Words of the Zapatista Women at the Closing of the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle
Listen to and/or download the audio of the closing words in the voice of Comandanta Yésica:
December 2019, Encounter of Women Who Struggle. Photo: RZ.
ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION
December 29, 2019
Compañeras and sisters:
We want to share a few words with you as we close this Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.
We have listened to the words and proposals everyone has shared in each of our work sessions as well as other proposals that have been made.
We are going to create a space for all of you to see these ideas and proposals, as well as others that emerge, and offer your own words and opinions. This is for those of you who were able to attend this gathering and have returned to your own geographies with time to think and reflect on what we saw and heard here these last few days, and above all it is for those of you who could not attend.
We think this is important because if we don’t listen to each other as the women that we are, then we aren’t really women who struggle for all women, but only for our own group, idea, or organization and that won’t do at all.
While it may be easy to say that we are going to think about and reflect on these proposals, in reality it is difficult, because even for that process we need to be organized.
With that in mind, we propose this first agreement:
- We all learn about the proposals made here and make our own proposals regarding violence against women and what we will to do stop this serious problem we have as women.
Do you all agree?
As we are preparing this message we don’t know whether you will agree or not. But if we do agree, then we have one year, sister and compañera, to move this work forward.
Let’s not return here next year amidst the same violence against women without ideas or proposals for how to stop it.
We as Zapatista women have listened attentively to the denunciations that you have made over the past few days and we want to tell you what we are thinking.
We find it unbelievable, compañera and sister, that in your worlds that talk so much about progress, modernity, and development, no one has the tiny bit of humanity necessary to be stirred by the tragedies, pain, and despair that you have expressed, as well as those you haven’t expressed out loud.
How is it possible that a woman carrying such pain, sorrow, rage, and fury has to come all the way to these mountains of Southeastern Mexico to be able to feel a comforting and supportive embrace, which is the least we can offer among ourselves as women.
Perhaps a woman who has not experienced violence thinks that such a thing is not important, but any woman with any heart at all knows that this embrace, this comfort, is a way of saying, of communicating, of shouting that we are not alone.
And you are not alone, compañera and sister. But that is not enough.
It’s not just comfort that we need and deserve; we need and deserve truth and justice. We need and deserve to live. We need and deserve freedom.
Perhaps we can achieve these things, which are so necessary, if we support each other, protect each other, and defend each other.
This is the message that the insurgentas and milicianas [of the EZLN] gave us: to respond to the woman who asks for help, to support her, protect her, and defend her with everything we have. So we’ve asked the insurgentas and milicianas to repeat their message for us now:
(the milicianas and insurgentas repeat the exercise they had previously performed)
Thank you to our compañeras who are insurgentes and milicianas and who have taken care of us here, protecting and defending us during this Gathering.
The second agreement we want to propose is this:
- When any woman anywhere in the world, of any age and any color asks for help because she has been violently attacked, we respond to her call and find a way to support, protect, and defend her.
Do you all agree?
As we write this message we don’t know what your answer will be, but we’ll keep going.
For this task of defending ourselves, protecting ourselves, and supporting each other, sister and compañera, we know we have to be organized.
We know that each of us has our own form of organization. But if each organization or group or collective of women who struggles mobilizes on their own, that is a very different thing than if they mobilize in agreement and coordination with other groups, collectives, and organizations.
And in order to be in agreement and coordination, we have to be in communication, keeping each other informed, talking to each other and making agreements.
That brings us to the third agreement we want to propose:
- All of the groups, collectives, and organizations of women who struggle who want to coordinate among ourselves to carry out joint actions, should exchange our communication information, whether that communication be by telephone or internet or however.
Do you all agree?
Okay, we heard your answer.
One last thing before we finish here and close this Second International Gathering for Women Who Struggle. It’s about the calendar.
We know that whatever the day, week, month, or year, somewhere in the world a woman is scared that she will be attacked, disappeared, or murdered. We already confirmed that there is no rest for women who struggle. So we want to propose to you who are listening to us or reading us or watching us, a joint action:
It could be any day of the year, because we know that the patriarchal system doesn’t rest from abusing us, but we propose that this joint action of women who struggle all over the world take place on March 8, 2020.
We propose that on that day each organization, group, or collective choose the action it thinks best, using the color or symbol by which they identify themselves according to their own thought and way of doing things, but that all of us wear a black ribbon as a sign of our pain and sorrow for all of the disappeared and murdered women all over the world.
This will be our way of saying to them, in every language, in every geography, and on every calendar:
You are not alone.
We feel your absence.
You are missed.
We will not forget you.
We need you.
Because we are women who struggle.
And we will not give in, give up, or sell out.
These are our words for you, sister and compañera.
We ask you to be careful as you return to your geography. We hope you arrive home safely and we remind you to remember what happened at this Gathering.
Remember that here, in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, you have us, Zapatista women, and that like you, we are women who struggle.
In the name of all of the Zapatista women of all ages and at this hour Zapatista time on December 29, 2019, we officially close this Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle, here in the mountains of Southeastern Mexico.
From the Semillero “Footprints of Comandanta Ramona,” Caracol Whirlwind of our Words, Zapatista Mountains in Resistance and Rebellion,
Mexico, December 29, 2019