<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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“The First Thing We Need to Do is to Know One Another and Find Agreement”

Words of Delegate Zero During a Meeting with Adherents in San Quintín


By Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
The Other Mexico

October 25, 2006

Compañeros, compañeras, good afternoon. I am going to say part of my message right now and the rest at the public meeting. But first I want to say thanks because you have received us very well. Right away, one can tell when he is being recieved by people who have indigenous blood; they give the best of what they have. Sometimes it is all they have, but they are taking good care of us.

Look, I want to tell you about these people who came here with us, because I am the only one here from the EZLN. This, our first trip, is so that we can get to know you. After this, more compañeros and compañeras, those who are our bosses, will follow. That is why I, a subcomandante, have come out – because those comandantes and comandantas, both men and women commanders, have ordered me to do so.

Therefore, it’s agreed on by the compañeros here that I am going to tell their story. They are of other organizations, from other groups and collectives, but now we have come together and have said, “Here is the problem.” The problem is that there are rich and there are poor. The poor, who are the workers, can only obtain justice if they organize and struggle to change the whole country, not just the government.

So, we organized ourselves and said, “let’s go around the whole country, but let’s not talk to the politicians.” Because we’ve already had talks, as our compañero Carlos stated. We’ve already talked, and we’ve made the same trips that you are talking about today. So, what are we going to do? We are going to talk to those who are practically destitute, so that they can tell us of their struggle. Because, if they don’t, it is going to appear that Mexico is just what Fox says it is; that “everything is just fine, and all of the little Indians are doing just great,” and all of the stupid things that he and Xóchitl Gálvez say.

We said no, let the people speak for themselves. We are not going to pitch the story like the politicians do. Instead, we are going to let the people talk, and we are going to listen. “Okay, right on,” they said, “let’s go for it.” So we organized, we put a little money together, and we went to Baja California. We went to San Quintín, where our compañeros, who are also in the struggle, asked for a way to talk to other compañeros and compañeras from San Quintín. And now we have arrived.

So, there are some compañeros and compañeras here with cameras and microphones, with which they are recording. They are not from Televisa, or TV Azteca, or any of the big newspapers. They are what we call the alternative media, because they don’t sell out. What they are doing is taking your word and seeing that it reaches Oaxaca, for example, or to Chiapas, and that it is heard in the United States, in Europe, in Oceania and all places, because, of course, they have their way of doing this.

Just like you know how to work the earth, they know how to work spreading your words. Instead of putting these stories out there to make money – like the big shots who have the big newspapers – they say, “okay, I am going to fight by using what I know how to do, and that is to take the voice of those who are below and carry it far.” And check this out, though you already know this, when we have a problem, we organize well, and then they send us to a politician. Then this guy they send tells us a bunch of garbage, his vocal diarrhea as a compañero puts it. He talks very nicely, but we don’t understand what he is saying because he speaks with very “hard words”, as we say.

So we go home:
How’d it go?
Oh very well because the guy spoke so nice.
So what’d he say?
Well, I don’t know what he said but he talked so pretty!

But if the people from below, albeit with difficulty, start to tell of their own story and of their pain, and an equal in Oaxaca – a Triqui, or a Mixteco, or a Zapoteco – is listening to him, he is going to say “look, these compañeros are of our same blood.” And so will a Maya hear this also and say, “This is the same problem that we have.”

Even then their work is not complete. It is not that they are from EZLN; they are from other organizations and their work is this: that you all spoke and now it will go in their recordings and in their photos. It goes out so that those in other parts of the world can see: these are the people from below. Those speaking are not professionals. Fox isn’t talking, neither is Xóchitl Gálvez. It is they themselves, the people of San Quintín, who are talking.

So, to sum things up a little bit, a compañero said, “This is how they have boxed us in, because we are far away, even from Tijuana.” He is not even talking about Mexico City where one has to come on an airplane and then a boat, and then a highway like we did. But these compañeros, they are going to take your word so that it carries far, so that people will know of the injustice here. Because then a national newspaper and a national magazine will come, so they will know as well.

But the most important thing is that people just like you are going to listen. They can only hear you here, nowhere else. This is because you are not going to be able to go to Yucatan, or to Tamaulipas, or to Ciudad Juárez, or to Michoacán. But your voice will be carried there. Because there are others like you out there saying, as one compañero put it, “Shit, this is really happening to me, ‘Why?’ It’s not fair!”

So that is what we are doing. We are not promising that if Marcos is governor, or if some guy is going to be governor, that everything is going to turn out fine… No, we say that we’re going to see that the word of the people is heard, and that the people from below begin to notice what is hurting them. It’s like when you go to the doctor and he says, ”Okay, what’s wrong with you?“ You are the one who tells him what’s wrong, not your aunt; one tells the doctor what is hurting him on his own. Well, this is what’s hurting our country. The first thing we need to do is to know one another and find agreement amongst ourselves.

