Communique from the EZLN’s CCRI-CG: And We Broke the Siege
Communique from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation
August 17, 2019
To the People of Mexico:
To the Peoples of the World:
To the National Indigenous Congress—Indigenous Governing Council:
To the National and International Sixth:
To the Networks of Support and Resistance and Rebellion:
Hermanos, Hermanas, Hermanoas:
Compañeras, Compañeros, Compañeroas:
We bring you our word. The same word as yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is the word of resistance and rebellion.
In October of 2016, almost three years ago, during the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress [CNI], the sister organizations of the National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN made a commitment to go on the offensive in our defense of our Territory and Mother Earth. Persecuted by the bad government, by caciques, by foreign corporations, by criminals, and by the law, and as we accumulated insults, derision, and dead, we the originary peoples (the guardians of the earth), decided to go on the offensive and circulate the words and actions of resistance and rebellion.
With the founding of the Indigenous Governing Council [CIG] and the selection of its spokesperson, Marichuy, the National Indigenous Congress gave itself the job of taking words of warning and organization to the brothers and sisters of the city and countryside. Meanwhile, the EZLN also went on the offensive in its struggle with its words, ideas, and organization.
The time has come to hold ourselves accountable to the CNI-CIG and its spokesperson so that their peoples can decide if we have lived up to what we promised. But it is not only the CNI-CIG that we are accountable to; we also have a pending debt with the organizations, groups, collectives, and individuals (especially those in the Sixth and the Networks [of Rebellion and Resistance], but not only them) that throughout Mexico and the world concern themselves with our Zapatista peoples. These are people who, whatever their calendars, geographies, and habits may be, disregard the walls, borders, and sieges that are erected to divide us so that their hearts can continue to beat close to our own.
The appearance of this new [presidential] administration has not fooled us. We know that the real boss has no other homeland than money, and that this same boss rules in the immense majority of the world’s plantations that they call “countries.” We also know that rebellion, dignity, and rage are absolutely prohibited. Despite that, all over the world, in its most forgotten and despised corners, there are human beings who resist being devoured by this machine and who refuse to give in, give up, or sell out. These people have many colors, they carry many flags, they come dressed in many languages, and their resistance and rebellion is enormous.
The big boss and his overseers build walls, borders, and sieges to try to contain these people who they claim are bad examples. But they never achieve their goal because dignity, courage, rage, and rebellion can’t be held back or incarcerated. Even if they hide behind their walls, borders, sieges, armies, police forces, laws, and executive orders, sooner or later that rebellion will come asking for its due. On that day there will be neither forgetting nor forgiveness.
We know that our freedom will only come about through our own work as originary peoples. With the appointment of the new overseer to Mexico, the same persecution and death has continued. Within only a few months [of his administration], at least a dozen of our compañeros of the CNI-CIG who were in the struggle were murdered. Among the dead was a brother much admired by our Zapatista communities—Samir Flores Soberanes. Samir was murdered after having been singled out by Mexico’s overseer who, despite Samir’s death, marches on with the neoliberal megaprojects that will disappear entire peoples, destroy nature, and convert the blood of our originary peoples into profits for powerful capitalists. Because of this, in honor of our Brothers and Sisters who have died, been jailed, or are persecuted or disappeared, we decided to name the Zapatista campaign that ends today and that we are now making public: “SAMIR FLORES LIVES.” After years of silent work and despite the siege against our communities and the campaign of lies and defamation, despite military patrols, despite the presence of Mexico’s National Guard, despite the counterinsurgency campaigns that were dressed up as social programs, and despite having been despised and forgotten, we have grown and we have made ourselves stronger.
… And We Broke The Siege
We broke the siege without asking for anyone’s permission so that we could be with you all once again hermanos, hermanas, hermanoas, compañeras, compañeros, compañeroas. We defeated the government’s siege of our communities—it did not work and it will never work. We broke their siege by travelling paths and routes that do not appear on any maps and cannot be detected on any satellites because they can only be found in the thought of our ancestors. The word, history, and example of our peoples, of our children, elders, men, and women also travelled with us as we carried all of them along in our hearts. Out there we found food, shelter, a careful ear, and the word of others. We understood each other like only those who share pain, a history, indignation, and rage can understand each other. In this process we understood that the walls that are built and the sieges laid only bring death, and that the attempt to buy and sell consciences that is constantly undertaken by governments is more useless with every day that passes. These attempts no longer fool or convince anyone; today these practices are old and rusted, and they fail.
