Chapter 9: Concluding the Dialogue

Communique's and Letters

[As the dialogue ended the EZLN prepared itself to move into the next phase, that of bringing what the delegates had discussed to the communities. Many of these early responses show hope as well as realism about the possible outcome of the talks.

These letters and interviews also show that the EZLN would not compromise for peace:  "If they deny us a just and dignified peace, then we, somber men and women, will dress ourselves once again for war."]

A Thank-You to the NGO's

March 1, 1994

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
To the non-governmental organizations:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the EZLN addresses all of you with respect and honor:

We have explained many times the great importance that we give to the disinterested and honest work of non-governmental organizations. Now we want to speak to them again, to say thank you for having been around us all those days in the "peace belt." Good and true people came from different parts of Mexico and the world, sacrificing their time, work and rest to accompany us along the first phase of the road to peace with justice and dignity.

In our dreams we have seen another world. A sincere world, a world definitively more just than the one in which we now move. We saw that in this world armies were not necessary; peace, justice, and freedom were so common in it that no one spoke of them as far-off things, but as one mentions bread, birds, air, water, as one says book and voice, that's how the good things in this world were spoken of. And in this world, the government of the majority was fair and followed the will of the people, and those who directed the people thought well; they directed while obeying. That sincere world was not a dream of the past, it was not something that came from our ancestors. It came from ahead, it was from the next step that we had taken. Thus it was that we began to move to make that dream sit at our table, illuminate our house, grow in our corn fields, fill the heart of our children, clean our sweat, restore our history, and be for all.

We want this. Nothing more, but nothing less.

Now we continue our steps toward our true heart to ask it what we will have to do. We will return to our mountains to speak with the same language and at the same time as our own [people].

Thanks to the brothers and sisters who cared for us all those days. Take our path. Farewell.

Freedom! Justice! Democracy!


From the Mexican Southeast,


On the Outcome of the Dialogue

March 1, 1994

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous ,Committee-General Command of the EZLN addresses itself to all of you with respect and honor.

First: The Zapatista National Liberation Army came to this dialogue table with the sincere intention of listening and explaining all the reasons that obliged us to rise up in arms in order not to die unworthily. We arrived to dialogue; that is, we came to talk and to listen. We addressed ourselves to the supreme government and to all the good and honest people there are in the world. We also spoke to the bad people so that they would hear the truth. Some listened to us; others continued on the road of contempt for our voice and our race.

Second: We found attentive ears ready to listen to the truth that came from our lips. The San Cristóbal dialogue was real. There was no underhandedness or lies. Nothing was hidden from our hearts or from the reasonable and kind people. There was no buying and selling of dignity. There was equality in speaking and in listening. There was good, real dialogue.

Third: Now we have responses that reflect the real interest of the man commissioned to find peace. Now we have the obligation to reflect well on what his words mean. Now we need to speak with the collective heart that governs us. We need to listen to its voice in order to walk again. The next signal to take the next step on this road whose destiny will or will not be peace with justice and dignity, will come from them, from our side, from the Indigenous in the mountains and ravines.

Fourth: We have found in the commissioner for peace and reconciliation in Chiapas a man ready to listen to our reasons and demands. He was not content with listening to and understanding us; moreover, he looked for possible solutions to the problems. We hail the attitude of Commissioner Manuel Camacho Solís.

Fifth: We have seen in the National Commissioner for Mediation, the Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, real and permanent concern for overcoming all the obstacles that intervene along the road to peace. Good men and women worked with him day and night so that nothing would interrupt the development of the dialogue. Sacrificing their personal security, well-being and health, the mediators completed their work, not between peace and war, but between two voices that try, still, to find themselves at peace.

These men and women welcomed us. If some tranquillity blossoms in these lands it will be due, above all, to their pacifying work. We hail the sacrifice and dedication of the National Mediation Commission, and especially Bishop Samuel Ruiz García.

Sixth: Now this phase of the dialogue has ended and its direction is good, we brush aside all obstacles to keep on going.

Freedom! Justice! Democracy!


