Zapatistas! Documents of the New Mexican Revolution

Chapter 6: Building Ties

Solidarity Letters

[These letters were written in response to letters received by the EZLN as they were preparing for the dialogue. Several groups offered their solidarity, as well as sending pleas for peace. These responses continue the EZLN's efforts to reach beyond the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.]

A Letter of Introduction

February 8, 1994
To the national weekly Proceso:
To the national newspaper La Jornada:
To the national newspaper El Financiero:
To the local newspaper of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Tiempo:


Here I give you another series of letters that the CCRI-CG of the EZLN sends to various recipients. I hope that you have time to make sure they arrive to their addressees.

I understand your desperation (and that of your editorial chiefs for the high expenses in hotels, restaurants and gas stations) over the delay in the initiation of the dialogue. It is not our fault (or the Commissioner's), or putting on airs to make ourselves wanted. It is not over disagreements in the agenda or anything like that. It is because we still lack details on the security of our delegates, details that we must take care of in order to avoid ugly "surprises." In short: serenity and patience, lots of patience.

As a consolation I will tell you that the dialogue will not be in the jungle. Among other things because there [in the jungle] those who can communicate through satellite would have the advantage, since telephone or fax, forget it. And, if time is on the side of the small ones, we prefer democracy and the equality of opportunity for the communications media, and that the news should not be only for the powerful.

Good health and patience,

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Insurgent Subcommander Marcos

A Thank-You to the
University Student Council of UNAM

February 6, 1994

To the University Student Council (Consejo Estudiantil Universitario, CEU), National Autonomous University of Mexico, (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Me'xico, UNAM), Mexico City:

Compan~eros and Compan~eras:

We received your letter of January 29, 1994 signed by Angel Gómez C. We thank you for the thoughts you send us.

The majority of us are Indigenous, illiterate and discriminated against. We had no opportunity to finish even elementary school. We would have wanted not only to finish elementary school and junior high, but to have reached college.

We gladly receive your greetings and support, men and women who struggle in other lands and through different ways to achieve the same freedoms, democracy, and justice that we all long for. We know that in other times the brave voice of Mexican students has made the evil government tremble, and that if your voice were to be united with ours and with that of all of the dispossessed, nothing would remain standing of this gigantic lie that they make us swallow every day, every night, in death and life, always. That is why we want to address you, men and women students of Mexico, to respectfully ask you something:

If it were possible for you to organize, and once things calm down a bit, for you to come to our mountains to visit us and chat with us and to help us with what you know of technology and writing and all that comes in books that never come our way. We do not want you to come to politicize us or to pull us into one or another political current. In this I think that you would be more likely to learn from us what a truly democratic and participatory organization is. But you can help us cut the coffee, prepare the corn field, and in the community work of our villages. You can help us learn to read and write, to improve our health and nutrition, to use techniques that get more from the land. You can come to teach us and to learn. You can come even for only a few days so you get to know this part of Mexico that already existed before January 1 and in spite of it...

If you were to accept our invitation then you would need to send some delegates, so that through an intermediary we come to agree on the details, because we need to organize everything very well so spies of the evil government will not come in. It does not matter if you cannot come, brother and sister students, but continue struggling in your land so there will be justice for the Mexican people.

That is all, men and women students of Mexico. We await your written response.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

P.S.: Sup's section: "The recurrent postscript"

P.S. to the P.S. of the CEU that said: To Sup Marcos: "Do not worry, we will take the Zócalo for you." I have told the CCRI-CG that Mexico City is on the other side of the world and there aren't enough fighters, and furthermore, as I-
don't-remember-who said, guerrillas that take zócalos sooner or later become hamburgeoisie [a play on words combining hamburger and bourgeoisie]. By the way, and taking advantage of the trip, bring two hamburgers without onions or ketchup. Thanks.

P.S. to the previous P.S.: Since we are on postscripts, which of all the CEU's is the one that writes us? When I was a good-looking 25-
year-old (Hey! Tell the computer at the Attorney General's office [Procuraduría General de la Republica, PGR] to calculate that) there were at least three CEU's. Did they finally unite?