That is how we left this siege behind, and all the while the Big Boss was convinced that we were trapped inside. From afar we could see the backs of the National Guard, soldiers, police, government projects, handouts, and lies. We came and went, back and forth, 10, 100, 1000 times as the overseer watched without seeing us, so sure of the fear that his fear would instill. Those who tried to encircle us are nothing but a dirty stain that is itself encircled by an even larger territory of rebellion.
Today we present ourselves to you with new Caracoles and more autonomous Zapatista municipalities in new zones of the Mexican southeast. We will now also have Centers of Autonomous Resistance and Zapatista Rebellion. In the majority of cases, these centers will also house a caracol, a Good Government Council, and Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities in Rebellion (MAREZ). Though it took time, the five original Caracoles, as their name would imply, have reproduced themselves after 15 years of political and organizational work. Our Autonomous Municipalities and Good Government Councils also planted new seedlings and watched them grow. Now there will be 12 Caracoles, each with its Good Government Council.
This exponential growth that today allows us to move beyond the government’s attempt to encircle us is due to two things:
First and foremost, our growth is due to the political/organizational work and example set by the women, men, children and elders of the Zapatista bases of support. It is especially due to the women and youth of the EZLN. Compañeras of all ages mobilized so that they could speak with other sisters in other organizations and sisters that had no organization. Without ever abandoning their own tastes and desires, the Zapatista youth learned from the sciences and arts and through these activities transmitted their rebellion to more and more youth. The majority of these youths, especially the young women, have now taken up posts in our organization and they steep this work in their creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence. Today we can say without any shame and with much pride that the Zapatista women are out in front of us like the Pujuy bird to show us the way and keep us from losing our way, on our flanks to keep us on track, and behind us so that we will not fall behind.
The second thing that made this growth possible are government policies that destroy communities and nature, particularly those policies of the current administration which refers to itself as the “Fourth Transformation.” Communities that have traditionally supported the political parties have been hurt by the contempt, racism, and voracity of the current administration, and they have moved into either hidden or open rebellion. Those above who thought that their counter-insurgent strategy of giving out handouts would serve to divide Zapatista communities, buy off non-Zapatistas, and generate confrontations and demoralization actually provided us with the final arguments that we needed in order to convince those brothers and sisters that it is far more useful to dedicate our efforts to defending our land and nature.
The government thought, and still thinks, that what people need are cash handouts. Now, the Zapatista communities and many non-Zapatista communities, as well as our brothers and sisters in the CNI in the southeast and all over the country, have responded and are showing the government that they are wrong. We understand that the current overseer was brought up in the PRI and within its “indigenist” vision in which originary people’s deepest desire is to sell their dignity and cease to be what they are. In that vision, indigenous peoples are simply museum artifacts or colorful artisanal items through which the powerful attempt to adorn the grayness of their own hearts. That vision also explains why this administration is so set on making sure that its walls (across the Isthmus) and trains (the ones they maliciously call “Mayan”) include the ruins of a civilization as their landscape, with the added bonus that this way they can also please the tourists.
But we originary peoples are alive, rebellious, and in resistance. Meanwhile, the national overseer is trying to dress up one of his underlings, a lawyer who at one time was indigenous, so that he, as has happened throughout human history, can divide, persecute and manipulate those who were once his own people. This lawyer, who is now the head of the INPI [National Institute of Indigenous Peoples], must scrub his conscience every morning with pumice to carefully eliminate any traces of dignity. He hopes in this way to whiten his skin and take on the purpose and outlook of his real boss. His overseer congratulates him and congratulates himself because there is there nothing better for controlling a rebellious people than using one of them who has turned on his cause, who has converted himself into a puppet of the oppressor for money.
During these now more than 25 years we have learned a lot.
Instead of climbing the ladder of official posts in the bad government or of converting ourselves into a poor copy of our oppressors, our intelligence and our knowledge was turned to the task of growing and building our own strength.
