The southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas released nine indigenous prisoners from its Los Llanos prison near San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state’s highland region on July 4. State governor Manuel Velasco Coello arrived at the prison from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital, to deliver the release papers in person. The nine prisoners, described as adherents of the 2006 Other Campaign of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), had participated in hunger strikes and other actions over several years to win their freedom. Rosa López Díaz, the only woman in the group, was pregnant when she was arrested in 2007; she lost her child, reportedly as a result of torture.
Under pressure from Mexican and international groups, the state appears to have started releasing EZLN allies imprisoned on questionable charges. Francisco Sántiz López was freed on Jan. 25 [see Update #1161]. But the best known of the prisoners, the schoolteacher Alberto Patishtán Gómez [see Update #1173], remains at Los Llanos, along with a prisoner named Alejandro Díaz Sántiz. Patishtán was allowed to take part in the release of the nine prisoners on July 4. He walked a few meters out of the prison and told the relatives, with a smile: “I’m turning the compañeros over to you here; I’m still staying here, but one shouldn’t lose hope.” He then walked back into the prison with Gov. Velasco Coello and various officials. “We’ll go on struggling until we achieve the release of compañero Alberto and all the compañeros who are still prisoners,” former prisoner Rosario Díaz Méndez promised after his release. (La Jornada (Mexico) 7/5/13)
Mexico – December 30, 2012
To the People of Mexico:
To the Peoples and Governments of the World:
Brothers and Sisters:
Compañeros and compañeras:
This past December 21, 2012, in the pre-dawn hours, tens of thousands of indigenous Zapatistas mobilized and we took over, peacefully and in silence, 5 municipal seats in the Mexican southeastern state of Chiapas.
San Cristobal, Chiapas. December 21, 2012
In the cities of Palenque, Altamirano, Las Margaritas, Ocosingo, and San Cristobal de las Casas, we watched you and we watched ourselves in silence.
This is not a message of resignation.
It is not one of war, death, or destruction.
Our message is one of struggle and resistance.
After the media-driven coup d’état that exalted a poorly concealed and even more poorly disguised ignorance to the federal executive branch, we made ourselves present so that you would know that if they never left, neither did we.
Six years ago, a segment of the political and intellectual class went out in search of someone to blame for its loss. At that time we were in cities and communities, struggling for justice for an Atenco that was not fashionable at that time.
On that yesterday first they defamed us, and then they wanted to shut us up. Too incapable and dishonest to see that within themselves they had and have the seeds of their own destruction, they tried to make us disappear with lies and complicit silence.
Six years later, two things remain clear:
They don’t need us to fail.
We don’t need them to survive.
We never left, even though media from all over the spectrum have dedicated themselves to making you believe that, and we are reemerging as the indigenous Zapatistas that we are and will be.
In these past years we’ve strengthened ourselves and we have significantly improved our living conditions. Our standard of living is superior to that of the indigenous communities that are linked to the governments in power, that receive charity and squander it all on alcohol and useless things.
Our homes improve without hurting nature by imposing roads upon it that are foreign to it. In our villages, the land that was previously used to fatten estate owners’ cattle is now used to grow the corn, beans, and vegetables that brighten our tables.
Our work has the double satisfaction of providing us with what we need to live honorably and to contribute to the collective growth of our communities.
Our boys and girls go to a school that teaches them their own history, that of their fatherland and of the world, as well as the sciences and techniques they need to grow without no longer being indigenous.
The indigenous Zapatista women are not sold as merchandise. The indigenous PRI members go to our hospitals, clinics, and laboratories because in those provided by the government there are no medicines, nor equipment, nor doctors, nor qualified personnel.
Our culture flourishes not in isolation, but rather enriched by contact with the cultures of other peoples of Mexico and the world.
We govern and we govern ourselves, always seeking agreement before confrontation.
All of this has been achieved not only without the government, the political class, and the media that accompanies them, but also while resisting their attacks of all kinds.
We have demonstrated, yet again, that we are who we are. With our silence, we were present.
Now, with our word we announce that:
First: we reaffirm and consolidate our membership in the National Indigenous Congress [CNI],a space for meeting with the original peoples of our country.
Second: we will resume contact with our compañeros and compañeras who are Adherents to the Sixth declaration of the Lacandon Jungle in Mexico and around the world.
Third: we will try to construct the necessary bridges towards the social movements that have arisen and will arise, not to lead them or take their place, but rather to learn from them, from their history, from their journeys and fates.
