Guerilla movement in Chiapas, Mexico, led by "Subcomandante Marcos." They call for an international struggle against neoliberalism; the rebellion was sparked by NAFTA in early 1994. They label their movement the "first postmodern revolution," because they claim they do not seek to seize state power, but return it to the people.


EZLN is an acronym for Ejército Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (Zapatista National Liberation Army). The EZLN, or "Zapatistas", seeks codification of the rights of indigenous people in the Mexican Constitution and wants autonomy for Mexican indigenous communities. They also support liberation struggles of indigenous groups worldwide, and are seen as an inspiration to social justice movements everywhere.
Subcommandante Marcos, while not the "leader" of the EZLN, is their official spokesperson. There is some debate as to whether "Subcommandante Marcos" is a real person, or whether that is simply the name used by the public communications group within the EZLN. Either way, public announcements are made by an individual identifying himself as "Subcommandante Marcos". As Marcos is the most visible member of the EZLN, he has, for better or worse, been raised to the status of "personality" in the public eye.

The following is a translation (by someone named irlandesa) of a speech delivered on March 11, 2001 by Subcommandante Marcos in the Zocalo, Mexico City, before a crowd of about 200,000 supporters. The Parliament building was directly behind the granstand where Marcos spoke.


Mexico City:

We have arrived.

We are here.

We are the National Indigenous Congress and Zapatistas who are, together, greeting you.

If the grandstand where we are is where it is, it is not by accident. It is because, from the very beginning, the government has been at our backs.

Sometimes with artillery helicopters, sometimes with paramilitaries, sometimes with bomber planes, sometimes with war tanks, sometimes with soldiers, sometimes with the police, sometimes with offers for the buying and selling of consciences, sometimes with offers for surrender, sometimes with lies, sometimes with strident statements, sometimes with forgetting, sometimes with expectant silences. Sometimes, like today, with impotent silences.

That is why the government never sees us, that is why it does not listen to us.

If they quickened their pace a bit, they might catch up with us.

They could see us then, and listen to us.

They could understand the long and firm perspective of the one who is persecuted and who, nonetheless, is not worried, because he knows that it is the steps that follow which require attention and determination.

Brother, Sister:
Indigenous, worker, campesino, teacher, student, neighbor, housewife, driver, fisherman, taxi driver, stevedore, office worker, street vendor, brother, unemployed, media worker, professional worker, religious person, homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, artist, intellectual, militant, activist, sailor, soldier, sportsman, legislator, bureaucrat, man, woman, child, young person, old one.

Brother, sister of the National Indigenous Congress, now rainbow of the best of the Indian peoples of Mexico:

We should not have been here.
(After hearing this, I'm sure that the one at my back is applauding like crazy for the first time. So I'm going to repeat it…)

We should not have been here.

The ones who should have been here are the Zapatista indigenous communities, their 7 years of struggle and resistance, their ear and their looking.

The Zapatista people. The men, children, women and old ones, support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, who are the feet that walk us, the voice that speaks us, the looking which makes us visible, the ear which makes us heard.

The ones who should have been here are the insurgent women and men, their persistent shadow, their silent strength, their memory risen.

The insurgent women and men. The women and men who make up the regular troops of the EZLN and who are guardian and heart of our peoples.

It is they who deserve to see you and to listen to you and to speak with you.

We should not have been here.
And, nonetheless, we are.

And we are next to them, the men and women who people the Indian peoples of all Mexico.

The Indian peoples, our most first, the very first inhabitants, the first talkers, the first listeners.

Those who, being first, are the last to appear and to perish...