From the Mexican Southeast,


A Conversation with Subcommander Marcos After the Dialogue

March 3, 1994
Julio Moguel and Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondents, San Cristóbal.
[La Jornada, 3/4]

Subcommander Marcos keeps up a loose and informal conversation after the last interviews that he granted in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Visibly tired, but with the nimble speech that characterizes him, he contemplates the military experience of the Zapatista uprising, expressing his first impressions after the dialogue, reflecting on the period of consultation that the EZLN now has to carry out in its communities.

It is the end of a period, unexpected and surprising, that the rebels didn't count on. The insurgent subcommander evaluates the insufficiencies of the negotiations, as much on the part of the EZLN as the negotiators for the government. He shows himself to be skeptical about the promises, and outlines scenarios for the immediate future. Peace or war? A flare-up of repression and authoritarianism? Or effective transition to democracy?

The man of a thousand words takes his leave of the forum, and, before returning to the mountains, settles into a chair for one more conversation.

"Do you feel more secure now that you are returning to the jungle?"

"There we are in our element. When we enter the city we start to make errors, but while we are in the mountains and in the communities it is very difficult for anyone to mess with us, including the regular forces of the Federal Army."

"You are asking journalists to go with you to the jungle. What does this invitation consist of? Does this mean that perhaps your encampments will not be clandestine any more?"

"The idea is not to take them to places where the situation is delicate. There is a civilian section where the consultations will take place. Yes, some visits can be arranged that imply a certain risk, and these--like those before, will be conducted with a lot of security, blindfolding the journalists who are decided on. It is not a secret for anyone anymore which zones are Zapatista."

"Are you thinking of continuing the war, or do you think the negotiations went well?"

"We thought that the war would continue. What held it up on January 12 was that the Federal Army might enter the communities and start razing, that we would be drawing them toward the jungle, to the mountains. That was what stopped it. We were prepared for that type of combat: That was what we rehearsed for 10 years, not the attacks on San Cristóbal and the other main townships. For the past nine years we prepared for defense, for defense only.

"But our calculations were not, and are not, that everything will be decided by means of weapons. What we think and calculate is that it will be more expensive in political terms to annihilate us than to tell us that they will fulfill all our demands. Because right now they are only talking about that: what they will give us. And perhaps there may be some large investment, except in order to solve the problem of taking away the Zapatista Army's social base. And to take away the social base of the war, the government will have to combat its past to convince the communities that it will now fulfill its promises. Why would the people believe its promises now?

"The expectation we have is that the war will remain averted through the pressure exerted by the civil society of the whole country to complete the accords. I don't think that depends on the results of the San Cristóbal talks. A problem will arise if civil society becomes exhausted, tires, becomes deflated. In that case, everything would remain open and then, yes, they would move on us militarily. What I am trying to explain is that the problem is not with us, but with the country. Our cycle ended already, however many flashes and photos keep on going."

"You counted on war and that it was going to be long. Did you think there was going to be a big military clash, or did you not count on that?"

"Yes, we counted on a big military clash. We thought that the biggest military clash would be in San Cristóbal. Our calculations were that the military response would be immediate, to avoid a greater stir. We calculated that they would not hesitate. That is why we concentrated greater forces here, with the idea of holding off the Army's entrance. Our largest military core was around Rancho Nuevo, on the Tuxtla Road.

"With good reason we thought that there must have been a big clash when we saw that the main townships did not fall at the same time. We took San Cristóbal and realized that we were alone, that the other main townships had not fallen. The attacks in Altamirano and Ocosingo began at 7 in the morning and were not resolved in military terms until 4 in the afternoon. In Las Margaritas the attack started at 3 in the morning, and it fell in an hour. We started at 1 in the morning and at 2 we already had the city. Therefore we decided to give ourselves the necessary time in San Cristóbal to detain and hold up the Army, and give ourselves time for an orderly retreat, while we figured out what was happening and carried out an armed propaganda action. Then came the attack on Rancho Nuevo to recover arms and supplies, and it is there we failed in a sorry way. We lost people and, furthermore, we became scattered. That broke up an entire column, the one that came from San Cristóbal to Rancho Nuevo, and also the one that was descending from Altamirano to San Cristóbal.

