ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION
To the compañer@s of the Sixth:
To whom it may concern:
To our compas and those who aren’t compas:
What we are going to relate to you here comes from the indigenous partidistas that live in various zones of the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas. Although they are active in, supportive of, or work directly for different institutional political parties (PRI, PAN, PRD, PVEN, PMRN, PANAL, PT, PES, PFH… in addition to any others that join the crowd between now and 2018), what they share is having received aid programs from the bad government, as well as serving as the human component for votes and for earthly and heavenly herding. This in addition, of course, to being indigenous and Mexican.
What you are about to read has not appeared, does not appear, nor will it appear in the local, national, or international paid media. It also directly contradicts the government’s propaganda and the praises sung by its media (badly, of course).
In sum, it is evidence of a crime: the “legal” dispossession of lands, history, and the culture of indigenous communities who believed that the bad governments and partidista organizations were there to help them. We have omitted the real names of these communities and persons at their explicit request, as in some cases they fear retaliation and in others they feel shame and expect mockery for the affront they have suffered.
The protagonists here are only a small portion of the victims of a war, the most brutal, terrible, bloody, and destructive war in the history of the world: a war against Humanity.
We are including here just a few examples, though there are many and the lies and suffering are equally prevalent in all of them. Here goes:
What we write here is what is happening in the partidista communities.
It may be hard to believe but what we tell you here is fact, exactly as the compañer@s bases of support have recounted to us, and exactly what those in the communities who are not Zapatistas say about what is happening in their villages. This is in addition to what the compañeros and compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress are suffering in their communities across the country, something that is little known because there is no press that reports on it, as the majority of the existing press is paid press.
This, what we write here, is what has happened just in the last year.
We will look in as if we were in a subterranean Drone to see how the partidistas from below are doing, far from the governmental statistics and paid ‘news’ inserts in the media.
Near La Realidad, there is a community—well, they will remain a community if they defend themselves, you’ll see what happened there—where the people are not Zapatistas, but rather partidistas.
The bad government offered its livestock project there. They gave cattle to all the ejidatarios, not to hold in common but to hold individually. Each one got their cow, their own horse, saddle, corral, wire fence, and salt, and they got a veterinary medicine kit to share.
People were very pleased. They even had posters and t-shirts praising the government for fulfilling its promises. The governing officials got their photos taken and paid the paid media to publish the big news: “the partidista communities are improving; the Zapatistas are the same or worse off than in 1994.” The officials wrote in their accounting ledgers that they had spent a lot in order to hide what they stole: a portion for themselves, another portion for the government, another bit for the paid media.
But it turns out that the news media run around like chickens with their heads cut off, not knowing where to go: to the story of El Chapo who escaped for the second time and who was captured for the third, to the story of the pope who has just arrived, or of the pope who has just left, and meanwhile in whatever corner of Mexico or the world you peer into, they have beat-raped-jailed-murdered-or-disappeared-who-knows-who. And the news is just part of the system, just one more commodity. In this case it sells if it is reported and it sells if it is silenced. So the media get paid to report it… and paid even more to keep it quiet.
But only a short time had passed when the ejidatarios [collective land holders] of the community receiving governmental support had to cover “a need” and sold a cow. When we say “a need” it means they had an urgent problem, like a serious illness. When the project inspector came and began to count the cows, one by one, that had been given to the community, one was missing. The inspector asked the ejidatario whose cow was missing and what happened and the man answered: “I sold it because I had a need.” The inspector said, “you can’t sell it, why didn’t you ask permission first? You will have to buy a replacement, of the same size and breed.” And the ejidatorio said to the inspector: “but how, sir, if I already spent the money on the urgent need I had, where am I going to get the money for the replacement?” And the inspector replied, “That’s not my problem, that’s your problem. Buy the replacement, that’s all there is to it, and if you don’t, we’re going to take everything else away.”
Not even a month had passed and the damned inspector came back. He got all the ejidatarios together and got out a bunch of papers and showed them to the people saying, “all these papers are the lists, receipts, and invoices for everything you have received from the government. That is why this land is no longer yours, you will have to leave, and it’s better for you to go voluntarily, because if not you will go by force. If you go willingly, the place where you will go to live is ready for you: it will be in Escárcega, state of Campeche, or else you will go to Los Chimalapas”.
So what had been happening all this time was that while the people were feeling happy with the support of the bad government, what they were actually doing was taking care of cattle that wasn’t even theirs, like peons. And what they were really signing for, with their ejidal accords and voter credentials, was the selling off their lands, cheap, without realizing it.
Right there the smiles stopped and the shame, sadness, pain, and rage started.
Because that area is a tourist zone. That is where the Jataté river has left a few islands that are very beautiful. And that is what these men who live for money want. This is happening in community X, official municipality of Maravilla Tenejapa, along the border with Guatemala.