P.S. to the P.S. of the P.S.: In case that you, oof!, took the Zócalo, do not be uncool and set a piece apart to sell handicrafts because I could suddenly become an unemployed "professional in violence," and it always is better to be a sub-
employed "professional in violence" because of that NAFTA stuff, you know.

P.S. to the nth power: These postscripts really are a letter disguised as postscripts (because of the PGR and etceteras with their dark, well-built glasses) and, but of course, do not require a response, or return address, or addressee (there are indisputable advantages to letters disguised as postscripts).

Nostalgic P.S.: When I was young (Hey? PGR? Here is some more information.) there was a lightly wooded field located more or less between the Central Library, the College of Philosophy and Literature, the Humanities Tower, Insurgents Avenue and the internal drive of the University Campus (Ciudad Universitaria, CU). We used to call that space, for reasons known to those initiated, the "valley of passions." It was assiduously visited by various elements of the fauna populating the CU from 7 p.m. onwards (the time at which good consciences drink chocolate and the bad ones get like water boiling [hot and bothered]) from the areas of humanities, sciences, and others (are there others?). At that time, a Cuban (Hello? Ambassador Jones? Take note of more proof of pro-Castroism.) who lectured in front of a piano the color of his skin, and went by the name of Snowball, would repeat:

You cannot have conscience and heart...

P.S. of finale fortissimo: Did you notice the exquisitely cultured and delicate tone of these postscripts? Are they not worthy of our entering the First World? Doesn't it make you realize that such transgressors prepare themselves to be competitive in NAFTA?

P.S. of happy end: All right, all right, I'm going... But it's because that airplane has me fed up, and the guard, for a change, fell asleep, and someone is tired of repeating "Who's there?" and I tell myself that it is the country...and you?

To the Civic Front of Mapastepec

February 8, 1994

To The Civic Front of Mapastepec (Frente Cívico Mapastepec), Mapastepec, Chiapas:

Brothers and Sisters:

We want to tell you our word. We received your letter dated February 6, 1994.

The great majority of the presidents of Chiapaneco townships are the result of electoral fraud, of the trampling of popular will. All the municipal presidents in Chiapas should resign or be deposed. In their place, municipal councils should be democratically elected by those who are governed. Collective government is better than the government of one person, but it must be democratic. If the state government substitutes a president imposed by a municipal council equally imposed, then the anti-democratic council must also fall. This must be so until the just will of the majority is respected.

The EZLN supports, without conditions, the just demands of the people of Mapastepec who struggle for an authentic democracy, and the demands of all the popular forces which, now and in the future, struggle against the arbitrariness of imposed municipal presidents. The demand for municipal democracy is already part of the list of Zapatista demands.

Out with the imposed municipal presidents!

Long live the democratic municipal councils!


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


To the Municipal President of
J. Sixto Verduzco, Michoacán
February 8, 1994

To Citizen Mario Robledo, Municipal President
Township of J. Sixto Verduzco, Michoacán, Mexico:


We received your letter dated February 5, 1994. We are very happy to receive your greeting from Michoacán. But our happiness is even greater knowing that there are, in some municipal presidencies of this country, brave and honorable people, people who walk with truth and prudence. These people exist and it is good that they are in government if their villages order them there. Because what comes from respect for the will of others is a good path for all.

We, little men and women, have taken the task of being big, to live this way even if we are dying. We saw that in order to be big, we must look at all those suffering in this land and go walk with them. And we saw that we couldn't. And we saw that we couldn't stop being brothers and sisters in peace and justice. And we saw that it is the evil government that separates our steps. We saw that it is for good and truthful men to struggle for the government to change. We saw that they wouldn't change willingly. And we saw them take up arms. And all this we saw and so we did it.

But we also saw that it is not only the mouth of fire that attains freedom. We saw that other mouths need to open and scream so that the powerful tremble. We saw that the struggles are many, and many are the colors and languages of those that struggle. And we saw that we were not alone. And we saw that we will not die alone.

Good health Michoacán brothers!

That the struggle does not end! Let hope not die!


