Marcos on the Zapatista march

Marcos on everything you ever wanted to know about the Zapatista march,
under the following headings:
a) the current political debate
b) the three signals
c) the COCOPA law
d) en route
e) stay in Mexico City

I. Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Zapatista Army of National Liberation.


February of 2001.

Dear Cybernauts:

The following questions, asked by journalists and people from civil
society, have reached the EZLN through this web page and by email.
Subcomandante Marcos, military chief and spokesperson for the zapatistas,
is responding, and will continue to respond, as far as possible, to the
most general questions. We are now presenting this section, updated as of
February 9, 2001. As far as possible, we will be adding more questions,
expanding upon and updating our answers. The words presented here are the
EZLN's official position on each issue addressed.

The questions have been grouped in five areas:



1. Is Marcos going to Mexico City at the invitation of President Vicente

No, the zapatista delegation is going to Mexico City on its own initiative
and for the purpose of engaging in dialogue with the Congress of the Union,
that is, with Deputies and Senators. The purpose of that dialogue is to
seek approval of the so-called "Cocopa legislative proposal," which, taken
to the constitutional level, will mean the fulfillment of the agreements
reached at Table One of the San Andre's Dialogues and will be a very
important step on the path to peace in Chiapas. During its march to Mexico
City, the zapatista delegation will engage in dialogue with civil society
and the Indian peoples of 12 Mexican states. It will also be participating
in the work of the Third National Indigenous Congress.
All of this for the
purpose of promoting the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights
and culture.

2. Has the EZLN had direct contact or correspondence with the government
commissioner, Luis H. Alvarez?

No, the EZLN has said, as long as long as the three signals we have
demanded for dialogue are not carried out, it will not make direct contact
with the federal government. As soon as they are carried out, we will
establish contact. Meanwhile, we are making it clear that there has not
even been an exchange of correspondence. The conflicting information on
this point has, we believe, been deliberately orchestrated by the federal
government in order to confuse people. On the other hand, we continue to
view Se~or Luis H. Alvarez with respect, and, as soon as the three minimal
signals we are asking for take place, we will make direct contact with him.

3. Has the EZLN had direct contact or correspondence with the Cocopa or
with any of its members?

No. There has been no exchange of correspondence nor have there been
direct contacts.

4. Has the EZLN not felt pressured by the publicity deployed by Fox
government concerning the actions it has undertaken in Chiapas? Do they
not feel that the people can ask them to sit down now?

We feel that the people also want the government to offer these signals.
We don't feel pressured, because they aren't telling us "to sit down now".
That's what the government is saying. The people, in any case, want the
two parties to commit ourselves seriously to the peace process. As far as
we are concerned, the government's seriousness will be demonstrated with
the fulfillment of the three minimal signals. And, on our part,
seriousness will consist in our not asking for new signals in order to
begin dialogue.
On the other hand, the people have always made us feel that they
understand us. It's obvious that when we say "the people", we aren't
referring to the powerful, to the One'cimos or to the Loyolas, but to civil
society in general.

5. Are the zapatista delegates who will be travelling to Mexico City going

No. The zapatistas will be travelling unarmed, as and how established by
law. In this undertaking, we are not leaving to make war, but to engage in
dialogue. When we engage in dialogue, we do not need weapons.

6. Are the 24 zapatista delegates going to be travelling with their faces
covered with ski-masks? Why?

Yes, they will be going with ski-masks. Because ski-masks are now a symbol
of zapatismo. The ski-masks point out that the government does not look at
the indigenous when they show themselves, and, now that they conceal
themselves, they do see them. It's also an invitation for everyone to feel
part of this struggle.

7. Can the zapatista delegates be detained?

No, because the so-called "Law for Dialogue, Reconciliation and Dignified
Peace in Chiapas" protects the zapatistas from any legal action against
them. The law states that the suspension of legal actions continues while
dialogue is in effect. The law points out that weapons should not be
carried in places of dialogue and negotiation. The Cocopa has already
publicly pointed out its position in this regard: the dialogue continues
in effect, and therefore the law which guarantees respect for the
zapatistas' freedom of movement and safety is in effect. Since we will be
going without weapons, we cannot be detained.

