Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle
Today we say: We are here! We are resist!
“We are the avengers of death.
Our lineage will never be extinguished as long
as there is light in the morning star.”
Brothers and sisters.
Ours is not the house of pain and misery.
That is how he who robs and deceives us has painted us.
Ours is not the land of death and anguish.
Ours is not the path of war.
Ours is not the treason, nor is there room in our step for forgetting.
Ours are not the empty ground and the hollow sky.
Ours is the house of light and joy. That is how we created it, that is how we struggle for it, that is how we nurture it.
Ours is the land of life and hope.
Ours is the path of peace which is planted with dignity and harvested with justice and liberty.
I. Resistance and Silence
Brothers and sisters.
We understand that the struggle for the place which we deserve and need in the great Mexican Nation, is only one part of everyone’s great struggle for democracy, liberty and justice, but it is a fundamental and necessary part. Time and again, since the beginning of our uprising on January 1, 1994, we have called on all the peoples of Mexico to struggle together, and by all means possible, for the rights which the powerful deny us. Time and again, ever since we first saw and spoke with all of you, we have insisted on dialogue and encounter as the path upon which we should walk. For more than four years, the war has never come from our side. Since then, the war has always come from the mouth and the steps of the supreme governments. From there have come the lies, the deaths, the miseries.
Consistent with the path that you asked us to walk, we held a dialogue with the powerful and we reached agreements which would mean the beginning of peace in our lands, justice for the indigenous peoples of Mexico and hope for all honest men and women in the country.
These agreements, the San Andrés Accords, were not the product of our solitary will, nor were they created alone. Representatives from all the Indian peoples of Mexico arrived at San Andrés. There, their voice was represented and their demands were expressed. Their struggle, which is both lesson and path, was shining. Their word spoke, and their heart defined.
The Zapatistas were not alone in San Andrés and in their agreements. The Zapatistas were and are standing together and behind the Indian peoples of the country. Like now, we were then only a small part of the great history with a face, word, and heart of the nahuatl, paipai, kiliwa, cúcapa, cochimi, kumiai, yuma, seri, chontal, chinanteco, pame, chichimeca, otomí, mazahua, matlazinca, ocuilteco, zapoteco, solteco, chatino, papabuco, mixteco, cuicateco, triqui, amuzgo, mazateco, chocho, izcateco, huave, tlapaneco, totonaca, tepehua, popoluca, mixe, zoque, huasteco, lacandón, maya, chol, tzeltal, tzotzil, tojolabal, mame, teco, ixil, aguacateco, motocintleco, chicomucelteco, kanjobal, jacalteco, quiché, cakchiquel, ketchi, pima, tepehuán, tarahumara, mayo, yaqui, cahita, ópata, cora, huichol, purépecha, and kikapú.
As before, today we continue walking together with all the Indian peoples in the struggle for the recognition of their rights. Not as the vanguard or as a leader, only as a part.
We kept our word to seek a peaceful solution.
But the supreme government did not keep its word, and did not honor the first fundamental accord which we had reached: the recognition of indigenous rights.
To the peace which we offered, the government countered with its stubborn war.
Since then, the war against us and against all the Indian peoples has continued.
Since then, the lies have grown.
Since then, the government has deceived the country and the entire world, feigning peace while making war against all the indigenous peoples.
Since then, it has tried to forget the lack of compliance with its word and has wanted to hide the treason which governs Mexican lands.
II. Against the War, Not Another War, but the Same Dignified and Silent Resistance
While the government unveiled to Mexico and the world its desire for death and destruction, the Zapatistas did not respond with violence, nor did we take part in the evil competition to see who could inflict the most deaths and misery on the other side.
While the government piled up hollow words and hastened to argue with a rival that constantly slipped away, the Zapatistas made a weapon of struggle out of silence, which they did not understand and against which they could do nothing, and time and again they opposed our silence with sharp lies, bullets, bombs, blows. Just as we discovered a weapon in words after the combat in January of 1994, now we did it with silence. While the government offered everyone threats, death, and destruction, we were able to learn from ourselves, teach ourselves, and teach another form of struggle, and teach that with reason, truth and history, one could fight and win…through silence.
