Words of Comandanta Hortencia in the name of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN in Oventik, Chiapas, Mexico, October 19, 2017
Compañeros and compañeras of the Indigenous Governing Council:
Compañeros and compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress:
Compañera, sister and friend, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez:
Compañeros and compañeras of the National and International Sixth:
Brothers and sisters of different social organizations.
Brothers and sisters of the different communities and municipalities invited to this meeting:
Brothers and sisters of the national and international press:
Brothers and sisters of the free and alternative national and international media:
Brothers and sisters who are national and international observers:
Brothers and sisters, today we are gathered here in Caracol II of Oventic, “Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity.” We are here to receive, accompany and listen to the words of the Indigenous Governing Council and its spokeswoman María de Jesús Patricio Martínez. In the name of the women, men, young people, children, and elders who are bases of support of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation sends greetings to the National Indigenous Congress, the Indigenous Governing Council, and its spokeswoman, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez. We want to say to all of you that while you have begun a long and difficult path, it is one which is necessary to meet with the brothers and sisters in every corner of our country, Mexico.
Marichuy, as we affectionately call her, is our spokeswoman, who together with the councilwomen and councilmen of the Indigenous Governing Council will travel the entirety of Mexican territory to speak with and listen to the voice of the most forgotten, marginalized, and disdained peoples of our nation—such as the originary people we are, or “indians” as they call us with disdain. She will also talk about the reality of the difficult situation that all of us as poor Mexicans—no matter our organization, party, race, color, language, culture or religious belief—are living through.
From here, our spokeswoman will carry the voice of the originary peoples, of the peoples who struggle, resist, and rebel against the evils caused by the capitalist social system which is represented by the bad governments.
But as originary peoples we are the most forgotten, marginalized, disdained and disrespected. For more than five centuries we have suffered cruel exploitation, the looting of our natural resources, dispossession of our lands and territories, and destruction of our languages and cultures—just for being indigenous to these lands, for being the color of the earth. We are not worth anything in this system; we do not have a right to healthcare nor to better education, and we are simply an obstacle in the way of the big capitalists and the bad governments.
When the originary peoples, tribes, and nations demand our rights, when we demand justice, we are repressed, incarcerated, persecuted, disappeared, tortured, and murdered. This is what we are living through in different states throughout our whole country of Mexico and in all corners of the world.
When we do organize to make ourselves seen and heard so that they know we exist, resist, rebel, and live, then they start up with their insults and lies: that we can’t think, that we can’t organize, that we are being manipulated, that we serve the political interests of national traitors and sell-outs, that we are a “conspiracy” against the “good” mestizos and ladinosi who want to force us to follow and obey them because they supposedly understand how the world works while, according to them, we are ignorant. Meanwhile, many of them—with their degrees and “big heads”—don’t understand anything about what’s happening and what is to come. They want to dominate, disrespect, and humiliate us just like those who currently act as overseers.
They want to pressure us to change owners, masters, bosses, plantation-owners.
We know that our indigenous brothers and sisters in many countries on our American continent and in many countries of the world are suffering just the same. To name just a few, we know how our brothers and sisters are suffering in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and many other countries. There are neither governments nor laws that protect and defend our peoples.
Here we would like to send special greetings to our sisters and brothers of the Mapuche people who resist and struggle in the last corner of the world. To the Mapuche people and to those who accompany them in their resistance, such as Santiago Maldonado,ii we send a giant embrace to fill the whole continent until he is found.
But what is most important now is that among all the originary peoples of our continent and the world there is conscience, resistance, rebellion, rage, and a fierce desire to live and struggle for a different world, a new society, and a new life for everyone.
Today, tomorrow and forever, to be originary peoples in any part of the world is no longer a source of shame but rather of pride. It’s not a story or a myth but a reality because we originary peoples are the ones who care for and defend Mother Earth and all of nature. We originary peoples together with our sister and brother artisans, professionals, religious persons, intellectuals, and honest, rebellious scientists are the ones who are going to save the world and humanity.
It is the hour of the originary peoples. It is the hour of women. It is the hour of the marginalized, the disdained, the forgotten. It is the hour of all the poor and exploited of Mexico, the Americas, and the world. It is time to change this capitalist, criminal, murderous social system. It is time for all the poor of the countryside and the city to join together. It is time to organize ourselves and struggle for true democracy, freedom, and justice for everyone.
From today on, our peoples will know how to govern themselves and direct their own destiny, as we Zapatista women and men have been demonstrating over more than 20 years of building our autonomy. We do not want to change masters, owners, or bosses. We do not want any master, any owner, or any boss, neither mestizo nor indigenous. No masters. What we want is freedom, our freedom, FREEDOM.
