Evaluation of the actual situation

Communique from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee- General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Mexico, August 29, 1996

To the people of Mexico:
To the people and governments of the world:
Brothers and Sisters:

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation wishes to share its evaluation of the actual situation and the results of the consultations with the Zapatista bases of support.

I. The dialogue at San Andres, failure of the government strategy of "Abandonment" and "minimization".

The "abandonment". After the first agreements of San Andres, under the theme of "Indigenous Culture and Rights" the government unfolds its strategy of lengthening the fulfillment of these agreements and complicating to the point of absurdity any measure which might have made them possible. As we Zapatistas foresaw from the beginning, papers guarantee nothing, and they do not translate into solutions for the grave situation of the indigenous communities if they are not accompanied by concrete actions. The EZLN accepted the agreements with the objective of demonstrating to indigenous communities, the Mexican national and international public opinion, that the government does not want to solve in a profound way the national indigenous situation. The government manifests a disposition to do it, but in no way is it willing to radically modify the relation between the nation and indigenous Mexicans.

Seven months later, the so-called Theme 1 of San Andres continues to be nothing, as though nothing had been discussed, as though nothing had been negotiated, as though nothing had been agreed upon. The agreements in "Indigenous Rights and Culture" have not been carried out nor has anything been done to carry them out. They are only dead paper. The Verification and Implementation Commission, fundamental base for the completion of the agreements continues to be non existent.

The government delegation can ignore this detail, they can set aside the Cocopa, and the Conia, the press can "forget" it, and civil society can refuse to give it much importance. But the indigenous communities cannot do this. The table at San Andres repeats its project of failure every time that agreements are not implemented.

The "minimization". During all the development of the so-called "Table 2 of Democracy and Justice" the government delegation based its negotiation strategy on intransigence and obstinacy. Committed to the failure of the negotiation of this theme, the government looks to reduce the table on Democracy and Justice, first to local questions, and then to abstract declarations.

While the electoral reform remains in the swamp of the leadership of registered political parties, the government uses the "ups and downs" of the dialogue at San Andres for pressuring political organizations to accept a reform which is vague and indefinite. But all it has accomplished is to defer its crisis until the arrival of the moment in which the procedural laws and specific constitutional reforms must be defined. "Very little in Bucareli and nothing in San Andres" was the slogan followed by the governmental delegation in spite of the risk of destroying the dialogue of San Andres. This occurred first through the blind, mute and deaf approach inherited from their boss, the now fugitive Carlos Salinas de Gortari, later with the lack of concrete proposals and finally with the mockery to any serious effort from the Zapatista delegation and their advisors. The government went through all this stage of negotiation under this theme with the goal of total failure. They accomplished it.

By ratifying its intransigence without even discussion any fundamental themes of the political life of the country, the government manifested its position in regards to the reform of the State; the discussion of abstractions and the reform of nothing. By ratifying its actual government delegation, the government ratified its actual politics in terms of indigenous people: omnipotence, racism and intolerance. The government insists in seeing the indigenous people as subjects to be given photographs and alms, but not as political actors.

II. The alleged Zapatistas, hostages of the terrorism of the State.

The head of the PGR, Mister Lozano Gracia, whose lack of capacity and ineptitude has resulted in the inability to find the real authors of the great crimes which have shaken the country in the last years, who is an accomplice of the great drug trafficking cartels, and accessory to the cover-up of the involvement of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in the assassinations and the theft of the public treasury, now attempts to uplift his poor image at the cost of the sentences of the alleged Zapatistas, in complicity with the Judicial Power represented by mister Jorge Luis Silva Banda, who accepted as truth confessions extracted by torture.

With the sentence to the alleged Zapatistas in Yanga, the federal government insists upon treating the EZLN as though it were a band of delinquents which is being entertained at a negotiations process at the same time that it is being hit and that terror is seeded among all those who have anything to do with Zapatismo. Contrary to the PGR and the Judicial Power, the subsecretary of Gobernacion, Mister Nunez, declares that "the government will not negotiate with delinquents and terrorists" (to argue why it does not negotiate with the EPR) but it does treat and condemn as delinquents citizens accused of being part of the EZLN, an organization with which it is negotiating.