While the government handed out bribes and lied with economic supports to buy loyalties and break convictions, the Zapatistas made out of our dignified rejection of the powerful’s charity, a wall which protected us and made us stronger.
While the government baited with corrupt wealth and imposed hunger in order to force surrender and to conquer, the Zapatistas made our hunger into food, and our poverty into the wealth of dignity that we deserved and were entitled to.
Silence, dignity and resistance were our strengths and our best weapons. With them, we fought and defeated an enemy who is powerful, but whose cause lacks reason and justice. From our experience and from the long and shining history of indigenous struggle which we inherited from our ancestors, the first inhabitants of these lands, we picked up these weapons again and converted our silences into soldiers, our dignity into light, and our walls into resistance.
Nevertheless, during the period of our silence, we abstained from participating directly in the principal national problems with our position and proposals; although our silence allowed the powerful to create and to spread rumors and lies about internal divisions and ruptures within the Zapatistas, and tried to dress us in the cloth of intolerance, intransigence, weakness, and vacillation; despite the fact that some grew discouraged from the lack of our words, and that others took advantage of their absence to pretend to be our spokespersons; despite those sorrows, and also because of them, we have taken, and are taking, great steps forward.
We saw that our dead could no longer remain silent. From the dead spoke our dead, the dead accused, the dead shouted, and in death they lived again. Our dead will die no more. These dead of ours, always ours, and of all those who struggle.
We saw dozens of our people confront thousands of modern weapons with hand and nail, we saw them taken prisoner, we saw them rise up with dignity and resist with dignity. We saw members of civil society taken prisoner for being close to the indigenous peoples and for believing that peace has to do with art, education, and respect. We saw them, their fighting hearts now brown, and we saw them as brothers.
We saw the war come from above with its thunder, and we saw that they thought we would respond, and that they would then do the absurd by turning our responses into arguments to step up their crimes. And the government brought its war and received no response at all, but their crime continued. Our silence unclothed the powerful, and revealed him as a criminal beast. We saw that our silence kept the death and destruction from growing. This way the assassins were unmasked who were hiding behind the robes that they call the “state of law.” With the veil behind which they were hiding now torn away, the tepid and faint-hearted appeared, those who play with death for profit, those who see in the blood of others a stepping-stone, those who kill because the matador is applauded and encouraged. And he who governs was stripped of his last hypocritical robe. “The war is not against the indigenous peoples,” he said while persecuting, imprisoning, and assassinating indigenous people. His own and personal war accused him of being a murderer just as our silence did.
We saw our powerful government become irritated when it found neither rival nor surrender. We saw it then turn against others, and strike out against those who do not walk our same path but who raise the same banners: honest indigenous leaders, independent social organizations, mediators, committed non-governmental organizations, international observers, any citizens who wish for peace. We saw all these brothers and sisters beaten, and we saw them not surrender. We saw the government lash out at everyone and, wanting to take away strength, create new enemies.
We also saw that the government is not one, nor is the vocation of death, flaunted by its chief, unanimous. We saw that within it there are people who want peace, who understand it, who see it as necessary, who see it as essential. While silent, we saw that other voices from within the war machine spoke up to say no to its path.
We saw the powerful refuse to honor its own word and send to the legislature a proposal for a law that does not resolve the demands of the very first of these lands, which distances peace, and which disappoints hopes for a just solution that would end the war. We saw them sit down to the table of money and announce their treachery there, and seek the support denied them by those from below. From the money the powerful received applause, gold, and the order to eliminate those who speak mountains. “Let those who must die, die, thousands if necessary, but get rid of this problem,” so spoke the money to the ear of he who says he governs. We saw that this proposal broke with that which had already been agreed, with our right to govern, and to govern ourselves as part of this Nation.
We saw that this proposal wants to break us into pieces, wants to take away our history, wants to erase our memory, and wants to forget the will of all the Indian peoples who joined together at San Andrés. We saw that this proposal brings division and rupture, destroys bridges, and erases hope.