And we know well that no one is going to give it to us. We know very well that we have to struggle every day, every hour and everywhere to achieve our freedom. And it doesn’t stop there, because later we will have to struggle so that no one wrests that freedom away from us.
For this reason, we respectfully ask that our spokeswoman and the Indigenous Governing Council go and listen to the voices of the originary peoples and all the poor sectors of Mexico, to learn of the struggles, resistances, and rebellion of all of those brothers and sisters across the whole country.
And to tell them the truth: no one is going to give us anything. We have to struggle for what we want, what we deserve and what we need. And we have to be organized to get it.
We Zapatista peoples stand with the spokeswoman, with the Indigenous Governing Council, and with the National Indigenous Congress. They are going to carry out a mission to travel the country to speak and hear truth and also to invite others to struggle, something we know will not be easy but which is necessary—to risk oneself for a just cause, for life for everyone.
Our spokeswoman will talk about how it is possible and necessary to build a different Mexico that can be governed under the seven principles of rule by obeying, where the people command and the government obeys. Brothers and sisters of the countryside and the city, we invite you to listen to the spokeswoman so that you can hear the truth, and the truth is that today there is no government that governs our country; those who say they are governors and presidents are no more than corrupt scoundrels, foremen and overseers following the orders of the big transnational companies.
The neoliberal governments are planning to loot all our riches and turn our country into their plantation. They will take all of us who inhabit these lands as their slaves and they will destroy us, those evil people who do not respect anyone. They will erase us no matter what our party, organization, or religious belief.
We know the plans of the bad governments and the damned neoliberal capitalists: their plans are death, destruction, and annihilation of all those who rebel. We know they are well-equipped with weapons for destroying humanity.
But now we are not afraid of them, because those who rule—who seize the riches of our country—are few, while we poor people and workers of all trades are suffering and there are millions of us. For this reason, if we wake up, if we unite, if we get organized and struggle together as brothers and compañeros, we are going to be able to change this situation and destroy the criminal monster, because truth and reason are on our side.
But if we don’t do anything, our children, our grandchildren and all the generations that come after us will be worse off, and our country will have no future.
For this reason, we should no longer allow our lands, our territories, and our country to become the property of big transnational corporations and the neoliberal elite, who are only looting and destroying our natural resources. We should not allow them to manipulate us anymore. We should not allow them to trick and kill our peoples. It is time to say ENOUGH of so many evils: enough unjust incarcerations, disappearances, torture and murders by the bad government!
It’s time to start building a new society and a new world where all human beings live with freedom and justice—where we don’t have to live in misery and die of curable illnesses, where we treat each other as brothers in equality and respect and live in communication and harmony with Mother Nature. Mexico should be an inclusive country for people of every race, color, language, culture and religious belief. We have no other choice: we will survive only if we decide to unite and struggle together in an organized way. We cannot wait for someone to come to save us from this disaster. For this reason, it is necessary for everyone to participate: men, women and youth, all organized in the struggle.
And now we want to say a few words especially to women of the countryside and cities of Mexico and the world.
We know that we women of the countryside and the city are the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s well-known that every day in every corner of our country women are raped, disappeared, and murdered. In each workplace we know that women are abused by their bosses: humiliated, looked down upon, and badly paid. Their long work-hours earn them only a few pennies, not enough to live with dignity.
We also know that many women are mistreated and humiliated in their homes and in all areas of society. Men mistreat, humiliate, and physically and emotionally abuse their wives, and when women denounce this abuse to the authorities the judicial system often ignores their complaints. For this reason we Zapatista women say that as women we suffer a triple oppression: we are exploited, humiliated, mistreated, and ignored as women, indigenous people and poor people.
As women and as poor people, we cannot always rise up and raise our voice against the boss, against our husbands, against society; we are taught that we are only supposed to listen and obey, and this is why women feel inferior to their bosses and to men.
They take advantage of us as women; they use us in advertising for their damned capitalist businesses. We are used as mules to traffic drugs, and there are women who work in prostitution out of necessity. We accept all these things because we are poor and because we have no other choice for our families to survive. And still, on top of all that, they disappear and kill us.
The bad government uses its development projects and social programs to deceive us women of the countryside and the city. They make us think those programs are all for our benefit, but in reality they only serve to trick us and take advantage of our poverty.