From the mountains in the Mexican Southeast,


To The Supreme Council of Indian Peoples

February 8, 1994
To the Supreme Council of Indian Peoples (Consejo Supremo de Pueblos Indios):
To the National Coordinator of Indian Peoples (Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Indios, CNPI), Tenochtitlán, Mexico City:

Brothers and Sisters:

We want to speak our words to you. We received your letter dated February 5. Our heads bow from the honor of receiving the truthful words that you send us. Our arms are down in order to listen to the words of our Indigenous and Mexican brothers from the whole country. The wisdom of your thoughts is great in reminding the whole world that Mexico belongs to Mexicans. Our essence is the community, mutual aid, justice, freedom, and dignity.

We, as Indian people, Mayan and Mexican, unite our forces and our thoughts with the great word of truth hoisted by the National Coordinator of Indian Peoples. Let us not allow our dignity to be offered in the great market of the powerful! If we lose our dignity we lose everything. Let the struggle be happiness for all our brothers and sisters. Let our hands and steps come together in the path of truth and justice.

Long live the Mexican eagle and the Zapata of its coat of arms, brothers and sisters of the CNPI!

Long live the unity of those who struggle for justice!
Freedom! Justice! Democracy!
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


To the National Plan de Ayala Coordinating Committee
February 8, 1994
To the National Plan de Ayala Coordinating Committee (Coordinadora Nacional Plan de Ayala, CNPA):
Brothers and Sisters:

We received your letter dated February 5, 1994 and we wanted to share with you some things and thoughts of ours.

We salute the independent and true struggle of the National Plan de Ayala Coordinating Committee. We thank you for the unconditional support of our just struggle declared in your brave and determined pronouncement. The Indigenous peoples, the poor campesinos, and agricultural laborers, united, will completely change the agrarian system of exploitation and scorn that exists in our country. From the unity of our strength will surge a new Mexican countryside, more just and equitable, where the severe gaze of General Emiliano Zapata will watch, so that oppression will not be repeated under another name.

Campesino brothers of the CNPA, it will be a great honor for us to be able to talk with you and listen to your words of truth and justice. With humility and attention we will stand before you who have struggled so long for land and liberty. We, small people of the land, will listen to the word of your great independent organization.

Good health brothers and sisters of the CNPA!
Long live Emiliano Zapata and the organizations that honor his name!

Down with the Salinista reforms to Article 27 of the Constitution!
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


To the Regional Liberation Association for Human, Economic, Social, and Political Rights

February 8, 1994

To the Regional Liberation Association for Human, Economic, Social and Political Rights (Asociación Regional Liberación en Pro de los Derechos Humanos, Económicos, Sociales y Políticos AC, Arelidh):

C. Lucrecia Ortega Sanchez, Administrative Director:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army respectfully addresses you to thank you for your letter dated February 7, 1994, in which you tell us of your agreement to form the peace belt around the dialogue table between our EZLN and the federal government.

We know that your organization has remained neutral in the present conflict and that it has always been concerned with providing help to alleviate the grave conditions of the civilian population, as well as to strengthen efforts toward peace. We salute this with respect, since honesty goes, invariably, with neutrality and the enthusiasm for peace with justice. We thank you, in advance, for extending the invitation that you accepted to other NGO's [non-governmental organizations], since so far you are the only ones who have answered and accepted.

We are asking Mr. Samuel Ruiz García, bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas and the National Commissioner of Mediation, that when the date and location of the dialogue are determined, he promptly contact you so you will know in advance.


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


To the Children of Beatriz Hernández Elementary School

February 8, 1994
To the Solidarity Committee of the Boarding School of Elementary Education No. 4, "Beatriz Hernández" (Comite' de Solidaridad del Internado de Educación Primaria Num. 4, "Beatriz Hernández"):
Boys and Girls:

We received your letter dated January 19, 1994 and the poem Plegaria de Paz [Prayer of Peace] that came with the letter. We are happy that boys and girls living so far away from our mountains and misery are concerned that peace come to our land in Chiapas. We thank you very much for your short letter.

