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Palabra del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional


Words from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, January 1, 2018.

Words from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, January 1, 2018.

24th Anniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion.














Today, January 1, 2018, we are here to celebrate the 24th anniversary of our armed uprising against the bad government and the neoliberal capitalist system which are the causes of all manner of death and destruction.

Just as other originary peoples, for more than 520 years we have been subjugated through exploitation, marginalization, humiliation, neglect, oblivion, and the dispossession of our lands and natural resources throughout the Mexican territory.

That’s why on January 1, 1994, we said ¡YA BASTA!, ENOUGH!—enough of living with so much injustice and death. We let the people of Mexico and the world know our demands for Democracy, Freedom, and Justice for all. We demanded land, work, dignified housing, food, health, education, independence, democracy, freedom, justice, and peace.

Now violence is everywhere, and it kills women and children, elders and youth, and even mother nature falls victim to it.

That’s why we say that our struggle is a struggle for life, for a dignified life.

And capitalism is a system of violent death, of destruction, of exploitation, of theft, of contempt.

That is what we originary peoples and the great majority of the inhabitants of this country Mexico and all over the world are lacking.

Because I ask you: Who has a dignified life? Who isn’t wracked by worry that they might be murdered, robbed, mocked, humiliated, exploited?

If someone out there is calm and unworried, well, then these words aren’t for you.

But perhaps you do see and feel that things are getting worse every day.

These days it’s not just that work is poorly paid and the pay isn’t enough to get by on.

Now it’s also that organized crime, especially the governments, steal, or worse, kill us just because, because it makes them feel good.

So, if you think that this is happening because your god wants it that way, or because of bad luck, or because it just happens to be your destiny, well then these words aren’t for you either.

Our demands are just and, as we said publicly 24 years ago, they’re not only for us originary or indigenous peoples; anyone who isn’t a criminal or an idiot or both knows that they are just demands which become more necessary and urgent with each passing day.

But the response of the bad governments was: here’s your handout, now get over it. And if you keep making demands, I’ve got my great armies, my police forces, my judges, my prisons, my paramilitaries, my drug traffickers—and all you have are cemeteries.

So we Zapatistas said to them: we’re not asking for handouts, we want respect for our dignity.

And the bad governments said they didn’t know what “dignity” was. They said it must be a Mayan word, or from another planet, because it’s not in their dictionaries, or in their heads, or in their lives.

Yes, they’ve been servile ass-kissers of the rich for so long, they’ve already forgotten what dignity is.

Since these bad governments are resigned to giving up, selling out, and giving in, they think that everyone is like that, that the whole world is like that, that there’s no one who speaks, thinks, struggles, lives and dies without giving up, selling out, or giving in.

That’s why they don’t understand Zapatismo. That’s why they don’t understand the thousands of forms that resistance and rebellion take in many corners of Mexico and the world.

And that’s what the system is like, compañera, compañero, brother, sister: whatever it doesn’t understand, it orders persecuted, imprisoned, murdered, disappeared.

Because it wants the world to be tamed, as if people were just beasts of burden who have to obey whatever the master or the boss says, and if they don’t obey, well then they get the whip, the stick, the jail cell, the bullet.

For capitalism, resistance and rebellion are like a disease that attacks it, makes it sick, gives it a headache, gives it a kick in the balls, spits in its face. I mean, resistance and rebellion make it really ill.

And the medicine capitalism uses against resistance and rebellion are the police, the prisons, the armies, the paramilitaries, the cemeteries if you’re lucky, but if not who knows where they’ll toss you.

And it’s the same even if you’re not in resistance and rebellion, if according to you you’re calm and content and a good citizen and you vote for whatever Trump your calendar and geography places before you.

It’s the same even if you criticize and complain about those who protest and rebel, and you declare “Get to work already and stop complaining,” when they protest over Acteal, or ABC Daycare, or Atenco, or Ayotzinapa, or the Mapuche, or over whatever the name of the next tragic thing to occur.

You think all of this is far from your home, your street, your community or neighborhood, your job, your school, your family…but no. All these known horrors, and many that are unknown, are right there, close to you.

Even if you think it won’t affect you, it will—you or someone close to you.

Because the system and its governments are out of control, they’ve gone mad, they got drunk on money and blood, and they’re coming to take everything and everyone, above all, women and people of other genders [todas and todoas].

So then, sister, brother, compañero, compañera, if you agree that the situation is very bad and that it’s become unlivable, then you’ve got to figure out what you’re going to do.

If you think that someone—a leader, a political party, or a vanguard—is going to solve all these problems and you just have to hand in a little piece of paper with your vote on it and that’s it, easy as that, then you need to think harder about whether that’s really what’s going to happen.

