Zapatistas Mark 22 Years Since Uprising: “We Are Better Off Now Than we were 22 Years Ago” – Subcomandante Mois és
La Jornada, 2nd January 2016
Oventic, Chiapas – Twenty-two years after the armed indigenous uprising, communities of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) may not have cement houses, digital TVs or latest model pickup trucks, but, Subcomandante Moisés declared, "not only are they better than 22 years ago, their standard of living is higher than those who have sold themselves to the political parties of all stripes."
At the stroke of midnight on the first of January, accompanied by the EZLN General Command, Moisés read a statement signed by Subcomandante Galeano [formerly Marcos] in order to reiterate the Eleven Demands for which they declared war on the government on January 1, 1994: Land, Work, Food, Health, Education, Housing, Independence, Democracy, Freedom, Justice and Peace for all Mexicans.
In the caracol of Oventic, hundreds of EZLN support bases, adherents and sympathizers gathered to commemorate with cultural events the anniversary of the insurrection. Subcomandante Moisés said that the Zapatistas will not put down their weapons: "They will be with us until the end."
He explained that 22 years after the uprising, in the Zapatista communities, "what is put on your tables, the clothes you wear, the medicine that relieves you, the knowledge that is learned, the life that is lived is yours, the product of your labour and your knowledge. It is no one’s gift.
"During these 22 years of struggle, of resistance and rebellion, we continue building another way of life, governing ourselves as the collective peoples we are, under the Seven Principles of leading by obeying, building a new system and another way of life as original peoples. One where the people are in charge, and the government obeys."
In contrast, he said, "helplessness and misery reign in the partisan communities, leading to laziness and crime, community life is broken, already mortally wounded. Selling themselves to the bad government not only did not meet their needs, but added more horrors. Where there was once hunger and poverty, today hunger and poverty remain, but now there is also despair."
Partisan communities, the Zapatista leader added, "have turned into groups of beggars who don’t work. They just wait for the next government assistance programme; that is, they wait until the next election season.
"This will not appear in any municipal, state or federal government report, but it is the truth that can be seen in the partisan communities:campesinos who no longer know how to work the land; empty houses, because one cannot eat cement or laminate sheets [for roofs]; broken families and communities that only come together to receive government handouts."
Moisés declared that the struggle is not yet over for the Zapatistas, and he recognized that much remains to be done: "we need to organize ourselves more and better."
But with 32 years of experience in the struggle of rebellion and resistance, "Now we are who we are. We are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. We are, although they don’t name us. We are, although with silence and slander they forget us. We are, although they do not look at us. We are, at each step, along the path, at the origin and at the destination. We are."
Translated by Jane Brundage
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