"I repeat that we were not sure of what was happening. The quick way in which we went from armed action to the negotiating table in San Cristóbal took us by surprise. We have already said before that our relative delay in organizing ourselves for arriving at the peace table was precisely because we didn't expect it so soon."

"Yes, the way in which the events grew took you by surprise, and you had to improvise and discuss the change of course immediately. Are you now prepared to discuss the terms of the accords in the jungle in as short a time as the one announced?"

"There is not and will not be improvisation in the discussion of the accords, though. We know how to do that. That is how we decided on war. Let me tell you. First there emerged some voices that said not to wait anymore; later there appeared nuclei that said that they would go to war alone, on their part. Then the Command started to detect this situation. It analyzed it and decided to have consultations. An explanation of the pros and cons of the uprising was organized, taking into account the circumstances: the North American Free Trade Agreement, the fall of the socialist system, what happened in El Salvador, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. And on the other side was the logic of death and misery: the increase in infant mortality, the cancellation of agrarian distribution through the reform of Article 27, the shock of the commissions that went to ask for resources and only returned with a heap of papers.

"Then the General Command explained it to the ethnic committees. Those committees to those of the regions and ravines, those ones to the local committees--which are in every settlement, and those, in their turn, explained it to the community. There the pros and cons were argued until the community said it was time to vote. Records were taken that show how many said yes, how many no, how many did not know, without distinction for age, men, women and children. Then came the reverse process: The local committees passed the basic resolves to the regions, the regions to the zone, the zone to the committees and these to the Command. That was when it appeared that we had been watching another television channel: While we thought no, that it appeared that everything at the international level was against it, that military action would be annulled as a result, it ended up that the immense majority was inclined toward it. Only a small handful of compan~eros said any more than that it still was not time."

"You said before that in order to win the accords at the table in San Cristóbal it would require something more than the express will of both sides. Did you mean that only with the support--
or the addition--of civil society would it be possible to win the Zapatista demands? Could you explain this idea better?"

"The government will only comply if it is forced to, by the force of rifles or through the pressure of society. To depend on that pressure being applied is the right way. The only possibility for peace that we see now is if there are other forces that will commit themselves to forcing the government to comply. That is the bet on this consultation process: It doesn't depend on what goes down, but on what goes to the rest of the country.

"We have received many letters that suggest a process of transmutation. First we got letters of surprise, from some who said that everything was beautiful but that they were going to smash us; later came letters that said we should search for the way of peace, of negotiation, so that we would not let ourselves be killed; the third phase was when we were told--are told--not to turn in our weapons, not to sell out, not to give in to what they are asking for. Solidarity committees are being formed not with the Chiapaneco people but with the EZLN. They come from many sides, above all from Indigenous groups. You will remember the letter that the marchers from Guerrero sent us; but we have also gotten letters from the Yaqui, Mayo, Tarahumara, from the Yucatán and Campeche Maya, from Colima, Puebla...

"We do not assume the head of this movement; rather we assume the tail. Now any other movement has more opportunity than us, because they can say: There are the radicals; I want the same as them, and if you do not comply with me, too, I will become radicalized. Now the field is open for that and we say: Come onin! But we do not see ourselves as propitiatory victims, because, yes, we are going to get back our dead, not with other deaths, but with benefits for the Indians in general and the state in particular. Right now the danger is that the movement will remain resigned to the level it grows to locally and will not aspire to contribute to a national movement."

"In the document that came out of the discussions between you and the commissioner in San Cristóbal, some demands that the EZLN put forward at the federal level did not have positive responses, like the reform of Article 27 or Article Four of the Constitution. But a first reading gives the impression that you achieved things that, although they were not formally accepted, push toward a reform of important parts of the Constitution or, if the figure is permitted, won things that are too large for the narrowness of the legal and institutional framework currently in force.

