Marcos: Hope for a New Dawn in Chiapas
A letter from Subcommandante Marcos of the Zapatistas
to Vicente Fox
the new president of Mexico, December 2, 2000
Multinational Monitor magazine, March 2001
[This letter from Subcommandante Marcos of the Zapatistas
to new Mexican President Vicente Fox was originally published
in Spanish ~ the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation)
and was translated by irlandesa. EZLN communiques are on the internet
Senor Vicente Fox. Los Pinos, Mexico, D.F.
Six years ago we wrote a letter to Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de
Leon, your predecessor. Now that you are the new head of the federal
Executive, it is my duty to inform you that, as of today, you
have inherited a war in the Mexican southeast: the one in which,
on January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
declared war against the federal government in demand of democracy,
liberty and justice for all Mexicans.
Since the beginning of our uprising, we have confronted the
federales in accordance with military honor and the laws of war.
Since then, the Army has attacked us without any military honor
and in violation of international treaties. More than 70,000 federales
(including some 20,000 so-called "special counterinsurgency
troops" ) have encircled and pursued the Zapatistas for 2525
days (counting today). During 2000 of those days, they have been
violating the Law for Dialogue, Negotiation and a Dignified Peace
in Chiapas, issued by the Congress of the Union on March 10, 1995.
During these almost seven years of war, the Zapatistas have
resisted, and we have clashed with two federal Executives (self-styled
"presidents"), two Secretaries of National Defense,
six Secretaries of Government, five commissioners of "peace,"
five "governors" of Chiapas and a multitude of mid-level
officials. All of them have already gone. Some of them are being
investigated for their ties to organized crime, others are in
exile or on their way, some others are unemployed.
During these almost seven years, the Zapatistas have insisted,
time and again, on the path of dialogue. We have done so because
we have a commitment with civil society, which demanded that we
silence our weapons and attempt a peaceful settlement.
Now that you are assuming the head of the federal Executive
Branch, you should know that, in addition to inheriting the war
of the Mexican southeast, you are inheriting the possibility of
choosing how you will have to confront it.
During your campaign, and since July 2, you, Senor Fox, have
said time and again that you are going to choose dialogue in order
to confront our demands. Zedillo said the same during the months
which preceded his inauguration, and, nonetheless, two months
later he ordered a large military offensive against us.
You can understand that distrust in all things having to do
with government, regardless of which political party it belongs
to, has indelibly marked our thoughts and actions.
If we were to add the series of ill-considered contradictions
and frivolities, spewed by you and those accompanying you, to
our understandable mistrust in the face of the words of power,
then it is also my duty to point out to you that, as far as the
Zapatistas are concerned (and I believe not only the Zapatistas),
you are starting from scratch in terms of credibility and trust.
We cannot trust someone who has displayed superficiality and
ignorance by noting that the indigenous demands will be resolved
with " 'vocho,' TV and little shops."
We cannot believe someone who tries to "ignore"
(that is, "grant amnesty to") the hundreds of crimes
committed | by paramilitaries and their bosses by granting them
We are not inspired to trust someone who, with the short-sightedness
of managerial logic, has a government plan to turn the indigenous
into mini-micro businesspersons or into employees of this administration's
businessperson. At the end of the day, this plan is nothing other
than an attempt to continue the ethnocide which, under different
methods, neoliberalism in Mexico is carrying forward.
That is why it is good for you to know that none of this shall
prosper in Zapatista lands. Your program of "disappearing
an indigenous and creating a businessperson" will not be
allowed on our soil. Here, and under many other Mexican skies,
the indigenous self does not have to do only with blood and origin,
but also with the vision of life, death, culture, land, history,
Those who have tried to annihilate them with weapons have
failed. Those who try to eliminate them by turning them into "businesspersons"
Note that I have said that, as for the Zapatistas, you are
starting from scratch as far as credibility and trust are concerned.
This means that you have nothing negative, yet, to overcome (because
it is only fair to point out that you have not attacked us). You
can, then, prove those right who are counting on your government's
repeating the nightmare of the PRI for all Mexicans, especially
for the Zapatistas. Or you can, starting from scratch, begin to
build through acts what every government needs for their work:
credibility and trust. The demilitarization which you have continuously
been announcing (although it varies from "total withdrawal,"
"repositioning" and "reaccommodation," which
are not the same things, something which you, your soldiers, and
we know) is a beginning, not sufficient, but indeed necessary.