Indigenous brother, sister.
Tenek.
We come from very far away.
Tlahuica.
We walk time.
Tlapaneco.
We walk the land.
Tojolabal.
We are the bow and the arrow.
Totonaco.
Wind walked.
Triqui.
We are the blood and the heart.
Tzeltal.
The guerrero and the guardian.
Tzotzil.
The embrace of the companero.
Wixaritari.
They assume us to be defeated.
Yaqui.
Mute.
Zapoteco.
Silenced.
Zoque.
We have much time in our hands.
Maya.
We came here to give ourselves a name.
Kumiai.
We came here to say "we are."
Mayo.
We came here to be gazed upon.
Mazahua.
Here to see ourselves being looked upon.
Mazateco.
Our name is spoken here for our journey.
Mixe.

This is what we are:
The one who flourishes amidst hills.
The one who sings.
The one who guards and nurtures the ancient word.
The one who speaks.
The one who is of maize.
The one who resides in the mountain.
The one who walks the land.
The one who shares the idea.
The true we.
The true man.
The ancestor.
The Senor of the net.
The one who respects history.
The one who is people of humble custom.
The one who speaks flowers.
The one who is rain.
The one who has knowledge to govern.
The hunter of arrows.
The one who is sand.
The one who is river.
The one who is desert.
The one who is the sea.
The different one.
The one who is person.
The swift walker.
The one who is good.
The one who is mountain.
The one who is painted in color.
The one who speaks right word.
The one who has three hearts.
The one who is father and older brother.
The one who walks the night.
The one who works.
The man who is man.
The one who walks from the clouds.
The one who has word.
The one who shares the blood and the idea.
The son of the sun.
The one who goes from one side to the other.
The one who walks the fog.
The one who is mysterious.
The one who works the word.
The one who governs in the mountain.
The one who is brother, sister.
Amuzgo.
Our name says all of this.
Cora.
And it says more.
Cuicateco.
But it is hardly heard.
Chinanteco.
Another name covers our name.
Chocholteco.
We came here to be ourselves with those we are.
Chol.
We are the mirror for seeing ourselves and for being ourselves.
Chontal.
We, those who are the color of the earth.
Guariji'o.
Here, no longer shame for the color of our skin.
Huasteco.
Language.
Huave.
Clothing.
Kikapu'.
Dance.
Kukapa'.
Song.
Mame.
Size.
Matlatzinca.
History.
Mixteco.
Here, no longer embarrassment.
Nahuatl.
Here the pride of our being the color we are of the color of the earth.
Nahnu.
Here the dignity which is seeing ourselves being seen being the color of the earth which we are.
O'Odham.
Here the voice which births us and inspires us.
Pame.
Here, the silence no longer.
Popoluca.
Here the shout.
Purepecha.
Here, the place that was concealed.
Rara'muri.
Here the dark light, the time and the feeling.

Indigenous and Non-indigenous Brother, Sister:

We are mirror.

We are here in order to see each other and to show each other, so you may look upon us, so you may look at yourself, so that the other looks in our looking.

We are here and we are a mirror.
Not reality, but merely its reflection.
Not light, but merely a glimmer.
Not path, but merely a few steps.
Not guide, but merely one of the many routes which lead to tomorrow.

Brother, Sister Mexico City:

When we say "we are," we are also saying "we are not" and "we shall not be."

That is why it is good for those who, up above, are money and the ones who peddle it, to take note of the word, to listen to it carefully, and to look with care at what they do not want to see.

We are not those who aspire to make themselves power and then impose the way and the word. We will not be.

We are not those who put a price on their own, or another's, dignity, and convert the struggle into a market, where politics is the business of sellers who are fighting, not about programs, but for clients. We will not be.

We are not those who are expecting pardon and handouts from the one who feigns to help, when he is, in reality, buying, and who does not pardon, but humiliates the one who, by merely existing, is a defiance and challenge and claim and demand. We will not be.

We are not those who wait, naively, for justice to come from above, when it only comes from below. The liberty which can only be achieved with everyone. The democracy which is all the floors and is fought for all the time. We will not be.

We are not the passing fashion which, made ballad, is filed in the calendar of defeats which this country flaunts with such nostalgia. We will not be.

