To the peoples of the world:
To the alternative, free, autonomous, or whatever-you-call-it media:
To the National and International Sixth:
War and Resistance Dispatch #44
And what about the other 43? And the ones that follow?
This country has not been the same since the bad government committed one of its most heinous crimes in disappearing 43 young indigenous students of the teaching college Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, two years ago. This event forced us to acknowledge the profound darkness in which we find ourselves today, stirring our individual and collective hearts and spirit. The rage, pain, and hope embodied in the families and compañeros of the 43 illuminate that darkness and shine on the faces of millions of people of every geography below in Mexico and around the world, as well as among a conscientious international civil society in solidarity.
As originary barrios, tribes, nations, and peoples, we begin from the collective heart that we are and turn our gaze into words.
From the geographies and calendars below that reflect the resistances, rebellions, and autonomies of those of us who make up the National Indigenous Congress; from the places and paths from where we as originary peoples see and understand the world: from the ancient geographies within which we have never ceased to see, understand, and resist this same violent war that the powerful wage against all of us who suffer and resist with all of our individual or collective being: we use our gaze and our words to take as our own the faces of the 43 disappeared which travel through every corner of the country in search of truth and justice, faces that are reflected in millions of others and that show us, in the dark of night, the way of the sacred, because pain and hope are sacred. That collective face multiplies and focuses its gaze on the geographies of resistance and rebellion.
From the Geographies of Below
The disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa lives on in impunity. To search for truth from within the putrefaction of power is to search within the worst of this country, in the cynicism and perversion of the political class. The political class not only continues to pretend to keep up the search for the disappeared compañeros, but, in the face of growing evidence pointing to the culpability of the terrorist narco-state, it actually rewards those in charge of lying and distorting the truth. This is what they did in moving Tomás Zerón [ex-head of the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigation Agency]—the person responsible for planting false evidence to back up his historical lie about the Cocula garbage dump[i]—to Technical Secretary of the National Security Council. It is one more confirmation of the criminal nature of the bad government.
On top of lies, deceit, and impunity, the bad government heaps abuses and injustices against those who have shown solidarity with and support for the struggle of the families and compañeros of the 43. This includes Luis Fernando Sotelo Sambrano, a young person who has always been supportive of originary peoples’ struggles, including that of Cherán, of the Yaqui Tribe, of indigenous prisoners, and of the Zapatista communities. He has been sentenced by a judge to 33 years and 5 months for the sextuple crime of being young, poor, a student, in solidarity, rebellious, and a person of integrity.
This is what we see from those in power above: those who murder are covered for by lies and rewarded with protection; those who protest injustice receive beatings and imprisonment.
When we look toward:
The south: the peoples’ struggle in defense of their territories against political bosses and large companies is dissolved by the struggle for security and justice against organized crime cartels whose intimate relationship with the entire political class is the only certainty that we as a people have about any state body.
The formation of shock troops that attack citizen protests have permeated towns and villages, and the government purposely generates conflicts that destroy the internal fabric of a community. That is, the government tries to create mirrors of its own war by sowing conflict in the communities and betting on the destruction of the most sensitive parts of the social fabric. There is nothing more dangerous and explosive for this nation than this practice.
The west: the struggles for land, security, and justice occur in the midst of administrative management for the drug cartels, disguised by the state as crime-fighting initiatives or development policies. On the other hand, the peoples who have resisted and even combatted criminal activity through organization from below have to struggle against constant attempts by the bad government to reestablish territorial control by organized crime cartels—and their respective preferred political parties.
The autonomous organization of the communities and their unwavering struggles for sacred sites and ancestral lands do not cease. The defense of our Mother Earth is not negotiable. We are watching the struggle of the Wixárika community of Wauta-San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán for the recovery of almost ten thousand hectares bordering the town of Huajimic, Nayarit. There, despite the fact that the community has established their rights in agrarian courts, the judicial authorities have been remiss. The bad governments use the false official geographies that divide the states as a pretext to incentivize the displacement of indigenous peoples. To the Wixárika people, with regard to their rebellion and autonomy, we say: we are with you.
The north: where the struggles for recognition of territorial rights continue against threats by mining companies, agrarian displacement, the theft of natural resources, and the subjugation of resistance by narco-paramilitaries, the originary peoples continue to make and remake themselves every day.
Among the originary peoples of the tribes of the north, the Sioux nation weaves its own geographies that go beyond the false official geographies that locate them in another country; for us, we are all children of the same mother. They are resisting the invasion of their sacred lands, cemeteries, and ceremonial sites by an oil pipeline under contruction by the company Energy Transfer Partners. That company intends to transport oil obtained through fracking in the Bakken region in North Dakota through their territories. This struggle has generated solidarity and unity among the originary peoples of the north. To them we say that their rage is ours, and as the National Indigenous Congress, we raise our voice with them and will continue to do so. Their dignified struggle is also ours.
