To: The compañer@s adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle across the world.
From: The Zapatista men and women of Chiapas, México.
Compañeras, compañeros, y compañeroas:
Compas of the Red contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad (Network against Repression and for Solidarity):
Receive greetings from the smallest of your compañeros, the women, men, children, and elderly of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
We have decided that the first of our words directed specifically to our compañer@s of the Sixth Declaration be released in a space of struggle, a space like the Red contra la Represión y por La Solidaridad. But the words, thoughts, and feelings outlined here are also meant for those who are not present…especially for them.
We are grateful for the support that you have given our communities, our Zapatista bases of support, and to the adherents to the Sixth who are prisoners in Chiapas, during this entire time.
In our hearts we carry your words of encouragement and the collective hand that reached for ours.
We are sure that one of the points you will address in your meeting will be, or has already been, a great campaign of support for our compañero Kuy, to denounce the aggression which he suffered, to demand justice for him and for all of those injured on that day, and to demand absolute exoneration for all of those detained in Mexico City and in Guadalajara during the protests against the imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto as head of the federal executive branch.
And not only that, but it is also important that this campaign take into account the need to raise funds to support the compañero Kuy with the costs of his hospitalization and his subsequent recovery, a recovery that the Zapatista men and women hope will be a quick one.
To support this fundraising campaign, we are sending a small amount of money, in cash. We ask that, although it is small, you add it to whatever you are compiling for our compañero in struggle. When we can get together more, we will send it to whomever you designate for that job.
We wanted to take the opportunity of your scheduled meeting not only to acknowledge your own persistence, but also and above all to acknowledge, through you, all of the compas in Mexico and in the world who have remained firm in this bond that ties us together and that we call the Sixth.
We want you to know that it has been an honor for us to have you as compañeroas.
We know that this may look like a farewell, but it is not. It only means that we have ended one phase in the path that we call the Sixth, and that we think that we must now take another step.
We have suffered more than a few setbacks along the way, sometimes together, sometimes each of us in our own geography.
Now we would like to communicate and explain to you some of the changes that we will make on our path. On this path, if you agree and accompany us, we will take up once again, but in another form, the extended recounting of pain and hope that before was called the Other Campaign in Mexico and the Zezta Internazional in the world, and that now will simply be known as The Sixth. Now we will continue further, up to…
The Time of the No, the time of the Yes
Having defined who we are, our past and present story, our place and the enemy that we face, as laid out in the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, what is left pending is to further define why we fight.
We defined the “no,” we still haven’t fully delineated the “yes”
This isn’t the only thing, as we also need more answers to the “how,” “when,” “with whom.”
All of you know that it is not our intention to build a great big organization with a central governing body, a centralized command, or a boss, be it individual or a particular group.
Our analysis of the functioning, strengths, and weaknesses of the dominant system has led us to believe and to emphasize that unified action is possible if we respect what we call the “modos” [manner, way of doing things] of each of us.
And these things we call “modos” are nothing but the knowledges that each of us, individual or collective, have of our own geography and calendar. That is, of our pains and our struggles.
We are convinced that any attempt at homogeneity is no more than a fascist effort at domination, regardless of whether it is hidden in revolutionary, esoteric, religious, or any other language.
When one speaks of “unity” they elide the fact that such “unity” occurs under the leadership of someone or something, be it individual or collective.
On the false altar of “unity,” not only are differences sacrificed, but the survival of all of the small worlds under the tyranny and injustice they suffer is obscured.
In our history, this lesson is repeated time and again. And every time the world turns, our place is always that of the oppressed, the disdained, the exploited, the dispossessed.
What we call the “four wheels of capitalism”: exploitation, displacement, repression, and disdain, have been repeated throughout our history, with different names up above, but we are always the same ones below.
But the current system has gotten to a state of extreme madness. Its predatory ambition, its absolute disrespect for life, its delight in death and destruction, and its effort to impose apartheid on all of those who are different, that is, all of those below, is taking humanity to the point of disappearance as a form of life on the planet.
We could, as someone might advise, wait patiently for those above to destroy themselves, without acknowledging that their insane arrogance and pride will destroy everything.
In their drive to be higher and higher above, they dynamite the floors below, the foundations. The building—the world—will ultimately collapse and there won’t be anyone to hold responsible.
We think that yes, something is wrong, very wrong. But that if in order to save humanity and the badly damaged house it inhabits someone has to go, then it should be, it must be, those above.
And we aren’t referring here to banishing those above. We’re talking about destroying the social relations that make it possible for someone to be above at the cost of someone else being below.
The Zapatistas know that this great line we have drawn across the world geography is not a conventional understanding. We know that this model of “above” and “below” bothers, irritates, and disturbs some. This is not the only thing that irritates them, we know, but for now, we are referring specifically to this discomfort.