We want you, and the noble people who are your teachers, to know that we did not pick up guns because of a taste for killing and dying, that we do not seek war because we do not want peace. We were living without peace; our children are boys and girls like yourselves, but infinitely more poor. For our boys and girls there are no schools or medicine, there are no clothes or food, there is no dignified roof where we can keep our poverty. For our boys and girls there is only work, ignorance and death. The land we have is worthless. In order to get anything for our children we go out to find pay in the land of others, the powerful, and they pay us poorly for our work. Our children must work from a very young age in order to get some food, clothes, and medicine. The toys of our children are the machete, the ax, and the hoe. Playing and suffering, they go out in search of firewood, to cut the forest, and sow, as soon as they can barely walk. They eat the same as we eat: corn, beans and chilies. They cannot go to school and learn Spanish because the work kills the whole day and sickness kills the night. That is how our boys and girls have lived and died for 501 years. We, their fathers, their mothers, their brothers and sisters, no longer wanted to be guilty of doing nothing. We sought peaceful solutions to attain justice and we found taunts, we found prison, we found blows, and we found death. We always found pain and sorrow. So we had to take the path of war, because what we asked for with our voices was never listened to. And, boys and girls of Jalisco, we do not ask for handouts and charity. We ask for justice: a fair salary, a piece of good land, a dignified house, a school of truths, medicine that cures, bread on our tables, respect for our culture, freedom to say what we think and freedom to open our mouths so that the words will unite us with others in peace and without death. That is what we have always asked for, boys and girls, and they did not listen to what our voices clamored for. And then we took up arms in our hands, then we made the tools of work into tools of struggle, and then they waged war on us, the war that killed us without you knowing about it, boys and girls of Jalisco. We turned it against them, the big, the powerful, those who have it all and deserve nothing.

That is why, boys and girls of Jalisco, we started our war. That is why the peace that we want is not the same one that we had before, because it was not peace, it was death and scorn, it was sorrow and pain, it was shame. That is why we tell you, with respect and affection, boys and girls of Jalisco, to raise the flag of peace with dignity and write poems of Plegaria a una Vida Digna [Prayer for a Dignified Life] and seek, above all, the justice that is for everybody equally or for no one.

Good Health boys and girls of Jalisco.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,


On Addressing Communications to the Press

February 11, 1994

To El Sur, 21st Century Journalism newspaper:

Attention Jesu's García, Claudia Martínez Sánchez, Pablo Gómez Santiago:


I received your letter dated February 9, 1994. Ooof! If you report with half the aggressiveness of the letter you sent me, when this country really becomes free and just you will win the National Prize for Journalism. I accept that you are calling me to task (in reality it is a scolding, but this morning I woke up feeling diplomatic). I would like it if, in the middle of your full indignation, you could find the space to listen to me.

We are at war. We took up arms against the supreme government. They are looking for us to kill us, not just to interview us. We confess that we do not know of El Sur, 21st Century Journalism, but you confess that it is something difficult to reproach us for, surrounded as we are, without food and under constant threat from armed aircraft. Fine, we have mutually confessed. A lot of honest journalists have come to the jungle, some not so honest, and others who are not even journalists but present themselves as such. We must mistrust all whom we do not directly know because, I repeat, the government wants to take our picture...dead. I know that for the "professionals in violence" death is a natural consequence, but there is a big difference between knowing this and helping the enemy. I am not trying to move you, I only want you to understand the conditions in which we found and find ourselves. We have very little room for maneuvering and, paradoxically, we need now more than ever to contact the media that tells the truth. The entrance and exit of journalists through our lines is a strong blow to our security system, and there exists the risk that in the entrance or exit, the workers of the communications media will suffer from an attack and our forces will be blamed. I do not consider myself to have been interviewed enough. In fact, the interview published by La Jornada is the only one I have given in my life, and I think that there are a lot of gaps that the journalists of that publication left open and that could have been filled with questions which were not asked. So I am not behaving as a debutante who "chooses" whom and that not to address with his honorable word. I am simply taking into consideration that wherever I make myself present, I place all who are present, and those who arrive, at extra risk. We are behaving like what we are, people persecuted by the government, not by journalists.

Anyway, if you had begun with the support that the San Cristóbal newspaper Tiempo gives you, you would have saved yourselves the just indignation that fills the three pages of fax that I received. For me, the word of Tiempo is enough to accept the honesty of someone, so I am sending a letter to the National Commissioner of Mediation, Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, to give you a pass to cross our lines and take the pictures that you want and conduct the interviews that you can (remember, please, that we are at war). I solemnly promise that as soon as it is possible, I will have the honor of receiving you personally and replying to your questions, if they can be answered.