8. What does the indigenous issue mean to the EZLN? Do they want to
separate from Mexico?

The EZLN is a primarily indigenous organization that rose up in arms for
Democracy, Liberty and Justice for all Mexicans. Of all the Mexican
peoples, the indigenous is the most forgotten. That's why the EZLN raised
the recognition of indigenous rights and culture as an important demand.
This demand found echo throughout the country and in the entire world. The
indigenous issue signifies, for the EZLN, an unfinished debt of Mexico, and
we should not have to wait any longer for its resolution. We do not want
independence from Mexico, we want to be part of Mexico, to be Mexican
indigenous. Up until now, they've treated us as second-class citizens, or
as a hindrance for the country. We want to be first-class citizens and to
be part of the country's development, but we want to be so without ceasing
to be indigenous.

9. Why has the EZLN not signed the peace?

Because Zedillo's government did not carry out the accords it signed with
the EZLN. In order for peace to be real, it must be built on accords that
are fulfilled. If it's not so, then it's not peace, but pretense. The
EZLN has wanted peace for seven years, but not just any peace, one with
justice and dignity. We are continuing on that path.

10. What do the zapatista indigenous want after the end of the PRI?

For the Mexican nation to recognize indigenous rights and culture in the
Constitution. That it works to resolve the serious condition of
marginalization of the Indian peoples of Mexico, taking them into account.
For democracy to become a reality for all Mexicans, all the time. For the
indigenous woman to have a special place in Mexican society. And for the
zapatistas to be able to go out and engage in politics like any other
citizen, that is, for neither ski-masks nor weapons to be necessary any

11. After seven years of militarization and siege, how has the situation
changed for the peoples of Chiapas?

Now there is hope that the past will not be repeated, that the indigenous
self will no longer be the cause for shame or pain, that we can improve the
condition of our lives, that we will never again have to make war in order
for them to hear us. The fundamental change, in short, is that we are not
alone now.

12. What expectations are there concerning the Vicente Fox government,
which is not PRI, now?

We hope the Fox government understands that the country has changed now.
That the Indian people cannot continue to be kept in oblivion. That the
people should, and want, to participate in decision-making. That peace
with justice and dignity is a national and international demand. We hope
that it gives clear signals as to its willingness to dialogue, that it
engages in dialogue, that it reaches accords and that it carries them out.
We hope that it decides to seek peace.

13. What will happen to Subcomandante Marcos if peace is signed?

Along with all the zapatista compa~eros and compa~eras, he will fight for
democracy, liberty and justice along new paths.

14. How does the EZLN respond to those who attack them and speak badly of
the zapatistas?

That we aren't attacking anyone, we don't want to take anything away from
anyone. What we want is a dignified place for the indigenous of Mexico.
Those who are attacking us are attacking a demand for justice which
everyone, throughout the world, supports and recognizes. We are only
afraid of those who prefer to see the indigenous dead.

15. Are there political groups, drug traffickers or foreign interests
behind the EZLN?

No. The EZLN is a completely Mexican organization. It didn't have any
foreign financing, and its decisions and actions are answerable to the
orders of the zapatista indigenous communities. We are independent of all
national and international political organizations. Not only are we not
dependent on drug trafficking, but we have fought it since our creation.
In the zapatista indigenous communities, the use, planting and trafficking
of narcotics is prohibited. No country or organization maintains the EZLN
economically. The EZLN supports itself through its own resources, that is,
with the support of the communities. That is why we are a poor army.

16. Why does the EZLN say "army"?

Because it is organized as an army, and it fulfills all international
regulations for recognition as an army. When the war began, the EZLN did
so fulfilling international conventions: it formally declared war, it has
recognizable uniforms, ranks and insignias, it respects the civil
population and neutral bodies. The EZLN has weapons and military
organization and discipline.