We saw that our silence was joined by the will of good people and persons who, in the political parties, raised their voices and organized forces against the lie, and thus stopped the injustice and pretense that paraded as a constitutional law for Indian rights, and was no more than a law for war.
We saw that, being silent, we could better hear voices and winds from below, and not just the cruel voice of the war from above.
We saw that while we were silent, the government buried the legitimacy which is conferred by a desire for peace and reason as route and step. The space created by our absent word pointed out the empty and sterile word of he who orders by ordering, and thus others who had not listened to us and who looked at us with distrust became convinced. And so the need for peace with justice and dignity was confirmed in many.
We saw all of those who are others like us, look to themselves and look for other forms for returning peace to the lands of possible hopes, we saw the building and undertaking of initiatives, we saw them grow. We saw them arrive in our communities with help, letting us know that we are not alone. We saw them marching in protest, signing letters, petitions, painting, singing, writing, reaching us. We also saw them proposing dialogue with them, true dialogue, not that which is simulated by the will of the powerful. We also saw some of them discredited through intolerance by those who should have been more tolerant.
We saw others whom we had not seen before. We saw new and good people join the struggle for peace, not us, but men and women who, able to opt for cynicism and apathy, chose commitment and mobilization instead.
In silence we saw everyone, in silence we greeted those who sought and opened doors, and in silence we constructed this response for them.
We saw men and women born in other lands join the struggle for peace. We saw some extend the long bridge of “you are not alone” from their own countries, we saw them mobilize and repeat “¡Ya basta!,” at first we saw them imagine and make complaints of justice, marching as those who sing, writing as those who shout, speaking as those who march. We saw all of those sparks bounce across the heavens and arrive in our lands with all the names that José uses, with all the faces of all who in all the worlds want a place for all.
We saw others cross the long bridge and, from their lands, arrive in ours after jumping borders and oceans, to observe and to condemn the war. We saw them come to us to let us know that we are not alone. We saw them being persecuted and harassed like us. We saw them being beaten like us. We saw them being vilified like us. We saw them resisting like us. We saw them staying even when they left. We saw them in their lands speaking of what their eyes had seen and showing what their ears had heard. We saw them continuing to struggle.
We saw that, being quiet, our people’s resistance spoke more strongly against deceit and violence.
We saw that in silence we also spoke as what we truly are, not like he who brings the war, but like he who speaks peace, not like he who imposes his will, but as he who longs for a place where everyone belongs, not like he who is alone and pretends to have crowds by his side, but as he who is everyone even in the silent solitude of he who resists.
We saw that our silence was shield and sword which wounded and exhausted those who want and impose the war. We saw our silence make the power which simulates peace and good government slip time and again, and make their powerful death machine crash time and again against the silent wall of our resistance. We saw that with each new attack they won less and lost more. We saw that by not fighting, we were fighting.
And we saw that the will for peace can also be affirmed, demonstrated, and convincing in silence.
III. San Andrés: A National Law for All the Indigenous Peoples and a Law for Peace
A national indigenous law should respond to the hopes of the indigenous peoples in the entire country. Mexico’s indigenous peoples, and not just the Zapatistas, were represented at San Andrés. The accords are signed with all the indigenous peoples, and not just with the Zapatistas. For us, and for millions of indigenous and non-indigenous Mexicans, a law which does not fulfill the San Andrés Accords is only a pretense, a door to war, and a precedent for indigenous rebellions which, in the future, will come to collect payment on the bill which history so regularly presents to lies.
A constitutional reform in matters of indigenous rights and culture should not be unilateral, it should incorporate the San Andrés Accords and in that way recognize the fundamental nature of the Indian people’s demands: autonomy, territoriality, Indian peoples, normative regulations. In the Accords, the right to indigenous autonomy and territory is recognized, in accordance with Convention 169 of the ILO, signed by the Senate of the Republic. No legislation which tries to shrink the Indian peoples by limiting their rights to the community level, thus promoting their fragmentation and their dispersal which will make their annihilation possible, can ensure peace and the inclusion in the Nation of the very first Mexicans. Any reform which tries to break the bonds of historical and cultural solidarity which exist among the indigenous peoples, is condemned to failure and is, simply, an injustice and an historical denial.
Although it does not incorporate all the San Andrés Accords (more evidence that we were not intransigent, we accepted the work of the facilitators and we respected them), the legal initiative drafted by the Commission on Concordance and Pacification is a proposal for a law created through the negotiation process and, therefore, is in the spirit of lending continuity and a reason for being to the dialogue process. It is a firm foundation which can herald a peaceful solution to the conflict, and it becomes an important aid in canceling the war and proceeding to peace. The so-called “Cocopa law” is built on the foundation of what was produced by the Indian peoples from below, it recognizes a problem and sets the bases for its solution. It reflects another way of doing politics, that which aspires to make itself democratic. It responds to a national demand for peace. It unites social sectors and allows them to continue forward in the agenda of the great national problems. For all of the above, today we reaffirm that we support the legal initiative drawn up by the Commission on Concordance and Pacification, and we demand that it be elevated to the constitutional level.
IV. – Dialogue and Negotiation, Possible Only if Real.
Concerning dialogue and negotiation, we say that they have three great enemies which must be defeated so that they can be built on a path that is viable, effective and credible. These enemies are the absence of mediation, the war, and the non-compliance with the accords. And the lack of mediation, the war, and the breaking of promises are the responsibility of the government.
Mediation in the negotiation of a conflict is essential, without it it is not possible for dialogue to exist between two opposing sides. By destroying the National Intermediation Commission with their war, the government destroyed the only bridge that existed for dialogue. It removed an important obstacle to violence and provoked the emergence of a question: national or international mediation?
Dialogue and negotiation will have relevance, viability, and effectiveness when, in addition to having mediation to count on, confidence and credibility are restored. Meanwhile, it can only be a farce in which we are not inclined to participate. We are not going to enter into dialogue for that. We will enter into it to seek peaceful solutions, not to gain time betting on political swindles. We cannot be accomplices in a sham.
Nor can we be cynical and feign a dialogue only to avoid persecution, imprisonment and the assassination of our leaders. The Zapatista banners were not just born with our leaders, nor will they die with them. If our leaders are assassinated or jailed, they will not be able to say it was for being inconsistent or traitorous.
We did not rise up and become rebels in order to believe ourselves stronger or more powerful. We rose up in demand of democracy, liberty, and justice because we have the reason and the dignity of history on our side. And with this in our hands and in our hearts, it is impossible to remain impassive in front of the injustices, betrayals and lies which are now a “style of governing” in our country.
Reason has always been a weapon of resistance in front of the stupidity which now, but not for much longer, seems so overwhelming and omnipotent. Whether or not we Zapatistas are present, peace with justice and dignity is a right which honest Mexicans, indigenous or not, will continue to struggle for.
V. We Resist, We Continue
Brothers and sisters: The EZLN as an organization has managed to survive one of the fiercest offensives which has been unleashed against it. Its military capacity is preserved intact, it has expanded its social base, and it has been strengthened politically by demonstrating the justice of its demands. The indigenous nature of the EZLN has been reinforced, and it continues to be an important driving force in the struggle for the rights of the Indian peoples. The indigenous peoples are national actors today, and their destinies and their platforms form part of the national discussion. The word of the first inhabitants of these lands now holds a special place in public opinion. The “indigenous” is no longer tourism or artisanry, but rather the struggle against poverty and for dignity. We Zapatistas have extended a bridge to other social and political organizations, and to thousands of persons without a political party, and we have received respect from all of them, and we have corresponded with them all. And we have also, together with others, extended bridges to the entire world and we have contributed to the creation (alongside men and women of the 5 continents) of a great network which struggles through peaceful means against neoliberalism, and resists by fighting for a new and better world. We have also contributed something to the birth of a new and fresh cultural movement which struggles for a “new man” and new worlds.
All of this has been possible thanks to our compañeros and compañeras of the bases of support. The greatest weight of our struggle has fallen to them, and they have confronted it with firmness, decision and heroism. Support from the Indian peoples across the entire country has also been important, the support from our indigenous brothers and sisters who have taught us, who have listened to us, and who have spoken to us. National civil society has been the fundamental factor for the just demands of the Zapatistas and the indigenous peoples in the whole country to continue through the path of peaceful mobilizations. International civil society has been sensitive and has kept eyes and ears attentive so that the responses to our demands would not be more deaths or prisons. The independent political and social organizations have accepted us as brothers, and in this way our resistance has been filled with inspiration. Everyone has supported us in resisting the war, no one in waging it.
Today, with all of those who walk within us and at our side, we say: We are here! We resist!
In spite of the war which we are suffering, in spite of our dead and our prisoners, the Zapatistas do not forget why we are struggling, or what our principal banner is in the struggle for democracy, liberty and justice in Mexico: the recognition of the rights of the Indian peoples.
For the commitment made since the first day of our uprising, today again we put in first place, from within our suffering, from within our problems, from within our difficulties, the demand that the rights of the indigenous be recognized with a change in the Political Constitution of the Mexican United States, which will assure for everyone the respect and possibility of struggle for what belongs to them: land, roof, bread, medicine, education, democracy, justice, liberty, national independence and dignified peace.
VI. It is the Hour of the Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Congress of the Union.
Brothers and sisters:
The war has already spoken its thunderous noise of death and destruction.
The government and its criminal mask have already spoken.
It is time for the silent weapons which we have carried for centuries to flourish in words again. It is time for peace to speak, it is time for the word of life.
It is our time.
Today, with the indigenous heart which is the dignified root of the Mexican nation, and having listened long enough to the voice of death which comes in the government’s war, we call on the People of Mexico and on the men and women of the entire planet to unite their steps and their efforts with us in this stage of the struggle for liberty, democracy, and justice, through this…
Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.
In which we summon all honest men and women to struggle for the…
RECOGNITION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIAN PEOPLES AND AN END TO THE WAR OF EXTERMINATION.
There will be no transition to democracy, no State reform, no real solutions to the principal problems of the national agenda, without the Indian peoples. A better and new country is necessary and possible with the indigenous peoples. Without them there is no future at all as a Nation.
This is the hour of the Indian peoples of all Mexico. We call on them so that, together, we can continue struggling for the rights that history, reason, and truth have given us. We call on them so that, together, reclaiming the inheritance of struggle and resistance, we will mobilize across the entire country and we will let everyone know, through civil and peaceful means, that we are the roots of the Nation, its dignified foundation, its struggling present, its inclusive future. We call on them so that, together, we will struggle for a place of respect alongside all Mexicans. We call on them so that, together, we will demonstrate that we want democracy, liberty, and justice for everyone. We call on them to demand to be recognized as a dignified part of our Nation. We call on them so that, together, we will stop the war which the powerful wage against everyone.
This is the hour of National Civil Society and the independent political and social organizations. It is the hour of the campesinos, of the workers, of the teachers, of the students, of the professionals, of the committed priests and nuns, of the journalists, of the squatters, of the small shopkeepers, of the debtors, of the artists, of the intellectuals, of the disabled, of those who are HIV-positive, of the homosexuals, of the lesbians, of the men, of the women, of the children, of the young people, of the elderly, of the unions, of the cooperatives, of the campesino groups, of the political organizations, and of the social organizations. We call on them so that, together with us and the indigenous peoples, we may struggle against the war and for the recognition of indigenous rights, for the transition to democracy, for an economic model which serves the people and does not serve itself, for a tolerant and inclusive society, for respect for difference, and for a new country where peace with justice and dignity will be for everyone.
This is the hour of the Congress of the Union. After a long struggle for democracy, led by the opposition political parties, there is, in the chambers of Deputies and Senators, a new relationship of forces which hampers the injustices inherent in presidentialism and points, with hope, to a true separation and independence of the powers of the Union. The new political composition of the lower and upper chambers presents the challenge of dignifying the work of the legislature, the expectation of converting it into a space of service to the Nation rather than to the president-in-turn, and the hope of making a reality of the word “Honorable” which proceeds the collective names by which the federal senators and deputies are known. We call on the deputies and senators of the Republic from all the registered political parties, and on the independent congressional members, to legislate for the benefit of all Mexicans. That they govern by obeying. That they carry out their duty supporting peace and not war. Making the separation of powers effective, that they oblige the federal Executive to stop the war of extermination which it is carrying out against the indigenous populations of Mexico. With full respect for the powers granted to them by the Political Constitution, that they listen to the voice of the Mexican people and let that be what directs them at the moment of legislating. That they firmly and fully support the Commission on Concordance and Pacification, so that this legislative commission can discharge its coadvisory work effectively and efficiently in the peace process. That they respond to the historical call which demands full recognition of the rights of the Indian peoples. That they pass into national history as a Congress which stopped obeying and serving the one, and carried out its obligation to obey and serve all.