Until that improbable day arrives, I send you this writing. All right, there it goes, without any prior anesthesia, the writing titled...

Reasons and Non-Reasons Why We Say Yes to Some Media

When the bombs were falling on the mountains south of San Cristóbal de las Casas, when our combatants resisted the attacks of the federal troops in Ocosingo, when our troops regrouped after the attack on the Rancho Nuevo barracks, when we were fortifying ourselves in Altamirano and Las Margaritas, when the air smelled of powder and blood, the CCRI-CG of the EZLN called me and told me, more or less: 'We must speak our words so that others will hear. If we don't do it now, others will take our voice and lies will come from our mouth without our wanting them to. Look for ways to give our truth to others who want to listen to it.' That is how the CCRI-CG put me in charge of seeking communication media that could publish what was really happening and what we were thinking. As I have said before, newspapers do not come to the mountains. What does come are the airwaves of radio stations (most of them government-run). As a result, we had to decide whom to address based on the previous experiences that we had. We had to consider a number of things: First, the publication of our communique's would bring a logical question to the media that would receive them: Were these communique's authentic? In other words, were they really from those who took up arms, or forged? Afterwards, suppose they answered "yes" (no one could say with certainty that they were authentic), the key question would come: 'Should we publish them?' To assume the authenticity of the communique's is already a risk for the editorial committees of these media, but the responsibility of publishing them implies many other things, so many that maybe only they can tell that story of the decision to open up to a movement that no one, beside ourselves, knew well. A movement whose origin was an enigma in the best of cases, and a provocation in the worst. The EZLN had risen against the supreme government, it had taken seven municipal seats, was fighting with the Federal Army, and was formed, at the very least, by some Indigenous people. This was a fact. But who was behind the EZLN? What did they really want? Why through those means (the armed ones)? Who financed them? In short, what was really going on? There must have been a thousand more questions. Those media will some day tell the story (an important one, surely). We thought about all of this and asked ourselves: Who will take all these risks? The answer we gave ourselves was, more or less, this one: It will be those media whose zeal to know the truth of what is happening is bigger than their fear of the risks in finding it. Well, the answer was correct (I think), but it did not solve anything. The most important thing was missing: to decide on the recipient of those initial letters and communique's. I will briefly narrate how and why the addressees that have appeared until now began appearing. It is clear that these must now be expanded.

Tiempo: The decision to address this paper was unanimous in the CCRI-CG of the EZLN and, you can say, by acclamation. You must remember that our compan~eros do not take up arms just like that, in search of adventure. They have traveled a long road of political, legal, economic, and peaceable struggles. They know various local and state prisons and torture centers. They also know who listened to them yesterday and who shut their doors and ears. I have explained in a letter to a journalist of that publication what Tiempo means to the Indigenous people of Chiapas, so I will not repeat myself. However, deciding to put Tiempo among other addressees was not easy. We were sure of the honesty and impartiality of these people, but there was the problem of war, and in a war it is easy to confuse the lines that divide one force from the other. I am not referring to the front line only, but also the political and ideological lines that separate and confront both sides. What do I mean? Simply, that by publishing our communique', Tiempo could be accused, gratuitously for sure, of being a "spokesperson" of the "transgressors of the law." For a large newspaper this could mean problems, but for a small newspaper this could mean its certain disappearance. In any case the compan~eros say: "Send it to Tiempo, if they don't publish it, at least they deserve to know what's going on." That is part of the story about the selection of Tiempo. What is missing, of course, is the part about how the noble people of Tiempo decided to risk everything, to the point of gambling their existence as a newspaper, and publish what we sent them. Whatever that story may have been, we can do no less than salute the braveness of that newspaper which, among all, was the one that had the most to lose, if not everything. That is why the CCRI-CG of the EZLN has always insisted that I send a copy of everything that we send out to Tiempo.

After deciding on a local news medium to address, the problem of deciding on a national news medium arose. Television was eliminated for obvious reasons. For us the radio presented the problem of getting the material to them without additional risks. Then there was the problem of the national print media. You must remember that we did not know what was being said in the press about what was going on; we were fighting in the mountains and the cities. So, as I said earlier, we had to decide based on the record that we had.