17. Why does the EZLN say it seeks to disappear?

Because the EZLN is fighting so that it will no longer be necessary to be
clandestine and to be armed in order to fight for justice, liberty and
democracy. When the EZLN achieves what it is seeking, then the EZLN will
no longer be necessary. That is why we say we are fighting in order to

18. Why does the EZLN say it isn't fighting for Power?

Because from the time of our first public appearance we have never proposed
the taking of Power. We are not interested in having government positions,
but in the people participating and their voice being listened to and
heeded. We think it's not important who's in government. What is
important is that it "govern obeying", or that the people compel those
governing to carry out their work in accordance with the people's interest,
and not in accordance with the interest of a party or of an economic or
religious group.

19. Are there women in the EZLN? And in the delegation?

Yes. There are women in the EZLN at all levels: there are women who are
support bases, there are militia, there are insurgents, there are officers,
there are local and regional 'responsables', and there are comandantes. In
the delegation going to Mexico City there are four comandantes. There
names are Susana, Yolanda, Esther and Fidelia. There are more women in the
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, which is the top leadership
of the EZLN, but only 4 of them are going ion this trip.

20. Are there children in the EZLN?

No, there are no children fighters in the EZLN, or no child soldiers.
There are zapatista children, but they are support bases.

21. Is Marcos willing to meet with Fox personally?

The EZLN does not think that the war in Chiapas will be resolved by a
meeting between two people, but that a process of dialogue and serious,
respectful and responsible negotiation is necessary. When the three
signals are fulfilled, the EZLN will name a group of its leaders, among
whom may or may not be Marcos, in order to engage in dialogue and to
negotiate with the federal government. The Fox government has already
named the person who will be in charge of negotiation, Se~or Luis H.
Alvarez. The zapatistas will, therefore, engage in dialogue with him when
the process begins.


1. If Vicente Fox's government carries out the three signals demanded by
the EZLN in order to begin dialogue, will the EZLN demand more conditions?
What is the guarantee that, if Fox carries out the three signals, the
zapatistas won't ask for more?

Upon the fulfillment of the three signals, the EZLN will make contact with
the Commissioner for Peace, and it will jointly set the day, place, hour
and agenda for the first meeting. There will not be any more conditions.
The guarantee the EZLN is offering is its word, which we have never broken.

2. Will the zapatistas go to Mexico City even if the Fox government does
not carry out the three signals for dialogue?

Yes, as we have already explained, the purpose of the trip is dialogue with
the Congress of the Union, with the Indian peoples of Mexico and with civil
society, not with the federal executive. Even if Fox has not carried out
the three signals, the dialogue with Congress, the indigenous and civil
society will take place.

3. Is it true that Fox has already withdrawn the army from Chiapas?

No. The Fox government had some of the checkpoints and control points on
the roads withdrawn, and he ordered the withdrawal of troops from 4
positions out of the 259 military camps which have invaded chiapaneco

4. Is the EZLN demanding complete demilitarization in order to sit down
to talks? Does it recognize the troop withdrawal?

No, the EZLN is only asking that they close 7 military positions. The
federal army will still be keeping 252 positions inside the so-called
"conflict zone". By asking for the closing of 7 positions, the EZLN is
asking the Fox government to respond to the question: "Are you in charge
of the federal army, and are you willing to abandon the military option as
a means of resolving the conflict?" By asking for 7 positions, the EZLN is
using 7 as a symbol. The closing of those positions does not mean the
demilitarization of the conflict zone. The federal army will maintain,
even without these 7 positions, its military capacity.
The closing of the
7 positions will not in any way affect the correlation of forces between
the federal army and the EZLN. The EZLN recognizes that only 4 of the 7
positions have been closed. The reluctance to close the remaining 3 means
that the Fox government has not decided to abandon military means, or that
it's not in charge of the federal army, and their orders are not being
fully complied with.

5. At what point is the process of the release of zapatistas who are
imprisoned in different jails in the country?

Up to now, only 25 zapatista prisoners have been released. The 25 have
been released by the government of the state of Chiapas. The federal
government has not released one single one. In addition to Chiapas, there
are imprisoned zapatistas in Tabasco and in Quere'taro. The governor of
Quere'taro has said he will not let the 2 zapatistas who are being kept in
prison go. With this, and with his statements asking for the death penalty
for us, the governor of Quere'taro has become one of the obstacles
preventing the recognition of Indian rights and progress in dialogue.