"There are responses that do not formally respond to some of the national demands, but that opens the door to developing a national movement that would end up smashing or modifying the current constitutional framework. They do not respond, for example, to the demand for reform of Article 27, but the established concessions make possible the coming together of other sectors and movements, with demands of that type and by other means, that would end up reforming it before the six-year term ends or at the start of a new government.

"According to our analysis and the consultations we held with lawyers, San Cristóbal necessarily begins to raise the necessity of a national forum, with a national dialogue, where, in addition to us, other forces would participate.

In any case, if they do not find a solution quickly and clearly, it is to maintain the principle of authority, with the idea that they do not have a reason to concede to these people. The neoliberal project is already indefensible."

"You were really lucky not to be found. What was the formula or the conditions that made that possible?"

"The government first thought that we were not a guerrilla group. They said that if we were a guerrilla group, we would already be attacking, because there is no guerrilla group that prepares itself first, grows and then attacks. Then they thought that we were Guatemalans, bases of support for the Revolutionary National Guatemalan Union (Unión Revolucionario Nacional Guatemalteca, URNG), or they thought other things, like that it was a question of some organizations' land invasions. The information that they had does not check out with the sketch on the Department of Defense's computer or the Department of Government's, if it does then the Department of Government still hid that information.

"Since 1985, we have thought that we would be discovered. Then, our entire military plan was defensive, waiting to be discovered. We were already growing too much: Entire communities spoke about us, helped us with the load, fed us."

"What question would you have liked to hear? What is it that nobody has asked you and you would like to say?"

"I would ask: What are the Zapatistas going to do, in one or another possibility? What are they going to do if the people say no to peace and yes to war? What are they going to do if the people say yes to peace and no to war? What are they going to do with their military units and 'professionals in violence' in one case or another? In case the choice is peace, we will not fight, since our Army is campesino. The incorporation into civilian life would be almost natural, although we would not turn in our arms for defending ourselves in case of a threat. Anyways, if we achieve peace we will have to remain as an army for a while to guarantee compliance with the accords. The problem is what, in that time, will our relationship to the Power be like, with that which we confronted, whose objective was to exterminate us, or take away our social base and undermine our prestige so that it could annihilate us with the least political cost."

"In case the peace offer advances and the Zapatista demands are complied with, what will happen with the ranchers?"

"I think that they are going to have to be sacrificed. If the government wants to arrive at an accord it has to sacrifice them. A process of coordination can grow among the ranchers, in the sense that they themselves would decide to sacrifice some of their number--those of these territories--so that others aren't touched. That is going to happen in Altamirano, in Ocosingo, in Las Margaritas, where the conflict was.

"A phenomenon similar to that of San Juan Chamula occurred there. The political machine of San Juan Chamula is promoted by the State in exchange for votes. By fulfilling this function of securing votes, they started to get more power, and that provoked the situation that we know. To such a point that now the government cannot touch the caciques. They become governors, and at high social costs; they cannot be touched. Perhaps they do not realize what a monster they have created, equal to the ranchers, when they gave training to, armed, funded, and covered them up in the mess that they made.

"And the government knew. Just like they discovered our training camps in '93, they knew at least since '90 that the ranchers were armed and preparing themselves. It was their officials who taught in the training camps of the guardias blancas, on the Castillians' [Spanish speakers'] ranches, in the municipal auditorium of Altamirano.

"The military hypothesis we had contemplated is that a bullring would be made called the Lacandona Jungle. The federal government and the Army are in the burladero [barrier to let bullfighters escape from the bull]; civilian society above; we are the bullfighter and the bull is the ranchers. The government says: Let them tear themselves to pieces and I will manage to get the rest. And then the aggressive army on human rights becomes a pacifying army and restores order. That is a probable scenario, which reproduces, in military terms, the detention of the Ricardo Pozas caravan: It is a lynching environment and the soldiers just stand by.

"The ranchers are already out of control. We threatened several times to break off the talks due to the situation in Altamirano, and the government could not control them. The ranchers are playing at breaking up the talks."

"What is going to happen in Altamirano? Is there going to be a breakthrough? What happens if this plan of confrontation extends to other parts of the country?"