Thank you to all the hermanas, hermanos, and hermanoas from Mexico and the world who participated in the encounters and seedbeds that we convoked throughout this time. Thanks to you our imagination, creativity, and knowledge expanded and became more universal—in other words, more human. We learned to look, listen, and speak otherness without derision, without standing in judgement, and without labels. We learned that any dream that doesn’t encompass the world is too small a dream. What we now present to you and make public is the product of a long process of reflection and searching. Thousands of Zapatista community assemblies in Mexico’s southeast thought together and searched for the paths, ways, and times to make this possible, and—flying directly in the face of the powerful and their disdain in labelling us ignorant and stupid—using our own intelligence, knowledge and imagination to do so.
Here we present to you the names of the Centers of Autonomous Zapatista Rebellion and Resistance (CRAREZ). There are 11 new CRAREZ and 5 original Caracoles for a total of 16. In addition to the 27 original autonomous municipalities, that gives us a total of 43 (CRAREZ).
Names and location of the new Caracoles and Autonomous Municipalities:
New Caracol: Colectivo el corazón de semillas rebeldes, memoria del Compañero Galeano (The Heart of Rebellious Seeds Collective, in Memory of Compañero Galeano). Its Good Government Council is called: Pasos de la historia, por la vida de la humanidad (The Path of History for the Life of Humanity). It will be located in La Unión on recuperated land just to the side of the ejido San Quintin where the bad government’s army currently has its barracks.
New Autonomous Municipality: Esperanza de La Humanidad (Hope for Humanity). Its center will be located in the ejido Santa María in the official municipality of Chicomuselo.
New Autonomous Municipality: Ernesto Che Guevara. It will be located in El Belén in what is the official municipality of Motozintla.
New Caracol: Espiral digno tejiendo los colores de la humanidad en memoria de l@s caídos (Spiral of Dignity Weaving the Colors of Humanity in Memory of the Fallen). Its Good Government Council is called: Semilla que florece con la conciencia de l@s que luchan por siempre (Seed that Blooms with the Conscience of those who are Always in Struggle). It will be located in Tulan Ka’u on recuperated land located in the official municipality of Amatenango del Valle.
Another new Caracol: Floreciendo la semilla rebelde (The Flowering of the Rebellious Seed). The Good Government Council there is called: Nuevo amanecer en Resistencia y rebeldia por la vida y la humanidad (New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity). It will be located in Poblado Patria Nueva on recuperated land in the official municipality of Ocosingo.
New Autonomous Municipality: Sembrando conciencia para cosechar revoluciones por la vida (Cultivating Conscience in order to Harvest Revolutions for Life). Its center will be in Tulan Ka’u on recuperated land located in the official municipality of Amatenango del Valle.
New Caracol: En honor a la memoria del Compañero Manuel (In Honor of Compañero Manuel). Its Good Government Council is called: El pensamiento rebelde de los pueblos originarios (The Rebellious Thought of the Originary Peoples). It will be located in Dolores Hidalgo on recuperated land located in the official municipality of Ocosingo.
New Caracol: Resistencias y Rebeldias por la humanidad (Resistances and Rebellions for Humanity). Its Good Government Council is called: La luz que resplandece al mundo (The Light which Shines on the World). It will be located in Poblado Nuevo Jerusalen on recuperated land located in the official municipality of Ocosingo.
New Caracol: Raíz de Resistencias y Rebeldías por la humanidad (Root of Resistances and Rebellions for Humanity). Its Good Government Council is called: Corazón de nuestras vidas para el nuevo futuro (Heart of Our Lives for the New Future). It will be located in the ejido Jolj’a in the official Municipality of Tila.
New Autonomous Municipality: 21 de Diciembre (December 21). It will be located in Ranchería K’anal Hulub in the official municipality of Chilón.
New Caracol: Jacinto Canek. Its Good Government Council is called: Flor de nuestra palabra y luz de nuestros pueblos que refleja para todos (The Flower of Our Word and the Light of Our Communities Reflected for All). It will be located in the community of CIDECI-Unitierra in the official municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
We would like to take this opportunity to invite The Sixth, The Networks [of Rebellion and Resistance], the CNI, and all honest people to come and participate, together with the Zapatista peoples, in building these CRAREZ. You might contribute to this effort by collecting the necessary construction materials, by making an economic contribution, by hammering, cutting, carrying, and guiding others, and by sharing these moments with us—whichever might be the most convenient way for you. In the next few days we will circulate another communique in which we will explain how, when, and where you can register to participate in these events.