We could be mistaken. Quite likely we are. The thought police and knowledge inspectors will surely appear in order to judge, condemn, and execute us… hopefully only in their flamboyant writing and not hiding their vocation as executioners behind that of judges.
But this is how the Zapatistas see the world and its modos:
There is machismo, patriarchy, misogyny, or whatever one may call it, but it’s one thing to be a woman above and something completely different to be one below.
There is homophobia, yes, but it’s one thing to be a homosexual above and something very different to be one below.
There is disdain for those who are different, yes, but it’s one thing to be different above and quite another to be so below.
There is a left that is an alterative to the right, but it is one thing is to be on the left above and it is something completely different (we would say opposite) to be on the left below.
Place your own identities within the parameters we are laying out and you will see what we are saying.
The most deceitful identity, fashionalbe every time the modern state goes into crisis, is that of “citizenship.”
The “citizen” above and the “citizen” below have nothing in common; they are opposite and contradictory.
Differences are chased, cornered, ignored, disdained, repressed, displaced, and exploited, yes.
But we see a greater difference that crosses all of these differences: that of above and below, the haves and the have-nots.
And we see that there is something fundamental to this great difference: the above is above on the backs of those below; the “haves” have because they dispossess those who don’t.
We think that being above or below determines our gaze, our words, what we hear, our steps, our pains, and our struggles.
Perhaps there will be another opportunity to explain more of our thinking on this. For now we will just say that the gazes, words, ears, and steps of those above tend to conserve this division. This does not, of course, imply immobility. Conservatism seems to be very far from a system that discovers more and better forms of imposing the four wounds that the world below suffers. But this “modernization” or “progress” has no other objective than to maintain above those who are above in the only way it is possible for them to be there, that is, on the backs of those below.
In our thinking, the gaze, words, ears, and steps of those below are determined by the line of questioning: Why this way? Why them? Why us?
In order to impose answers to such questions on us, or in order to avoid our asking them in the first place, gigantic cathedrals of ideas have been built, more or less well thought out, usually so grotesque that not only is it amazing that someone has developed them and someone believes them, but also that they have also constructed universities and centers for research and analysis based on them.
But there is always a party pooper who ruins the festivities at the end of history.
And that stick-in-the-mud responds to these questions with another: “could it be another way?”
This question could be the one that sparks rebellion and its broader acceptance. And this could be because there is a “no” that has birthed it: it doesn’t have to be this way.
Forgive us if this confusing detour has irritated you. Chalk it up to our modo, our ways and customs.
What we want to say, compañeras, compañeros, compañeroas, is that what convoked us all in the Sixth was this rebellious, heretic, rude, irreverent, bothersome, uncomfortable “no.”
We have gotten to this point because our realities, histories, and rebellions have brought us to this “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
This and also because, intuitively or by design, we have answered “yes” to the question, “could it be another way?”
We still need to respond to the questions we encounter after that “yes.”
What is that other way, that other world, that other society that we imagine, that we want, that we need?
What do we have to do?
If we don’t know the answers to those questions we have to look for them. And if we have them, we have to make them known among ourselves.
as Zapatistas we have tried to apply some of what we have learned in these 7 years. We will make changes in the rhythm and speed of our step, but also in its company.
You all know that one of the many and great defects we have as Zapatistas is memory. We remember who was present when and where, what they said, what they did, what they didn’t say, what they undid, what they wrote, what they erased. We remember the calendars and geographies.
Don’t misinterpret us. We don’t judge anyone, everyone constructs their alibis as they can for what they do or don’t do. The stubborn advance of history will tell if they were correct or erroneous.
For our part, we have seen, listened to, and learned from everyone.
We saw who came around only to take political advantage of the Other Campaign, who jumped from one mobilization to another, seduced by the masses, and thus revealing their incapacity to generate anything themselves. One day they are anti-electoral, another day they hang their flags in whichever mobilization is in style; one day they are teachers, the next students; one day they are indigenists, the next they are allied with landowners and paramilitaries. They clamor for the avenging fire of the masses, and disappear when the antiriot tanks arrive with water cannons.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw who appears when there are stages, dialogues, good press, and attention, and who disappears when it is time for the work that is silent but necessary, as the majority of those who are hearing or reading this letter know. All this time our gaze and our ear were not directed toward those on the stage, but rather toward those who built it, who made the food, swept the floors, tended to things, drove, flyered, stuck it out, as they say. We also saw and heard those who climbed over everyone else.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw who the professionals of the assemblies are, with their techniques and tactics for driving meetings into the ground so that only they, and their followers, are left to approve their own proposals. They distribute defeat wherever they appear, facilitating roundtables, sidelining the “yuppie” and “petit-bourgeoisie” who don’t understand that at stake in the day’s agenda is the future of world revolution. Those who think poorly of any movement that doesn’t end in an assembly that they themselves run.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw those who present themselves as struggling for the freedom of the political prisoners during events and campaigns, but who insisted that we abandon the prisoners of Atenco and continue the journey of the Other Campaign because they had their strategy ready and their events programmed.