"It appears that this also is going to play out with ranchers nationally. There they will see what support they have. But if these guys have the support of the ranchers, then its no good, because they are going to go from lynchers to martyrs of the small property cause. If the other ranchers start to make noise about this, well, they are going to create a contra. But the responsibility is the State's. In the same way, they are responsible for what happened on January 1, because they were told before that this would happen; we demanded that they correct things. Now they are told this is going to happen, to leave the doors open."

"If this has been the response of the government, how do you now see the response or attitude of Camacho?"

"Camacho's discovery was that, in reality, the leadership of this movement is Indigenous. It was a big surprise to them to have to address themselves to those speakers and not to the forces that were supposedly behind everything. That is when the world opened up to us, and then Camacho said that yes, there is a way out, although we are hidden behind a face mask, that we have nothing to do with foreign forces."

"One of your conquests at the table in San Cristóbal is that conditions were created for clean and democratic elections in Chiapas. If this is accomplished, would the EZLN participate in the electoral process as a force in some way, with its own candidates?"

"We are not going to do that. We do not have the necessary organizational structure. But furthermore there is a fear among our people that one of us would do it. For example, all the leaders are prohibited from holding public office, under threat of expulsion. They also do not have the possibility of owning property. But, moreover, the structure of the EZLN is strictly military. Furthermore, we would need squadrons experienced in open struggle, mass struggle. We have the ability to organize ourselves in communities, to survive, to maintain ourselves there, inside, but not to go into the public light yet, because we do not have the experience. That is where we could get muddled up."

"But you, with the sympathy you generated, couldn't you have influence in the nomination of municipal presidents? Isn't part of your objective to influence the naming of democratic authorities?"

"That is without a doubt one of our objectives. That is definitely a near-reality in the rural areas, as the entire rural territory of the state is ours. But I see that more in the sense of bowing to the nomination, the candidacy of someone, and not launching a candidacy on our own account, which is another way you loose prestige, moral authority, and your social base."

Professionals in Hope

[La Jornada, 3/6]
March 5, 1994
Manuel Henríquez, corespondent, La Paz, Baja California Sur.

At 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 26, Francisco de los Santos, auxiliary of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, looked for Marina Valtierra at a hotel in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, to give her a letter that Subcommander Marcos wrote in response to the message that Miguel A. Vázquez--13 years old--had written and sent via his mother, Marina.

Briefly, Miguel said to Marcos:

"I think that you did what was necessary, because there was no alternative to rising up in arms, since the government did not listen to the needs of the Indians; it was not interested in the misery or the hunger of the Chiapaneco population.

"Admired subcommander: Sometimes it is necessary, as in this case, to rise up in arms to be heard and paid attention to by the corrupt government. I would have liked for there to have been peace from the start. I send you this letter to tell you that since the armed conflict in Chiapas began, I have kept informed of it."

The young man decided to extend the message of the subcommander to all of the children of Mexico by sharing his letter with El Financiero, Proceso and La Jornada:

To the child Miguel A. Vázquez Valtierra:


Your mother gave me your letter, along with the photo of you and your dog. I'm taking advantage of the fact that your mother is returning to your land to write you a few hurried lines which you may not yet understand. Nevertheless, I am sure that one day, as I write to you here, you will understand that it is possible that men and women exist like us--faceless and nameless, who have left everything, even life itself, so that others (children like you and those who are not like you) can wake up every morning without words that silence and without masks to face the world. When this day comes we, the faceless and the nameless, will be able to rest, finally, under the ground... quite dead, certainly, but happy.

Our profession: Hope.

The day is almost dead-dark as it dresses in night and the next day begins to be born, first with its black veil, then with gray or blue, according to the taste of the sun, whether it will shine or not, dust and mud in our path. The day is almost dead in the nighttime arms of the crickets, and then this idea of writing you comes to me, to tell you something that comes from one of those "professionals in violence," which they have called us so often.