And if you do think that, than these words aren’t for you. Just sit tight and wait for the next mockery, the next fraud, the next act of deceit, the next lie, the next disillusionment. They’re not new—they’re the same ones as always, they’ve just changed dates on the calendar.

But maybe you think that something more can be done. And you ask yourself if it really can be done, or if struggle, resistance and rebellion only exist in songs, poetry, posters and cemeteries.

We’re telling you that we Zapatistas asked ourselves that same thing 24 years ago when we went out to die in the streets and plazas of your cities.

That’s when you saw us. That’s when the so-called great revolutionary leaders saw us, and they looked down on us then just as they do now. They found out about our struggle while they were dining and laughing at their new year’s celebrations. While we Zapatistas of the EZLN put our lives on the line, they just put up museums.

And so we responded. We responded that we were going to see if we could live with dignity without bad governments, without leaders and vanguards with all their Lenin and Marx and booze who won’t stand by us Zapatistas. They talk a lot about what we should or shouldn’t do, but without practicing anything themselves. There’s a lot of hot air about the vanguard this, the proletariat that, the party this, the revolution that, have a beer, some wine, a cook-out with the family.

Well, we thought, it seems the revolutionary vanguard is busy trying on outfits and trying out speeches for their victory, so we’ll have to do it our way, as indigenous Zapatistas.

They aren’t that many indigenous people, and even fewer Zapatistas, because not just anyone can be a Zapatista.

And that’s how we started what is now known as Zapatista autonomy, but we call it freedom according to the Zapatistas, with no master, boss, overseer, leader, or vanguard.

For these 24 years we’ve been constructing our autonomy, developing our different work areas, consolidating our three levels of autonomous government, formalizing our own health and education systems, creating and strengthening our collective work. And in all of these autonomous spaces we value the participation of all women, men, young people and children.

In this way, we are demonstrating that we as originary people have the power and the capacity to govern ourselves. We don’t need the intervention of any political party that will just cheat, make promises, and divide our communities; and we don’t receive any kind of support from official governments.

We also don’t accept anyone coming to tell us what we can or cannot do. Here we discuss and agree upon everything as a collective.

Because of that, sometimes things take a while, but what comes out of the process is a collective result. If it turns out well, it’s collective. If it turns out badly, it’s collective.

That’s our way—see for yourselves if it’s good or bad. Compare your poverty with ours, your deaths with ours, your diseases with ours, your absences with ours, your pain with ours, and you’ll see that you’re comparing your nightmares with our dreams.

We are living and struggling through our own individual and collective effort as Zapatistas, but yes, we recognize that we still have a lot to do, we still have to organize ourselves as communities even more. We still face many difficulties in developing our different work areas. We also fail and make mistakes like all human beings, but we correct ourselves and keep going.

Because we ourselves make up our organization. No one, unless they’re a shameless liar and opportunist, can say that they created us. And we’re not afraid to recognize what we do wrong, and to feel happy about what we do well, because the good and the bad that we are—it’s all ours. We are valued by our own people. It turns out that there are people who go off traveling around Europe, eating well and sipping drinks and claiming that it was they who made all this. Now they’ve even created their own “Frida Sofia”[i] to get attention and money, and they try  to buy off consciences. They think that the struggle comes from having a particular last name rather than from real commitment, and even align themselves with drug traffickers to attack us. Really they’re just shameless liars.

Because, hand in hand with those supposed revolutionaries and their paramilitaries, the bad governments remain bent on destroying our struggle, our resistance and rebellion, with an economic, political, ideological, social and cultural war. They give out crumbs and handouts to those who are affiliated with political parties in locations they consider strategic—that is, they only give significant economic support, homes, food and projects (sometimes on behalf of the governments, sometimes as parties, and sometimes under the guise of human rights organizations) in areas where there are Zapatistas. And then they use the media to spread their lies, their bad ideas, their promises, their fancy tricks, all this with the goal of weakening Zapatista resistance and dividing, confronting and buying off indigenous and poor people’s consciences.

We Zapatistas are not beggars; we are people with the dignity, determination and conscience to struggle for true democracy, freedom, and justice. We are totally clear and certain that nothing good for the people will ever come from above. We cannot wait for the solution to our problems and needs to come from the bad rulers.

And we know who has and has not been with us Zapatistas, since before the beginning on that January 1st, and in these 24 years of resistance and rebellion.

