“…It is not only those who carry the swords that make blood flow and shoot out fleeting rays of military glory, who are privileged to choose the personnel of the govemment of a people who want democracy; it is a right as well of the citizens who have fought in the press and in the tribunals, who are identified with the ideals of the Revolution and have combated the despotism that fouls our laws. For it is not just shooting off missiles on battlefields that sweeps away tyranny. It is also by hurling ideas of redemption, slogans of freedom and terrible anathema against the executors of the people that dictatorships are toppled and empires brought down…And if the deeds of history show us that the demolition of all tyranny, that the overthrow of all bad government is a combined work of the idea and the sword, then it is an absurdity, it is an aberration, it is unheard-of despotism to want to exclude the healthy elements that have the right to elect the government. The sovereignty of the people is constituted by all the healthy elements that have full conscience, who are conscious of their rights, whether they be civilians or accidentally armed, but love liberty and justice and labor for the good of the Country.”

Emiliano Zapata, as spoken by Paulino Martinez Zapatista delegate to the Supreme Revolutionary Convention Aguascalientes, Ags., Mexico, October 27, 1914

To the people of MEXICO:

To the peoples and governments of the world:

Brothers and Sisters:

The EZLN, steadfastly at war against the bad government since January 1, 1994, addresses you in order to let its thoughts be known.

I. Mexican Brothers and Sisters:

In December, 1993 we said ENOUGH! The first day of January, 1994 we called upon the legislative and judicial powers to assume their constitutional responsibilities in order to stop the genocidal policy that the Federal Executive imposes on our people, and we founded our right on the application of Article 39 of the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico:

National sovereignty resides, essentially and originally, in the people. All public power emanates from the people, and is constituted for the benefit of the same. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify the form of their government.

The response to this call was a policy of extermination and lies; the powers of the Union ignored our just demand and let loose massacre. But this nightmare only lasted 12 days, as another force, superior to any political or military power, imposed itself upon the conflicting sides. Civi1 Society assumed the duty of preserving our country; it demonstrated its disagreement with the massacre and obliged a dialogue. We all understand that the days of the party eternally in power, which uses the product of the work of all Mexicans to its own benefit, can no longer continue; that the presidencialismo that sustains it impedes liberty and must not be allowed; that the culture of fraud is the means by which they impose themselves and block democracy; that justice exists only for the corrupt and the powerful; that we must make whoever commands do it obediently; that there is no other way.

All honest Mexicans of good faith, the Civil Society, have come to understand this. The only ones who oppose it are those who have based their success on the robbing of the public treasury; those who, prostituting justice, protect the traffickers and murderers; those who resort to political assassination and electoral fraud in order to impose themselves. It is these political fossils who plan once again, to turn back the history of Mexico and erase from the national consciousness the cry that gripped the whole country on the first of January ‘94: “ENOUGH!”

But we will not allow it. Today we do not call on the failed powers of the Union who didn’t know how to fulfill their constitutional duty, thus allowing the Federal Executive to control them. The legislature and the magistrates had no dignity, so others will come forward who do understand that the must serve the people and not one individual. Our call transcends one single presidential term or an upcoming presidential election. Our sovereignty resides in CIVIL SOCETY. It is the people who can, at any time, alter or modify our form of government, and who have already assumed this responsibility. We now make a call to the people, in this SECOND DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE in order to say:

First. We have without fail carried out our military actions within the international conventions on war; we have received tacit recognition as a belligerent force, nationally and internationally. We will continue to comply with said agreements.

Second. We order our regular and irregular forces everywhere in national and foreign territory to carry out a UNILATERAL EXTENSION OF THE OFFENSIVE CEASE-FIRE.


Third. We condemn the threat hanging over Civil Society by the current militarization of the country, complete with specialized personnel and modern equipment of repression, on the eve of federal elections. There is no doubt that the Salinas government is trying to impose itself via the culture of fraud. WE WLL NOT PERMIT IT.

Fourth. We propose to all independent political parties that they now recognize the state of intimidation and the lack of political rights that our people have suffered the past 65 years and that they declare themselves ready to form a government capable of the political transition to democracy.

Fifth. We denounce all the manipulation and the attempts to dissociate our just demands from those of the people of Mexico. We are Mexicans and we will not lay aside our demands nor our arms until Democracy, Liberty and Justice are achieved by everyone.