It turns out that yes, we are professionals. But our profession is hope. We decided one fine day to make ourselves soldiers so that one day soldiers would not be needed. That is, we picked a suicidal profession because it is a profession whose objective is to disappear: Soldiers who are soldiers so that one day nobody will need to be a soldier. This is clear, right? And then it turns out that these soldiers who want to stop being soldiers, us, have something that the books and speeches call "patriotism." Because that which we call country is not a vague idea found only in letters and books, but a great body of meat and bone, of pain and suffering, of sorrow, of hope that everything will change in the end, one fine day. And the country that we want will have to be born also from our errors and missteps. From our dispossession and our broken bodies a new world will have to rise up. Will we see it? Does it matter if we see it? I think that it does not matter as much as knowing for certain that it will be born and that, in the long and painful birth of history, we contributed something and everything: life, body and soul. Love and pain, not only do they rhyme [in Spanish, "amor y dolor"] but they unite and march together. Because of this we are soldiers who want to stop being soldiers. But it turns out that in order for soldiers to no longer be necessary, one has to become a soldier and prescribe a discrete quantity of lead, hot lead writing freedom and justice for all, not for one or for a few, but for all, everyone, the dead of before and of tomorrow, the living of today and always, all of those who we call people and country, those without anything, the losers of always before tomorrow, the nameless, the faceless.

To be a soldier who wants there to be no need for soldiers is very simple. It is enough to respond firmly to a small piece of hope that everyone else deposits in each one of us, those who have nothing, those who will have everything. For them and for those who have kept to the path, for one unjust reason or another. For those who try to really change and become better every day, every evening, every night of rain and crickets. To accumulate hate and love with patience. To cultivate the fierce tree of hate for the oppressor with the love that struggles and liberates. To cultivate the powerful tree of love that is wind that cleans and cures; not the small and egotistical love--the large one, the one that improves and makes one grow. To cultivate among us the tree of the hate and of love, the tree of duty. In this cultivation to put one's whole life, body and soul, breath and hope. To grow, then, crow and grow step by step, pace by pace. And in that climbing and falling of red stars, to not fear, to not fear until surrendering, sitting down in a chair to rest while others continue, to catch our breath while others struggle, to sleep while others stay up.

Abandon, if you have it, the love of death and the fascination with martyrs. Revolutionaries love life without fearing death, and seek a life that is dignified for all, and if for that they need to pay with their death, they will do it without drama or hesitation.

Receive my best hug and this tender pain that will always be hope.

Health, Miguel.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Insurgent Subcommander Marcos

P.S. Here we live worse than dogs. We had to choose: to live like animals or die like dignified people. Dignity, Miguel, is the only thing that one should never lose...never.

On Charging Conac-LN with Legal Matters

[La Jornada, 3/17]

March 15, 1994

To the people of Mexico:
To the people and governments of the world:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army addresses all of you with respect and honor to speak its word:

Since the stage prior to dialogue in San Cristóbal, the CCRI-CG of the EZLN asked for legal advice to be able to consult with several problems that the process of war and the process of peace presented to our Army. We did not receive any immediate response. The justice of our struggle was lost among slander and mistrust. Only one response came to us at that time, and that was from the response of the brothers and sisters of the National Coordinating Committee of Civic Action for National Liberation (Coordinadora National de Acción Cívica para la Liberación Nacional, Conac-LN), who offered the support of their legal commission.

We thanked them for this gesture and placed our trust in these people. They will do all that is in their power to support us in the legal aspects, since our needs are large. We salute the commitment and altruism of the brothers and sisters of the Conac-LN and we address the Mexican people to ratify what we have written to them on previous days: All of the legal matters of our Zapatista National Liberation Army will be entrusted to the Legal Commission of the National Coordinating Committee of Civic Action for National Liberation.





From the Mexican Southeast,

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-
General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.

The Struggle Will Continue
[La Jornada 3/17]
March 15, 1994

"Like shadows of tender fury, our passing will shelter those who have nothing."

To the State Council of Indigenous and Campesino Organizations (Consejo Estatal de Organizaciones Indígenas y Campesinas, CEOIC):

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-General Command of the EZLN directs itself to you, with respect and honor, in order to say the following:

The federal government that yesterday usurped the will of the people is lying about what has occurred in the dialogue in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas; the evil government says that there are "agreements," when only dialogue took place. Do not let them lie to us, brothers and sisters. The powerful now usurp the truth and are trying to deceive us by saying that peace is only a question of a signature.

