|Rage Against the Machine||Words|
The voices of the hemispheres most poor echoed throughout the Americas as thousands of Mexican indigenous Mayan farmers, malnourished and poorly armed, seized 8 cities in Mexico's South Eastern state of Chiapas on New Year's Day of 1994. In San Cristobal de las Casas tourists from all over the U.S. and Europe converged upon its marketplaces to shop and dine in a city where everything is expensive, except indigenous death. Often they ignore the starvation and disease that infest surrounding shanty towns and line the alleyways of this so called colonial city. At 4 AM, while resting comfortably in their hotel rooms, they were awakened by gunfire. Four hundred masked men and women converged, almost unseen, upon the municipal palace, breaking into its second story offices, spewing the files of the city's records onto the street. In the aftermath a crowd gathered to listen to a statement issued by the Rebels which expressed the core sentiments of a people forced to take up arms against the government.
"We are the product of 500 years of struggle: first against slavery; then during the War of Independence against Spain led by insurgents; then to avoid being absorbed by North American imperialism; then to promulgate our constitution and expel the French Empire from our soil; and later the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz denied us the just application of the Reform Laws, and the people rebelled, and leaders like Villa and Zapata emerged, poor people just like us. We have been denied the most elemental preparation so that they can use us as cannon fodder and pillage the wealth of our country. They don't care that we have nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a roof over our heads: no land, no work, no health care, no food, no education. Nor are we able to freely and democratically elect our political representatives, nor is there independence from foreigners, nor is there peace, nor justice for ourselves and our children."
"But today, we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We are the inheritors of the true builders of our nation. The dispossessed, we are millions, and we thereby call upon our brothers and sisters to join this struggle as the only path, so that we will not die of hunger due to the insatiable ambition of a 70 year dictatorship led by a clique of traitors."
The rebellion coincided with the implementation of the North American Free Trade agreement, lauded by both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Nafta granted legal protection for automobile corporations, like General Motors, and other manufacturers to move entire production plants and export hundreds of thousands of jobs outside this country. Fortune 500 companies and their share holders got fat profits while hundreds of thousands of families stood jobless and hungry. The effects in Mexico were even more extreme.
In 1992 in order to prepare for Mexico's entrance into the Free Trade Agreement, Salinas de Gotari, then the President of Mexico's ruling party, abolished Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution; the article guaranteed the distribution of communally owned lands to poor farmers all over Mexico. These land are more than just a source of food and work; they are an entire peoples only means of subsistence and survival. What should also be clear is that this article, thrown out by Salinas like this mornings garbage, was the amendment created by the Mexican Revolution of 1910, in which a million poor people fought and died to institute it.
The negotiations between the Zapatistas and the government of Mexico continued to be strained by a government who does not take seriously the proposals to amend the constitution regarding indigenous land and cultural rights. Thus bringing the conflict closer to war. The Communities in rebellion now stand surrounded by 50,000 Mexican National troops armed and financed by guess who? That's right - the United States - the world's largest arms dealer. Although the Bell helicopters and AR-15 rifles occasionally get fired on peasants, rape and forced starvation are weapons more commonly used. Besides, guns and bombs make too much noise. If there is blood that you can actually see you run the small risk that NBC, CBS, and the L.A. Times will cover it. And that's oh so bad for tourism and investment.
Subcommandante Marcos has become one of the EZLN's most eloquent spokespeople. Part military and political strategist, part poet warrior, part translator between the indigenous and the outside worlds. Here you will find the interview with Subcommandante Insurgent Marcos on Radio Free Los Angeles.