La Jornada: Then we evaluated what La Jornada had previously done. Its editorial policy was, as we say today, plural. In other words, different political and economic currents had space there. In that newspaper a wide spectrum of interpretations of the national and international reality could be, and still can be, appreciated. That is to say, that newspaper presents, with quality, a very representative ideological mosaic of so-called Mexican society. I think this is demonstrated in the gradual transition from the harsh condemnation of the EZLN (remember the January 2, 1994 editorial) to the critical analysis of what was happening. Mutatis mutando [all things being equal], I think that is what happened with the so-called civil society: From condemning us, it went to making an effort to understand us. There is in La Jornada what used to be called the Left, Center, and Right, as well as the multiple subdivisions that history makes and destroys. There is healthy polemic of a high standard. In short, I think it is a good newspaper. It is difficult to write it off as Leftist or Rightist or Centrist (although the Mexican Anti-Communist Front (Frente Anti-
Comunista Mexicano) places it among the former). I think that this myriad of editorial currents is an important part of the success of this newspaper (and editorial success of a newspaper during my times as a journalist meant the ability to put out the next issue). It was not the existence of this ideological mosaic that made us decide to include La Jornada among the addressees, however. What was decisive was the bravery and honesty of its journalists. We have seen brilliant journalistic pages (fieldwork, they used to call it) in articles and interviews in this newspaper. For some strange reason, these journalists (and many others, I agree, but now I am talking about La Jornada) are not satisfied with the official bulletins. They are irksome (for those covered) to exhaustion in their zeal to know what is happening. Furthermore, when something important (as they understand it) happens, they are not satisfied to send a single journalist, but rather form a true assault unit that begins to reveal diverse sides of the event that they are covering. They have what, in my times, they used to call total journalism, as if it was a movie with various cameras with different focuses and angles of the same event. What is hypnotic in the movies, in the press moves to reflection and analysis. Fighting still with fire and lead, we thought that, maybe, they would want to know the face behind the ski mask. I am not saying that others would not want to (including the federal government), but now I am talking about this news medium. With things this way, what makes us add the name of La Jornada to the addressees is, above all, its journalistic team. There are other reasons less determinant, such as the eventual or regular sections of "La Doble Jornada," "La Jornada Laboral," "Perfil," and last but not least, "Histerietas" [sections in La Jornada].

El Financiero: Somebody asked me why we choose a newspaper that specializess in economic issues as our interlocutor. To say that El Financiero is a finance newspaper is to miss the truth in the best of cases, and in the worst it means that you haven't read it. El Financiero has, it is our understanding, a serious and responsible team of columnists performing their journalistic tasks. Its analysis is objective, and above all, very critical. The ideological plurality of the articles that make up El Financiero is also a richness that is difficult to find in other national newspapers. I mean it is a balanced plurality. Its editorial policy is not satisfied with splashing a critical pen among those aligned with the powerful. It opens real spaces for incisive analysis of both sides. (I doubt that there are only two sides, but the literary figure helps, I think.) Its journalistic team has the instinct to dissect reality, which is what finally distinguishes a journalist from an observer. El Financiero seems to tell us and show us that a social event is a reflection of ("a reflection of?" I think I should say: "conditions and is conditioned by") several economic, political and cultural aspects. Like reading a history book, but of present and everyday history which, by the way, is the most difficult history to read. When I was young and beautiful, intellectuals tended to group around a publication, dig up positions, entrench themselves, and throw truths to the ignorant world of the mortals. In those times they called them the elites of the intelligentsia and there were as many as there were magazines and ideological currents in fashion. Publications to be read by those who published them. Lucha calls them "an editorial masturbation." If you, innocent earthling, wanted to brush up against these ivory towers, you had to follow a rough process. If any editorial medium seems to distance itself from this elite journalism that pours off, selects and eliminates, it is El Financiero. This national newspaper did not react with the immediate condemnation of a movement that nobody understood, it did not jump into intense intellectual study that affected, and affects, other media. It waited, which in the art of war is the most difficult virtue to learn; it investigated; it reported and, on a firmer base, it began to weave that interdisciplinary analysis that its readers can now appreciate. We did not know this until, some time later, an issue got to our hands. We congratulated ourselves for a good choice, although, it is only fair to acknowledge, we had nothing to lose. If for La Jornada it was the journalistic team that made us decide, in El Financiero it was the editorial team (not withstanding Mr. Pazos).