6. Are the zapatistas satisfied with Vicente Fox's having sent the Cocopa
law to the Congress of the Union? What is still needed for the fulfillment
of this first signal?

No, the sending of the "Cocopa law" to the Congress of the Union is not
sufficient. It's necessary for this proposal to be turned into law, that
is, into constitutional reform. The "Cocopa law" has a three-fold
importance: it is important because it recognizes the rights of the very
first residents of Mexico. It is important because it will be a
fundamental signal for the reopening of dialogue and for reaching peace.
And it is important because it will demonstrate that dialogue and
negotiation are indeed the means for resolving conflicts. What remains for
the fulfillment of this signal is for the federal executive - Fox, that is
- to work with Deputies and Senators in search of consensus for its
approval. The Cocopa needs to work with the parliamentary groups of the
various parties represented in the legislature. The Congress of the Union
needs to listen and to heed the clamor of the Indian peoples represented in
the CNI and the EZLN.


1. Who made the "Cocopa Law", and what does this law say?

The so-called "Cocopa law" was drawn up in December of 1996 by legislators
from the Commission of Concordance and Peace (Cocopa).
The legislators
belonged to the 4 most important political parties: the PRI, the PAN, the
PRD and the PT. The zapatistas did not make this legislative proposal,
rather the legislators did: those who make the laws in Mexico. The
so-called "Cocopa law" takes up the most important of the first San Andre's
Accords, signed by the government and the EZLN in February of 1996: it
recognizes the right of the indigenous peoples to inclusionary autonomy
(that is, that their difference is recognized, but they continue to be
Mexicans), without breaking national unity and respecting human rights,
especially those of indigenous woman. It also notes that the indigenous
peoples should be taken into account in
decision-making which affects them.
That their culture should be respected and promoted. And that there
should be guarantees that their voice is listened to and heeded, and that
they have the right to have representation in the Congress of the Union and
in the state Congresses. Fundamentally, the "Cocopa Law" constitutionally
recognizes a reality: the Indian peoples are part of Mexico, and they have
their own forms of social and political organization. That is, they have
the right to be indigenous and to be Mexicans.

2. Is it true that the EZLN is not willing to have any period or comma of
the "Cocopa Law" changed?

In the current debate no one is suggesting that the problem with the
"Cocopa Law" has to do with periods and commas. The attacks on the law are
directed at its fundamental aspects (autonomy of the Indian peoples,
territoriality, collective rights), not at mere problems of wording. By
defending the "Cocopa Law", the EZLN is defending the San Andre's Accords,
which reflect the demands of the Indian peoples of Mexico.

3. What is the Cocopa's position regarding the law that they themselves
made, and which is, today, as important as peace itself?

The Cocopa has not, as a legislative body, made any pronouncement. Its
members have, speaking personally, made contradictory statements. The
current Cocopa will thus have to take a position regarding the legislative
proposal they drew up.

4. Is the Cocopa Law supported by the country's indigenous groups, or
just by the zapatistas?

The Cocopa's legislative proposal is supported by representatives of
indigenous organizations of all Mexico's ethnic groups, grouped in the
National Indigenous Congress. In addition, it has been analyzed and
discussed over the last four years in many of the indigenous communities
throughout the country. Over the last few years no legislative proposal
has received such analysis, debate and backing by Mexican citizens,
primarily indigenous.

