The Zapatistas argued at the 20th anniversary National Indigenous Congress that resource exploitation will ultimately destroy the people.
As the iconic Subcomandante Marcos – also known as Subcomandante Galeano – made a rare appearance, the Zapatistas renewed their call Tuesday for Indigenous unity across Mexico in the face of what the movement criticizes as runaway social and environmental destruction for the benefit of a few, while the people – especially Indigenous communities – suffer the consequences.
“Today, they truly want to destroy us with the slavery of capitalism, and at the same time finish off and destroy Mother Earth and nature,” Subcomandante Moises said Tuesday on behalf of the movement during the fifth National Indigenous Congress led by the Zapatistas in San Cristobal de las Casas, in the southern state of Chiapas.
“Talking among ourselves as Indigenous peoples was and is very important, today more than ever,” continued Moises, who Subcomandante Marcos introduced as a new subcomandante in 2013. “Because capitalist destruction against Mother Earth is now extended, and that means that we will also be destroyed, because we live off her.”
The event marks 20 years since the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, also known as the EZLN or Zapatistas, first launched the National Indigenous Congress as a rallying cry in the early years after the movement emerged from the Lacandon jungle and declared war against the Mexican state. The gathering brings together Indigenous peoples from Mexico and other countries, including Colombia and Guatemala, to share experiences, discuss collective challenges, and advance their struggles through solidarity.
Subcomandante Marcos — known as Subcomandante Galeano since 2014 when he announced that “Marcos, the character, is no longer necessary,” — participated in the congress, joining working groups and roundtable discussions alongside other participants. The iconic leader’s public appearances have been less frequent since he announced the Zapatistas decided to “kill” Marcos to avoid his image overshadowing the collective voice of the movement. His new name, Galeano, is a reference to Jose Luis Solis Lopez “Galeano,” a teacher and EZLN leader killed on May 2, 2014, by a paramilitary group.
At the launch of the congress, which is scheduled to wrap up Thursday, Subcomandante Moises called for urban and rural movements to come together in the struggle for anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist alternatives.
“We the exploited need to bridge the countryside and city and build the world we want,” he said. “We believe that we need to dedicate our efforts and sacrifices to work together and organize ourselves.”
The EZLN declared war against Mexico on January 1, 1994, in conjunction with the launch of the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, known widely by its acronym NAFTA. The movement quickly launched into the international spotlight as an example for autonomous social movements around the globe. After more than two decades, the masked EZLN militants and their struggle continue to be iconic symbols of the fight for alternatives to global capitalism in all corners of the world.
Audio de las Palabras de la Comandancia General del EZLN en voz del Sub Comandante Insurgente Moisés en la inauguración del Quinto Congreso Nacional Indígena, que se realiza del 10 al 12 de octubre CIDECI, UNITIERRA, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
PALABRAS DE LA COMANDANCIA GENERAL DEL EJÉRCITO ZAPATISTA DE LIBERACIÓN NACIONAL EN LA APERTURA DEL QUINTO CONGRESO DEL CONGRESO NACIONAL INDÍGENA, en el CIDECI de San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, el 11 de octubre del 2016
EZLN and CNI delegates call to close ranks
By Isaín Mandujano
This Tuesday some 500 delegates of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN’s military commanders began the fifth national gathering where they will analyse the national political situation, because they warned that the scenario would not be any better heading into 2018. Therefore, it is urgent to close ranks and organize before the assault that comes from those who “badly govern” the country.
Called together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the CNI, indigenous people coming from all corners of Mexico arrived at the Holistic Centre for Indigenous Training-University of the Earth (Cideci, its Spanish acronym) in San Cristóbal de las Casas to analyse the national political situation through the country is experiencing and to prepare an action plan in a coordinated and articulated way.
The indigenous talked about the 2018 elections and confirmed that the path of elections is no longer the path for achieving the change that the country needs. The speakers, one-by-one, gave details of the mega-projects that threaten the original peoples in their regions.
They also warned that the future holds nothing promising for the indigenous peoples of Mexico, which is why it is urgent to achieve unity and organize in the face of the assault of the powerful who “badly govern” this country.
At the table where Subcomandante Galeano, Subcomandante Moisés, Comandante Tacho and other members of the EZLN’s General Command were sitting, the speakers talked about the need to implement an action plan to be prepared “to face what’s coming.”
Press access to the event was restricted, and participants were rigorously registered in order to access the gathering that started last Sunday and was formally inaugurated today (Tuesday, October 11).
Moisés spoke in the name of the EZLN. He remembered the context and the necessity for creating the CNI 20 years ago, with the participation of the largest number of the original peoples of Mexico.
They also honoured the now-deceased founders, among them Comandante Ramona, great father Juan Chávez, honorary insurgent major Félix Serdán, compañero Ramiro Taboada and brother Efrén Capiz.