I’m going to tell you a little bit of our story. We are Mayas, indigenous of Maya roots. Just as you are called Triquis, or Mixteco, or Zapoteco, we call ourselves Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol and Tojolabal. Shit! We’re all so fucked. Before we rose up in arms, we were tossed up in the hills all day, with nothing but rocks. You all know how much work it is when it’s all rocks. It is a pain and the yield is very little. We just barely get a little bit of corn, just enough to make tortillas and pozol, a drink we make from corn. This is our food: tortilla, beans, a few vegetables now and then, and sometimes, if necessary, you can kill a chicken.

Many were run off the good, level land with water by the landowner. The finquero, we called him, and I say “called” because we’ve now run all of them off. And then along came this Salinas de Gortari person, and he says ”okay, that’s all over with.“ Article 27 – put there by my general, General Zapata – which says that the land belongs to he who works it. That’s gone. ”There are no more lands to divide up,“ and besides, he who has land – ejidatario, communal property – now has to sell it. Anyone can buy it, and the bank can take it away from you. Before, they couldn’t do that. The ejidatario was always the owner of the land and no one could take it away from him. Now it is bought and sold.

And who is going to sell it? Well, he who needs, compañeros. And who is going to buy it? Well, he who has the money. When have we ever had money? The only thing we have in abundance is necessity. In every place we have been in this country and this is what we have found: the campesinos are selling their land. That, or they are having it cheated from them somehow.

It’s because you talked to us about all this that it is known everywhere. How many people don’t even talk Castilla (that’s what we call Spanish)? ”Sign here and I will give you a hundred pesos.“ And so you sign, but you don’t know that you are signing over the deed to your ejido. We know that they come and corrupt the ejidal commissionar, or the municipal agent. They invite him in their group, or get him drunk – that is what we say, that we get them in the group, ”embolan“ – and in a little while, he says, ”everyone has signed, now.“ And what? Well the community doesn’t know, the ejidatoario doesn’t know. When he finds out, there isn’t any land. And when he finds out that this land – where he is working now and where his mother and father worked, where his grandparents and great-grandparents worked, and so forth, back before the Spanish arrived – now it isn’t his anymore, he is evicted; they throw him in jail for being on his own land.

And the person who took the land away and got there by cheating is the mayor, the treasurer, the local deputy, the federal legislator, the senator, and even the governor… even the President of Mexico.

This is the story that we are seeing. You were telling us that there are some who have lived here thirty years. I was just counting back the years: first came López Portillo, who started in ’76. Did he change anything for you? And then it was Miguel de la Madrid, and did he change anything? Yes. Things got worse. Then Salinas shows up, and things got even worse. Then Zedillo, even worse. Fox, worse. You think Calderon is going to be any better? We already know he’s not. So, if we know this then we say, ”Shit, let’s wait and see if God wants to send us a man (or a woman) who is fair“ – but no, compañeros, we all know it’s not like that.

When, in the tradition of struggle of the Triqui people, has there been just one person who rose up? It is always the people. It is the same with our people. And we’ve made common cause with the Huicholes, the Nahuatls, with the Purépechas, and with ourselves too, those of Maya roots. Never should one person go out alone, the people should organize and conquer things thus. Look, you’re telling us what they used to do to us. We would walk three or four days just to get on a car of three axles, a thirteen-ton car we called them. Then you pay fifteen to thirty pesos so that they take you to the hospital. If the woman is sick and she can’t speak Spanish because she speaks an indigenous dialect, they won’t let her in. If she is pregnant and about to give birth, she has to give birth in the street; if she is sick, she gets to die in the street.

So, just imagine the story told by someone who says, ”I am sick, so I am going to walk three days, pay thirty pesos to get there and thirty more to get back, just to die there? Better I just die here.“ Do you all understand me? The moment arrives, as this compañera here explained, where the repression makes us afraid. But when you are about to die your fear ends, also. This is what happened in our communities: the moment arrived when it was necessary to decide whether to live, or die like that, or if we were going to die fighting.

We arrived at the conclusion that we might as well die fighting. And we thought, well, okay, let us rise up in arms and attack the rich in their city. Let Mexico take notice of how the indigenous are living. Remember, compañeros, when Salinas de Gortari was around, it looked like there were no indigenous. Maybe someone would talk about them. The only thing mentioned was La India Maria – those are the indigenous they knew about.

No one speaks about the Mixtecos, the Triqui, or Zapoteco, Maya, Tzotzil, Nahuatl and Purépecha. No one speak of them, except when they buy artisans crafts. I’ll tell you about arts and crafts because the astute Comandanta Ramona – who was one of our leaders – was an artesian. She never went to school, and she didn’t speak Spanish. What she did was make bracelets like the ones I have on. And she sold them in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. In San Cristobal de las Casas, before we had our armed uprising, Indians could not walk on the sidewalks. They had to walk in the street. Because the sidewalk – according to those who gave orders there – was for the other people and not the indigenous.

There was a death in 1993, a year before we arose in arms. And they asked a landowner about it, “Hey, I heard the soldiers killed an indigenous person here,” and who knows what else. And the landowner said, ”Here a chicken’s life is worth more than an Indian’s.“ And the person who said that is now in the PRD and he backed the PRD government. And that is what all of us are going through. I am not telling you anything new, because you all already know, as the compañero here has said.