5. Does the recognition of all indigenous uses and customs not represent
risks for the nation?

There are uses and customs which do not serve the indigenous communities,
primarily those having to do with the segregation of women in
decision-making, but they are being fought by the communities themselves,
basically by organized indigenous women. We are not demanding the
recognition of a bad custom which we ourselves are striving to change.
What we are demanding is the recognition of our different selves, of our
culture, of our history, of our language, of our forms of governance, of
our form of social organization. Apart from that, returning to the case of
indigenous women, the Cocopa law itself puts emphasis on respect for the
integrity of women and their political participation. It is for that
reason, among other things, that we want this law to be approved in


1. Who are the 24 delegates who are going to Mexico City?

Comandante David, Comandante Tacho, Comandante Zebedeo, Comandante Susana,
Comandante Javier, Comandante Yolanda, Comandante Isai'as, Comandante
Bulmaro, Comandante Abel, Comandante Moise's, Comandante Esther, Comandante
Maxo, Comandante Ismael, Comandante Eduardo, Comandante Gustavo, Comandante
Sergio, Comandante Omar, Comandante Filemo'n, Comandante Abraham, Comandante
Daniel, Comandante Mister, Comandante Fidelia, Comandante Alejandro and
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
In the EZLNalDF web page you will find the names of the delegates, their
photographs and a text concerning each one of them.

2. Will the EZLN address each and every one of the invitations from civil
society, from social organizations, from NGOs and other groups who want to
meet with the zapatistas?

The zapatista delegation will answer invitations from civil society as far
as possible. The time necessary for covering the route makes it
impossible, unfortunately, to respond affirmatively to all the invitations.
When we reject an invitation, we're not doing so because of a lack of
interest, a lack of courtesy, or because we don't consider it important to
attend to it, but because we have limited time and an agenda to meet. In
passing, let me say that there are, in the Zapatista Information Center,
hundreds of invitations from the twelve states through which we'll be
passing and from the Federal District.

3. What people do you want to count on for the mobilization to Mexico

On everyone, without regard to their sex, their political affiliation,
their ideology, their religious beliefs, their size, their weight, their
social position, etcetera. Indigenous groups which want to meet with us
will, obviously, have a special place.

4. Who is organizing the mobilization?

The EZLN, through an office called the "Zapatista Information Center".
This CIZ is receiving proposals from civil society and channeling them to
the EZLN. Through the CIZ, the EZLN is informing civil society of the
plans they are making and the details for the mobilization to take place.

5. During the route of the march, will the EZLN be meeting only with the

No. Although the CNI and the Indian peoples are very important in the
march, the EZLN knows that the struggle for the recognition of indigenous
rights and culture does not belong only to the Indian peoples, but to all
honest Mexican men and women, and to all the people of the 5 continents who
are struggling for peace, justice and dignity for all human beings.

6. Who is organizing the Third Indigenous Congress in Nuri'o, Michoaca'n?

The people of Nuri'o are organizing it directly, along with the CNI. More
information can be obtained about the Congress in the following places:

UCEZ. Telephone-fax: (014) 314-13-94 Email: <encuentro> in Morelia.
La Casa Hotel del maestro. Telephone-fax: (014) 324-00-01, in Morelia.
Graciela Contreras (01715) 3-75-89, in Zita'cuaro. Alfonso Vargas Romero Telephone-fax: (01452) 5-09-40, in Paracho.

7. Who is going to be financing the zapatista's delegation to Mexico

National and international civil society. The EZLN is asking for financial
support for all those persons who can and want to help in the struggle for
the recognition of indigenous rights and culture. That is why the EZLN has
asked Se~ora Rosario Ibarra de Piedra to open a bank account so that people
can make their financial donations. The bank account number is:

Bancomer. Branch 437. Account #5001060-5 In the name of Se~ora Ma. Del Rosario Ibarra. San Cristo'bal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

The Zapatista Information Center is operating through the funds being
collected, and they will cover the costs of the trip for the delegation.

8. Should deposits be made into this same account in support of the work
of the Third Indigenous Congress?

The organization of the Third CNI is an enormous effort, which is also
dependent on everyone's efforts. The infrastructure for the meeting, the
feeding of the thousands of delegates and all the fitting out and
adjustments being made in the community of Nuri'o need financial
contributions from the entire world. The CNI maintains the following bank

Bancomer. Branch 463. Account #1029446-9 In the name of Alfonso Vargas Romero
Uruapan, Michoaca'n, Mexico.