“Talking among ourselves, the original peoples, was and is very necessary, now more than ever, because the destruction that the capitalists carry out against Mother Earth is extensive now, and that means that we will also be destroyed, because we live on her,” Moisés warned.
“Dialoguing with each other does us good, helps us understand, helps us to orient ourselves in many things about our life, but only working bears fruit, if it isn’t worked it doesn’t bear fruit, the working is with the peoples, the fruit is the peoples that work organizing each other, and fighting, strengthen each other, sacrificing, as often as needed. If we don’t do that work, who is going to do it? We know very well that nobody will come,” he added.
“Today we believe that we are here precisely for that, to see each other, listen to each other, which is what we have done, how we have done it. What we lack is what to do and how we’re going to do it; where we fail and how we’re going to correct and improve,” said Moisés.
“Now more than ever we must be united, countryside and city. Our trench for struggle, work and organization, is where we live in each town and later in each nation, in each tribe, in each barrio, as original peoples,” he emphasized.
He also called for organization and unity in each town and each barrio, in each trench, because now more than ever it’s necessary to continue the fight “like our ancestors did, Resistance and Rebellion, but now for a change that the poor of the countryside and the city truly need. We need to construct among ourselves the world we want.”
Moisés continued: “We who are exploited need to be together in the countryside and in the city and to construct the world that we want. We think that in that we ought to dedicate our efforts, our sacrifices to working and organizing, to know what to do when necessary. Now nothing is left to us other than to bind together to get ourselves, the original peoples of the countryside and of the city, organized.”
Especially, he noted, the task is to realize among the barrios, tribes, nations and original peoples that they no longer have a place to take refuge, because they are attacked in the countryside and in the city.
“Today we must lift our eyes among ourselves the exploited to organize ourselves, work and fight for the city and the countryside to be organized together. Because in truth we native peoples of the countryside and the city are witnesses to the fact that in the capitalist system there is not any good or tiny thing for a better life for the original peoples or those in the city,” said the Zapatista military commander.
Tila, Chiapas: Attempted murder of human rights defender and adherent to the Sixth denounced.
TO THE GOOD GOVERNMENT COUNCILS OF EZLN.
TO THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS.
TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH.
TO THE INDEPENDENT HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRES.
TO THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA PLATFORMS.
TO THE PERMANENT TRIBUNAL OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.
Comrades, of all genders.
United peoples for the defence of electric energy (PUDEE). Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. From the northern-jungle region, to which the municipalities of Tila, Sabanilla, Tumbalá and Salto de Agua belong. We denounce all three levels of the bad government: Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the Republic; Manuel Velasco Coello, Governor of the State of Chiapas; and Edgar Leopoldo Guttiérez Gómez, Municipal President of Tila, Chiapas.
28th of August, 2016. Events occurred constituting the attempted homicide of our comrade Manuel Martínez Pérez, of the Masoja Shucja community, municipality of Tila, Chiapas. At 11.30pm, as he slept in his home, a person and suspect, whose name we cannot presently reveal, entered through the undergrowth of his yard, opened the gate, and approached the window of the house with a shotgun, shooting towards the interior of the room where our comrade slept with his family. Leaving bullet-holes in the wall, with 11 munitions left scattered on the ground. Fortunately, nobody was wounded by a bullet. There was no electricity that day, as such it was impossible to identify the man responsible with certainty, there were just some traces indicating where the material author of this attempted homicide came from.
On two separate occasions, shots have been heard near the residence, but it was never thought that they were meant to intimidate and threaten him. Equally, when our comrade was participating in the CompArte that took place recently in Cideci, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, his familiy were at home alone, when, at midnight, shots were heard close by the residence once again. Similarly, the authorities who intend to denounce these events are being threatened. We speak out against this act and regret the events that have taken place threatening our comrades, and what might happen in the future.
What we know so far is that the events were motivated by the fact that our comrade carries out celebrations in memory of those who fell in the social conflicts of 1997. He also has meetings with the families of victims of the conflict in the lowlands of Tila. We will not let them remain unpunished for this regrettable incident. Our comrade Manuel Martínez Pérez is a community human rights defender, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, participant in different national meetings such as EZLN’s CompArte, the National Indigenous Congress, the Dignified Rage festival, the permanent Tribunal of the Originary Peoples, seminars, forums and other activities.
Brothers and sisters, we ask that you remain alert to what might happen to our comrade now. Because this is not an isolated incident; similar incidents are taking place in various communities, including organised crime, shooting of firearms, arms and drug trafficking, and the prostitution and trafficking of migrants. The municipal, state and federal police forces are turning a blind eye to this, for which we hold responsible all three levels of the Bad Governent and the political parties that have divided and harmed our orginary Ch’ol peoples. Thank you brothers and sisters.
Jolnopa Guadalupe, Tila, Chiapas, 19th of September, 2016.
UNITED PEOPLES FOR THE DEFENCE OF ELECTRIC ENERGY (PUDEE). ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE.