Words of Comandanta Everilda, on behalf of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN in Guadalupe Tepeyac, October 14, 2017
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, to the compañeras and compañeras of the Indigenous Governing Council and the spokeswoman María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, to the CNI and all the Zapatista bases of support, to all the Good Government Councils, and all the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion.
Brothers and sisters, and all those who accompany us here and in different parts of Mexico and the world, each according to their geography.
Through my voice speaks the voice of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation – General Command.
Compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters:
The situation we originary peoples and campesinos are experiencing in the countryside and in the cities in Mexico and in the world is even more serious than it was 23 years ago. The exploitation, humiliation, disdain, oblivion, marginalization, and death continue.
The cruelty of the bad governments of this country, in complicity with neoliberal capitalists, is such that they to intend to disappear us by imposing the so-called reforms they’ve passed recently against originary peoples, campesinos, and workers of all sectors in Mexico.
In the countryside, communal lands and ejidos, rivers, springs, lakes, oceans, forests, jungles, mountains, flora, fauna, air, and space are being privatized. Originary people have cared for these things for more than 523 years, and in recent times the bad governments of this country, the neoliberal capitalists, have set their ambitions on displacing us to steal the natural resources we’ve been taking care of for many centuries and subjugate us as their servants and slaves on our own lands.
To carry this plan forward, they’ve used the corrupt leaders who are supposedly politicians, as well as assistance and environmental conservation programs. These programs are a lie; what they actually plan to do is hand over our lands, territories and their natural resources to multinational corporations.
The capitalists know it’s not an easy task. They haven’t been able to do it so far and where they have it has been through repression, incarceration, persecution and death, through lies and deceit. That’s why they’ve prepared an entire army to send to repress us, displace us, imprison us, persecute us, disappear and kill all of us who defend our lands and territories.
The conquerers in the time of the conquest and our slavery, followed by the landowners and ranchers, took the best lands from us and sent us to the hills. Now they want to displace us from there. Where will we go? We must struggle to defend ourselves or die! Their lies get bigger and bigger, offering us “rural cities” in exchange for our lands, or places like Escárcega, Campeche, or Los Chimalapas, places that only guarantee us suffering and death.
Because on the lands of the originary peoples and campesinos, they’ve constructed and plan to construct hydroelectric dams, wind and thermoelectric projects, highways, airports, tourist and ecotourist centers, hotel centers, mining projects, and petroleum extraction—just to mention a few. All this is used to justify the dispossession and eviction of the people in the communities.
All these projects by the capitalists are the primary culprits of the climate change suffered by our mother earth, while railroads, international airports, and maritime ports collect the raw materials to facilitate transport of the indiscriminate looting of our lands and territories.
Originary peoples and campesinos are the ones who hold it all, because they love and respect mother earth and mother nature. On the other hand, the capitalists are only dedicated to destruction, and they know full well the grave harm they’ve caused. It’s not true that they care about global warming; they know the dangers they’ve provoked with the damage they’ve done to our beautiful planet.
Even though they’re putting the life of the planet and the life of humanity at risk with global warming, the bad governments and the capitalists persist without caring about any of it.
The bad governments have devoted themselves only to looking out for the interests of these companies, forgetting the real needs and issues facing originary peoples and campesinos: the guaranteed prices of products, the lack of a market, and new techniques to improve our ability to take care of and maintain the soil and the environment.
In the countryside there is no security for any kind of business, but of course the bad governments who badly govern Mexico have used price-fixing middlemen as a legal institution to commercialize our products, thus guaranteeing the exploitation of the workforce in both the countryside and in the city.
With this method of exploitation, the prices for our products get cheaper and cheaper while what we buy gets more and more expensive, pushing originary peoples and campesinos to migrate and abandon our families and our lands. It’s like a new form of displacement, facilitating the entrance of companies so they can produce monoculture crops and plant supposedly improved seeds like genetically-modified corn and soy, thus causing the extermination of hybrid seeds and the sterilization of mother earth, condemned never again to produce the seeds of the originary peoples.
In the countryside it’s not just that. There is also the planned extermination of originary peoples by way of a silent, undeclared war; by implementing assistance programs and methods of control in order to do away with our good cultures and traditions, because we’re not profitable for capitalism.
This situation is not only experienced in the countryside. Things are also very serious in the city: in the big industries and factories, workers are threatened with being fired and losing their labor rights; work hours have increased and salaries get lower and lower. That is, the exploitation continues, as do the injustice, humiliation, disdain, and inequality of everything, in all spaces of work. All of this indicates that there will be more and more unemployment because workers will be replaced by modern equipment to increase the profits of the owners of capital.
This whole neoliberal plan won’t only affect some. It works against everyone—teachers, doctors, students, drivers, housewives, artists, scientists, neighborhood residents, other loves, merchants, construction workers, journalists, migrants, and all those who one way or another make a living from dignified work.
Capitalism’s exploitation in the city is critical and cruel. Those who have been lucky enough to find a job, despite the low salaries they earn, have to pay taxes for the right to work and to receive medical attention, they have to pay rent for a home they can live in, and the costs of electricity and water keep increasing, food and medicine…If they’re lucky enough to manage to find a home, they’re condemned to pay unjustly for it their whole lives.
Those who are unemployed, who had the bad luck to be fired from some job where they were making a living with much sacrifice, find themselves obligated to earn a dignified living some other way, becoming street vendors or doing informal work. And despite this the bad governments with their new reforms rob them of their miserable salary yet again with the taxes imposed by these laws, unconcerned with the damage they’re causing in these families’ homes, thus obligating children and young people to forego their right to study and dedicate themselves to forced work to cover the basic necessities of a family.
These days with this miserable situation caused by these bad rulers, [workers in] many sectors, no matter how hard they try, are unable to make enough to survive.
Even professionals, no matter how many titles or degrees they may have, aren’t able to cover their needs because they don’t have a space to exercise their profession.
The student has to work double or triple to manage the costs of studying.
Drivers, besides the fact that their wage doesn’t guarantee them a dignified life, run the risk of ending up without a job. The capitalists implement new transport systems, putting all the car and airplane transit workers into crisis with new overseers.
Housewives are desperate because there is less and less income coming into the home, and they are forced to go out in search of work to offer their children their daily meals. This means migrating to another country because there is no work in this country, and if there is, the salary is miserable. And what we’re saying is true, because the statistics say that there are 10 million people who have emigrated, and out of that numbers, 5 million are women who have gone to the United States.
In the case of scientist: they are exploited just like all the other sectors of society because their great knowledge, wisdom and inventions—which are for the good of humanity—are used by capitalists to generate massive profits without caring about the damage they cause, while the scientists receive a miserable salary according to what the owners of capital decide.
Just as all ways of life of the people are dignified, different kinds of artists work everyday to make a living by carrying out their profession. But in this country there is no freedom for them, just like in all the other sectors, because the bad rulers put obstacles in the way of those who work with and for the people. Only those who are convenient for the capitalists have freedom.
For many years the bad governments tried to destroy the original blood of these lands. Since they never achieved this, they decided to kill us with oblivion.
But we indigenous peoples and campesinos of Mexico, the Americas, and the world, resist. We resist death. Here we are, so that our word may become an echo, a bridge, a path, a place, and a home; so that the original heart of this country may live; so that silence will never again be an accomplice to the crime, as is happening right now in Mexico and all over the world.
Here we are, all of you and us, brothers and sisters. We come from the most distant times in history and we must never, ever permit foreign invaders to invade us again.
That’s why, brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world, it’s time to organize ourselves to chart the course and the destiny of the country and the world that we want. The decision is in our hands, we men and women who fight for a life that is more just, more dignified, and more human; one in which we all have the freedom to organize ourselves with democracy and justice.
In this way, together we can end the exploitation, the domination, the crime and death that capitalism has sown in all of Mexico’s communities and cities.
This struggle and this change can only come from the people of Mexico in the countryside and the city, with a government that organizes, that struggles to change and improve the situation of the people of Mexico. Today we know it as the Indigenous Governing Council, which, through its spokeswoman and 2018 presidential candidate, will govern Mexico seeking freedom and justice for all the people of Mexico, at any cost.
We know that it will be a government in which the people rule and the government obeys, based on the seven principles of rule by obeying.
To the compañeros and compañeras of the Indigenous Governing Council, compañera María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, compañeros of the National Indigenous Congress, to the Sixth in Mexico and the world, to the people of Mexico: the hour to decide and to organize ourselves has come. Destiny is in our hands, and in the hands of the people of Mexico.
Brothers and sisters who are originary peoples and campesinos, brothers and sisters who are workers in the cities, towns, neighborhoods, and all centers of work; brothers and sisters of the factories; brothers and sisters who search day after day for their disappeared sons and daughters:
The capitalists and bad governments continue their plan to exploit, to dominate, to subjugate, and they leave us no other path. If we protest, they repress us, because they know that we’re telling the truth; that’s why they repress us, disappear us, incarcerate us, kill us.
That’s what they’ve done throughout the whole country, waging a campaign of violence against women, against young people, against good journalists, against those of us who struggle with dignity.
That’s why we watched with great hope the decision of the National Indigenous Congress to nominate the Indigenous Governing Council and its spokeswoman, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, as candidate for the presidency of the Republic, to govern Mexico in 2018.
That’s why today they are beginning a tour of the whole national territory to organize originary peoples and campesinos, as well as the cities and towns.
The conquest of our freedom and justice will only come from the people.
From no one else.
It will not come from the political parties; nor from corrupt politicians.
It will not come from the exploiting class.
It will not come from those who cozy up to capitalism, those criminals and executioners; We have nothing to expect from the capitalists.
We can only count on the organization of the countryside and the city—we believe that the life of the people of Mexico, of the planet, and of humanity, depends on this.
We just heard what the situation is like in the countryside and the city. Now I’m going to speak about us women in Mexico, and men should pay attention.
In the countryside and the city, the situation we just heard about is worse for women. We suffer triply because we’re women, indigenous, and poor. As indigenous women in the countryside, we’ve never been taken into account.
The capitalist system has created this situation against us. Its brutality is doubly savage toward us women, because the blood of machista violence, of exploitation, of the persecution of women runs through the veins of capitalism. It ridicules us, humiliates us, discriminates against us, rapes us, murders us, and disappears us because we are women.
We are the ones who carry our sons and daughters in our wombs for nine months. We care for them and we educate them so that later capitalism with all its evil can disappear them. Each disappearance takes with it a part of us, the mothers.
This happens every day in different parts of the country. For example, the women who are kidnapped, raped, murdered and disappeared in Ciudad Juárez and the state of Mexico.
We women live in oblivion and marginalization in this capitalist society.
In the cities there are many women who don’t have a dignified home to live in because they don’t have the resources to pay the rent because they don’t have dignified work. This is because as women we suffer discrimination and they don’t give us dignified work, and if they do the salary is much lower than what a man receives.
Our worker sisters in the city, despite lending their services for an undignified salary, have to pay taxes. And the corrupt system that badly governs in our country, instead of spending those taxes for the good of the people, diverts and steals them for personal benefit. The corrupt politicians live like kings at the expense of the sweat of the workers.
Housewives don’t receive any salary, and since the men’s salaries aren’t enough to maintain the family, they are obligated to find other work so that they have enough money to survive.
Many women are forgotten and marginalized because they are disabled or sick due to the exploitation and contamination created by the capitalist system in the mines, industries, and factories.
If we become sick or have an accident related to work, they only thing they offer us is unemployment, because of the lack of laws to protect our rights. Many believe that this situation we’re suffering is normal and that nothing can be done, because the system maintains its patriarchal and ideological control, dividing us in many ways.
In the indigenous communities, women are still not taken into account. We are made to feel that we’re less than men; we’re mistreated, humiliated, and we don’t have a voice in community assemblies—and much less in the making of decisions.
The bad governments maintain political, social, economic and cultural control over us through their assistance programs so that we don’t organize ourselves and we don’t rebel against the mistreatment that we suffer.
In the official schools, they educate us so that we will become women in the way that capitalism wants us to. Starting when we’re little girls, they change our language, our ways of dressing and thinking, and make us believe that the culture of our people has no value.
Very few indigenous women manage to get a university education because these studies are very expensive and we indigenous women can’t pay for it. Since for capitalism we indigenous women are nothing and deserve nothing, it doesn’t want us to educate ourselves.
But we Zapatista indigenous women are here demonstrating that we know how to organize ourselves and decide our future.
Because of this kind of suffering, we women organized ourselves in the Zapatista struggle in 1994. As Zapatista women we had a space to participate through different responsibilities within our organization, as local coordinators for our communities, regional coordinators for our regions, and as candidates for and comandantas in the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee.
We began participating and organizing collective work in our communities, regions, municipalities and zones, participating in the collective work and directing this work.
Today in our autonomy we women participate by giving our opinions, discussing, analyzing, and deciding in the assemblies of our communities, municipalities and zones, participating as autonomous authorities at the three levels of government. For example, in the Good Government Councils the participation of compañeras and compañeros is equal: 50% are compañeras and 50% are compañeros; women and men work together to create justice, democracy, and freedom in our rebellious territory.
Our situation has changed so much that we can give as an example that now many of our compañeros are willing to stay at home to care for our daughters and sons when we women leave to go carry out our work in the struggle.
In the various areas of the struggle, like healthcare, [women are] health promoters, nurses, lab workers, and ultrasound operators. In the field of education we are education promoters. In the area of the Tercios Compas [Zapatista media] and in other areas of the struggle, we participate equally alongside the compañeros.
We would like for this example to be useful for other women in Mexico and the world. And we want to tell our compañera Marichuy, an indigenous woman like us, that we want her to carry our message to all corners of Mexico: ¡ya basta! – enough with the marginalization and injustice toward women!
This initiative of the National Indigenous Congress, to present an indigenous woman from the originary peoples in the 2018 presidential elections, responds to the fact that capitalism has no mother, no daughter, and does not feel the pain it is causing humanity and our mother earth.
Because of all these situations women experience in Mexico, we Zapatista women have a lot of rage, a lot of pain, and a lot of courage. That is why we’re calling on all of you to organize yourselves wherever you live and however you choose, to defend yourselves and struggle.
Now is the time to conquer our rights, to prepare ourselves, to rise up and demonstrate that as indigenous women we are capable of constructing a new and better world. But only by being organized from below and to the left will we achieve a Mexico where the people rule and the government obeys.