Editors note: this article contains material excerpted from an August 2019 Communique from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, Mexico. Image by Nick Rahaim, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
August 17, 2019
We bring you our word. The same word as yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is the word of resistance and rebellion.
In October of 2016, almost three years ago, during the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress [CNI], the sister organizations of the National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN made a commitment to go on the offensive in our defense of our Territory and Mother Earth. Persecuted by the bad government, by caciques, by foreign corporations, by criminals, and by the law, and as we accumulated insults, derision, and dead, we the originary peoples (the guardians of the earth), decided to go on the offensive and circulate the words and actions of resistance and rebellion.
The appearance of this new [presidential] administration has not fooled us. We know that the real boss has no other homeland than money, and that this same boss rules in the immense majority of the world’s plantations that they call “countries.” We also know that rebellion, dignity, and rage are absolutely prohibited. Despite that, all over the world, in its most forgotten and despised corners, there are human beings who resist being devoured by this machine and who refuse to give in, give up, or sell out. These people have many colors, they carry many flags, they come dressed in many languages, and their resistance and rebellion is enormous.
The big boss and his overseers build walls, borders, and sieges to try to contain these people who they claim are bad examples. But they never achieve their goal because dignity, courage, rage, and rebellion can’t be held back or incarcerated. Even if they hide behind their walls, borders, sieges, armies, police forces, laws, and executive orders, sooner or later that rebellion will come asking for its due. On that day there will be neither forgetting nor forgiveness.
We know that our freedom will only come about through our own work as originary peoples. With the appointment of the new overseer to Mexico, the same persecution and death has continued. Within only a few months [of his administration], at least a dozen of our compañeros of the CNI-CIG who were in the struggle were murdered. Among the dead was a brother much admired by our Zapatista communities—Samir Flores Soberanes.
Samir was murdered after having been singled out by Mexico’s overseer who, despite Samir’s death, marches on with the neoliberal megaprojects that will disappear entire peoples, destroy nature, and convert the blood of our originary peoples into profits for powerful capitalists.
Because of this, in honor of our Brothers and Sisters who have died, been jailed, or are persecuted or disappeared, we decided to name the Zapatista campaign that ends today and that we are now making public: “SAMIR FLORES LIVES.” After years of silent work and despite the siege against our communities and the campaign of lies and defamation, despite military patrols, despite the presence of Mexico’s National Guard, despite the counterinsurgency campaigns that were dressed up as social programs, and despite having been despised and forgotten, we have grown and we have made ourselves stronger.
Today we present ourselves to you with new Caracoles and more autonomous Zapatista municipalities in new zones of the Mexican southeast. We will now also have Centers of Autonomous Resistance and Zapatista Rebellion. In the majority of cases, these centers will also house a caracol, a Good Government Council, and Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities in Rebellion (MAREZ). Though it took time, the five original Caracoles, as their name would imply, have reproduced themselves after 15 years of political and organizational work. Our Autonomous Municipalities and Good Government Councils also planted new seedlings and watched them grow. Now there will be 12 Caracoles, each with its Good Government Council.
This exponential growth that today allows us to move beyond the government’s attempt to encircle us is due to two things:
First and foremost, our growth is due to the political/organizational work and example set by the women, men, children and elders of the Zapatista bases of support. It is especially due to the women and youth of the EZLN. Compañeras of all ages mobilized so that they could speak with other sisters in other organizations and sisters that had no organization. Without ever abandoning their own tastes and desires, the Zapatista youth learned from the sciences and arts and through these activities transmitted their rebellion to more and more youth. The majority of these youths, especially the young women, have now taken up posts in our organization and they steep this work in their creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence. Today we can say without any shame and with much pride that the Zapatista women are out in front of us like the Pujuy bird to show us the way and keep us from losing our way, on our flanks to keep us on track, and behind us so that we will not fall behind.
The second thing that made this growth possible are government policies that destroy communities and nature, particularly those policies of the current administration which refers to itself as the “Fourth Transformation.” Communities that have traditionally supported the political parties have been hurt by the contempt, racism, and voracity of the current administration, and they have moved into either hidden or open rebellion. Those above who thought that their counter-insurgent strategy of giving out handouts would serve to divide Zapatista communities, buy off non-Zapatistas, and generate confrontations and demoralization actually provided us with the final arguments that we needed in order to convince those brothers and sisters that it is far more useful to dedicate our efforts to defending our land and nature.
The government thought, and still thinks, that what people need are cash handouts. Now, the Zapatista communities and many non-Zapatista communities, as well as our brothers and sisters in the CNI in the southeast and all over the country, have responded and are showing the government that they are wrong. We understand that the current overseer was brought up in the PRI and within its “indigenist” vision in which originary people’s deepest desire is to sell their dignity and cease to be what they are. In that vision, indigenous peoples are simply museum artifacts or colorful artisanal items through which the powerful attempt to adorn the grayness of their own hearts. That vision also explains why this administration is so set on making sure that its walls (across the Isthmus) and trains (the ones they maliciously call “Mayan”) include the ruins of a civilization as their landscape, with the added bonus that this way they can also please the tourists.
But we originary peoples are alive, rebellious, and in resistance. Meanwhile, the national overseer is trying to dress up one of his underlings, a lawyer who at one time was indigenous, so that he, as has happened throughout human history, can divide, persecute and manipulate those who were once his own people. This lawyer, who is now the head of the INPI [National Institute of Indigenous Peoples], must scrub his conscience every morning with pumice to carefully eliminate any traces of dignity. He hopes in this way to whiten his skin and take on the purpose and outlook of his real boss. His overseer congratulates him and congratulates himself because there is there nothing better for controlling a rebellious people than using one of them who has turned on his cause, who has converted himself into a puppet of the oppressor for money.
Here we are; we are Zapatistas. So that you could see us, we covered our face. So that we could have a name, we left our names behind. We risk our present so that we might have a future. So that we might live, we die. We are Zapatistas, the majority of us have indigenous Mayan roots, and we do not give up, we do not give in, and we will not sell out.
We are rebellion and resistance. We are only one of the many sledgehammers that will tear down their walls, one of the many winds that will sweep this earth, and one of the many seeds that will give birth to other worlds.
We are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
From the Mountains of Southeastern Mexico.
On Behalf of the Men, Women, Children and Elders of the Zapatistas Bases of Support
For the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
Mexico, August of 2019