Sixth. We reiterate our disposition to a political solution in the transition to democracy in Mexico. We call upon Civil Society to take on once again the central role it played in stopping the military phase of the war and to organize in order to conduct peaceful efforts toward Democracy, Liberty and Justice. Democratic change is the only alternative to war.

Seventh. We call the honest elements of Civil Society to a National Dialogue for Democracy, Liberty and Justice for all Mexicans.

Therefore we say:

II. Brothers and Sisters:

Once there was a war started in January, 1994, the organized outcry of the Mexican people stopped the confrontation and called for a dialogue between the contending sides. To the just demands of the EZLN, the federal government responded with a series of offers that did not touch the essential point of the problem: the lack of justice, liberty and democracy in Mexican territory.

The federal government’s limited capacity to follow through on its offers is what characterizes the political system of the party in power. This system is what has made it possible for another power to thrive and override constitutional law in rural Mexico, a power whose roots, in turn, make it possible for the same party to stay in power. It is this system of complicity which makes possible the existence and belligerence of cacicazgos, the omnipotent power of the cattle ranchers and businessman and penetration of drug traffic…The mere offer of the so-called Committments Toward a Dignified Peace in Chiapas provoked a massive revolt and open defiance by these sectors.

The single-party political system tires to maneuver within the limited horizon that its own existence as such imposes; it cannot affect these sectors without attacking itself, and it cannot leave things as they were without provoking an increase in the belligerence of campesinos and indigenous people.

In sum: the fulfillment of the committments implies, necessarily, the death of the State party system. Whether by suicide or by firing squad, the death of the current Mexican political system is a necessary, although insufficient, condition for the transition to democracy in our country. There is no solution to the problems of Chiapas separate from a solution to the problems in Mexico.

The EZLN understands that the problems of Mexican poverty is not just a lack of resources. All efforts to combal Mexican poverty will only postpone a solution if they do not take place within a new framework of national, regional and local political relationships: a framework of Democracy, Liberty and Justice.

In this new framework, the problem of power will not be question of who the incumbent is, but rather of who exercises the power. If the majority of the people exercise the power, political parties will see themselves as obliged to confront the majority instead of each other.

A new way of approaching the problem of power in this framework of Democracy, Liberty and Justice will create a new political culture within the parties. A new kind of politician must be born and, no doubt, a new type of political party.

We are not proposing a new world, but rather a much earlier stage: the entryway to the new Mexico. In this sense, this revolution will not conclude in a new class, fraction of class or group in power, but rather in a free and democratic “space” of political struggle.

This free and democratic “space” will be born on the grave of presidencialismo and the putrid cadaver of the State party system. A new political relationship will be born. it will be a new politics, based not on the confrontation among political organizations themselves, but rather on the confrontation between different social classes over various political proposals. Political power will depend on the REAL support of these social classes, not on the exercise of political power, itself.

Within this new political relationship, each of the different groups with proposals for differing systems or directions (socialism, capitalism social-democratic, liberalism, Christian-Democratic, etc.) will have to convince the majority of the Nation that its proposal is the best for the country. Moreover, they will be aware that they are being “watched” by the country, and will be obligated to account for themselves on a regular basis, and the judgment of the Nation will determine if they stay in office or are removed. The plebiscite is a regulated -form of Power-Party-Politician-Nation confrontation, and it deserves an important place in the highest law of the land.

Current Mexican legislation is too narrow for these new political relationships between the governed and their governors. A DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION is necessary, out of which should emerge a PROVISIONAL or TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT whether by means of the resignation of the Federal Executive or by the electoral process.

The DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION and TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT must produce a new Magna Carta which convokes new elections. The pain of this process will be less than the damage produced by a civil war. The prophecy of the Southeast is valid for the whole country; we can learn now from what has happened and make the birth of the new Mexico less painful. The EZLN has an idea of what system and direction the country should have. But the political maturity of the EZLN, its coming of age as a representative part of the Nation’s sensibilities, depends on the fact that it doesn’t want to impose its idea on the country. The EZLN hereby declares what is already evident: Mexico has come of age, and has the right to decide, freely and democratically, the direction it will take. From this historic entryway will emerge not only a better and more just Mexico, but a new Mexican as well. On this we bet our lives, so that the next generation of Mexicans will have a country in which it is not a disgrace to live.