The bad government, the paramilitary vanguard and the rich will never let us live in peace. They will seek a thousand ways to destroy and end the organization and the struggles of the people, because in these past few years there has been an immeasurable increase in the crimes, persecutions, disappearances, unjust imprisonment, repression, evictions, tortures and murders against our people. To name a few examples: San Salvador Atenco, Guerrerro, Oaxaca, Ayotzinapa, etc. They’ve provoked more contradictions and confrontations between communities and municipalities and made it so that problems aren’t resolved in a good way, but rather through violence. That’s why they continue to maintain, protect and equip paramilitary groups, because the bad governments want us to kill ourselves by killing our own brothers, in our own communities.

Everything that’s going on  demonstrates that there is no longer any government in our communities, municipalities, states, and country.

Those who say they govern are just thieves who get fat at the expense of the people; they’re criminals and murderers, they’re the overseers and foremen of the bosses who are the big neoliberal capitalists.

They’re stalwart defenders of the interests of their bosses in looting the natural riches of our country and the world—the land, forests, mountains,  water, rivers, lakes, air, and the mines that are guarded in the heart of our mother earth—because the boss considers everything a commodity, and in this way wants to destroy us completely—that is, to destroy life and humanity.

That is why, as the originary peoples of this country who make up the National Indigenous Congress, we have agreed to take a step forward and form the Indigenous Governing Council and to put forth our spokeswoman María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, who convokes, raises consciousnesses, informs, inspires, and calls upon all sectors of workers in the country and the city to organize ourselves, to unite and to struggle together with resistance and rebellion from our communities and our work sites, from our calendars and geographies, so that we can defend ourselves against the capitalist hydra which is already upon us.

But the governments and the bosses who are the big capitalists are imposing what’s called the Law of Internal Security, which means the militarization of our streets, our roads and our communities throughout the country.

And still they make us believe it’s purpose is to combat organized crime, when really their intention is to control, silence, divide, threaten, and commit more violence against the people, and with impunity.

That’s why we Zapatistas say that we should no longer trust in any way whatsoever the capitalist system we live in, because we realize that we’ve been suffering all of its evils for hundreds of years, without any distinction between which person or political party is in charge.

We must all organize ourselves and unite as workers in all sectors in the countryside and the city: indigenous peoples, peasants, teachers, students, housewives, artists, merchants, office workers, manual laborers, doctors, intellectuals and scientists of our country and the world. The only road left for us is to join together even more, to organize ourselves better to construct our autonomy and our own organization as peoples and workers. That is what will save us from the great storm that’s coming closer, or is already upon us, and which will sweep us all away.

That’s why today, on this 24th anniversary of our armed uprising on this Planet Earth, we want to speak to our compañeras of the national and international Sixth.

We also want to speak to our sisters of Mexico and the world.

So, compañeras and compañeros of the national and international Sixth:

Sisters and brothers of the world:

When we say that we’ve undergone 500 years of exploitation, repression, neglect and dispossession, we’re not lying.

We have gone through and suffered the wars of the bad governments and the rich.

No one can say it’s a lie. It was our great-great-grandmothers and great-great-grandfathers who gave their blood and their lives so that the great-great-grandparents of those who are in power now could rise to power. No one can say that this is a lie, because there they are—they’re the ones who are guilty of destroying us today, and destroying mother nature too.

We will continue to struggle without ceasing, to the death if necessary.

And today we have an even greater will to struggle, with our compañeras and compañeros of the National Indigenous Congress.

We support compañera Marichuy and the compañeras and compañeros of the Indigenous Governing Council.

Whether some people like it or not.

We’ve been very clear since the beginning. I remember that at the National Democratic Convention in 1994 in Guadalupe Tepeyac, we said: “We’ll step aside, if you can show us that there’s another path and we can stop the armed struggle.”


And until now no one has shown us another path for defeating the system of death and destruction that is capitalism.

It is the compañeras and compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress, with compañera Marichuy and the Indigenous Governing Council, who are showing us the way. And we support them without ceasing to be what we are.

We don’t feel sad or ashamed to support them. Because we know well that they’re not seeking the seat of Power or to hold office, but rather that their work is to deliver the message that we have to organize ourselves to in favor of life. It’s as clear as that.

And of course there are some liars going around saying that now we’re “electoralists.” It’s a vile lie, and these are Spanish speakers who know how to read and write, but either they don’t read or they just go around and spread lies. What a shame, what a pity that they don’t understand and that they have no shame.

Nobody will take away what we are—not until we’re dead, or free.

Sisters and brothers of Mexico and the world, don’t be fooled.

In Mexico there’s no longer anywhere you can walk in peace; they’ll grab you and kill you anywhere.

Many of capitalism’s evils are here in Mexico and throughout the world.