How can there be peace if those who caused the war continue demanding that we live in perpetual misery? The arrogance that inhabits the government palace and the homes of businessmen and landowners is still crying for war and the death of our people; they will not tolerate our Indigenous blood becoming equal to white people's blood. We are trying to become a part of the country and they won't let us. They pay us with contempt and mock the march of our dead.

If they speak with contempt, if they silence and murder our brothers and sisters, how can there be peace in these lands? How can we ask our collective heart if it is the hour in which peace will enter through the doorways of our poor land with dignity in hand?

Once again they want to corner us in order to extract our surrender. They want to drag us back, over the death of our dignity, to a peace which is war against our people.

We will not do it, we will not surrender. If they deny us a just and dignified peace, then we, somber men and women, will dress ourselves once again for war. Our fury will come from this deceit, once again our just machetes will be sharpened and our lands will smell of gunpowder. We are shadows of tender fury--our passage will cover the sky, it will shelter with its protective cloak the dispossessed and the good men and women who understand that justice and peace can slip through one's fingers. If they deny us our rights, then our tender fury will enter the mansions of the arrogant. There will not be a wall that can't be jumped, a door that can't be opened, a window that can't be broken, a wall that can't be brought down--our shadow will bring pain to those who demand war and the death of our people. There will be more crying and more blood in order that peace may sit at our table with kindness. Shadows of tender fury, we will once again raise up our voice so that it is heard and the lies are silenced. It is enough already! Our first voice wasn't enough. The land didn't flower with the blood of our dead. The men and women of tender fury will have to walk once again, our dead will again rise up. The history of our pained heart will speak again in order that the deception and the lies end, so that the arrogance will finally disappear from these Mexican lands, so that men and women will come to us again with the dark robes of tender fury in order to speak as one and to silence the many lies.

Do not let the mouths of the powerful speak. Only venom and rot leave their lips. Silence their lies and deceitfulness.

Now it is the time that our brothers and sisters speak, those brothers and sisters who walk on other paths, taking our pain to new suns. The time that the voice of our brothers and sisters of the CEOIC speaks, that every Indigenous person in these lands has their say. Do not let the poor campesino stay silent--let the worker in the city cry out. This warrior song should not forget the voices of the students and the teachers, the working people and every other oppressed person.

Do not leave this heavy flag in our hands alone--
it should be raised by everyone. Let's all change the land that embraces this flag; brother Mexicans, don't forget this voice from the mountains; already the light that our dead give off is very small. Let's all join our lights together, let's break this shameful night. It is time that it dawned.

Let the truth speak. Let its voice speak now, let it walk forward with resolution. We, without faces or pasts, listen with our hearts and with open words for everyone's voices, but our men and women are still silent and there is still silence in the shadows of tender fury.

Let our dream guard your passage so that nothing bad happens to you, so that black shadows don't threaten you. Our hearts and our fire are alert for you, brothers and sisters, so that you can march forward. Let this furious tenderness reign in these lands. Peace isn't possible with deception. Peace is born in freedom and grows in justice. Democracy is dignified for all.

Greetings brothers and sisters of the CEOIC!

Greetings Indigenous brothers and sisters!

Greetings fellow Mexicans, walk forward without fear, with your head held high--our weapons will guard your passage...





From the Mexican Southeast,

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee-
General Command
of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

Government Lies About the Outcome of the Dialogue

[La Jornada, 3/17]
March 15, 1994

To the people of Mexico:
To the peoples and governments of the world:
To the national and international press:

Brothers and Sisters:

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee--General Command of the EZLN directs itself to you, with respect and honor, in order to say the following:

First: The federal government that yesterday usurped the will of the people is lying about what has occurred in the dialogue in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The evil government says that there are "agreements" when only a dialogue took place. The powerful are now trying to usurp the truth and are trying to deceive the people by saying that peace is only a question of a signature.