The EZLN, in an unprecedented democratic exercise within an armed organization, consulted its entire membership on whether or not to sign the federal government’s proposal for peace agreements. Seeing that the central questions of Democracy, Liberty and Justice had not been resolved, the bases of the EZLN, primarily indigenous people, decided to refuse to sign the government’s proposal.

Under conditions of siege and pressure on various fronts by those who threatened us with extermination if the peace agreements were not signed, we, Zapatistas reaffirm our pledge of life and death to achieve a peace with justice and dignity. In us, our ancestors’ history of dignified struggle has found a place. The rebel Vicente Guerrero’s cry of dignity, “Live for Country or Die for Liberty,” sounds again in our throats. We cannot accept an undignified peace.

We opened our path of fire when we faced the impossibility of a peaceful struggle for our essential rights as human beings. The most valuable of those is the right to decide, with liberty and democracy, on our own form of government.

Now the possibility of peaceful transition to democracy and liberty faces a new test: the electoral process of August, 1994.

There are those who are betting on the post-election period, preaching apathy and disillusionment from the pulpits of their own immobility. They would exploit the blood of the fallen on all fronts of combat, violent and peaceful, in the city and the countryside. They base their political project on the pre-electoral conflict and, doing nothing, wail for political demobilization to open once again the gaping doorway of war. They will save, they say, the country.

Others bet even now that armed conflict will begin again before the elections, and that they will be able to take advantage of the ingovernability of the country in order to say in power. Yesterday they usurped the popular will with electoral fraud; today and tomorrow, with the river churning from a pre-election civil war, they will try to prolong the agony of a dictatorship which, masked by the State party, has already lasted decades. Still others, sterile prophets of the apocalypse, reason that war is now inevitable and they sit down to wait, watching for their enemy’s corpse to pass by…or their friend’s.

The sectarians erroneously suppose that the mere shooting of guns will be enough to crack open the dawn that our people have awaited since the night fell—with the deaths of Villa and Zapata—over Mexican soil. All of these thieves of hope suppose that behind our arms there is ambition and self-interested leadership, and that this will determine our path in the future. they are mistaken. Behind our firearms there are other arms—those of reason. And both are motivated by hope. We will not let them rob us of it. Hope with a trigger had its place in the beginning of the year. Now it is crucial to wait. The hope that always accompanies great mobilizations must regain the central leadership role that now belongs to it by right and reason. The flag is now in the hands of those who have name and face, of good and honest people who travel by routes that are not ours, but whose goal is the same one we yearn for. We salute these men and women, we salute them and we hope that they carry that flag to the place where it ought to be. We will be waiting, at attention and with dignity. If that flag falls, we will know how to raise it again…

May hope get organized, may it travel through the valleys and cities as it did yesterday in the mountains. Fight with your own weapons; don’t worry about us. We will know how to resist to the last. We will know how to wait…and we will know how to return if all the doors to dignity close again. Therefore we address our brothers and sisters of the non-governmental organizations, of the campesino and indigenous peoples’ organizations, workers of the countryside and of the city, teachers and students, housewives and neighborhood residents, artists and intellectuals, those of the independent parties, Mexicans:

We call you to a national dialogue with the theme of Democracy, Liberty and Justice. For this we send out the present call for a Democratic National Convention.

We, the EZLN, struggling to achieve the democracy, liberty and justice that our country deserves, and considering:

First. That the federal government has usurped the legitimacy—left to us by its heroes—of the Mexican Revolution.

Second. That the Magna Carta that rules us no longer represents the popular will of Mexicans.

Third. That it is not enough for the usurper of the Federal Executive to step down, our country needs new laws which must be born of the struggle of all honest Mexicans:

Fourth. That all forms of struggle are necessary to achieve the transition to democracy in Mexico.

Therefore, we call for a Democratic National Convention, supreme and revolutionary, from which must emerge the proposals for a transitional government and a new national law, a new Constitution that guarantees the legal implementation of the popular will.

