The Consultation is Happening!


In the interests of helping to broaden the consultation called for by the EZLN, the "Don't Save Yourself" Civil Dialogue Committee (FZLN, Mexico City) has organized some material into a workshop outline, to be used to support the consultation process. This document is a radio script, and we ask that anyone who wants to reproduce it and use it do so, whether via radio, or just verbally, with groups.

[This text has been edited to remove the 2nd immediate repetition of each question present on the tape and original transcript]

Salutations all, from someplace in the southern part of Mexico City,

Sincerely, the "Don't Save Yourself" Civil Dialogue Committee

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The Consultation is Happening!

Support materials for the diffusion of the principles of the national consultation called for by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, to occur March 21st, 1999.

IMPORTANT WARNING!

IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN NOT TO REPRODUCE THIS MATERIAL. CONTENTS ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR THE LIFE OF THE COUNTRY. ANY FORM OF REPRODUCTION AND DIFFUSION WILL BE AUTHORIZED AND WELCOME. WE ONLY ASK THOSE WHO ARE LISTENING TO REPRODUCE IT IN ITS ENTIRETY, SINCE BREAKING IT UP INTO LITTLE BITS WILL MAKE IT UNINTELLIGIBLE AND CAUSE IT TO LOSE MEANING.

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The tape you're listening to was produced by a group of people worried about our Mexico, which is being sold and resold at the price of hunger, pain and death. We want the peace with dignity that the EZLN has been fighting for since 1994. As you already know, the EZLN has issued a new call to Civil Society, and this time they are inviting us all to consult, talk, ask, and think with all the people we can, about some topics which are basic for a dignified life in this country and in the world. In order to support us in this task, the EZLN announced that it would send two zapatistas to each municipality in the country. The consultation will occur Sunday, March 21, and those of us who want to participate will set up consultation tables in parks, markets, streets and other places where we will be able to find people who want to give their opinions. On these tables we'll have ballots with four yes-or-no questions.

The questions are very easy at first glance, but what our brothers in the EZLN want isn't just for the people to vote, but that we think about the questions, that we understand them, in order to be able explain them to other people. Through our understanding of the questions, we'll be able to remember what this struggle that started four years ago is about; we'll be able to detect more easily the lies that they're feeding us all the time by television, radio, in some schools, in the newspapers. By understanding these questions we'll be able to recognize things that are acting as obstacles to a Mexico which naturally and through its culture will be able to stay alive.

That is, in order for us, our children and grandchildren to make, enjoy and love Mexico--its land, its sea, its dreams, its problems, its mountains; in its history, beliefs, its customs; in its respect, its water, in its school, en its time, in its dawn... Understanding these questions will help us recognize things that will help us move towards that free Mexico for everyone, that Mexico in which all the worlds will fit. And another really important thing: our zapatista brothers and sisters think a lot and they understand a lot of things that sometimes pass us by. They have come to realize that we, Civil Society, are hard-pressed to keep up the work, to meet, to keep ourselves informed, to discuss, thing, and imagine things that we could do and then do them, so they're thinking that this consultation is also going to help us practice the dialogue, organization and mobilization that we need to do in order to stop the spread of this war and of the extermination process.

This tape lasts 65 minutes, but it is not meant to be listened to straight through, but rather to be used as a tool to help you and those around you reflect. So from time to time you will hear a signal like this: ( * ) . When you hear it, it means that we are going to give instructions for a guided reflection. When you hear this other signal ( ** ), it means you should shut off the tape recorder in order to work and reflect in groups. When you finish with that stage of the reflection, turn the recorder back on, and so it will go until the end of the tape. You'll know when you come to the end because we close with a song, a little bit of information, and a farewell.

Again, the signal that instructions are coming is: ( * ); the one for turning off the tape is ( ** ).

This tape also offers ideas on how to make materials to help advertise the consultation in your neighborhood, your school, your workplace, and to decorate the tables for the 21st of March. If you're thinking about making posters and signs, you'll need big pieces of paper, markers or crayons or colored pencils, scissors, tape and glue.

So, as you can see, the length of this tape depends on the group, on how you organize the time, how the people say their words, how they listen to each other. You may decide to meet several times, using different parts of the tape each time; there's no need to listen to the whole thing at a single sitting. What is necessary is to be happy, because we're working on something together, because there are a lot of us who want to be informed and to understand, because we are free to imagine a different world. It's also necessary to have paper and pencil on hand, and if the group is large, to have tape to put the papers up on the wall so everyone can see.

It is indispensable that everyone gets a chance to talk and that the people who tend to talk too much learn to be quiet, to listen, to learn from the rest, and that the people who think they don't have anything important to say or who don't know how to talk right, learn that EVERYONE can help everyone else by contributing our words. Finally, we recommend that you take breaks, about 10 minutes every hour, and that when you're all in knots, not getting anywhere, or just a few people are talking, that you stop the reflection process and sing, play a game or leave off for the next time, to really be able to take advantage of the process.

All ready? On your marks, get set, go. Let's start!

As you remember, in 1994 the EZLN declared war on the bad government of Mexico in the FIRST DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE. On papers that they put up all over San Cristobal in Chiapas, they said who they were, what the reason for their uprising was, and what they wanted. That's how we learned that there were still dignified people in Mexico who weren't going to stop fighting until they saw a more just Mexico. Many of us were in agreement with their struggle, and made it our own.

Since then, we have learned a lot: among other things we woke up from a waking sleep in which we were letting things happen without doing anything. We also learned things about the customs and dignity of our indigenous brothers and sisters and that the possibility exists to govern by obeying, as they live. For them the government isn't the system that imposes upon everyone else to do what it wants, but the reverse: whoever governs must understand what the people want and need, must consult its people and report to them, and if he or she isn't working out, the people have to get another person. People in governing roles have a job to do and must report to the entire community on whether it's being done. For them, governing is a service.

Among our indigenous zapatista brothers and sisters, it's important to know what everyone thinks and that everyone is okay, and that's the way the go about solving their problems among everyone. From them, we learned to struggle to achieve a Mexico in which to rule means to obey, and everything belongs to everyone. On Sunday, March 21st, following that model, we are going to consult all the people of Mexico to see what they think about the rights of indigenous peoples, but we are also going to learn to make better decisions, because we are men and women of Mexico, who should be deciding the destiny of the nation and seek solutions for the problems we have.

The Second, Third and Fourth Declarations of the Lacandon Jungle call on Civil Society to take the zapatista struggle into their own hands in order to fulfill the 13 demands which are not just for Chiapas, but for all of Mexico.

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(Instructions signal: * )

Get your paper and pencils ready.... OK? Together with the people around you, answer the following questions:

1. Why are indigenous peoples important to Mexico?

2. How does the bad government and its allies treat the indigenous peoples?

3. What are their main problems?

4. Are indigenous peoples different from or the same as other peoples in Mexico?

5. What did the EZLN ask for when it rose up?

Let's repeat those questions:

etc

Take 15 minutes to answer these questions. Remember that everyone has something to say, so share speaking time and listen attentively to each other. Nobody should remain silent. The answers that come from the group can be converted into a drawing that you can put up where a lot of people will see it, like a wall-newspaper. If you want to do a drawing, take another 15 minutes. When you finish, take a minute to see if you are satisfied with what you did, and then turn the tape on again. When you hear the signal, turn off the tape. When you finish answering the questions, turn it on again. Now you're going to hear the signal to turn off the tape so you can answer the questions.

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(Turn-off-tape signal ** )

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Ready? Are we all here? Did we lose anybody along the way? He probably went to the bathroom.... Can we continue?... Can everyone hear? OK, let's go on.

The indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants of the territory that today is Mexico. They are the people who, with their culture, traditions and hard work have helped to conserve nature and the culture of corn; these are the people from whom we've inherited our physical features, language and our way of experiencing the world; in their culture Mexicans have a source of dignity, courage, color, joy, sensibility and respect for people and for nature of which we are part; they are the starting point for our mestizaje and the construction of all our history. However, along with the poor and the humble, they have been and are still not just excluded from national development and economic wealth; from scientific progress; from public services, etc.; but also robbed of everything that is theirs and denied citizenship rights.

Today they are asking for the recognition of their rights to the land which is their generous mother, the land they have known how to work without killing her, making use of her goodness without abusing her. They are also asking us to realize that Mexico is made up of many races, cultures and colors, which means we are multiethnic, multicultural and a rainbow, even though some groups have taken over the government and have given us to believe that some people are worth more than others because of their race, language or color.

They also ask that when we've realized that, we learn to respect the decisions made by the indigenous peoples in order to belong, to live as a part of, modern Mexico and of the world. They, the indigenous peoples, have taught us and continue to teach us, how they recognize and respect differences in ways of living and understanding life--that is, cultural differences--how they are able to find ways for everyone to live together in peace, freedom and with justice. When we have understood this, it's not just indigenous people who will benefit, but all the rest of us who make up Mexico, and the rest of the world can learn as well. So again we can see how the struggle to achieve zapatista demands is a struggle for you, for me, for our children, for humanity.

