“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas:
Freedom and Justice for
San Marcos Avilés and Francisco Sántiz López”


“It is urgent to show ourselves at the side of our compañeros in San Marcos Avilés. The threat is immediate. The Committees of the True Word must make ourselves known in every way we can, to show clearly the strength of our solidarity.”

– Gustavo Esteva

Compañeras and compañeros:

From Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of the first phase of the “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas: Freedom and Justice for San Marcos Avilés and Francisco Sántiz López” Campaign, the long-time Mexican intellectual and activist Gustavo Esteva sends us a critical and poetic reflection that lays bare the reasons we must support and stand in solidarity with the Zapatista resistance. In his moving piece, titled “The Time for Resistance and Solidarity,” which incorporates quotes from the Zapatistas themselves, our compa Gustavo gives language to what we know instinctively, as a feeling. The dignified resistance of the Zapatistas is not some isolated or distant thing, as Gustavo explains, but rather a movement of dignified people that unites us. It is directly relevant to all of us. Therefore, we must defend it; we must defend ourselves.

With great pride, we share here this beautiful letter in its entirety:

Gustavo Esteva

“Struggling together, the colour of our skin is not important, what matters is the content of our hearts,” they told us in the Good Government Council, somewhere in the Mexican southeast, in the month of September 2012, as the true word continues walking for our compañero Francisco Sántiz López and for the compañeros of San Marcos Avilés.

Struggling together, because that is the only way we are able to confront those who are doing everything in their power to disrupt our initiatives, our livelihoods, our organization, our autonomy.

It is more than ten years now since our Zapatista compañeros told us this clearly, but it seems that at that time we could not hear them. We did not see then with the clarity we have now that we are in World War IV. It is not a war between countries. It is a war of those from above against those from below. Because we, those from below, are now walking in rebellion; because we have been saying “enough!” ever since the first of January 1994, when the Zapatista uprising awoke us. Because we are no longer willing to let them continue to destroy our Mother Earth, and to continue to kill and imprison us. Because we have organized ourselves now, and we are building alternatives. For these and many other reasons they have unleashed a continuous war against us, from outside and inside, making it more and more difficult for us to live. They want to turn the whole world into a prison. The market has already got used to the new situation. It operates within a war scenario and trades everything on the stock market, leading to uncertainty. But the people do not get used to it. And we resist.

“Resistance is no longer just a word,” they said to us at the Junta. “Before, we thought it was easy, we thought it was no more than just enduring. Now we know that it is the only way, the way to show that life is not made with money, but with the resistance with which we live and work. Now we do not often speak of resistance in our communities, because we have become accustomed to it. But we see resistance where the bad government comes to beat us, with attacks by paramilitaries, here yes we see resistance because we have to care for what is ours, because if we give up the resistance even a little we will give a space to the bad government to take away what we have, and we are not going to go back on what we have built. We know that some people do not like us to organize, and for this reason many things happen, they attack us, but never mind, each of us is still here, safe and happy, if something happens to us there are other compas waiting behind us. Despite this, there we see that we are living a quiet life with our brothers and sisters, and that is where we see the resistance. Resistance is the place where we do what we want without asking permission from anyone, and so we say that there are many resistances. We do not have a timetable for the resistance or a set time. We will never come to an end, we know that we will not give up, even if they kill us, because our word will continue.”

“We are finding that there are many like us, for nobody teaches us what we are going to do, and so what matters most is unity, the best way to build the world where many worlds fit is through unity, to be and to want to be together, although we are different. It gives us great pleasure when we hear of the struggles of other countries and places. To be fighters we have to be ready and willing, not only for prison but also for death. But if this is what we want, then let us continue. This is the only way we can go, there is no other way.”

Both Francisco Sántiz López and San Marcos Avilés are frontlines in this great war that escalates daily in the Zapatista communities, because their resistance is walking onwards, because every day they affirm themselves in their autonomy, consolidate their achievements and take them even further. The bad government watches how the Zapatista resistance is enriched, how they extend their own ways of learning and justice and health and all their modes of living and how, despite everything that is done against them, the new social reality, which is the foundation for a different mode of existence, spreads and is strengthened. The attacks are not directed against weakness, or against something sad or dead. They attack all that flourishes, all that is robust, and all that serves as an example and is a source of inspiration.

You might think that these attacks are very distant, that they occur over there in some small community in the highlands of Chiapas, where they think no one will ever witness the horror of this attack unleashed against those who just want to continue to live in their own way, in the construction of their autonomy, and to extend the activities so that their children may learn to participate in this autonomy. But Sántiz speaks well from his prison: “If I’m here, I’m there; if I’m there, I’m here.”

The demons are on the loose. The war is everywhere. But so too is solidarity—that decision to be together in this common struggle that no longer respects territories. In each place it is different. But everywhere the same phenomenon is reproduced: the people affirm their dignity and say ‘enough!’, and they take their path, and the response from above is intimidation, aggression, corruption, continuous war…

It is urgent to show ourselves on the side of our compañeros in San Marcos Avilés. The threat is immediate. We, the Committees of the True Word, must make ourselves known in every way that we can, so that the strength of our solidarity may be seen.

It is the time for resistance. And to resist is to struggle in common, together, in the embrace of solidarity.

Gustavo Esteva
San Pablo Etla, September 2012