Do you know where Los Chimalapas is? Yes, bordering the state of Oaxaca. Do you know that there are frequently conflicts there, land problems, between Oaxacan and Chiapan campesinos? Well, those are going to increase. The federal and state governments are using that place as a relocation site for those who are kicked off their lands. This is what governmental populism does: it doesn’t resolve problems, what it does is make them bigger and then transfer them to other geographies so that they explode on other calendars.
The needs of the people do not matter to the bad governments and the partidistas above. All of their campaigns and social programs are not only an enormous lie and a source of self-enrichment, but also a means of dispossession.
But let’s keep listening to and seeing the partidistas:
In the zone of the caracol of Garrucha (but also in other zones), this is what happened: the communities W, X, and Y, have received the “Pro Arbol” project. There are other communities who also have received it, but we didn’t hear about them. But these three communities did give this account from the partidistas in the official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.
The government prohibited all of these communities from cutting down trees to meet their needs, like firewood to cook, or wood for the construction of their houses. The people are saying that they are afraid of what will happen to them, that they were only given a small slice of grassland to plant their cornfields, and if they cut down the medium-height brush around there they are fined. So if they have to repair a piece of wood from their small shacks, they have to buy a wood plank from the sawmills. The sawmills belong to large companies and these companies can cut down trees, all the trees they want, there exactly where the campesinos can’t cut anything. If the campesinos need firewood to cook, then they have to buy it somewhere and carry loads of wood to their houses. There they go with their firewood on their backs, walking the same highway as the big trucks that are transporting gigantic tree trunks cut from the same community land whose inhabitants are prohibited from cutting firewood in order “to protect the ecology.”
Where do the campesinos get the money to buy the wood plank they need for their house or firewood for cooking? From governmental programs. What do they have to do in order to receive government handouts? Present the assembly agreement, identity card, the CURP, and all of those papers that tag people just like they tag cattle and trees. These tags are supposed to give people identity but what they actually do is take it away; now they are not so-and-so person, they are such-and-such number.
And why do the bad governments want these papers? To demonstrate that the campesinos sold their land legally, so that they can evict them legally, and legally displace them to other lands, which are illegally settled. And so on.
But, what is the situation of the women in the partidista families? Well, we’ll tell you what the partidistas themselves say.
In 2 communities, X and Y, the women went to collect the [government] project handouts, but the government told them that the girls of the community should accompany them as well and that they had to go to Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the governor and his officials live. It turns out that, upon arriving in Tuxtla, they took the girls in one direction and the grown women in another. But among the girls, by mistake, was one grown woman. And it was this woman who communicated with her husband and said that they had been locked up in a house for 3 hours, and the girls said they had been forced to have sexual intercourse. And now the community is saying that what the officials are actually doing is requiring sexual relations in exchange for project handouts. For example, one girl was having problems because she had been forced to have sexual intercourse, and she asked her mother if that’s what happens the first time, if sexual intercourse is in fact painful. And her mother asked her, “why daughter, what’s wrong? Why do you ask this?” And the girl had to explain what happened in Tuxtla.
So the bad government is re-imposing the “right of the first night” (where when a girl was going to get married, the ranch or hacienda owner had the right to rape her first) in the partidista communities. That is how they govern, acting just like the ranch and hacienda owners from before. And also like before, they have the blessing of the High Clergy who opens the doors of the cathedrals for them so that (for a payout) they receive the sacraments, are absolved of their crimes and rapes, and once again pose, pure and smiling, in photos for the paid press and on television. This is who those governors and officials who pray with devotion and are first in line for ecclesiastic blessings really are.
That is how hell is brought forth with a blessing on earth.
And the partidista young people?
We can’t say in which community or communities what we are going to tell you about now happened. But two mestizo men showed up there saying that they worked with some major businessmen and that they were looking for workers. They said that they knew there were people who wanted to go work in the north but that it’s difficult to get there, and that they were willing to take them directly to the work sites. These 2 guys ended up recruiting 9 young people. A few months later, one of those young people managed to communicate with his family and that’s how they found out that he had been shot because he had fled the place where they were locked up. It turns out that the work was planting marijuana and poppy, that they weren’t allowed to leave, that they had been told clearly, “you will never leave here,” and he didn’t know if the others would be able to get away but their families should know how things were where they were taken.
And in another partidista village: a family made deals with narcotraffickers. Something went wrong because the father got a message, “if you don’t pay, your family will pay.” And that’s what happened, he received a cell phone image of his daughter’s head cut off, saying that if he wanted to bury her he would find her at such-and-such place. Other relatives went to pick up the body of the girl. But before that tragedy the family had been very pleased that they had good pay without having to work much.
In another village, in the northern zone of Chiapas, some people from the government came to offer “projects” for coffee, corn, school, medical clinics, churches, and highways, and the people accepted. They were happy because they could live well. Later the government officials came back to tell them that they would have to leave that place because there was uranium there, which was very toxic, and they’d have to leave their homes and lands willingly or by force. And if they left willingly they could go to Escárcega or Chimalapas.
They showed them the invoices and receipts from all of the expenses of the projects. And there were their names, their pictures, their ejidal assembly accords, everything that legally demonstrated that they were not in fact receiving aid but rather selling their lands.
