Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
September 6-7, 2005
To all those who are supporting the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona:
To those attending the Meeting of Persons representing themselves, families, streets, barrios, neighborhoods or communities:
Compañeros and compañeras:
As you know, owing to the fact that a good part of those attending the last preparation meeting had to depart before the presentations of all those attending were completed, we were not able to speak our words of farewell. That is why I’m sending along here some of the comments we had prepared for the end of the meeting.
Although those attending did not represent even half of those who have subscribed to the Sexta and to the “Other Campaign” as individuals and families, it could be said that their positions were representative of these compañeros and compañeras.
One part is those people who, as individuals or in groups and collectives which have disappeared, have participated directly in zapatista initiatives, from the peace circles and caravans to consultas and marches, the CND, the forums, international encuentros and projects in the indigenous communities. These compañeras and compañeros know that they have always had a place in the zapatista proposals, and now they are drawing near with the certainty of finding it again. So it shall be.
Another part are those persons, mostly young people, who have been recently approaching neozapatismo with a bit of skepticism and a lot of mistrust, since their contacts with political organizations have not been happy ones. They have approached because their relatives or friends have talked to them about the movement, and they are looking for a response to a small but crucial question: “Is there a place for me here?” To these persons we answer that we shall make every effort to see that they can answer that question affirmatively.
Our experience has shown that those persons who are engaged at the individual and family level are generally honest, noble and conscientious. Those who are active in political organizations, those who are activists in social movements and those who do professional work in Non-Governmental Organizations, Groups and Collectives have nothing on them as regards dedication and seriousness. If they work on an individual basis or just group together for specific tasks, it is because they work better that way or because they feel inhibited or pressured inside organizations. As we said in our initial words, there are persons who are collectives unto themselves. Those who are now supporting the Sexta and the “Other Campaign” as individuals or families are collectives in more than one sense of the word. As individuals or as individual collectives, you are welcome.
Aside from this, something which happened at this meeting, and which has happened before, although to a lesser extent, at other meetings, was the presence of activists from political parties, especially from the PRD. Of course they didn’t say so when they arrived, instead they waited and, depending on whether or not they thought the atmosphere was right, they either said so or remained silent. I would like to say the following concerning this:
The Sexta is quite clear in this regard. Those who are active in registered political parties, that is, those parties which are organized in a partisan manner for the election process, are NOT convened. We are not inviting them. We have no interest whatsoever in working with them, and, as zapatistas of the EZLN, we shall not do so.
We have stated that we will respect the decisions made by political, indigenous, social, non-governmental, cultural, artistic, individual and other organizations regarding the upcoming election. And we shall do so. But it is one thing for an autonomous and independent organization to decide to support or not support some party or candidate, but it is something quite different for one of those electoral parties to participate directly in the Sexta and in the “Other Campaign.” Let me remind you what the Sexta says, word for word: “We are inviting political and social organizations of the left which are not registered and those persons who consider themselves to be of the left who do not belong to any registered political parties to meet with us at the time, place and means we shall propose…”
In the case of the PRD, I don’t know if they were infected with the virus of perfidy when they joined or what happened to them, but some of their members have taken advantage of the zapatistas’ good faith and the rebel communities’ hospitality. Despite the fact that we clearly did not invite them, nor did we want to invite them, they came anyway. And they say they are from the PRD (and that they’re mid or low level officials or they’re on their way to being so) once they’re already talking. And no way are we going to run them out then, especially if it’s raining and it’s nighttime. And, of course, they’re carrying their photograph and their autographed book, and maybe they think they’re with their friends and mates, but you and we know it’s a lie, that they got them through a trick.
There you have it, but we told them quite clearly we felt they were mocking us, and they were just trying to use these dirty tricks to weasel out of the criticisms we’ve made of them (and which they haven’t answered) about their attacks and betrayals. And they’re still cynical enough to come and tell us not to be like that, that they’re inviting us to go to their neighborhoods and their apartment buildings and their houses. They should take as an example that compañero who, while he could hold any position in the PRD leadership, resigned from it, supported the Sexta and joined in with the “Other Campaign.”
Of course we told them we didn’t want them to come, that we don’t want to work with anything having to do with the PRD, the PRI, the PAN or with any of the “institutional” parties. Right now the “Other Campaign” is being organized using the criteria established by the Sixth Declaration. Something might perhaps change when everyone who has joined decides, but we’re stating clearly that we are going to vote against the entry of any activists, or whatever they’re called, of any registered political parties.
It doesn’t matter to us if they call us “sectarian,” if they devote “eight columns” to us or whatever articles and cartoons they want. We prefer looking sectarian to being crooks and scoundrels. Certainly they might deceive us, like this time when they snuck in like freeloaders. Or they might believe they deceive us when, taking advantage of the synonyms of social organizations, they present documents which they edit when reading them so they don’t say they’re a corporate structure of the PRD. Or they sneak into bilateral meetings inside political organizations with which we are interested in making alliances.