Peasant and indigenous women have no rights to land where we could grow our own food. As women we do not have inheritance rights. This is why many women migrate to cities, and others risk their lives crossing borders to look for work in other countries. This is the reality that all women of the countryside and the city are facing. It’s a situation that makes you sad and angry, because the fucking system is at fault for all of it, the neoliberal capitalist system that makes our lives unequal and unjust and does not respect our dignity as women.
But we do not want or deserve that. We women want to be respected, to have a dignified place in society, to have the same rights as men and to have freedom as women and human beings.
This is why, compañeras and sisters of Mexico and the world, we cannot go on as we have until now. This is not the time to feel ashamed, to bow our heads, to be quiet, to feel inferior to men. This is not the time to allow capitalism to continue exploiting, manipulating, and deceiving us. The time has come to fill our hearts with strength and bravery. It is time to lift our gaze, raise our voice and shout ENOUGH!
It is time for women workers to organize ourselves and unite to change this situation of death and destruction. This requires the participation of women from the countryside and the city, regardless of age, color, language, organization, or religion. It is time to take up consciousness and responsibility in every corner of our country. The time has come to rebel against the bad capitalist system.
The time has come to not ask permission from anyone to be free. We should be proud to be women, mothers, wives, young women, girls, elders and whatever each of us is. Who we are doesn’t matter: what matters is that we want to change the unjust situation of our country and the world and construct another world that is more just and more human.
But in order to do this it is necessary for women—young women, girls, and elders—to participate actively in the struggle.
For this reason, we should be happy because we are going to demonstrate to the world that we women know how to govern our peoples and can do so. With our spokeswoman we are taking a step forward: she is going to visit all the states of our country, and she and the councilwomen will be invited to many places; may they have good health, because they might even go to other countries to speak from their heart that is all of us.
Our spokeswoman is not going to play any tricks or tell any lies; she is not going to promise or offer any gifts. She is not going to distribute cash handouts to get us to vote for her so she can become president.
Our councilpersons and spokeswoman are interested in only one thing: AWAKENING AND LISTENING TO THE PAIN AND SUFFERING OF THE PEOPLES, and calling for everyone to unite, organize and struggle in their own way, according to their means and geographies, but with the same goal.
Our spokesperson is a woman, a woman who is representing our peoples. It is the first time in the history of Mexico that an indigenous woman will say that we have the capacity to govern a country. And when she says sí se puede, we all say it with her.
We know there are women who have aspired to or aspire to the presidency, but they are women with the same interests—power and money—as the corrupt, murdering, thieving men who have badly governed our country for many years. They have the same plan as all the capitalists, they have always been repressors, traitors, criminals and murderers of our peoples.
Those women from above talk like sexist men, think like sexist men, look at and listen to the world like sexist men. All they’re missing is the pompadour hairdo and they’d be like Peña Nieto or fucking Trump, or the shaved head to be like the “mocho pelón” [bald fanatic] or put talc powder on their heads to look like the other machitos.
Our spokeswoman is going to demonstrate that women can govern. She’s going to demonstrate that it’s not true what they say: that indigenous women don’t know how to think, that we don’t know how to govern or make decisions. Now the world will know that we women from below and to the left and all the poor know how to think, reflect, govern ourselves and direct our own destiny as peoples.
It doesn’t matter that the rich and powerful don’t recognize our Indigenous Governing Council and our spokeswoman.
For us Zapatistas and for many other peoples, the word, the ear and the gaze that matter are those of the Indigenous Governing Council and its spokeswoman María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, because she and the councilwomen and councilmen are not seeking the presidency: what they seek is to call the people from below to organize.
So it doesn’t matter if she is able to register as an official candidate or not, or whether she wins the elections, because the rich and the bad government are quite accustomed to playing tricks, buying votes and carrying out fraud to climb into power.
If the lying ways of the political parties don’t bother you, fine. If you don’t want to vote, fine. If you like the tri-colored logo [the PRI], the blues [the PAN], the greens [the Partido Verde], the yellows [the PRD], or the browns [MORENA], fine. But whatever your inclinations, what we are saying is that you must organize, because what’s coming is far worse than what we are suffering today.
If you think tragedy only happens to other people, you’re quite mistaken. Whether you have money or not; whether you belong to one party or another or to none of them; whether you’re a believer or an atheist; whether you went to college or not; whether you’re mestiza or ladina or indigenous; whether you’re white, black, or any color; whether you’re a child or a young person or an adult or an elder; whomever you may be, the storm will cast a shadow over the whole world, everywhere.
That’s why it’s important for all of us to organize, each according to our own means, our own pace, and the places where we live, work, struggle and resist.
