EZLN words in Milpa Alta

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Words of the EZLN
March 9, 2001.
In Milpa Alta, D.F.

Indigenous Brothers and Sisters of All Mexico: Brothers and Sisters of Milpa Alta:
Brothers and Sisters of the Federal District: Brothers and Sisters of the World:

We are here, in the zapatista headquarters, we who are part of this March of Indigenous Dignity, the March of the Color of the Earth.

We who are, are no longer alone. The strength of the earth which rests here in order to be made journey tomorrow, thus speaks:

We are here because we are trying to right a wrong.

Because our most first ones commanded that those of below should amend the errors made by those of above.

This is Mexico.

This country's history is one of errors.

But, up until now, they are the ones who have erred, and we are the mistake and the one who pays for it.

They erred 500 years ago saying they had discovered us. As if the other world which we were had been lost. As if we were the ones being looked for, and not the seekers. As if we were quiet, and they were the ones who moved.

They erred when their great men of wisdom discussed whether or not we had reason and feelings, or were animals who had very little in common with them.

They erred in calling "civilizing" the acts of destruction, of killing, of humiliating, of persecuting, of conquering, of subjecting.

They erred when they called killing an Indian "evangelizing him." They err today, when they call this murder "modernizing him."

As far as they are concerned, our histories are myths, our doctrines are legends, our science is magic, our beliefs are superstition, our art is crafts, our games, dances and clothing are folklore, our government is anarchy, our languages dialect, our love is despicable sin, our gait is groveling, our size is small, our physical selves are ugly, our manner is incomprehensible.

In order to look at us, they look behind themselves and down.

For them, recognizing us is recognizing themselves as superior.

For them, seeing us is seeing us subjected.

For them, looking at us is ordering us.

For them, giving us a place is pointing to the tomb, the jail, the forgetting.

They, those who are above those of us who are below.

They "civilized" us yesterday, and today they want to "modernize" us.

They tell us that their world is better.

That we should leave our lands, our homes, our history.

That we should come to their land and live beneath them.

That we should live in their home and serve in it.

That we should be part of their history and die in it.

That is what they offer us: to live under their foot, obey their will, die in oblivion.

There are only two options for the indigenous in Mexico today: either resist or "modernize."

Those of us who resist "modernization" are living in houses with dirt floors, walls of sticks or mud, roofs of cardboard or branches. Our table is full of want.

Those who "modernized" are living in houses with dirt floors, walls of pieces of nylon, roofs of cardboard or plastic. Their tables are full of want.

Our houses have illness and poverty as floor. So are those of the "modern" indigenous.

Our walls are made of mud or plastic and poverty. So are those of the "modern" indigenous.

Our roofs are of straw or cardboard and of poverty. So are those of the "modern" indigenous.

Those of us indigenous who are resisting are struggling to survive the same as those who are "modernizing." But some of us are what we are, and the others are pretending not to be what they are.

Faced with these two options, the March of Indigenous Dignity, the March of the Color of the Earth, is trying to build a new one:

The recognition of our difference.

This difference is organized in autonomy. In it we are different, and in it we are with the others we are.

Autonomy is integration.

What exists now is disintegration.

Brothers and Sisters:

They, when they speak, speak for themselves.

We, when we speak, speak for ourselves and for the others who, different, are like us.

They celebrate among themselves. But their pedestrian words have a pedestrian ear and the laughter, applause and media are pedestrian.

We look at ourselves when we speak. We look at ourselves and we look at the others who are, similarly, looking at themselves and looking at us.

They, the ones above who are power and government, have chosen the world they prefer. But they are also trying to impose that world on everyone.

We already have a world. We do not want it for everyone, we only want it to no longer be hidden or a source of embarrassment. We want it to take its place with pride among the other brother worlds.

Brother, sister, people, boy, girl, young person, woman, man, old man, old woman, indigenous whom you are and who are indigenous even though you are not indigenous.

Up there they talk among themselves, they listen to each other. The world they speak has no room for us.

Brothers and sisters
Maya Yucateco

They want our defeats to be perpetual.

They want our victories to be defeated.

If they persecute, imprison, kill, it is law. If we do, it is a crime.

If they govern, it is democracy. If we do, it is anarchy.

If they demand, it is justice. If we do , it is rebellion.

If they command, it is peace. If we do, it is war.

If they speak, one must listen. If we do, one most close their ears.

If they command, it is stability. If we do, it is tremor.

Their media are shrieking now, but not for us. For they themselves. They say and say to each other: "How weak those Indians are and how alone! How strong we are, and there are so many of us!" It is up to them, because the door they are closing is the one that will leave them outside.

We do not fit in their world if we are not mute, quiet, dead.

If we wish to be the color of the earth which we are, we must speak. We must move. We must live.

In order to speak, to move and to live, we need ourselves, not them.

We move in order to speak.

We speak in order to move.

We move and we speak in order to live.

We live in order to speak and move.

May money tremble because we speak. May it tremble because we are moving. May it tremble, then, because we are living.

At the end of the day, living, speaking and moving, this we are shouting:

We are!

And we are with everyone, and we must be recognized along with everyone.

Because, in spite of them, and with everyone, we shall all have:


>From the zapatista headquarters in Milpa Alta, Federal District.

Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, March of 2001.

P.S. - Brothers, sisters: We know they are saying that you are calling for violence in order to destabilize the zapatista march. We, the zapatistas, know that the brothers are our brothers. We do not believe them. We believe in the brothers because they speak the same language as those of us of below. We will march with the brothers.

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
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