All of this is said in the EZLN's Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. In it, they are calling on us as civil society and as political organizations, so that along with the indigenous peoples:

--We will struggle for the recognition of the indigenous peoples' right to live, that is, they call on us to struggle against the war of extermination that the bad government and its allies are waging against the indigenous peoples. It wants to do away with them.

--They call on us to struggle for the recognition of the indigenous peoples' rights to land.

--They call on us to struggle for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to be different, to have their own culture, to make their own decisions.

Also in the Fifth Declaration is a call to all the indigenous peoples to seek a more just future, in which we all fit in the country-wide mobilization, since they are the ones who founded the country and have been resisting aggressions and defending their lives, their lands and their cultures for more than 500 years. We have to grasp that the consultation on the 21st of March is a form of struggle, because it's about doing battle with lies, disinformation and forgetting.

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(Instructions signal * )

We're going to do a little exercise to try to understand what our zapatista brothers and sisters are saying when they talk about the right to be different. Cut up one of the big sheets of paper, or figure out some way for everyone to have five little pieces of paper, about 2x3 inches, or the size of a credit card.

Everyone take a couple minutes to think separately about the five most important things, besides food, to be able to live.

After a couple of minutes, write down those five things, one on each piece of paper. So each person will have five pieces of paper, and each paper will have the name of a thing on it. OK?

Then put all of them on a table or on the floor and try to put them in order, grouping together the ones which are the same or which seem very similar, and say why they should be grouped with others. Take 5 or 10 minutes to do this. While you're doing the exercise, turn off the tape and when you've finished arranging the papers and saying why they should be arranged that way, why they're different or why they're the same, turn the tape back on again.

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Can you hear me? Hello, hello, is everybody listening? Did you arrange the things you consider indispensable to live, and discuss why you grouped them that way? Now answer the following questions among yourselves:

* How many of us thought of the same things as important?

* How different were the things we thought of?

* Does it harm somebody that we have these things and not others?

* Would it be fair for somebody else to tell us to have the things that somebody else chose instead of the things that we chose? Why, or why not?

* Were we able to agree on exactly where each thing went?

* If someone who were not at this workshop came in and arranged things, would he or she do it the same way? Would his or her way of arranging things be better than ours?

Take about 5 minutes to answer the questions.

To make a poster, if you want to, we suggest that you draw a big frame. Within the frame, up above, and in letters big enough to see but leaving enough space beneath, write: TO LIVE LIKE TRUE MEN AND WOMEN WE NEED... and ask people to draw or write what they think anyplace inside the frame. Outside the frame, you could write: HURRAY FOR BEING DIFFERENT! OUR WORLD IS RICHER THAT WAY.

We'll repeat the questions:

etc

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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OK...? Are we ready? How did it go with the necessary elements for life game? Are you ready to go on? OK!

In the exercise you just did, you can see how, though we might live together, share spaces, struggles, problems, joys, each one of us is different. Each one of us sees life differently, and we value things differently. The possibility of being different means that we can change, keep following our own road, and make human existence on earth possible. If we were all the same, there wouldn't be any way to improve, to change, because we wouldn't have the opportunity to learn from each other, to learn from our different ideas and ways of being.

In the world that the bad government governs, they want everyone to think the same way, to want to drink Coca Cola, to only care about soccer and soap operas, to work just to buy more and more things, to not care what's happening to other people. They want us to be the same, not to think or dream, so that they can impose their laws on us without taking us into account. In this world today, more than ever, we need other cultures, other ways of living, thinking and wanting. Today we need diversity.

In Mexico we have an enormous wealth: many ethnicities, different indigenous peoples who can share with us their ways, their thoughts, their words. To be different, as we have seen in the Army, doesn't mean that we can't agree. That is what our indigenous brothers and sisters are telling us. They tell us: "We, the indigenous people, have been governing ourselves for more than five centuries on our own land, and during all that time the bad governments and their allies have wanted to impose their laws on us, they have taken away our land, they want to tell us how to live, how to govern ourselves. They would be better off listening to us: learn to live together like we do, learn to govern by obeying, learn to take care of mother earth."

(Pause)

In 1994, when the army went in to massacre Indians in the Chiapan jungle, many thousands of us, as a civil society, took to the streets and demanded that the army withdraw and stop the killing. Then we said that the two parties had to meet and dialogue, that is to say, to listen to each other and to speak in order to arrive at some agreements and not have to keep on using weapons. So they arrived at an agreement to set up five tables at which the two parties, the government and the EZLN, would sit down to talk about topics of interest to the country.