The peninsula: The Mayan peoples resist the attempt to disappear them by decree, defending their territories against attack by tourism and real estate interests. A proliferation of hired hitmen operate in impunity to displace the indigenous peoples. The agroindustry of genetically modified organisms threatens the existence of the Mayan peoples, and those magnates, with vile dishonesty, take over agrarian territories, cultural and archeological sites, and even indigenous identity itself, trying to convert a vital people into a commercial fetish. The communities who struggle against the high electricity costs are persecuted and criminalized.
The center [of the country]: Infrastructure projects including highways, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, and residential developments are being imposed through violent means and human rights are increasingly vague and removed in the law applied. Powerful groups use strategies of criminalization, cooptation, and division, all of them close—in corrupt and obscene ways—to that criminal who thinks he governs this country: Enrique Peña Nieto.
In the east of the country, violence, fracking, mining, migrant trafficking, corruption, and government madness are the currents that run against the struggle of the peoples, all playing out in the midst of entire regions taken over by violent criminal groups controlled from the highest levels of government.
From Dialogue to Betrayal
Just as the teachers in struggle have done, we as originary peoples have sought dialogue with the bad government regarding our urgent demands for respect of our territories, the return of the disappeared, the freeing of prisoners, justice for those killed, the removal of the police or military from our lands, and our own security and justice, but the government has refused. Instead, it has arrested our spokespeople all over the country; the army has fired on children in Ostula; bulldozers have destroyed the homes of those who resist in Xochicuautla, and federal police have shot at the dignified community accompanying the teachers in Nochixtlán. The bad governments pretend to dialogue; they simulated interest in agreements with the Wixárika people for years in order to pacify the territory while they planned a violent reordering of the region.
Later the government talks like nothing has happened and offers its willingness to make concessions, as long as both parties come to an agreement. Then the government cedes one small part of what it has just destroyed, frees one prisoner, pays damages to the family of one murder victim, and pretends to look for the disappeared. In exchange it asks the originary peoples to cede their collective patrimony—their dignity, their autonomous organization, and their territory.
In various geographies across our country we are holding referendums where we say that we don’t want their mines, their oil pipelines, their GMOs, their dams, and we demand that they consult the people. But the bad government always responds by pretending “to consult as to how to consult on whether to or not to consult on the form of the consultation” (or something like that), what is really a calculated simulation, the erasure of our voice, the manipulation and cooptation of our people, as well as threats and repression. And so it goes until they say it’s done; they proclaim that we agreed to their death projects or that we were divided and they must thus attend to all points of view.
Meanwhile, as they try to keep us quiet with their deceitful consultation agenda and while the NGOs that are “experts” in “consultation” fatten their wallets, they race ahead to concretize—before the supposed consultation has even begun—the theft of the water from the Yaqui River, the destruction of Wirikuta through mining concessions, the construction of oil pipelines that invade the entire Isthmus, and the GMOs imposed in the Riviera Maya.
Our geographies are the paths of the world; this is where we will meet and recognize each other, because we know that the struggle is not just today nor is it just for today. We do not struggle for power or the folklore offered by deceitful campaigns, but rather to weave and reweave what we are, what we were, and what we will be as originary peoples.
The face of the 43 missing and the tenacity of their families and compañeros are the other 43 dispatches on war and resistance. To them we add the pain, rage, and resistance of the originary peoples and the rebellions of millions all over Mexico and around the world.
On top of that we add the dispatches of war and resistance from the other who is persecuted and stigmatized, women who have been abused, disappeared, and murdered, children made into commodities, young people criminalized, nature disgraced, humanity in pain.
We reiterate today, alongside that humanity, along with this earth that we are, that truth and justice are an inalienable demand and that punishment for the culpable—all of those responsible—will be born from the struggle from below. Now more than ever, as originary peoples of the National Indigenous Congress, we know that in this struggle there is no room to give up, sell out, or give in.
Truth and Justice for Ayotzinapa!
Free Luis Fernando Sotelo Zambrano!
Free all of the political prisoners!
For the holistic reconstitution of our peoples.
Never Again a Mexico Without Us.
National Indigenous Congress
Zapatista Army for National Liberation
Mexico, September 2016
[i] The federal government first offered an explanation for the disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa consisting of their murder and incineration at the garbage dump in Cocula, Guerrero. The explanation has been heavily criticized and largely disproven by forensic scientists and investigators.