Not only in Chiapas, but above all in Chiapas, you can prove
those right who desire your failure, or those who are giving you
the benefit of the doubt, or who are simply placing in you that
which is called "hope."
Senor Fox: Unlike your predecessor Zedillo (who came to power
through assassination and with the support of that corrupt monster
which is the State party system), you reached the federal Executive
thanks to the repudiation the PRI carefully cultivated among the
people. You know it well, Senor Fox: you won the election, but
you did not defeat the PRI. It was the citizens. And not just
those who voted against the State party, but also those from previous
and current generations who, one way or another, resisted and
fought the culture of authoritarianism, impunity and crime built
by PRI governments throughout 71 years.
Although there is a radical difference in the way you came
to power, your political, social and economic program is the same
we have been suffering under during the last administrations.
A program for the country which means the destruction of Mexico
as a nation and its transformation into a department store, something
like a mega "little shop" which sells human beings and
natural resources at prices dictated by the world market. The
veiled privatization projects of the electric industry, the oil
and education, and the IVA which is trying to be imposed on medicines
and food, are just a small part of the great "restructuring"
plan which the neoliberals have for Mexico.
Not only that. With you, we are contemplating the return of
moralina positions, whose hallmarks are intolerance and authoritarianism.
It was not insignificant that, with the July 2 results, the denominational
right unleashed an offensive of persecution and destruction. This
has been suffered by women (raped or not), young people, artists
and playwrights, homosexuals and lesbians. Along with pensioners
and retired persons, along with the handicapped, along with the
indigenous, and along with the 70 million Mexican poor, these
groups are called "the minorities." In "your"
Mexico, Senor Fox, these "minorities" have no place.
We object to this Mexico, and we shall do so in a radical
It may or may not concern you whether a group of Mexicans,
primarily indigenous in addition, are not in agreement with your
mercantile plans and with the belligerence of the right. But you
should not forget that, if the PRI lost power, it was because
the majority of Mexicans rebelled and managed to throw it out.
That rebellion has not ended.
You and your team, since July 2, have done nothing but insist
that citizens should return to conformity and immobility. But
it will not be like that, your neoliberal program will confront
the resistance of millions.
Some members of your cabinet and those close to it are saying
that the EZLN should understand that the country has changed,
that they (the Zapatistas) have no other recourse than to accept
it, surrender, take off their ski-masks and make a credit application
in order to set up a little shop, buy a TV and make installment
payments on a compact car.
They are wrong. We ourselves are fighting for change, but
for us "change" means "democracy, liberty and justice."
The PRI is defeat was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition
for the country to change. Many things are still missing, you
and the little politicians in your cabinet know this. Many things
are missing, and, most importantly, millions of Mexican men and
women now know it.
The indigenous, for example, are missing. Missing is the recognition
of their rights and culture which, believe me, have nothing to
do with offers of business promotion. Missing is the demilitarization
and deparamilitarization of the indigenous communities. Missing
is the release of prisoners of conscience. Missing are the political
disappeared. Missing is the reconstruction and defense of national
sovereignty. Missing is an economic program which would satisfy
the needs of the most poor. Missing are citizens being so full-time.
Missing are the politicians being held to account. But peace is
Senor Fox: for more than six years your predecessor, Zedillo,
feigned a willingness to dialogue and made war against us. He
chose confrontation and he lost. Now you have the opportunity
If you choose the path of sincere, serious and respectful
dialogue, you will simply be demonstrating your willingness with
actions. Rest assured that you will have a positive response from
the Zapatistas. That is how dialogue can be reinitiated and, soon,
the true peace will be begun being built.
In the public communiqué which we are attaching [See
<www. ezln. org/archive/ezlnOO1202c- eng.htm> - Ed. ], the
EZLN announces the demand for a series of minimal signals by the
federal Executive. If they are made, everything will be ready
to return to dialogue.
What will be at stake is not whether we are opposed to what
you represent and what you mean for our country. There should
be no doubt about this: we are your opponents. What will be at
stake is whether this opposition takes place through civil and
peaceful channels, or if we must continue raised up in arms and
with faces covered until we achieve what we are seeking, which
is nothing other, Senor Fox, than democracy, liberty and justice
for all Mexicans.
Vale. Salud, and let us hope that there will be a new dawn
in Mexico and in Chiapas.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.