We are not the cunning calculation which falsifies the word and conceals a new fakery within it. We are not the simulated peace longing for eternal war. We are not those who say "three," and then "two" or "four" or "all" or "nothing." We will not be.

We are, and we shall be, one more in the March.

Of Indigenous Dignity.

Of the Color of the Earth.

That which unveils and reveals the many Mexicos which are hidden and suffer under Mexico.

We are not their spokesperson.
We are one voice among all those voices.
An echo which dignity repeats among all the voices.
We join with them, we are made multiple with them.
We will continue to be echo. We are, and we shall be, voice.
We are reflection and shout.
We shall always be.
We can be with or without face, armed with fire or without, but we are Zapatistas, we are and we shall always be.

Ninety years ago the powerful asked those from below which Zapata was called:

"With whose permission, Sen~ores?"

And those from below responded, and we respond:

"With ours."

And with our permission, for exactly 90 years, we have been shouting, and they call us "rebels."

And today we are repeating: we are rebels.

Rebels we shall be.

But we want to be so with everyone we are.

Without war as house and path.

Because so speaks the color of the earth: The struggle has many paths, and it has but one destiny: to be color with all the colors which clothe the earth.

Brother, Sister:

Up there they say that this is the end of a tremor. That everything will pass except their being above us.

Up there they say that you are here to watch in morbid fascination, to hear, without listening to anything. They say we are few, that we are weak. That we are nothing more than a photograph, an anecdote, a spectacle, a perishable product whose expiration date is close at hand.

Up there they say that you will leave us alone. That we shall return alone and empty to the land in which we are.

Up there they say that forgetting is defeat, and they want to wait for you to forget and to fail and to be defeated.

They know up there, but they do not want to say it: there will be no more forgetting, and defeat shall not be the crown for the color of the earth.

But they do not want to say so, because saying it is recognizing it, and recognizing it is seeing that everything has changed, and nothing will change now without everyone changed, changing.

This movement, the one of the color of the earth, is yours, and because it is yours, it is ours.

Now, and it is what they fear, there is no longer the "you" and the "we," because now we are all the color of the earth.

It is the hour for the fox and the one he serves to listen and to listen to us.

It is the hour for the fox and the one who commands him to see us.

Our word speaks one single thing.

Our looking looks at one single thing.

The constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
A dignified place for the color of the earth.

It is the hour in which this country ceases to be a disgrace, clothed only in the color of money.

It is the hour of the Indian peoples, of the color of the earth, of all the colors which we are below, and which colors we are in spite of the color of money.

We are rebels because the land is rebel if someone is selling and buying it, as if the land did not exist, as if the color we are of the earth did not exist.

Mexico City:

We are here. We are here as rebellious color of the earth which shouts:

Democracy!
Liberty!
Justice!

Mexico:

We did not come to tell you what to do, or to guide you along any path. We came in order to humbly, respectfully, ask you to help us. For you to not allow another day to dawn without this flag having an honorable place for us who are the color of the earth.

From the Zo'calo in Mexico City.
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, March of 2001.


This speech marked the end of the "Zapatour", a caravan of Zapatistas, EZLN and supporters across Mexico from Chiapas to Mexico City. They stated their intention to negotiate peacefully with the government and President Vicente Fox. One item on the agenda is the adoption of the San Andrés Accords, which were first negotiated in 1996, but subsequently ignored by the Mexican government.

The EZLN's first public appearence was in San Cristobal de las Casas in 1992 during a large celebration for 500 years of popular struggle by the indigenous against oppression. The Zapatistas marched out of the crowd in military formation armed with traditional bows and arrows and knocked down the statue of conquistador Diego de Mazariegos that was located in the central plaza.