The alleged Zapatistas are booty in dispute by the factions of power within the government. That monument to ineptitude, the PGR, uses them to remedy its shaky image; the executive branch uses them to argue its "state of legality"; the government delegation uses them to obtain advantages at the negotiations of San Andres, and the Judicial Power uses them to ratify its convenient distance from any justice whatsoever. Hostages in dispute by the factions in power seeking to subjugate the EZLN: this is what these alleged Zapatista prisoners have become.

III. The "state of legality" in Chiapas: militarization, ungovernability, repression and persecution.

In the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, the accomplice of the thief Raul Salinas de Gortari and supposed "governor" of the state, Mister Ruiz Ferro, has tried in vain to legitimize the state of siege lived by the people of Chiapas. With the singular support of the capital (which declares without hesitation that "Ruiz Ferro governs with the support of the majority of the people of Chiapas", forgetting that this man was not elected by chiapanecos but imposed by the military) Ruiz Ferro and his gang (led by Eraclio Zepeda and Uriel Jarquin) have submerged thousands of indigenous families in terror through the use of right wing paramilitary squads which paradoxically call themselves white guards.

With the clumsy aid of Mister Carlos Rojas and his failed program of "Solidarity", Mister Ruiz Ferro pretends to deceive national and international public opinion with an economic showering of aid with no further target than their own bank accounts, and that of other bureaucrats and "corrupt" leaders who have sold out their movements and their people in exchange for personal advancement and a collective deceit.

In the northern part of the state, a de facto power which has nothing to do with a "state of legality" functions. It is not a power of the federal or state government, of the military, or of the EZLN; in the northern part of Chiapas the brutality of a civil war which can no longer remain hidden governs. In its desperation to improve its poor image, the "government" of the state violate the federal law of March 11th of 1995 and illegally detains people from the Zapatista bases in the northern part of Chiapas. Imitating the cartoon which leads the PGR, Mister Ruiz Ferro orders the beating of Zapatistas and the support of white guards in order to pretend that there is law in Chiapas.

On their behalf, the real governors of Chiapas (the military) follow their plans of annihilating not only Zapatistas, but any person who rebels and has dignity in these lands of the southeast. In spite of the military actions of the EPR in other parts of the country, the amount of federal troops in the operations theater of the southeast has not diminished. On the contrary, it has increased and its technical quality has improved as has the composition of its soldiers. The Mexican political system knows that its only genuine challenge is in the mountains of the Mexican southeast. Air-transported troops, specialized in annihilation and persecution in jungle terrain have been assigned to the different points of the military deployment within the so-called "conflict zone". the air and land patrols continue and increase their duration and frequency. The land columns have incorporated tanks and heavy weaponry in their convoys. There is increasing discontent within the federal garrisons and the number of desertions within government troops has increased (as always whenever the federal army prepares an offensive action). The rumors of an imminent action against the Zapatistas are uncontrollable...as a response to the actions of the EPR. In this context, the indigenous communities are used as hostages of a negotiation which seeks the impossible; the unconditional surrender of the Zapatistas.

The appearance of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) has not been read by the government as a new and urgent call to open the spaces of political participation, to end the impunity and modify the political economy. No, the government has read the appearance of the EPR as a possibility of laying out the trap of the choice between the "good guerrilla" and the "bad guerrilla" in the negotiation with the EZLN. Awaiting the logical demarcation between the EZLN and EPR, the government expects that the Zapatistas "now" accept anything offered to them as well as expecting that they join in its campaign of attacks against the EPR. The government is mistaken. Here in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, there is not a "good guerrilla" nor a "bad guerrilla"; there are rebel citizens who have taken up arms because they have no democratic spaces of peaceful political participation and a social base tired of bonanza declarations and economic offerings and the constant reality of misery. We are different from the EPR, but we are not their opposition.

Meanwhile, the secretariat of Gobernacion, through the immigration service, the military and state authorities carry out a permanent campaign of persecution and harassment against foreigners. Men and women from all over the world come to help indigenous communities to live, while the government seeks their death. These foreigners are accused of "collaborating with the EZLN". The government ignores the fact that they do not come to help the EZLN but the indigenous communities. It ignores the law which prohibits the police investigation and any punitive actions in any matter which refers to the EZLN. It forgets that what the authorities seek is not the defense of national sovereignty but the elimination of "embarrassing" witnesses of the genocidal war it is carrying out.