With this step forward we are just beginning the struggle. We haven’t arrived at the end. Not one step back, compañeras and sisters: never again a Mexico without us women.
It’s time for women to make the world tremble, to tear down the walls and break the chains of injustice that have restrained us for centuries. Let us follow the example of many sisters and compañeras who have struggled and given their lives for our freedom.
To do away with the unjust system it is necessary to join forces with our hermanas who are housewives, doctors, teachers, manual laborers, office workers, artists, students, scientists, and all women workers of the countryside and the city. It’s time to unite our resistances and rebellions, unite our dignified rage and struggle together, women and men, against neoliberalism. We must also join our struggle with loas otroasiii who have their own struggles and who are not even taken into consideration by the politics of above; as if loas otroas needed permission to exist, to be, to struggle. The politics of above is ashamed that we are women of color who are the color of the earth; it is ashamed of homosexuals, lesbians, transgender people, and everything that’s different. They want us hidden— they don’t want us to look at each other and see each other for what we are. Nor do they want us women to see and look at each other.
But it’s good for us to look at each other, respect each other, and know about each others’ situations. What we must do now is unite and send those farcical characters from above to boil in the soup-pot.
The world is very large, and all of us [todas, todos, todoas] fit. The only thing that doesn’t fit is the capitalist system because it takes over everything and won’t let us breathe. What’s worse is that capitalism is never satisfied—the deaths, destruction, misery and desolation are never enough. No, it wants more: more war, more death, more destruction.
As women we should take our freedom into our own hands because if we don’t, nobody will come to free us. Our sons and daughters will live lives worse than ours: they will once again be raped, humiliated and enslaved in their own lands.
Lastly, we want to say to the Indigenous Governing Council and its spokeswoman that they should feel proud to travel the country, to be brave in speaking the truth and announcing that the storm is already upon us. We are certain there will be hearts and ears listening attentively to your words. Perhaps there will be moments of rejection and mockery, but do not be discouraged by that; pay it no mind.
In addition, you all should not create division or competition amongst yourselves. You should comply with the principles of rule by obeying.
You should know very clearly that a woman who develops political consciousness and decides to take on roles and responsibilities is going to face many obstacles and many problems from her husband, her parents, her siblings, her boyfriends, her community and her people, and from the whole sexist and patriarchal society which rules across the whole world. The capitalist system does not work alone: it is accompanied by sexism, intolerance, fanaticism, violence, and war against everything, everywhere and in every way.
As for the bad governments and the partidista leaders who think only of power and money, they will try to do everything possible to stop an indigenous woman from speaking and listening.
All this must be resisted: we should demonstrate our capacity as women to struggle, govern, and collectively direct the destiny of our people.
The time has come for dignified women in resistance and rebellion to say clearly to Mexico and the world that women who struggle and are organized do not sell out, do not give up, and do not give in.
This is the case with our compañera councilwomen, our spokeswoman María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, all Zapatista women, all indigenous women, all women workers, and all rebel women in the world.
Enough of a Mexico run by the capitalist system.
Enough of a Mexico full of thieves and murderers.
Enough of a Mexico full of corrupt sell-outs.
Enough of a Mexico without us originary peoples.
Enough of a world full of sexism and machismo.
Enough of a world full of bosses.
Enough of a world full of wars, death and destruction.
Enough of a world without democracy, without justice, without freedom.
LONG LIVE THE WOMEN, GIRLS, YOUNG WOMEN AND ELDERS OF MEXICO AND THE WORLD!
LONG LIVE THE ORIGINARY PEOPLES OF MEXICO AND THE WORLD!
LONG LIVE RESISTANCE AND REBELLION!
LONG LIVE THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS!
LONG LIVE THE INDIGENOUS GOVERNING COUNCIL!
LONG LIVE THE SPOKESWOMAN MARIA DE JESUS PATRICIO MARTINEZ!
LONG LIVE ALL THOSE WHO STRUGGLE IN MEXICO AND THE WORLD!
LONG LIVE THE AUTONOMY OF THE ORIGINARY PEOPLES!
From the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation
October 19, 2017 from Oventik, Caracol II “Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity,” Altos Zone of Chiapas, Mexico.
i “Non-indigenous” Mexicans.
ii A young Argentine who was disappeared on August 1, 2017, while supporting the Mapuche in resisting eviction of one of their communities from an area owned by Benetton, the clothing company, in the southern region of Patagonia. The event sparked national and international protests questioning the role of the police and security forces in his disappearance. Maldonado’s body was found 78 days later.
iii Others, beyond the gender binary.