In another zone, in a village in the municipality of Simojovel, there is amber and the people work in amber extraction in order to survive. Well, when there was that campaign to privatize the ejidos, some communities fell into the trap [of privatization]. So the owners of the [ejido] land then started selling it off piece by piece, meter by meter, and people from around there bought it up to see if there was amber there they could sell. But one day they were all run off because a Chinese businessman arrived to extract the amber. The foreign capitalist had all of the legal papers in order, thanks to the signatures of the people who thought they were signing to receive government aid and projects.
In other partidista villages strange people have shown up and the community has caught and fined them for entering their lands without permission. One community charged 300,000 pesos and the strangers paid it, even offering a little more, saying “we have come for what is now the first phase; there will be a second and third phase, and you all are going to have a lot of work, that is, good jobs with the new landowner.” Another community also caught some strangers who arrived by boat and charged them 100,000 pesos. The strangers paid the fine and said they had come to research the place because there were sulfur and other mines there, and that this was also just a first phase and there would be second and third phases.
In another community, close to the Miramar lagoon, a partidista commented that what they had received from governmental programs at the beginning of December (2015) was the last they would receive because it completed payment for the land and that the owner was going to come live on his land, that is, the new Japanese owner of that land. The thing is that these communities had everything they needed, they were well attended to, they even had an incubator for raising chickens. They received all the governmental aid programs and it turns out that what they had done, unknowingly, was sell their lands to a foreigner.
Another governmental program is PROSPERA, which used to be called Oportunidades. Women who sign up for this program receive aid for each child that they have in school. But this program has conditions, and what we know about these conditions is the following: the women are obligated to see a doctor frequently and forced to have pap smears. If they refuse the exams, they lose their aid. This program also prohibits the community from using some traditional communal health services, such as midwives. Now the women have to go to the city to give birth in the hospitals. If they are allowed in, that is.
Another issue is the question of the digital televisions. The government is handing out televisions to all of the partidistas. On December 22 and 23 of 2015, people from all of the communities in the municipality of Las Margaritas gathered at the sports center of Comitán. People began lining up to receive their television at 12 midnight, and really a lot of people came. What happened there was that 2 people died, a child and a woman: the child died because people were pushing in the crowd and the child was crushed as the mother couldn’t defend him; the woman was murdered when, upon arriving home, her husband took out a pistol and shot her for not having protected their child. A partidista gave us this account.
A few days after the people got their televisions, the partidista women said that many of the TVs were broken, many of them short-circuited when they were connected and burned out. Others turned on but didn’t show anything; apparently now they have to buy some additional device in order to see anything. The partidistas say that it is a business that Peña Nieto made with a Japanese company.
Well, those were just a few examples. There are many more, and they are equally or more chilling and infuriating as the ones we recounted here.
We are not lying or inventing things.
These are the words of the partidistas who, in their shame and rage, have come to us, as Zapatistas, to ask for advice and support.
We Zapatistas listen respectfully.
We don’t scold them for their betrayals, attacks, and slander.
We don’t throw in their faces the fact that they have aided our persecutors in the past and many times helped those above attack us.
We don’t mock their tragedies and shame.
We do not take joy from their pain.
Nor do we tell them that they should become Zapatistas, because we know well that it is difficult to be a Zapatista.
This has been, is, and will be our life and death: as Zapatistas.
This is what we told them:
“We Zapatistas have nothing to offer, not paid projects, not money, not earthly or heavenly promises. We only have our example. Organize yourselves, don’t let anyone tell you what to do or how or when to do it, defend what is yours. Resist, struggle, live.”
Now perhaps you are asking yourselves what the partidistas do in the face of these aggressions, evictions, and impositions. And the answer is very simple: they pass themselves off as Zapatistas.
One partidista said: “That’s the only way we are respected. So we hide our papers and we change our names. Because of the ignorance imposed upon us by the government, we thought that the Zapatistas were bad people. We see now that’s not the case.
We hope that the same thing does not happen again, that we will no longer be spies and traitors. We see now that one who betrays will be betrayed. And the truth is that we are very ashamed and enraged that we have been mocked once again, as always.
We thought that we were doing well, and we were only awaiting the worst.
We thought that we had so much, and now we have nothing.
We were blind and now we are naked.
We made fun of you, calling you “fucking Indians,” and it turns out that you are much better off than we are because you have your organization that does not abandon you, that does not detour from its path, that does not sell out, does not give up.
That’s what they told us.
The Zapatista that was listening to the partidista responded:
“Change our path, sell out, give up? Never.”
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, February 2016
NOTICE FOR THE SIXTH AND THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS: In the next few days we will convoke a series of activities. Be alert.
Note: this text was produced in its entirely with a word processor using free and open code software, with a GNU/Linux operating system, distro UBUNTO 14.04 LTS. “UBUNTU” in the Zulú language means “A person is a person through other people.” Say “yes” to free software.
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