This is the hour of the Commission on Concordance and Pacification. It is in its hands and competence to stop the war, fulfill that which the Executive refuses to carry out, open the hope of a just and dignified peace, and create the conditions for the peaceful coexistence of all Mexicans. It is the hour to faithfully comply with the law dictated for dialogue and negotiation in Chiapas. It is time to respond to the confidence which has been invested in this Commission, not only by the Indian peoples who attended the dialogue at San Andrés, but also by all the people who demand compliance with the given word, a stop to the war, and the necessary peace.
This is the hour of the struggle for the rights of the indigenous peoples as a step towards democracy, liberty and justice for all.
As part of this struggle which we call for in this Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle for the recognition of indigenous rights and an end to the war, reaffirming our “For everyone, everything, nothing for ourselves,” the ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION announces that it will carry out, directly and in all of Mexico, a…
NATIONAL CONSULTATION CONCERNING THE LEGAL INITIATIVE ON INDIGENOUS RIGHTS OF THE COMMISSION ON CONCORDANCE AND PACIFICATION AND FOR AN END TO THE WAR OF EXTERMINATION.
For this purpose, we propose to carry the legal initiative of the Commission on Concordance and Pacification to a national consultation in all the municipalities of the country so that all Mexicans can express their opinion on this initiative. The EZLN will send a delegation of its own to each one of the municipalities in the entire country to explain the contents of the Cocopa’s initiative, and to participate in the carrying out of this consultation. For this, the EZLN will address national civil society and the political and social organizations publicly and at the proper time in order to make known the detailed announcement.
We call upon:
The indigenous peoples across Mexico to, together with the Zapatistas, mobilize and demonstrate, demanding the recognition of their constitutional rights.
The brothers and sisters of the National Indigenous Congress to participate, together with the Zapatistas, in the task of consulting with all Mexican men and women on the Cocopa’s legal initiative.
To the workers, campesinos, teachers, students, housewives, neighbors, small business owners, small shopkeepers and businessmen, retired persons, disabled, priests and nuns, young people, women, elderly, homosexuals and lesbians, boys and girls, to, individually or collectively, participate directly with the Zapatistas in the promotion, support, and realization of this consultation, as one more step towards peace with justice and dignity.
To the scientific, intellectual, and artistic community to join with the Zapatistas in the task of organizing the consultation across the entire national territory.
To the social and political organizations to work with the Zapatistas in carrying out the consultation.
To those honest Political Parties committed to popular causes, to lend all necessary support to this national consultation. For this, the EZLN will, publicly and at the proper time, address the national leaderships of the political parties in Mexico
To the Congress of the Union, to assume its commitment to legislate on behalf of the people, to contribute to peace and not to the war, by supporting the realization of this consultation. For this, the EZLN will, publicly and at the proper time, address the coordinators of the parliamentary wings and the independent legislators in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
To the Commission on Concordance and Pacification to, in compliance with its coadvisory work in the peace process, smooth the path for the realization of a national consultation on its initiative. For this, the EZLN will, publicly and at the proper time, address the legislative members of the Cocopa.
VII. Time for the Word of Peace
Brothers and sisters:
The time has now passed in which the war of the powerful has spoken, may it speak no more. It is now the time for peace to speak, the peace which we all deserve and need, the peace with justice and dignity.
Today, July 19, 1998, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation endorses this Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. We invite everyone to know it, to disseminate it, and to join in the efforts and the tasks which it demands.
DEMOCRACY! LIBERTY! JUSTICE!
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Mexico, July of 1998