We will not walk again with them.
The Sixth was convoked by the Zapatistas. To convoke is not to unite. We don’t intend to unite under a single leadership, be it Zapatista or any other. We do not seek to coopt, recruit, supplant, impersonate, simulate, trick, subordinate, or use anybody. Our destiny is the same, but the richness of the Sixth is its difference, its heterogeneity, the autonomy of distinct modes of walking, this is its strength. We offer and will continue to offer respect, and we demand and will continue to demand the same. The only requirement to adhere to the Sixth is the “no” that convokes us and the commitment to construct the “yeses” that are necessary.
Compañeroas, compañeros, compañeras:
On behalf of the EZLN we say:
1.- For the EZLN, there will no longer be a national Other Campaign and a Zezta Internazional. From now on we will walk together with those we have invited and who accept us as compas, whether they are on the coast of Chiapas or that of New Zealand.
In this sense, our territory for our work is now clearly delimited: the planet called “Earth,” located in that which is called the Solar System.
We will now be what we are in fact already: “The Sixth.”
2.- For the EZLN, to be in the Sixth does not require affiliation, membership fee, registration list, original and/or copy of an official ID, or account statement; one does not have to be judge, or jury, or defendant, or executioner. There are no flags. There are commitments and consequences to these commitments. The “no” convokes us, the construction of the “yes” mobilizes us.
2.- Those who, with the resurgence of the EZLN, hope for a new epoch of big stages and large gatherings, with the masses peering in to see the future being made, and the equivalent of assaults on the winter palace will be disappointed. It is best they leave now. Don’t waste your time, and don’t make us waste ours. The walk of the Sixth is a long one, not meant for mental midgets. For “historical” and “conjunctural” actions, there are other spaces where you will surely find your place. Here we don’t want only to change the government, we want to change the world.
3.- We confirm that as the EZLN, we will not ally ourselves with any electoral movement in Mexico. Our conception about this in the Sixth has been clear and has not varied. We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to transform things from above without becoming one more of those above. Hopefully the coming consecutive disappointments do not turn them into that which they fight against.
4.- When we propose organizational, political, and dissemination initiatives, our word will be EXCLUSIVELY for those who request it and whom we accept, and sent from our website email to the addresses that we have. They will also appear on the website of Enlace Zapatista, but their full content will only be accessible with a password that will continually change. We will get you this password somehow, but it will be easy to deduce by those who read carefully what they do see and for those who have learned to decipher the feelings that become letters in our words.
Every individual, group, collective, organization or however each refers to themselves, has the right and the liberty to share this information with whomever they see fit. All of the adherents to the Sixth will have the power to open the window of our word and of our reality to whomever they desire. The window, not the door.
5.- The EZLN asks your patience while we make public the initiatives that, over 7 years, we have developed, and whose principal objective will be to put you in direct contact with the Zapatista bases of support in what is, in my humble opinion and long experience, the best way possible: that is to say, as students.
6.- For now we’d just like to let you know that those who can and want to, and who are explicitly invited by the Sixth-EZLN, should start getting together the bread, the dough, the money, or whatever it’s called in whatever part of the planet, in order to be able to travel to Zapatista lands on dates yet to be decided. Later we will give you more details.
To conclude this letter (which, as is evident, has the disadvantage of lacking a video or soundtrack to accompany and complete the spoken version [the version to be read at the Red’s meeting]), we would like to send the best of our embraces (and we only have one best) to the men, women, children, elderly, groups, organizations, movements, or however each might refers to themselves, that all this time have not let their hearts grow distant from us, who have continued to resist and who have supported us as the compañeras, compañeros ycompañeroas that we are.
We are the Sixth.
It will take a lot.
Opening ourselves to those throughout the world who have pain will not lessen our own. The path will be even more treacherous.
We will battle.
We will resist.
We will struggle.
We may die.
But one, ten, a hundred, a thousand times, we will always win always.
For the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee—General Command of the
Zapatista Army for National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Chiapas, Mexico, Planet Earth.
P.D.- For example, the password to see this text on the webpage is, as is evident, “marichiweu,” just like that, without caps (letters “below”) and starting from the left.
See and listen to the videos that accompany this text:
“Cumbia Zapatista,” by the group “Sonido Psicotropical.” Part of the album “Rola la lucha Zapatista.” Move your behind to the rhythm of the cumbiaaaaa!
“Nadie mira,” by the group “RABIA.” With Iker Moranchel, guitar and vocals. Alejandro Franco, drums and vocals. Manco, Bass. Camera, Sara Heredia. Editing, Eduardo Vargus. Recorded and edited in Gekko Audiolab, Mexico City, July 2012. Also from the disk “Rola la lucha Zapastista.” Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrock!