LETTER FROM THE PEOPLES’ FRONT IN DEFENSE OF THE LAND-ATENCO
TO THE ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION
San Salvador Atenco, May 3, 2009.
TO THE CCRI-CG OF THE EZLN.
TO THE SIXTH COMMISSION.
TO THE GOOD GOVERNMENT COUNCILS.
TO THE BASES OF SUPPORT.
TO THE ZAPATISTA MOVEMENT.
SISTERS AND BROTHERS.
When everything began, a lot of people said, “You can’t beat the government.” Back in 2001, when they condemned us to extermination and to the loss of our history and identity for the sake of building an airport, we knew things shouldn’t be the way they were. We knew we had to struggle to overcome the mentality that tells us “that’s the way things are and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Back then, we looked all around us in search of others who were struggling just like we were. We wanted to join forces with them because we knew we weren’t the only ones out there. We must say that everywhere we looked, you appeared. There was a big star full of dignity and hope that announced your presence. We didn’t need to ask who you were. Those bright eyes and soft hands of resistance were ever present, the eyes and hands of small women and men who showed us the road towards building justice and freedom. As you moved on along, the warmth and solidarity of your hugs stayed with us and sheltered us. So that’s the way we met, on the same road, side by side, and your happy, rebellious smiles reflected in our machetes lit our way. Since you had come a long way when we met and were well along on your journey, we had no doubts about joining with you. We decided to follow in your footsteps and open up other roads for those who would come after us.
We want to say that, from you, we’ve learned what life is all about: struggle and resistance. In your battle cry, we heard a message sent to us by life itself: rebellious dignity. From your hearts that move the world, we adopted the one true reason for struggle: love. And that’s how we, along with many others, found in your covered faces the identity of people unseen, of those who don’t want to be invisible because they have a role to play in history, of those who’ve become the driving force of the march of humanity. That’s the way we saw our own selves in your humble words and your skin bathed in earth.
In Atenco, we know that your word is now part of universal history and that your struggle lives in our hearts. In speaking of this era, people will call you Zapatistas. To us, you are more than that; you are our own brothers and sisters.
You surely know that after several months of direct struggle against the bad governments in 2001 and 2002, we achieved what we knew was possible. We defended our land. We blessed it with our struggle and stopped Fox and Montiel from grabbing what was most sacred to us: our mother earth. That’s how we stopped the most important project of the Fox administration ––the International Mexico City Airport. That was when we understood our role in history. We understood that things don’t have to go the way somebody else has decided they should. When the decisions of the ruling powers affect us, we, too, can decide what to do. When we won in July and August of 2002, we confirmed what we already knew: “You can beat the government.” From that time on, nobody has been able to stop us. No matter how dark and stormy the road has been, from that time on we’ve known that we will win out in the end.
As you well know, however, when we were riding along together with you on the path of the Other Campaign in 2005 and 2006, we were confronted once more by the powers that be. On May 3 and 4, 2006, a violent State action was perpetrated against us. They murdered two of our brothers, raped our sisters, arrested 207 people, searched our houses, tortured us, and occupied our communities. They took out all their pent up fury on us. They came at us with all their might. They tried to exterminate us once again. They tried to do away with the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land, and strike a blow at the Mexican social movement. All during that time you were part of our struggle. You took it on as your own, knowing that that powerful forces had been affronted by our triumph. Yet, as you also know, in 2006, Atenco was just one instance of State violence in Mexico. We had already seen the repression at Sicartsa. Then came Oaxaca and after that, the electoral fraud. 2006 marked the rightwing offensive against the social movements that are now witnessing its comeback as the army comes out of its barracks to assume public security functions in a disguised war against so-called “organized crime.”
During this entire period, brothers and sisters, you have been with us. In Atenco, we’ve welcomed your calls for solidarity with our brothers and sisters held prisoner or pursued by the government. We know that there will always be a small place in Zapatista hearts for those of us who are like you, and that we can always count on the serious, committed word of your rebellious struggle.
But we also know that you are still fighting a low intensity war against the bad government. We know the situation you’re experiencing is a war that’s less and less covert all the time, a war made up of confrontations with diverse forces, of efforts to wear you down and hit you again and again. On one front or another, the government is trying to undermine your resistance, to do away with one of the most important social processes in Mexico and the world. So it’s easy to understand the attacks against our indigenous brothers and sisters on the San Sebastian Bachajon ejido in the municipality of Chilón, who were arrested and tortured by the Juan Sabines government only to be accused of being robbers and drug traffickers. The same is true of the recent armed attack by the paramilitary forces of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC) against the Good Government Council of Caracol IV in Morelia, charged with running the El Salvador health and recreation center. We know that for the EZLN, aggression is always latent because you’ve built a counter power capable of confronting the State, that your process is a highly important effort in building democracy from the ground up, and that a blow against you would be a victory for political and economic power, not only in our country, but in the world. And so we say to you that we are with you, that the Zapatista struggle is our struggle and that insofar as possible, to the best of our ability, we’re with you, brothers and sisters.
We also reiterate our struggle for the freedom of our 12 imprisoned comrades and 2 more who are pursued by the government. The first 9 are Alejandro Pilón Zacate, Jorge Alberto Ordóñez Romero, Román Adán Ordóñez Romero, Juan Carlos Estrada Cruces, Julio César Espinosa Ramos, Inés Rodolfo Cuellar Rivera, Edgar Eduardo Morales, Oscar Hernández Pacheco, and Narciso Arellano Hernández, held in the Molino de Flores Prison in Texcoco, State of Mexico, condemned to 31 years, 10 months, and 15 days in prison. Felipe Álvarez, Héctor Galindo, and Ignacio Del Valle are being held at the maximum security El Altiplano prison at Almoloya de Juárez, State of Mexico, the first two with 67 ½ year sentences, and Nacho, sentenced to 112 ½ years; besides that, the three compañeros have three other arrest warrants pending. Likewise, arrest warrants have been issued for Adán Espinosa Rojas and América Del Valle, still being pursued by the government.
In order to win their freedom, we set up an initial committee for the National and International Campaign for Freedom and Justice for Atenco, made up of Don Samuel Ruíz, Don Raúl Vera, Manu Chao, Ofelia Medina, Julieta Egurrola, Luis Villoro, Ricardo Rocha, Bruno Bichir, Demián Bichir, Alejandro Bichir, Odiseo Bichir, Diego Luna, Luís Hernández Navarro, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Adolfo Gilly, Alejandro Toledo, Miguel Ángel Granados Chapa, Carlos Montemayor, Miguel Concha, Rocco, Rubén Albarran, Los de Abajo, Asian Dub Foundation, Las Reinas Chulas, Ana Francis Mor, Jorge Zarate, and the list is growing. We hope that their voices demanding freedom and justice for our movement will be heard by sectors that we haven’t been able to reach and that these voices will pierce deeply into the collective memory of our country and the world.
We don’t want to go through the kind of persecution and repression suffered by our great great grandfather Nezahualcóyotl, at the hands of Tezozomoc, King of Azcapotzalco. Instead, we will learn from the example of the Triple Alliance that brought victory over this tyrant to the Poet King, who went on to attain the splendor of the Acolhua-Chichimeca kingdom.
And so we say that they still haven’t been able to crush us. In spite of the increasingly harsh measures enacted by Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land has not been defeated, and we know that the more menacing our enemies grow, the greater our victory will be because they’ll never be able to stay in power for 112 years.
Brothers and sisters, we will keep on struggling until we win the freedom of our political prisoners and politically pursued comrades. But what we’re really fighting for is the freedom of our peoples. We know that it’s possible to bring down the ruling powers, and that’s what we will do.
We send our combative greetings of unity to all of you in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER, ARM IN ARM, WE ARE ALL THE EZLN!
WHEN THE PEOPLE RISE UP FOR BREAD, LAND, AND FREEDOM,
FROM THE COASTLANDS TO THE SIERRA THE POWERFUL WILL TREMBLE!
Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land- Atenco.
This post is also available in: Spanish