Well, as you all know, only one of the five tables was actually set up, and only one topic was discussed: the matter of indigenous rights and culture. At this table the zapatista word was heard, a word they formed with the help of other indigenous representatives and people from political and social organizations, people who have studied the problem a lot, and other citizens who have struggled for many years for the respect of human rights. The government sent its representatives to sit down at the table to negotiate with the zapatistas. The zapatistas, for their part, named some of their leaders, among them Comandante Ramona, Moises and David, and Subcomandante Marcos.

So we had on one side the EZLN and on the other side representatives of the federal government. To help them dialogue there were two commissions at the table: one was a commission of congressional representatives, the COCOPA or the Comision de Concordancia y Pacificacion (Commission on Agreements and Peace). The other was the CONAI, the Comision Nacional de Intermediacion (the National Mediation Commission), which had existed before, made up of people trusted by the EZLN because of their honesty and wisdom.

This table was set up in the community of San Andres Larrainzar (San Andres Sacamch'en de los Pobres), in the municipality of Ocosingo in the state of Chiapas, and the agreements reached there were called The San Andres Accords. The dialogue table at San Andres was something unprecedented in the history of Mexico. There were people from very different walks of life, and even though it was difficult, they were able to talk, to dialogue, and to establish agreements on the way in which the indigenous peoples of our country could decide how to become part of Mexico, of the modern world.

Throughout this century the image and the traditions and cultures of the indigenous peoples had been used to sell to tourists or politicians. That was their place, thrown to the side of progress, as though they were just decorations for the country. And it is from them that this proposal and demand to meet up with the country again is coming: to join with Mexico as a whole, this Mexico in which they have kept history and its traditions. A re-encounter in which our past and traditions allow us to rediscover our origins, in order to be able to build the future.

The government signed the San Andres Accords, and so did the zapatistas. Both sides made a commitment to fulfill the agreements in the interest of the nation's well-being. The government recognized that these accords strengthened a new form of living together and respect, and were the grounds for a deep reform of the state, that is, they opened up the road to make deep changes in the way the country, the Mexican nation, understands and governs itself. The federal government's commitment was to comply with the accords and also promote discussion throughout the country on writing indigenous rights into the Mexican Constitution, so that all Mexicans would have to respect them.

In order for this to take place, the commission of representatives and senators drafted a bill, which we call the COCOPA Initiative. This initiative didn't include all that had been agreed at San Andres, but it did allow for the movement towards a initial constitutional reform, and it did take into account indigenous autonomy and respect for the "uses and customs" or lifeways of the indigenous peoples. Although the EZLN still wasn't convinced, in Mexico City representatives from 52 indigenous peoples or ethnic groups met and decided that it was OK, so the EZLN accepted the COCOPA Initiative, and that the COCOPA take responsibility for making the initiative a law. The EZLN said that if the law was approved they would go on with the dialogue at the other tables with other topics, and that the EZLN could then be incorporated into civil and democratic society.

Everything was going well, until the chief of the bad government, Ernesto Zedillo, and his accomplice, the Secretary of State, backed away; they reneged, in fact, saying that the COCOPA draft was badly written, that it wasn't clear and that it was conducive to misinterpretations which presented a danger to national unity. They used the media to make people believe that the autonomy initiative meant that everyone was going to make up their own country, something which the zapatistas--for whom Mexico and its unity is the most important thing--have never said.

Then Zedillo drafted his own initiative, saying that he was just making corrections to the COCOPA's document so that it was clearer and not so easy to misinterpret, and then he sent it to Congress to be discussed and approved; but as of today Congress hasn't discussed anything, since if the bill were ever approved there would be a national conflict. Zedillo's initiative didn't just change the wording, but changed the meaning, such that the law would deny the possibility for territorial, legal and governmental autonomy; in other words, it would revert everything back to the way it is now, which would mean nothing will have been fixed.

If we think about it, Zedillo, who is the executive of the country, is making several errors: on the one hand, he's violating the Constitution, which says that it's the representatives and senators who make the laws; on the other hand, he's ignoring the agreements that were already signed, since he neither calls on the population to discuss the Accords, nor publicizes them as was agreed, and instead fills the media with propaganda and lies, in which he says that he can't accept the COCOPA Initiative for legal reasons and that he is not going to allow the country to be divided; they are also feeding us images of indigenous people who are really happy and thankful to Zedillo.