Proceso: For this weekly, it is worth repeating the apology for its late inclusion among the addressees. The reason for this I have explained elsewhere. I would like to recall an anecdote, of the many that run loose in our minds and chats, of January 1, 1994: At dusk, a majority of the civilian population, who had been curious and scandalized by what they saw, with us in the municipal palace at San Cristóbal de las Casas, had gone into their houses and hotels, scared by the insistent rumors that the Federal Army would try to assault our positions in darkness. However, one or two drunks for whom the New Year's party had gone on for 24 hours, showed up. Keeping their balance with difficulty, they would address us, asking what religious procession we were from because they saw many 'Indians' in the central park. After we would tell them what was happening, they would invite us to a useless sip from an empty bottle and they would leave, staggering and discussing whether the procession was for the Virgin of Guadalupe or for the Fiesta of Santa Lucía. People in their right mind, or at least so they appeared, would also approach us. And then it happened: Spontaneous war strategists and military advisors surged, telling us how to run when the federal troops attacked us and avoid many losses, because with respect to our defeat there was unanimity among them.

One of them, later in the night and when our troops were getting ready to move to new positions before the assault on Rancho Nuevo, came up to me and, with a tone more paternalistic than doctoral, told me: "Marcos, you made a strategic mistake by initiating the war on a Saturday." I adjusted my ski mask that, along with my eyelids, was beginning to droop over my eyes, and ventured, timidly, "Why?"

"Look," says my impromptu advisor of military strategy, "The mistake is that on Saturdays Proceso closes its edition and therefore the analysis and truthful reports about your struggle will not come out until next week." I continue fixing my ski mask, to give myself some time more than because it was out of place. My military advisor from San Cristóbal adds, relentless: "You should have attacked on Friday." I try, timidly, to argue in my defense about the New Year's Eve dinner, the fireworks, the celebrations, the etceteras that I don't remember now, but I must have been saying something, because the character I had in front did not let me continue and interrupted me, saying, "And now who knows if you will last until next week." There was no pity in his tone. It was a lugubrious death sentence. He left, giving me an understanding pat for my strategic blunder of attacking on a Saturday. I have not read the Proceso of that week previous to January 1, but if there is something on which the strategist was right that night, it is in that in Proceso truthful analysis and reports do appear. I can add little to the virtues that everyone points out in the journalistic work of this weekly magazine recognized worldwide. It suffices to call attention to the depth that is always present in the articles of Proceso, the diverse focuses on a problem, whether it be national or international.

Others: I agree with you that there are other media, of equal or greater value than those above mentioned. We will look into increasing the number of addressees or, simply address the press in general. I believe that, finally, this will be the wisest, since there are truly many and good news media that do this: inform.

El Sur (Oaxaca): I repeat that we did not know about it. I counter-repeat that we do not have the advantages of the Federal Army to give interviews or press conferences, I arch-repeat that we are surrounded and at war. But I propose a deal: Until a personal interview becomes possible, we could advance something by mail. I know that an interview through letters is not ideal for a reporter, but we could send something. Furthermore, I commit myself to finding interviews with other officials of the EZLN, and this without any requisite other than coming to Chiapas and picking up, at the office of the National Commissioner of Mediation, the accreditation as war journalists that the EZLN provides.

As you must know, the dialogue has not started. Maybe we are waiting for you.

Well, journalists of El Sur of Oaxaca, I believe I must have bored you enough. However it may be, the great advantage of this long letter is that no medium will dare to publish it. All right.

Good health and a sincere embrace without rancor...agreed?
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Insurgent Subcommander Marcos
P.S.: Could you send us an issue of your newspaper? We solemnly promise to pay for it in the improbable case that one day we have money. (Would you accept letters instead of cash?)

Another P.S.: That airplane simply won't fall, and the water in the pot evaporated while waiting. Why don't you bring some Oaxaca cheese when you come? They say it is very tasty. We will provide the tortillas and the hunger. You're welcome.

cc: Tiempo, San Cristóbal, Chiapas.
cc: La Jornada, Mexico City
cc: El Financiero, Mexico City
cc: Proceso, Mexico City