Words of Comandanta Rosalinda in the name of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the EZLN, Caracol III La Garrucha
Compañeras and compañeros.
Brothers and sisters,
Good afternoon to you all on this day, October 16, 2017.
In the name of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the EZLN, Caracol III La Garrucha, Selva Tzeltal zone.
Compañeras and compañeros of the Indigenous Governing Council, we would like to ask you, with all due respect, to carry this message to the Mexican people.
Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples who are defending nature and our Mother Earth: from the forests, rivers, springs, lagoons, waterfalls, historical ruins, and precious woods to the oil, gold, silver, uranium and other riches that exist in our lands—currently the bad capitalist system is destroying and looting all the riches of our nation, Mexico.
The rich are only interested in making themselves richer. Even as they extract natural resources, they bring in transnational enterprises like hydroelectric dams, water bottling facilities, hotels in tourist centers, and large airports and highways.
They also control the Montes Azules Biosphere, an area of over 614,321 hectares, where many communities and ejidos are being relocated and threatened by people organized by the bad government, this with the goal of looting the natural resources in all those places where they have set up their transnational enterprises. They trick us with their proposals for these projects, the real purpose of which is to destroy our Mother Earth and plunder our natural resources. Our peoples can have no hope in that future, because these projects bring serious consequences in terms of pollution that harms living beings.
For this reason, we Zapatista men and women are organized to defend against all these evils. We see that the bad capitalist system has converted our country into a plantation, and the bad government officials are like their foremen. Therefore, there is no path for the people of Mexico and the world except that of struggle, organization, unity, and rebellion.
And now as the Zapatista women we are, we want to explain to you how things were when we were little girls. We did not have the right to study, nor to receive medical care, much less to have fun and play. We were totally without rights or freedom. All we did was help our mothers in the kitchen, carry our younger siblings, do the washing and take care of our families.
That’s how it was when we were girls and it was the same when we were teenagers. We couldn’t go to parties, we weren’t allowed to talk to men, and we had no right to choose who we wanted to marry. Our parents decided who we would marry and they simply exchanged us for a few bottles of alcohol. We didn’t have the right to go to meetings, we didn’t have the right to participate in decisions, and we didn’t have the right to take on community responsibilities because the fucking men always said that we women couldn’t go out alone.
Our fathers and mothers mistreated us in this way and when we got married it only got worse. Our husbands would say that we didn’t have the right to take on responsibilities in our communities, that our job was to have children. We weren’t allowed to complain; they would beat us if we did. They threatened us constantly and humiliated and looked down on us; that’s what we experienced under their control.
Our fathers were controlled by alcohol that the damned bosses and landowners gave to them. They wanted us to be blind, deaf and mute so that we wouldn’t organize and gain the right to make decisions and be free as women.
Later on, when the ejidos were formed, we separated from the bosses and were able to hold assemblies, although at that time only men participated, but nevertheless they began to move towards their right to choose their own authorities. They decided how to organize their work, but we women still weren’t taken into account. It was not until our organization arrived that we realized that men were not the only ones who had the right to participate in meetings, take on collective responsibilities, and make decisions and plans: we women have the same rights as men. That’s how we started organizing our work collectively, men and women. From then on we had the freedom to defend our rights so that we would be respected, as would our decisions to organize collective work and take on responsibilities such as coordinator, miliciana, insurgenta, and representatives of the collectives. That was how little by little we gained our rights and the freedom to organize.
Look, compañera Marichuy, once we were well-organized, in 1994, we demonstrated our bravery and rebellion as women and the fucking government couldn’t destroy our miliciana and insurgenta forces. We prevailed because of our strength and courage, and because of the experience, strength, and courage gained through the process of our struggle at a national level: that of Isidora, Ramona, Lucha, Murcia, Aurora, María Luisa, Soledad, and Elisa. Everything we are saying is real.
Later we constructed the autonomy in which we women now participate as promoters of sexual health and reproductive health. We now have compañeras who know how to use an ultrasound as well as compañeras in the three health areas of midwifery, bone-setting, and healing with medicinal plants. We also have general health trainers and teachers of midwifery, bone-setting, and medicinal plant healing. We have compañeras who are education promoters and teacher-trainers as well. We have taken on responsibilities like auxiliary officials in each community to address any type of problem, where the guilty party is sanctioned according to our own regulations. We also hold positions such as commissaries who are in charge of agrarian issues, as well as that of autonomous councilwomen who resolve in practice all the needs of their municipalities. Women also hold positions on the Good Government Councils where they control the four municipalities that make up this caracol. Women have responsibilities such as local and regional coordinators; later on as they advance they become suplentes and eventually comandantas. We Zapatista women can now discuss, analyze, think, share opinions, propose and decide just the same as the men.
The infrastructure you see here, compañera Marichuy—the clinic was built collectively, as were the offices, the auditorium, and the stage. All the buildings were built collectively. In addition, the stores and the workplaces in the municipalities and the communities are not bad government projects; we don’t need the bad government. We built all of this ourselves, through our resistance and collective work. There are many things we lack, but here we are organized to achieve what we need. We filled the potholes in the road for example to be able to come and go; the bad government says it fixes the roads but it only steals the money and the roads that connect the communities never get repaired. Compañeras and compañeros, we must organize and unite because they are destroying our Mother Earth, where our food comes from. Even if you don’t work the land, your food is grown somewhere, and if we don’t organize ourselves they are going to destroy it all.
Compañera Marichuy, we ask that you carry this message on your tour and share it with other compañera women in the countrysides and the cities of this country Mexico and the world. Ask them to organize and to unite and to not let themselves be fooled anymore by the bad capitalist system which uses us as a source of profit, exploits us in a thousand ways, and forces us to prostitute ourselves to generate their profits. United and organized we can stop and destroy this abuse.
Don’t stay quiet. We have to defend ourselves as women: nobody is going to just give us freedom and rights, because it’s not in their interest. United we can demand that they respect us. We Zapatista women have been exercising our freedom and rights within our autonomy for 23 years now.
For this reason, compañera Marichuy, we say sí se puede. It can be done.
That’s all we have to say. In the name of the compañera and compañero Zapatista bases of support and in the name of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
Mexico, October 16, 2017.
Thank you very much.