So we have three proposals for this law: the one by the EZLN, the one by the COCOPA, and the one by Zedillo. The EZLN agrees to accept the COCOPA proposal, which seeks to formalize the indigenous peoples' right to autonomy in the law--the recognition of their customs so that they, themselves make their own laws and decide how to govern themselves within their territories, and how to participate, at the same time, in federal representative bodies. This last point is very important to our brothers and sisters of the EZLN, since the indigenous peoples are parte of the states and of the Mexican federation which must obey the Constitution. Since the EZLN has accepted the COCOPA's Initiative in order to move towards agreements and end the war, the third initiative, Zedillo's, is totally out of place, since it neither reflects the word of the legislators nor that of the indigenous peoples. Once again, Zedillo is trying to impose his will on everyone else, in violation of the law.

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(Instructions signal * )

Let's pause a moment to review, because if we aren't really clear on this issue of the three initiatives and the Accords and the COCOPA and CONAI and all that, when it comes time for the consultation we're going to be all confused when people ask us.

As a group, answer the following questions, in order to make a summary. If there are a lot of you, divide up into groups of 5 or 6 people per group. The answers should be as short as possible. In general, it's easier to say things with more words instead of with less. That's why it's important to have answers that are short, but with really well-chosen words, well-arranged.

If you do divide into work groups, you might do it as a race against time: one person reading the question and the groups working to answer as quickly as possible. You can give points each time a group answers first, and does it well. If a group answers quickly, but not so well, you can give half-points. If a group gives a good answer, but with a lot of words, it loses points. The answer has to be accepted by the whole group; if there are doubts, the matter will have to be debated, and nobody gets points.

This is the second part of the material gathered by the "Don't Save Yourself" Civil Dialogue Committee, to help spread the consultation:

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There are 14 questions here, and we're going to ask them one by one, repeating each one as we go. After each question, we'll give the signal to shut off the tape, to give you time to answer. When you're done with your answer, turn the tape back on, and we'll give you the next question. OK?

Question Number One: In January, 1994, when the war started, how was it decided that the federal government and the EZLN would discuss their problems in order to arrive at agreements?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Two: Who was invited to speak? Who invited them?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Three: What is the COCOPA?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Four: What is the CONAI?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Five: What are the San Andres Accords? Why are they called that?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Six: What was agreed at San Andres?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Seven: Who signed the San Andres Accords?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Eight: What is the COCOPA Initiative?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Nine: What does the COCOPA Initiative have to do with the San Andres Accords?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Ten: How does the COCOPA Initiative benefit the indigenous peoples? How does it benefit the Mexican nation?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Eleven: Why do we say that Zedillo reneged? What did he betray?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Twelve: What did Zedillo do to sabotage the COCOPA Initiative?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the next question?

Question Number Thirteen: Is what Zedillo did legal? Why, or why not?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Ready for the last question?

Question Number Fourteen: How does Zedillo's betrayal affect the country?

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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OK. And? Was there a winner? Or it could be that we're all winners.... Can everyone hear OK? Let's go on.

Take a moment to think about how your answers turned out. If you want, you could rewind the tape back to the point right after the exercises on the things we need to survive, to listen again and check your answers. What do you think? Are we making progress? Do you need some time to rest? Yes? No?

Then let's keep going. We still need to review three things: 1) What does the Constitution say, and how do current laws treat the problem of indigenous autonomy?; 2) Exactly what is the consultation about, and how and when is it going to happen?; and 3) How can we participate in the consultation?

Let's look at what the law says. It turns out that the COCOPA Initiative fits within the current legal framework--it follows the legal rules established in the Constitution of the United States of Mexico, which was written in 1917 as a result of the Mexican Revolution. For those who don't remember, the people who met in Queretaro to draft the Mexican Constitution were popular representatives--our Constitution was made to reflect what all Mexicans thought about what they wanted for a nation.

Today's representatives and senators are the heirs of those representatives, and today they are the people who can improve or change laws--that's why they're called legislative houses, because they legislate. Legislate means making or fixing laws. Supposedly, congressional representatives and senators are citizens just like we are, and they're supposed to represent us. That's why we are supposed to have the right to vote, to decide who is going to represent us in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Even though Congress and the Senate are filled with individuals who don't represent the people, the Congressional Representatives and the Senators who were part of the COCOPA in 1994, and who signed the San Andres Accords and drafted their Initiative, were capable of listening, and of reflecting the feelings and the words of the people in their Initiative. Maybe that's why Zedillo didn't like it.