This and many other things are what the compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress, their spokeswoman Marichuy and the Indigenous Governing Council are telling us.

People make fun of us, saying that compañera Marichuy doesn’t know how to govern, that she won’t  be able to do anything. Sisters and brothers, what have the governments of the PRI and the PAN done for you? Have they not committed massacres, enacted corruption, and made bad decisions? Where does it say that only those who have studied know how to govern? Aren’t you able to see this?

This is what compañera Marichuy means when she says we should organize ourselves in the countryside and in the city and unite as indigenous and non-indigenous people, because look at the scope of what these bad governments have done to us.

What has this idiot currently governing given us? Peña Nieto is the worst cynic of all, inept and shameless, who hides behind the others who are just like him.

While nothing happens to them, the people are exploited and pay with their lives. What is keeping you from being able to see this?

Why do people only mobilize when the worst happens to them? Why do those who are unaffected act like they can’t see and refuse to mobilize; and then when something happens to them they start screaming, help, help me?

And when compañera Marichuy speaks, they say she doesn’t give good speeches, that she doesn’t know how to talk. They say that the Indigenous Governing Council doesn’t know anything.

The Indigenous Governing Council is telling you the truth. You don’t want the truth? Ah, it’s that you don’t like it. You want them to speak to you nicely and make promises? And when pain comes knocking at your door, will you respond to it with promises?

Indigenous and non-indigenous sisters and brothers, we believe that no one will struggle for us, absolutely no one besides ourselves.

Let us wake up other exploited peoples, wake up those who claim to have studied. To do that, let us help and support compañera Marichuy and the Indigenous Governing Council.

Let’s organize ourselves so that Compañera Marichuy and the Indigenous Governing Council can go on their nationwide tour, even if she doesn’t get enough signatures to get on the ballot. Because the signature is not what struggles, it’s not what’s going to organize us, we’re the ones who have to listen to one another and meet one another and from there, once we feel we’re on a firm footing, from there our thoughts can emerge on how to organize ourselves better and what road to follow.

No one else will say what the CIG and the spokeswoman Marichuy are saying.

And since they won’t say it, all you’ll hear is noise, the same noise as always, and then the same disillusionment as always will follow.

Let ‘s not allow people to say to us, “poor little Indians, let’s help them with our leftovers,” just like the bad governments do to us.

Only by organizing will the poor people of the countryside and the city have freedom, justice, and democracy. If we don’t have those, what we’ll have is a world like a CAPITALIST PLANTATION, and that’s what’s already starting to happen.

If there is any woman or man who thinks and believes that what we’re saying about the capitalist hydra is a lie, well let them argue with us, let them tell us clearly how what we’re saying is a lie and let’s see if we believe it. Because what we feel and see and know is that things are terrible and they’re going to stay that way. Or maybe what people are seeing is that it’s difficult to struggle, to organize, but there’s no other way.

We know that what we’re saying is harsh, but do you think what’s coming from the capitalist hydra will be nice and soft and easy?

No, sisters, brothers. It will be horrible, terrible.

That’s why the Zapatista compañeras who are bases of support are calling on the compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress and on all women who struggle, to gather on March 8. To all the women who aren’t afraid, or who are but who must control it, because the alternative will be even more horrible.

Because they, the Zapatista women, the women of the CNI, the women of the Sixth, the women who struggle throughout the world, are telling us that we have to organize, rebel, and resist.

And that’s what compañera Marichuy and the Indigenous Governing Council are telling us too.

So onward, compañera Marichuy! Walk, jog, and when necessary run, and stop, and then keep going. We have no other option.

Onward, compañeras of the Indigenous Governing Council.

Onward, compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress.

We are sure that if the people organize themselves and struggle, we will achieve what we want, what we deserve: our freedom. For this the most important force is our organization, our resistance, our rebellion and our true word, which has no limits or borders.

Now is not the moment for us to fall back, to get discouraged or tired. We must be even more steadfast in our struggle and firm in our word, following the example left by the compañeros and compañeras who have already died: do not give up, do not sell out, do not give in.




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

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

From Oventik Caracol II, Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico.

January 1, 2018.

[i]“Frida Sofía” dominated the news cycle following the September 2017 earthquake in Mexico City: she was reported to be one of several small children trapped under the rubble of a collapsed school. While coverage of her pending “rescue” was incessant over several days, local parents were finally able to denounce to the press that there was no student by that name at the school and that the “rescue” was a PR stunt designed to distract attention from the government’s grossly inadequate response to the disaster. The Mexican government eventually had to admit that “Frida Sofía” did not exist.


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