For this we have achieved the support of individuals and groups in different parts of the world who comprise the support teams for the EZLN’s Sixth and International commissions, so that they will become communication links between the Zapatista Support Bases and the individuals, groups, and collectives that are Adherents to the Sixth Declaration in Mexico and around the world who still maintain their conviction and dedication to the construction of a leftist non-institutional alternative.
Fourth: our critical distance from the Mexican political class will continue; they have done nothing but prosper at the cost of the necessities and the hopes of humble and simple people.
Fifth: regarding the federal, state, and municipal bad governments–executive, legislative, and judicial–, and the media that accompanies them, we say to them the following:
The bad governments from all over the political spectrum, without exception, have done everything they can to destroy us, buy us, and make us give in. The PRI, PAN, PRD, PVEM, PT, CC, and the future RN party have attacked us militarily, politically, socially, and ideologically.
The corporate media tried to make us disappear, first with servile and opportunistic slander, later with cunning and complicit silence. Those whom they served and whose moneys breastfeed them are no longer around. And those who have taken their place won’t last longer than their predecessors.
As was evident on December 21, 2012, they’ve all failed.
It remains to be seen if the federal, executive, legislative, and judicial government decides to once again resort to the counterinsurgency policy that has only achieved a rickety farse clumsily based on media management, or if it recognizes and fulfills its duty and raises indigenous rights and culture to constitutional ranking as established by the so-called “San Andres Accords,” signed by the federal government in 1996, which was ruled by the same party that now controls the executive branch.
It remains to be seen if the state government will decide if it continues its dishonest and despicable strategy of its predecessor which, in addition to being corrupt and deceitful, used the Chiapan people’s money for his own enrichment and that of his accomplices and set about openly buying voices and pens in the media, while he heaped misery upon the Chiapan people, at the same time that he was using police and paramilitaries to try to stop the organizational advance of the Zapatista villages; or if it will instead, with truth and justice, accept our existence and the idea that a new form of social life is blossoming in Zapatista territory, Chiapas, Mexico. Blossoming that draws the attention of honest people all over the planet.
It remains to be seen if the municipal governments decide to keep swallowing the millstones that the anti-Zapatista or supposedly “Zapatista” organizations use to extort them to attack our communities, or if they instead use that money to improve the living conditions of their constituents.
It remains to be seen if the people of Mexico who organize themselves in electoral struggle and resist decide to continue viewing us as the enemies or rivals upon whom they can unload their frustration about the frauds and attacks that, in the end, all of us suffer, and if in their struggle for power they continue to ally themselves with our persecutors; or if they finally see in us another way of doing politics.
Sixth: in the coming days the EZLN, through its Sixth and International commissions, will announce a series of initiatives of a civil and peaceful nature, to continue walking together with the other original peoples of Mexico and the whole continent, along with those in Mexico and around the whole world who resist and struggle down and to the left.
Brothers and sisters:
Compañeros and compañeras:
Before, we had the good fortune of honest and noble attention from various media outlets. We thanked them for it then. But that was completely erased with their later attitude.
Those who bet that we only existed in the media and that with the siege of lies and silence we would disappear were wrong.
When there weren’t cameras, microphones, pens, ears, and looks, we existed.
When they defamed us, we existed.
When they silenced us, we existed.
And here we are, existing.
Our pace, as has been demonstrated, does not depend upon our impact in the media, but rather upon the world’s and its parts’ understanding, upon the indigenous wisdom that dictates our steps, upon the unflinching courage that comes from below and to the left.
From now on, our word will begin to be selective in its recipient and, with the exception of a few occassions, will only be understood by those who have walked and walk with us without giving in to the media and current trends.
Here, with not a few errors and a lot of difficulties, another way of doing politics is already a reality.
Few, very few, will have the privilege of knowing it and learning from it directly.
Nineteen years ago we surprised them by taking over their cities with fire and blood. Now we’ve done it again, without weapons, without death, without destruction.
That is how we differentiate ourselves from those who, during their administrations, delivered and deliver death to their constituents.
We are the same from 500 years ago, from 44 years ago, from 30 years ago, from 20 years ago, from just a few days ago.
We are the Zapatistas, the smallest, the ones who live, struggle, and die in the last corner of the fatherland, those who don’t give up, those who don’t sell out, those who don’t give in.
Brothers and sisters:
compañeros and compañeras:
We are the Zapatistas, and we send you a hug.
From the mountains of the Mexican southeast,
For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee — General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico. December 2012-January 2013.
Translation: Kristin Bricker