In the 1917 Constitution, that is to say the last one, which was written in 1917, are written the rights and guarantees that pertain to us as Mexicans. These rights and guarantees are about us as individuals and as a collective. So there are individual and collective rights and guarantees written into the constitution. There are some rights that we can't draw on as individuals, only as a collective. For example, Article 27 talks about land ownership, and says that there is a collective right to own the land for those who live on it and work it as a collective owner of an ejido or communal property. And of course this had to be in the Constitution, since one of the big reasons behind the Revolution was the demand for the right for those who live and work on the land to have communal property. This article was changed in 1992, during Salinas' term.

Another article that talks about a collective right is 127, which allows workers and bosses to form unions and associations in order to defend their rights and their work interests. That is, in order to struggle collectively for collective work contracts and for decent work conditions. In order to defend this right, it was established in the Constitution as a legal and valid way for people to defend themselves: free association and the right to strike.

Even though indigenous peoples are barely mentioned in the Constitution, they have, on their own accounts, maintained order, their traditions, their language and lifeways and, when all is said and done, they have done this for much longer than the rest of the nation has had its Constitution. And living in this way they have not broken the national unity, they have not committed crimes by living the way they know and want to live. However, they have lived without access to the progress that helps people improve their lives; they have been excluded from their own country.

When our zapatista brothers and sisters say Enough! and take up arms, they are saying "We are the true men and women, children of mother earth. We are part of the nation, we are Mexico, and now everyone is going to have to recognize that; we have rights that must be honored, we have a culture to live and to share. You don't want to see us, you abandon us and yet, without us, Mexico is not whole. That is why we live for our country, or die for freedom."

The rights of indigenous peoples are collective rights. If some part of the nation has maintained a communitarian life, it is the indigenous peoples, and in the Constitution there is not a place for them. Look, it's like if I told you: we're mechanics in my family, and the house and all the rules of the house are for those who want to be mechanics or are already working as mechanics...And there's a niece who likes to dance and wants to be a ballerina. And so even though they don't throw her out of the house, nobody invites her to join in either. They don't talk to her, they don't spend time with her, they don't go to see her when she dances, they only think of her when it's time to do errands or housework, and they never take her into account when it's time to make house decisions--it's as though she doesn't exist.

It's the same kind of thing with the indigenous peoples, who were not written into the Constitution. There is no place in the Constitution for their differences. As individuals they have individual guarantees, but individual guarantees don't address the problems of the indigenous peoples, because they see life as a collective first. For them collective interests come before individual interests, even though each person is respected and cared for. The way they use and enjoy the earth and natural resources is also different. They know how to live with nature, to take what they need without exhausting it, without finishing it off.

There are those who say that the indigenous people are the ones who have destroyed the forests and jungles of Mexico, and yes, they have had to plant in order not to starve, in lands very difficult to grow crops in because their good lands have been taken by people who are not indigenous. And these people who have taken over the land have deforested it to sell wood, to grow pasture to feed their cattle which is sold as beef outside of the country, or for hamburgers. They give the food for people to their cattle. Without mentioning this part of it, they then say that the indigenous peoples are incapable of governing themselves, and of using resources properly--and yet, at this point there wouldn't be any jungle or other natural resources if indigenous people hadn't been defending it all this time. They want to keep and nourish their culture, their language, their ways of life, and decide how they will go about incorporating the elements of progress that will make their life better, according to the way they think. And the only way we can be assured that their cultural unity is not broken is by them making the decisions.

That is why there is this demand for indigenous autonomy which means recognizing the peoples and the way they relate to the land and the natural environment, and that, in turn, means recognizing the collective right that they have to use and conserve their resources and their wealth. It is a demand to write this recognition of their territories and lifeways into the Constitution. And this is where the argument comes in: Zedillo and the federal government do not want these recognitions to be in the Constitution, because then a lot of companies which mine oil and uranium, and sell timber and exploit the labor of indigenous people, will not be able to keep stealing what they want.

For example: there is a project underway to build an industrial corridor, with a train that runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. This is very urgent for the United States, because their contract with Panama is running out, and they need a way to get merchandise from one ocean to the other. To do this it will be necessary to expropriate lands, fell mountains, pollute rivers, displace peoples, and many more atrocities. If the right of indigenous peoples to their land and to govern themselves is recognized, they can't be thrown off their land, the mountains cannot be felled, nor pollute the rivers with the offal from the factories, unless the indigenous councils say so. And since the government knows that the indigenous peoples defend nature, it's not in the government's best interest to accept the law of indigenous autonomy.

