The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command speaks through my mouth to inform the people of Mexico, the peoples and governments of the world and the national and international press, about what has happened [today] at table of the peace talks in our state.
The Zapatista National Liberation Army has presented the list of demands for which it rose up in arms on January 1, 1994, with the Declaration from the Lacandona Jungle.
The Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation in Chiapas, Mr. Manuel Camacho Soli's, received and heard patiently and attentively our demands and the explanation [of the demands] given him by the compan~ero delegates from the Clandestine Committee.
He later presented a document in answer to our demands, or at least those that can be resolved here at the table in San Cristo'bal, because both parties are clear in our own minds that we have demands that go far beyond anything that can be settled at the San Cristo'bal table, and that must be discussed at the national level.
The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee has analyzed part of the commissioner's answer, and I say part because, please remember, our Committee is multi-ethnic, which means that we have to translate everything into the languages of the various groups it is composed of as we go along.
We can say that although there are still problems of wording, up until now our demands have received satisfactory answers in regard to the following issues: health care, education, accurate and timely information, housing, respect for the culture, the rights, the traditions, and the dignity of Indigenous peoples in Mexico. The rest of the points on our list of demands are still being studied and translated for the compan~eros on the Committee. But we have arrived at substantive agreements with the commissioner on the above points.
The Committee has asked me--has ordered me--to explain to you its position on the dialogue and on the peace.
When on January 1, 1994, war came to Ocosingo, Altamirano, Las Margaritas, Chanal, Oxchuc, Huixta'n, and San Cristo'bal de las Casas, the voice that came to declare war in these townships came from many places.
What they want you to understand, what the Zapatista Army is asking you to understand, is that just as the war was a democratic decision, so will the peace necessarily have to come out of the same democratic process. They want me to explain to you that their power to make decisions is set out for them by the democratic decision- making structure of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.
This means that neither they nor I can take any personal initiatives with regards to any agreement worked out at the table of the Dialogue for Peace. And when I say this I mean that the negotiators have to comply with the conditions laid out for them by the compan~eros so they can come to the talks: They have to obtain a satisfactory response, and they absolutely cannot make any decisions on their own.
They have to go back to their regions, they have to go back to their communities and explain to the compan~eros the proposal for the resolution of the issues that caused our action on January 1, 1994. And the communities are going to answer yes or no; the final yes or no at this dialogue table will be a majority decision.
They want you, and the country, to understand that if the war was decided upon in this democratic fashion, the peace--if it comes at all--cannot help but follow the same road, if it is to be a real peace.
So the compan~eros are asking me to explain this to you. The compan~eros who have been named as delegates have been named by four groups of Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committees, which mainly control four ethnic groups.
They are the ones who command, and they in their turn have to ask the various regions their opinions, and the regions have to ask the communities theirs, and in the communities, the men, women and children meet and decide, on the basis of the information they have, how to proceed.
Then comes the reverse process: The communities send their representatives to the regional meeting, the regional group tells that ethnic group's Clandestine Committee, and the Committee tell its delegate what the answer is. It's a somewhat complicated process, but one we consider logical--one the Zapatista National Liberation Army finds logical--and in any case, it's the one that makes us invincible.
As long as we respect the agreement and reason of our people, there will be nothing that can destroy us; if we betray them, or follow a different path, begin to make decisions without consulting them, we will have no authority over them in any case. This is what we want to explain to you, so you can get more rolls of film, or cassettes, or ask for an advance to pay for your hotel room, because this is going to take a while. It won't be as fast as you might think.
But the Committee has also asked me to make it clear that we have received serious responses to our demands, some of which, as I said, have already been approved by our delegates and now must be approved by the communities, and others which we need to review and discuss with the team of legal advisors the National Commission for Mediation has provided for us.
This is what we wanted to say to you today. Tomorrow we will continue talking to the media, because we have received many requests for interviews. So, we're fitting them into the schedule of the talks, so they can interview us.[...]
What we are asking is that you respect the pace of the talks. The compan~eros don't understand your--or other people's--hurry to see results; and I don't mean you in particular, I mean the hurry another world may be in. They are in a process of reflection, of understanding what they are being presented with, because for them something very important is at stake: Whether they live as dignified human beings or whether they go back to the same old story.
So they are taking things calmly. I don't know how long it will take because I'm their subordinate and I do what they tell me. Right now we're on the fourth part, and the rest might take many or a few days, or maybe it will be resolved in a matter of hours. But they are asking everyone to respect the pace of the peace process, just as the timing of their decision to go to war was respected.
Thanks, again. There will be no more questions.