Brothers and Sisters,
To the CNI-CIG: we would like to set up a meeting to talk more about the work we have committed ourselves to: to share problems, difficulties, setbacks, and failings so that we can see which seeds do not give us a good harvest, which seeds actually hold us back, so that we can avoid these seeds and harvest only the best of our struggle. We would like to get together with those who are really making an effort on the organizational front of the struggle so that we can talk about what a good harvest and a bad harvest are. More specifically, we would like to propose that we jointly hold what could be called the, “Forum in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth” (or whatever name you all see fit), which would be open to all people, groups, collectives, and organizations that are dedicated to the struggle for life. We propose that the forum be held during the month of October of this year on whatever days are most convenient for you. We would like to offer one of the Caracoles for the purpose of this forum or meeting on whatever dates you decide are most convenient.
To the Sixth and Networks [of Rebellion and Resistance]: we call on you all to get started on your analysis and discussion for the formation of an International Network of Rebellion and Resistance—whether that be a pole, a nucleus, a federation, a confederation, or whatever you might call it. This Network should be based on the independence and autonomy of those who constitute it, explicitly renouncing all attempts at hegemony or homogeny, where mutual aid is unconditional and all share in each other’s good and bad experiences, all the while working to circulate all the histories of the struggle that take place below and to the left.
To this end, we as Zapatistas will convoke bilateral meetings with groups, collectives, and organizations that are truly working in their own geographies. We will not hold large meetings for this purpose but we will make public in the next few days the how, when, and where of these proposed bilateral meetings. Of course, this is only for those who accept the invitation and always taking into account the varied calendars and geographies that you all might have.
To those who have dedicated their life and their livelihood to art, science, and critical thought: we will be inviting you to festivals, encounters, seedbeds, fiestas, exchanges, or whatever they might be called. We will let you know soon how, when, and where we might have these events. These will include CompArte and the Film Festival “Puy ta Cuxlejaltic” but not be limited to them. We hope to be able to have CompArtes specific to each art, for example, theater dance, visual arts [artes plasticas], literature, music, etc.. In addition, there will be another edition of ConCiencias, but perhaps this time we will start with the social sciences. Finally, there will be another seedbed for Critical Thought and we are thinking we will begin with the topic of The Storm.
A special invitation to those with walk with pain and rage, with resistance and rebellion, and who are persecuted:
We will convoke an encounter between the families of the murdered, disappeared, and imprisoned and those organizations, groups, and collectives that are dedicated to accompanying those families’ rage and their search for truth and justice. The only goal of this encounter will be for everyone to meet each other so you might share your pain and your experiences throughout your search. We as Zapatista peoples will limit our role to serving as hosts for this event.
The Zapatista compañeras will convoke a new encounter among Women Who Struggle. They will do so in the time, place, and manner they decide and they will let you know their decisions as they see fit. We can tell you now that this encounter will only be for women, so we cannot give any more information until they have collectively decided those details.
We would like to explore the idea of having a meeting of otroas [others], with the goal of having people share their pain, injustices, persecution, and all the other fucked up shit that is done to them, but also so that they might share their forms of struggle and their strength. We as Zapatistas will limit our role to hosting this event.
We would like to see if it is possible to hold an encounter between groups, collectives, and organizations that work in the defense of Human Rights, in the manner and form they themselves decide upon. We the Zapatistas will limit ourselves to acting as hosts for such an event.
Compañer@s and herman@s:
Here we are; we are Zapatistas. So that you could see us, we covered our face. So that we could have a name, we left our names behind. We risk our present so that we might have a future. So that we might live, we die. We are Zapatistas, the majority of us have indigenous Mayan roots, and we do not give up, we do not give in, and we will not sell out.
We are rebellion and resistance. We are only one of the many sledgehammers that will tear down their walls, one of the many winds that will sweep this earth, and one of the many seeds that will give birth to other worlds.
We are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
From the Mountains of Southeastern Mexico.
On Behalf of the Men, Women, Children and Elders of the Zapatistas Bases of Support
For the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
Mexico, August of 2019