Second: The fundamental causes of our uprising are being forgotten and the truth about the dialogue is being supplanted by the lie that there is an "agreement." The CCRI-CG of the EZLN hasn't made any agreement with the federal government. We haven't negotiated anything other than the form in which the dialogue is to be carried out. No agreement has been made with the evil government that has been lying for so long.

Third: The CCRI-CG of the EZLN points out that to end the first phase of the dialogue with lies is the best way to ensure that peace fails. We will not trust a government that, even in making propositions, lies. If the supreme government wants to present the documents of San Cristóbal as "agreements," then let's consider the EZLN's list of demands the "agreement," and guarantee democracy in the next elections with the resignation of the federal president.

Fourth: The CCRI-CG of the EZLN respectfully asks the honest national and international press to not play the usurper's cheating game, and to point out, with truth and objectivity, what has occurred in the current stage of the dialogue.





From the Mexican Southeast,

Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee-
General Command
of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

A Letter and Poetry from Marcos

March 15, 1994

To the national and International press:


Did you miss me? Well, here I am anew but with little new. It is difficult to consult about peace with the other shadows that come from San Cristóbal. We are attending more to the voices of our own desire than to those who want eternal privileges and injustice. It hurts to see that even the "authentic" things are corrupted. Do they want more war so that they can understand peace? Accept it, you were happier with our troops inside the walls of your proud and regal city, than now that you have to live in fear. Learn from this struggle that arms itself out of shame...

Greetings and good luck on the Ides of March.

From the mountains of Southeastern Mexico,

Insurgent Subcommander Marcos

Post-script of Immediate Nostalgia

Section: "Images of Yesterday--of the Guerrilla."

I. My work had the appearance of "transcendent history:" I was caring for a small howler monkey who, as all young things should do, did not respect any authority at all. Ignoring my gallant military bearing and the already discolored red star on my chest (this last signified to the other members of the already powerful EZLN-that is to say, the other six members-that I was an infantry lieutenant), the small howler monkey (we always suspected it was a she and not a he) used to carefully crawl up my chest to my right shoulder and hang there every time that she felt like it. Rau'l, the largest of us in every sense, taught us. He fights while singing tangos in the afternoons, the best hours for tangos and crickets. The food is finished. We used to walk knowing what would come. We were already invincible and small. January was still far away. The year? 1984 (does this remind you of something?) The Mad Hatter and the March Hare used to sing:

"A very merry un-birthday to you (repeat)
If today is not your birthday we'll have to celebrate etc. (again)"
"Alice got up to leave. We are still here...and we sing...still..."

II. And it was 1987 and I was an infantry captain and the country was between us and it was, for example, a poem:


This thing that is one's country is somewhat difficult to explain
But it is more difficult to understand what it is to love one's country
For example
they taught us that to love one's country is, for example,
to salute the flag
to rise upon hearing the National Anthem
To get drunk when the national soccer team loses
To get drunk when the national soccer team wins
Some etceteras that change little from six-year term to six-year term
And, for example,
they didn't teach us that to love one's country can be
for example
to whistle like one who is leaving, but
behind that hill there is also part of the country and nobody can see us
And we are frank with each other (because one always is frank when nobody sees them)
And we tell the country,
for example,
everything we hate about it
and everything we love about it
and it is always better to say it,
for example,
with gunshots and smiling
And, for example,
they taught us that to love one's country is for example
to use a campesino sombrero
to know the names of the child-heroes
to shout "Viva-arriba Mexico!" even though Mexico is down and dead.
Other etceteras which change little from six-year term to six-year term.
And, for example, they did not teach us that
to love the country
could be,
for example,
to be quiet as one who dies,
but no,
below this earth there is also country
and no one hears us
and we are frank
(because one is always frank when no one hears us)
and we tell (the country).
the short and hard history
of those who were dying to love it
and that they are no longer hear to give me the reasons,
but they give me them without being here,
those who taught us
that the country can be loved, for example,
with gunshots and smiling.

A P.S. to say goodbye from within a loving gale: This March, like all of them, is unsettling. Care for yourselves, if you can. All right.