organizations are not the weapons and the ski-masks, but the political proposals. We have carved out a new and radical path. It is so new and radical that all the political currents have criticized us and look at us with boredom, including yourselves. We are uncomfortable. Too bad, this is the way of the Zapatistas.

In the moments in which I write this letter, I hear the news about your military actions and propaganda actions in Guerrero, Oaxaca and the state of Mexico. All I can say of them is that they appear to unite the element of surprise and sensation, and they have demonstrated once again, that this government constructs virtual realities around the declarations of its bureaucrats and not their actions. Nevertheless, the propaganda action in Chiapas appears useless and foolish to me in the best of circumstances, and provocative in the worst sense. This actions occurs during the end of our consultation and jeopardized the lives and liberty of the indigenous leaders who, in these days, were gathering the opinions of the communities. Did you not know we were in the midst of this process? Why carry out a propaganda action in Chiapas if you had already demonstrated your capacity to move in other parts of Mexico? Was this to prove that you also have sympathizers in the zones where the EZLN is found? Have you fallen into the trap of the "rivalries" promoted by the government? Meanwhile, the cost of that action will not be paid by your, but by the Zapatista indigenous communities (who, I will remind you, have undergone almost a thousand days resisting with their armed rebellion..and their poetry).

The federal army has increased its military pressure on the Zapatista communities and is installing itself now in garrisons in the northern part of the state. The government "argues" that it is not violating the spirit of the law for the dialogue, but that its military operations are "targeted for the EPR". Too bad, that's the way it is, we will not be dramatic1 You have declared that you do not wish to "interfere" in the dialogue of the EZLN. You have already done so and you knew it. Why do you lie saying you will not "interfere in the dialogue"? We do not deny you your actions, we only ask that you be accountable and not lie.

Finally, the remaining consequences of your operations remain to be seen. It is to be expected that they will launch a strong campaign accusing you of "terrorism", "delinquency" and the other etceteras which, I have heard, already fill the mouths of bureaucrats and corporate leaders, that the government will follow its line of "good guerrilla versus bad guerrilla" and that you will be compared to us ( a comparison which will be used to favor us and harm you). But, does anyone remember the pathetic image of Mister Zedillo on February 9th of 1995 when, with the same arguments with which he launches the offensive against you, he launched the failed military offensive which sought to assassinate us? Perhaps the bureaucrats and the media forgets that, until recently they also demanded our annihilation, and now they point out our "social base" and the "legitimacy" of our demands. We do not forget. It is to be expected as well, that the government will harden even more its position against us and will decide upon the military solution. The scenario in public opinion is almost ready and we have no illusions about the will to negotiate. In the end, it's too bad.

You struggle for power. We struggle for democracy, liberty and justice. This is not the same thing. Though you may be successful and conquer power, we will continue struggling for democracy, liberty and justice. It does not matter who is in power, the Zapatistas are and have always struggle for democracy, liberty and justice.

This is all for now. We repeat our request that you not carry out any military action in support of our cause or the situation in which we find ourselves. We are sure you will know how to understand the respect and distance we ask of you.

Vale. Health and a good barricade for what awaits you.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, August of 1996.

P.S. In one of your first appearances in the press, some of your leaders declared, that the EZLN never acknowledged the actions of your paracentral front in January of 1994. We beg you to ask us about the history of the EZLN instead of the reports of deserters, the CISEN or any other "intelligence" organism. You can see how they say many things about you and we have never attempted to construct the "history" of the EPR. Thank you.

Translated by; Cecilia Rodriguez National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice

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