9. If the zapatista delegation is not going to be passing through my area,
how can I participate in this mobilization?

In several ways. One is by becoming informed about the delegation's route,
so that you can see where the EZLN delegation will be holding public
events, and you can make plans to be present. Another is by joining the
zapatista caravan, whether from when it leaves Chiapas, or during the
journey, or during its arrival in Mexico City. Another is by holding
informative events in your area, simultaneous with the march. On the CIZ
web page you can find the la
test information concerning the objectives of the march and what is
happening every day.

10. If I'm in another country, what can I do to support the mobilization?

We have suggested to the international community that they accompany us on
the march, in the Federal District or in their own countries. Any of these
three forms of accompaniment would be equally important for us. They can
also help the zapatista march financially through Do~a Rosario Ibarra de
Piedra's bank account, or in the National Indigenous Congress bank account
(described above).

11. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in the state of Chiapas?

The zapatista delegates will travel to the city of San Cristo'bal de Las
Casas on February 24, departing from the Aguascalientes of Oventic, La
Garrucha and La Realidad, in addition to the community of Moise's Gandhi.
The EZLN is expecting to be accompanied by national and international civil
society from these four points.

In addition, the date for the farewell event for the delegation has been
confirmed. The event will be held in the central plaza of the city of San
Cristo'bal de Las Casas this February 24 in the afternoon.

The delegation will spend the night in San Cristo'bal, and it will leave
this city on the morning of February 25 for Juchita'n, Oaxaca, stopping
briefly in Tuxtla Gutie'rrez to greet the people gathered there.

12. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in the state of Oaxaca?

We will be leaving San Cristo'bal de Las Casas, Chiapas on the morning of
February 25, heading towards the municipality of Juchita'n. The delegation
will be greeting the compa~eros and compa~eras gathered at the entrance to
Oaxaca lands. Further along it will be participating in an event organized
in front of the Juchita'n municipal palace, where Zapotec, Huave, Zoque,
Chontal and Mixe brothers and sisters will be gathered.

The delegation will spend the night in this municipality, and on the
morning of the 26th it will leave for the city of Oaxaca, where it will be
holding a main event with Mixtec, Amuzgo, Cuicatec, Zapotec, Chatino,
Chocholtec, Triqui and Chinantec brothers and sisters.

Following this event, the delegation will be spending the night in this
city, and on the morning of the 27th it will leave for the city of Puebla.

13. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in its travels through
Orizaba, Veracruz?

On February 27, en route to Puebla, we will stop off to participate in a
brief event organized in the municipality of Orizaba.

14. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in the state of Puebla?

The zapatista delegation will arrive in the city of Puebla this February
27, and they will hold an event there in the central plaza, prior to
participating in an event with people gathered in Tehuaca'n (Puebla) and in
Orizaba (Veracruz).

The delegation will stay over in the city of Puebla, and on February 28,
during the morning, it will leave, headed for the state of Hidalgo.

15. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in the state of Hidalgo?

The zapatista delegation will arrive in the state of Hidalgo on February
28, and they will be holding a main event there, in the municipality of
Ixmiquilpan, with a brief prior stopover to greet the people of Emiliano
Zapata, Ciudad Sahagu'n, Pachuca, Actopan, Francisco I. Madero and
Tepatepec, who can either remain in their areas or travel to the main event
in Ixmiquilpan (or, even better, do both).

The delegation will spend the night in the community of Tephe', and on the
morning of March 1, it will leave for Michoacan.

16. What is the zapatista delegation's agenda in the state of Quere'taro?

On the first of March the delegation will be participating, along with our
brothers and sisters of Quere'taro, in a brief even

Conflict in Chiapas: Understanding the Modern Mayan World
by Worth H. Weller, Ben Weller (Photographer), Julia Weller (Photographer)
$16.95, Paperback, March 1, 2000
Rebellion in Chiapas : An Historical Reader
by John Womack (Editor)
$14.36, Paperback , March 1999
Voices from Exile : Violence and Survival in Modern Maya History
by Victor Montejo
$18.17, Hardcover, October 1999
©Copyright 1997-2000 Jeeni Criscenzo