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(Instructions signal *)

All right, we're getting close to the end. We probably know, already, why the EZLN has issued this call for the consultation. It wants to ask if we agree or not with the proposal in the COCOPA Initiative--the one Zedillo doesn't want to accept. It also wants us to inform ourselves, to discuss among ourselves, to understand what is happening.

Now, in small groups, let's talk for about 10 minutes about the four consultation questions. To do this, each group should divide into two teams: one side is going to defend Zedillo's point of view, and the other side will take the point of view of the EZLN and the COCOPA. So you're going to say why people should answer yes or no to the questions, some of you acting like you were Zedillo, and the others acting like you were an indigenous people. If there are 16 or more people, you can break up into four groups, with each group taking one question.

Before beginning the discussion, on a big piece of paper, write the question you'll be discussing at the top. Then divide the paper into two columns. On one side write the title: What Zedillo says. On the other side: What the EZLN says. As you debate the issue, someone from the group should write down the most important things that each side says. After the 10 minutes are up, discuss within the small groups what you think, not trying to think like Zedillo or an indigenous people, but as yourselves, and write down what you think at the bottom of the paper, or on another piece of paper. When you're done, these papers can function as wall-newspapers if you add in drawings.

When you finish, gather together with the large group and turn on the tape.

We're going to repeat the instructions for this exercise. Here are the instructions:

In small groups we're going to debate the four questions on the consultation ballot, for 10 minutes. To do this, each group will divide into two parts: one side will defend Zedillo's point of view, and the other side will take the point of view of the EZLN and the COCOPA--each side saying why people should answer yes or no to each question, with one side acting like Zedillo and the other side acting like an indigenous people. In this part of the exercise it's important to try to think and talk as if you were the EZLN or Zedillo, to be able to understand a little better how each one thinks and talks. If there are 16 or more people in the group, you can divide up into 4 small groups, with each group taking one question.

Before starting the discussion, put up a big piece of paper, and at the top write out the consultation question you're debating. Divide the paper into two columns, and on one side put the title: What Zedillo says; on the other side put the title: What the EZLN says. As you begin to debate, have someone write down the most important parts of what each side says.

After 10 minutes, stay in the same small groups to discuss among yourselves what you think--not like Zedillo or the EZLN, but as yourselves. Write down the results at the bottom of the paper, or use another sheet. This part of the exercise is very important. None of us needs to think or talk exactly like the EZLN, nor like Zedillo, since we all have our own lives and our own words, but we can agree or disagree with some or many of the things they say and do. The important part of this exercise is that we figure out what we ourselves think, as well as what the EZLN and Zedillo and his allies think, so that we can get clearer on what we're doing and saying. The papers you fill up can work as posters, if you add drawings.

When you finish, join with the big group again, and turn on the tape.

Now we're going to say what the four questions on the consultation ballot are. Remember that you should debate each one as though you were Zedillo or the EZLN, and then as yourselves. Ready?

Question Number One: Do you agree that the indigenous peoples should be included with all their strength and wealth in the national project, and take an active part in the consolidation of a new Mexico?

Question Number Two: Do you agree that indigenous rights should be recognized in the Mexican Constitution as indicated in the San Andres Accords and the corresponding proposal of the COCOPA?

Question Number Three: Do you agree that we should achieve a true peace through dialogue, demilitarizing the country by withdrawing the soldiers to their bases as established in the Constitution and the law?

Question Number Four: Do you agree that people should organize and demand that the government rule by obeying in all aspects of national life?

OK, are we all set? You're going to hear the signal to turn off the tape so you can divide into groups and do the exercise. When you finish and then meet back with the large group, turn the tape back on. See you in a little bit.

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Hi, are we all together again? Can everyone hear? Does everybody have their big papers with the debate according to Zedillo, according to the EZLN and according to you? Okay, then you should put them up in a place where everyone can see them. Each paper refers to each one of the questions on the consultation ballots. In front of the big group, tell which question you debated, and read what you wrote. When you're finished reading the results, reflect and talk as a group on the following questions:

*Is the consultation important?

*Why is the consultation important?

*Are we necessary to make the consultation work?

*What can we do to make the consultation work better?

Again, after reading the results of the four consultation questions, reflect and talk about the following:

When you finish, turn the tape on, so we can give you some more information and a few last words. Now turn off the tape, and when you finish, turn it back on.