In 1994 the EZLN captured four cities/towns in the Los Altos region of Chiapas along with several hundred ranches. The cities are San Cristobal de las Casas(named after Bartolome de las Casas), Las Margaritas, Altamirano, and Ocosingo. All of this happened within the first few hours of the New Year. The military conflict lasted only a short time (12 days) before a cease fire was signed on January 12, 1994. The conflict put a spotlight on the miserable condition of the indigenous in Chiapas, and around the world.

The indigenous of Mexico have suffered 500 years of oppression by foreign invaders. In that time they have been exploited and kicked off the land that was originally theirs. An empire has been built on the graves of these people. The oppressors have electricity, food, running water, and health care while the majority of Mexico, especially in Chiapas, die on a regular basis because of a lack of these things. 70% of the people in Chiapas are without electricity, 34% nation wide are without electricity, 67% live on or below the minimum wage, 41% live without running water , and the statistics continue. So in the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle the EZLN said "Ya Basta!"(enough is enough).

The reasons behind the EZLN's revolt were clearly defined in the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle where the Zapatistas called for: "work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace." The EZLN is comprised mostly of indigenous from Chiapas, but is a national movement ment to inspire other civil groups in Mexico.

The EZLN has its roots in the resistence groups of the 70's and 80's. Subcommandante Insurgente Marcos, the leader of the armed Zapatistas, says that he gets his orders from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command( CCRI-CG). The CCRI-CG is a council that makes decisions that is located in the towns that are the support bases of the EZLN. The EZLN recognizes that violence is not the only way to achieve their goals. "We don't see the armed struggle in the classical sense of the earlier guerillas, which is to say, the armed struggle as the only road, as a single all-powerful truth by means of which everything is held together. Since the beginning we've always seen the armed struggle as part of a series of processes or forms of struggle that will be changing. Sometimes one form is more important and sometimes another."(Marcos)

Marcos immediately gained celebrity status after the first strikes by the EZLN in the first days of 1994. He is viewed as a "Robin Hood" figure by many peasants. Marcos may have been involved in the National Liberation Forces(FLN). The Mexican government says that Marcos is an alias of Rafael Sebastian Guillen who was supposedly a college professor from Tampico. Marcos mocked this revelation but did not deny it. Marcos said: "Marcos is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a jew in Germany, a gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10:00 P.M., a peasent without land, a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a Zapatista in the mountains."

Many things have happened since New Year's day. On February 9, 1995 the Mexican federal army mounted a huge invasion into Zapatista zones of control using a strategy of civilian targeted warfare. All of this followed a report issued in January of that year by the Chase Manhattan Bank asking the Mexican government to "eliminate the Zapatistas." The Zapatistas retreated deeper into the Jungle. In April of 1995 peace talks resumed. In 1996 the Zapatistas held the first Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. Many thousand people attended this meeting. In 2001 the Zapatistas led a march from San Cristobal de las Casas to Mexico city following the route taken by Emiliano Zapata in 1914. The EZLN wanted the Mexican government (now under the leadership of Vicente Fox) to approve the San Andres Accords signed by the EZLN and the government in February of 1996. Despite the mass support for the bill it was passed with major modifications to the original form. The Zapatistas said that the law was inconsistent with the original Accords and left Mexico City to return to Zapatista controlled land in Chiapas.

Vicente Fox has been proven wrong in his promise during his campaign for presidency to end the conflict in Chiapas in "fifteen minutes."

The Zapatistas have been in silence for a good deal of time now. Many people think that the rebellion has fizzled out but these long silences have happened before. As the Fourth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle says; "The flower of the word will not die. The masked face which today has a name may die, but the word which came from the depth of history and the earth can no longer be cut by the arrogance of the powerful. We were born of the night. We live in the night. We will die in her. But the light will be tomorrow for others, for all those who today weep at the night, for those who have been denied the day, for those for whom death is a gift, for those who are denied life. The light will be for all of them. For everyone everything. For us pain and anguish, for us the joy of rebellion, for us a future denied, for us the dignity of insurrection. For us nothing." Viva EZLN!

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