Whatever, we’re not going to go where they invite us. It doesn’t matter that they have better cars, or services, or offices, or auditoriums, or vehicles, or that they control many people or have a lot of important positions. We’re not going to deal with you. We’re going to deal with those who are, for starters, honest with us, and not some crooks who pass themselves off as something they aren’t so they can be on one side and the other, as if that were possible.
Regardless of the lashings they mete out above, you know that your vehicle is going on another side and by another path. To use the image of one of their candidate’s projects, their bullet train goes above, on another side and will reach its destination quickly. We are going to travel below, with another direction and we’re going to be a while. So why so many stories. Aren’t they really high in the polls and in election preferences? Then why do they want us if they don’t need us? Doesn’t it make them even a tiny bit ashamed, after everything they’ve done to us, to come here, to accept our hospitality and to eat with us and to speak without making one single mention of what their party has done, hell, without even saying they’re “sorry.” That’s why I’m telling them: don’t come, you’re not welcome, and we won’t go with you even if you invite us. Send all the letters you want, but you’re not going to convince us, even less with that “chicanery.” On the other hand, I read that you’re making your front “of the left” up there, and so you already have someplace to go. And so, enough of this subject.
To the rest of those persons who have joined on their own, as families, streets, barrios, communities or neighborhoods, I’m telling you that you can participate as such in the “Other Campaign,” or group together as it suits you according to your own fashion, time and place. And so there are, for example, scientists, artists, creators or researchers who can build a common place for meetings, or unemployed young people, or women, or teachers or students in a school (there’s a group of professors from a secondary school who got together in order to discuss and join the Sexta), and so on, as everyone decides. You will have your place.
And that is all. Travel with care. We’ll see you on September 16, or later on if you can’t come.
In addition, I’ll take advantage of the moment to let you know the following:
- September 11, 2005 is the last day for joining the Sexta and the “Other Campaign” during this first stage. As we’ve already let you know before, we will be making the first joint statement with all those organizations, groups, collectives and persons who have joined up to that date. Afterwards, everyone who wants to can join, but then under the criteria, places and methods which we agree to with the first Subscribers.
- The next preparation meeting is with the Others, with those who couldn’t come to any of the previous meetings or who preferred to wait until the last one. Arrival is on Friday, September 9, the meeting is on Saturday, the 10th, and departure is Sunday, September 11. The location of the meeting is in the zapatista village of Javier Hernández, which is right next to Carmen Pataté and where the meeting with Indigenous Organizations was held. The village of Javier Hernández is about an hour and a half from Ocosingo, on the highway that goes to San Quintín. Frayba will certainly have maps for guiding anyone who needs it and for confusing anyone who requires it.
Barring any last minute changes or the unforeseen, the first Plenary Session of the “Other Campaign” will be held on September 16 and 17.
By the Sixth Committee of the EZLN
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, September of 2005
PS of September 7 for the Group of Women of San Cristóbal, the Mercedes Olivera Feminist Collective A.C. and El Feminario. Just as I was sending this letter, we read the article which appeared in La Jornada on September 7, 2005, signed by Rosa Rojas. In it she gives an account of the disagreement which they, freely and without censure, expressed publicly at the meeting of NGOs, Groups and Collectives on August 27 and 28. We have the following to say concerning this:
Our political-military structure committed, in effect, with you (and not only with you) a series of arbitrary and unjust acts in years past. This took place not only in the region where you work, but in practically all regions. That is why we are now publicly apologizing (to you and to all those whom we hurt), hoping that you will be noble enough to forgive us. We believe, however, that, as regards these kinds of errors (and others) that we have made throughout our history as an organization, it is not enough to apologize (nor are those sanctions enough which were pronounced at the time on the leaders responsible for these authoritarian acts). That is why we began, in 2001, a process of internal restructuring aimed at detaching the political-military apparatus, in a focused and irreversible manner, from the civil structures themselves in the indigenous communities. In this manner we recognized that the presence of our political-military commanders was not always beneficial for the development of resistance and that not a few times we tended to resolve questions with military criteria that might have been better resolved with political criteria. That is why (and for other reasons) the Caracoles and Good Government Juntas were created, and that is why the civil authority compañeros and compañeras are now making their decisions without depending on or consulting with any of the military commanders. All work in the communities, including the very laudable one of promoting women’s rights, is now done – and has been for two years – directly with the Good Government Juntas and the community authorities. We no longer get involved in any of it. You (and others like you) will no longer find us to be an obstacle to your work. You will only have to earn the approval and blessing of the villages themselves. The reason for asking you for a bilateral meeting was for this and for other matters which are no longer necessary. We understand, through your public presentation and now through the newspaper article, that you are demanding an explanation-public apology, which we are presenting here. We sincerely hope that the error we committed, and which we publicly recognize, does not deter you in your work in the defense and promotion of the rights of indigenous and non-indigenous women and that you find in your hearts the kindness to forgive our past stupidities (with the understanding, of course, that we commit ourselves to not repeating them).
Vale. Salud and nobility.