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(Turn off tape signal ** )

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Hello hello! Did you decide yet whether you're going to participate in the consultation? Did you figure out how to do it?

We want to tell you that the consultation will happen on the 21st of March, 1999. It's important to point out that the National Consultation is a huge effort on the part of all of those who are interested in achieving a peace with justice and dignity, so everybody--from the people in the EZLN to citizens, to social organizations, to political parties to children--everybody, everybody has something to do in the organization of the consultation. Right now we're still in the Diffusion and Promotion stage of the consultation, and the 21st of March isn't that far off, when it will be time to put tables out on the street, in the plazas, the parks, and the markets. On the tables there will be ballots, so those who want to answer the questions can pass by and answer them there. These tables will be the responsibility of the brigades who register with the EZLN. When a brigade registers, it receives more instructions on setting up its table.

Our zapatista brothers and sisters put out a call to form these brigades to spread the word and promote the consultation, and they ask that we register directly with the EZLN, by calling (01967) 82159 in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. EVERYONE can participate, it doesn't matter if we belong or not to any political or social organization; it doesn't matter whether you're panista, priista or perredista or have no party affiliation; it doesn't matter if you're catholic, muslim or have no religion. It's about working together to shape the formation of a new country. If your daily schedule prevents you from working more fully on the consultation, it doesn't matter--you can participate by putting up a poster on the corner of the house or just by smiling when someone talks about the consultation.

The main task in this Diffusion stage is to bring the petition from our zapatista brothers and sisters to every region in this country, the petition that people in all locations know about indigenous rights, that people understand that to struggle for indigenous rights is to struggle for a plural, rich and sovereign nation. It's important that we all use our imagination to figure out ways so that everyone, everywhere is talking about the country's need to understand what the indigenous people are saying. That teachers, housewives, children, elders, students, the ill, the religious, the cab drivers, the merchants and entrepreneurs, the priests and the unemployed, etc., know about the real importance of Indigenous Rights.

To go back to the topic of registering the brigades, registration is a way to better plan the second stage, which will be Territorial Organization, that is, the organization of neighborhoods, municipalities, regions and estates in order to make the consultation happen, since it is important that the people in the EZLN know in which places there are already people committed to organize and carry through the consultation. This will facilitate the mobilization of the 5, 000 men and women who will travel as zapatista delegates throughout national territory. The registration of Promotion and Diffusion Brigades is does directly, by telephone, with the EZLN. The phone number is, (01967) 82159, in San Cristobal de las Casas en Chiapas. EVERYONE can participate.

Well, we're at the end of the tape and at the beginning of the work. If we've learned anything since our zapatista brothers and sisters let us hear their word, it's that an adventure as big and as noble as this one of building the world we want takes time; at times it's painful and dry, and requires the patience that comes from faith and hope. The results are not spectacular; they are small but constant. So another thing we need to learn is to value the small achievements, because these are the ones that last. This workshop that we're finishing shows us again the truth in the saying "the flower of the word will not die," because we are dignified human beings who struggle through words for the dignity of human beings.

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Shall we sing the Zapatista Anthem?

(To the tune of Carabina Treinta Treinta)

Vamos, vamos, vamos, vamos adelante
para que salgamos en la lucha avante
porque nuestra Patria grita y necesita
de todo el esfuerzo de los zapatistas.
(Let's go, go, go go forward
so we come out all right in the struggle ahead
because our Patria cries out and needs
all the efforts of the zapatistas.)
Ya se mira el horizonte
combatiente zapatista
el camino marcara
a los que vienen atras.
Vamos, vamos, vamos...
(You can already see the horizon
zapatista combatant, the road will guide
those who come after us.
Let's go, go, go....)
Hombres, ninos y mujeres
el esfuerzo siempre haremos
campesinos, los obreros
todos juntos con el pueblo.
Vamos, vamos, vamos....
(Men, children and women,
we campesinos and workers
will always make the effort,
everybody together with the People.
Let's go, go, go...)
Ejemplares hay que ser
y seguir nuestra consigna
que vivamos por la Patria
o morir por la libertad!
Vamos, vamos, vamos...
(We have to set examples
and follow our motto
that we live for Country
or die for freedom.
Let's go, go go...)

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>From someplace in the southern part of Mexico City,
Live for Country or Die for Freedom!!
The "Don't Save Yourself" Civil Dialogue Committee Winter, 1999.

TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH BY LESLIE ANN LOPEZ
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NUEVO AMANECER PRESS-N.A.P.To know about us visit:
http://www.nap.cuhm.mx/nap0.htm  (spanish)

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