The revolutionary convention will be national in terms of its composition—representation must include all the states of the federation; plural in the sense that all patriotic forces will be represented; and democratic in decision-making, deferring always to consultations throughout the nation.

The convention will be presided over, freely and voluntarily, by civilians: public figures of recognized prestige, regardless of their political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex or age.

The convention will be formed via local, regional and state committees, in ejidos neighborhoods, schools and factories, by civilians. These committees will be entrusted with arguing for their own grassroots proposals for the new constitutional laws and for the demands which the new government, once it emerges from the convention, will have to meet.

The convention must require that free and democratic elections must take place, and they must struggle, without rest, to see that the popular will is respected.

The EZLN will recognize the Democratic National Convention as the authentic representation of the interests of the Mexican people in its transition to democracy.

The EZLN is already present throughout the Nation, and is able to offer itself to the people of Mexico as a security guard for the implementation of the popular will.

For the first meeting site of the Democratic National Convention, the EZLN offers a Zapatista village and all the facilities that includes. The date and place of the first session of the Democratic National Convention will be announced when possible and appropriate.

III. Mexican Brothers and Sisters:

Our struggle continues. The Zapatista flag still waves over the Mexican Southeast and today we say: We will not surrender!

Facing the mountain we speak with our dead so that they will reveal to us in their word the path down which our veiled faces should turn. The drums rang out and in the voice of the earth our pain spoke and our history spoke.

“For everyone, everything,” say our dead. “Until it is so, there will be nothing for us.”

“Speak the word of other Mexicans, find in your heart an ear for their word. Invite them to walk down the honorable path of those who have no face. Call everyone to resist, so that nobody accepts anything from those who command commanding. Convince them not to sell out a flag that belongs to everyone. Ask that we receive more than just words of hot air to alleviate our pain. Ask that they share, ask that they resist, ask that they reject all the handouts that come from the powerful. Ask that today all the good people of these lands organize the dignity that resists and does not sell itself out, that tomorrow dignity organize itself to demand that the word that lives in the heart of the majority is met with truth, and is welcomed by those who govern, that the good road is imposed, in which the person who commands, commands obeying.

Do not surrender! Resist! Do not let down the honor of the true word. Resist with dignity in the lands of the true men and women; may the mountains blanket the pain of the men of corn. Do not surrender! Resist! Do not sell yourselves! Resist!”

So spoke the word of the heart of our forever dead. We saw that our dead’s word was good; we said, there is truth and dignity in their counsel. Therefore we call upon all our Mexican indigenous brothers and sisters to resist with us. We call upon all the campesinos to resist with us, upon the factory workers, the clerks, the neighborhood residents, the housewives, the students, the teachers, those who make thought and word their life, all of those who have dignity and pride, we call everyone to resist with us, since the bad government is opposed to having democracy on our soil. We will accept nothing that comes from the rotten heart of the bad government, not a single coin nor a medicine nor a stone nor a grain of food nor a crumb from the handouts that it offers in exchange for our dignified path.

We will take nothing from the federal government. Even if our pain and our grief deepen, though death may still be with us, at the table, in the land and on the roof; though we may see that others sell themselves to the hand that oppresses them; though everything might ache and grief weeps even from the stones…we will take nothing from the government. We will resist until the person who commands, commands obeying.

Brothers and sisters: Do not sell yourselves. Resist with us. Do not surrender. Resist with us. Repeat with us, brothers and sisters: “We will not surrender! We will resist!” So that it is not only heard in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, but in the north and on the peninsulas, so that on both coasts it is heard, so that in the heartland it is heard, so that in the valley and the mountains it becomes a cry, so that it resounds in the city and in the country. Join with your voices, brothers and sisters, cry out with us, make our voices yours:

“We will not surrender! We will resist!”

May the dignity break the siege with which the bad government’s dirty hands are smothering us. We are all besieged: they don’t allow democracy, liberty and justice to enter Mexican territory. Brothers and sisters, we are all besieged: don’t surrender! Resist! Be dignified! We must not sell ourselves out!

What good are the riches of the powerful if they can’t buy the most valuable thing in the lands? If the dignity of Mexicans has no price, what is the power of the powerful for?

Dignity does not surrender!

Dignity resists!

Democracy! Liberty! Justice!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. CCRI-CG of the EZLN. Mexico, June 1994.