At the national level the government carries out a double strategy of communication and press in terms of the Zapatistas; silence and harassment. Silence before the violent climate which exists in all Chiapanecan territory and harassment against anyone who has anything to do with Zapatismo. Now they attack members of the FZLN, the advisors to the negotiations at San Andres and foreigners. Tomorrow they will do the same to invited guests. Later to the indigenous residences. Then the background elements necessary for a full-scale war will be present.

Brothers and Sisters;

How can we continue negotiating on these terms? How can we continue a dialogue whose existence depends upon the death and denial of the liberties of the hostages in the jails and indigenous communities? What can be made of a negotiations table whose objective is the simulation and the advancement of a violent option? Should we allow the negotiations at San Andres to become a "pantomime" which the government delegation seeks?

During these days the CCRI, the supreme and indigenous leadership of the EZLN, has carried out a consultation with tens of thousands of indigenous men and women. Within it we have asked our communities about the failure of the second stage of "democracy and justice" of the negotiations at San Andres. But we have also asked them what their opinion about current events and future actions. The consultation has served so that the villages can express their disenchantment with the results of San Andres and to ratify their decision to struggle, no matter the consequences, for democracy, liberty and justice.

The Zapatista communities have expressed themselves in favor of peace, but not peace at any price. They have pronounced themselves in favor of a new peace based in respect and dignity, the peace of life, not the peace which seeks annihilation, surrender and deceit, the peace of death. "Do not accept deception, do not sell out or surrender", this is the order which the communities have given.

So being:

The communities have ordered the EZLN delegation at San Andres to suspend its participation in the sessions with the government delegation and to not attend the meeting which was to take place next September 4th without fear of the consequences of this decision, until the government commits itself to a serious political solution.

The communities have ordered the General Command of the EZLN to take the measures which are necessary to protect the CCRI and to defend the communities in case they are attacked. The communities ratify their decision to resist by fighting back if they are attacked by government forces.

Consequently, this Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation declares the following;

First. The CCRI-CG of the EZLN has suspended its participation in the dialogues at San Andres and gives notice that its delegation will not attend the session which was programmed for September 4th of 1996, nor will it attend any future sessions unless there is a serious commitment on behalf of the government.

Second. The EZLN will not continue its participation in the dialogue until conditions exist which guarantee the will of the government for an inclusive, serious and political solution.

Liberation of all the alleged Zapatistas now imprisoned and of the Zapatista support bases which have been detained in the northern part of Chiapas.

A government delegation which has the capacity to make decisions and the political will to negotiate respectfully with the Zapatista delegation.

The installation of a Verification and Implementation Commission and the implementation of the first agreements made in the table of "Indigenous Rights and Culture".

Serious and concrete proposals of agreement for the table of "democracy and justice" and a commitment to achieve agreements with this theme.

An end to the climate of military and police persecution against the indigenous people of Chiapas and the disappearance of the white guards (or a law which gives them institutional recognition and uniforms so that they cannot operate with impunity).

These are some of the minimal conditions which will help the dialogue. All these conditions exist within the legal framework and the political will which is necessary in order to achieve peace.

In summary, we demand respect and seriousness.

Third. The General Command of the EZLN has taken all the defensive actions necessary to respond to the attack which, under the pretext of the suspension of the dialogue, the actions of the EPR or any other reason, the government pretends to carry out. The EZLN will not carry out any offensive military action, but it is willing to defend by whatever means necessary the rights of the communities to a peace with dignity and justice, to a new peace.

Fourth. The EZLN thanks the members of the Cocopa and the Conai and their efforts which they have carried out until now to make the dialogue work. Unfortunately, these efforts have become useless because of the governmental hardheadedness, which insists in treating us like delinquents.

Fifth. We do not see the EPR as an enemy or a rival. nevertheless, the EZLN does not have any relationship with the EPR and the political and military logic of the EZLN responds to its internal conditions and its own demands, and not to the logic of other organizations. The EZLN warns that the government's attacks against the EPR will affect political organizers and organizations who struggle through peaceful means for democracy, liberty and justice in Mexico.

Sixth. the EZLN reminds international and national public opinion that, as part of its efforts for a new peace, thousands of Mexican citizens work through peaceful and civil means, in the construction of the FZLN. These citizens struggle for peace and their right to life, liberty and property should be respected.

Seventh. The EZLN calls upon national and international civic society to mobilize in Mexico and in the world in order that the conditions which are necessary for the continuation of the dialogue come into existence and give life to the new peace which the Zapatista communities want, need and deserve.


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
August of 1996

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

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