If you are certain color, or a certain size, or a certain language, they don’t see you, or they see you as something sickening. They wrinkle their nose, like this, even though you can’t tell because of my ski mask, when they are near you. It doesn’t matter to them what your name is, or what you have done, or if you work, or if you’ve studied, or if you have money. You go to a store of the rich the way you look now and, even if you have money, they don’t let you in. They say, “Well, this person won’t be able to pay.” Then they tell you, ”Well, the store is closed.“ Then a big time lady comes in, all blond and white, skinny like they like them these days, and they say, ”come on in, madame,“ even if she doesn’t have the money to pay.

We know, and you all know, that it’s not just the workplace, which are like agricultural villages, but also in the school, the street, when you go to the movie theater, or wherever you go when there is activity; the indigenous are always seen in a bad light.

Okay, I won’t tell you anymore of what happened before we rose up in arms. Though it didn’t turn out like we planned it – because the people didn’t rise up – they could not defeat us. Therefore, what the people told us was that we should look towards having a dialogue. Our compañero Carlos explained what happened: we had our dialogue with the government. Look at this, compañera, we had some of our people killed, we brought millions of people out into the street, and the government betrayed us. What they are going to do is cheat you. They are going to have us going back and forth. And they will probably give a dress to you, and a bottle of booze to the men. The governor is going to have his picture taken with you, and then go away. He isn’t going to change a thing in San Quintín Valley.

If there is a problem in San Quintín Valley, and someone shows up and notices it, the Governor gives the reporter some money so that nothing comes out. This it is so we are not seen and we are not heard. So, we are thinking that now we have done all of this, and still it looks like the people who govern aren’t listening. We know this, so what do we do? Well, we have to overthrow the government, all of it: the mayor, the governor of the state, the president of the republic, the legislators, the senators, and put them all in jail. We will see them robbing each other there, because this is what they do for a living.

And they know that very well. Give me the name of a politician who isn’t rich. And give me the name of an indigenous person who works all day long and is rich. There isn’t one. And what does the politician do? Nothing. And what does the indigenous person do? All day long he is working hard. Why does this one have it all, and this one not have anything? This is what we are asking ourselves. Therefore, we decided, let’s go ask others and see who else wants to struggle. Not with arms, but instead we will get together and agree. Because you all know, if someone organizes in one place and struggles for his rights, the police and army run him over, he is alone.

We already found out about deaths, of people in jail, or that there are disappeared persons. But you can see that that we will get together and we will see the power of all of us joined together. Not just here in San Quintín Valley, and not just in Baja California, but also in all of Mexico. Just indigenous people, as compañero Carlos, who is from the National Indigenous Congress, has already explained, that we and many other indigenous people are in a pacifist struggle. But everyone has his way of doing things; they as people have their method and we respect them, and we have our ways and they respect them. It is not that someone is going to give orders. It is not about giving orders to the Nahuatls or to the Purepechas. No, they decide how things are done for themselves.

Now, imagine brother, that the day comes in which you say, ”I’m going now, I am going to visit my family in Oaxaca,” and you get on a plane. Someone is going to say, “Shit! No way, man. When are we ever going to get on a plane? When will that be?” We are barely starting to fight to see this in the city of San Quintín. If it is a Triqui town, in the valley, it is recognized, because as Carlos explained, that which was demanded in the San Andrés Accords was that every town or people are recognized as such. And so the struggle for them is to make an independent municipality of San Quintín. It is because the Triqui people, or the Mixteco, or the Zapateco – who live in Baja California – have their own rights and their own forms of government, and their government handle their own necessities.

But these governments aren’t going to do that. We know that he who pays the government is rich. You all know that he who pays give the orders. Do you think that they are going to pay the governments – because this is what they do – to see that justice prevails? No, they thrive off injustice. Do you think that they are going to oblige the owner of the businesses here in the valley, or of the ones they have here? Should these businesses have to pay what is fair to the workers? The salary you are paying now is against the law, and besides that, you are cheating because you are saving a shitload of money, and according to our information you have it squirreled away, and we know where. We know you are lying, we know it well.

Well then, compañera, we went to Quintana Roo. We were in Chiapas and we went to Quintana Roo where we found Maya indigenous. And their land had been taken from them. And you know what is there now on their land? A hotel. And did you know they can’t even go inside, even though it’s on their land, even to clean the garden? Not even that. When we went to Yucatan we found some fishermen who were also Maya indigenous. We found them in jail. Why? Because they were fishing for shrimp without a permit. A little boat that is smaller than this room. And then a ship that is two or three times the size of this building, full of shrimp, but belonging to a big businessman, is allowed. They don’t do anything to him, but the two indigenous who are fishing get thrown in jail because they are destroying the environment. These indigenous were here since before the Spanish arrived, 500 years ago, and the environment was not being destroyed. The environment began being destroyed when the capitalist arrived. This is the truth and we all know it.

Wherever it is, it begins to destroy. Our compañero Carlos explained that when there are problems between communities, which of course there are, what is the way we resolve them? Talking, right? When the government gets involved, there are deaths. Is that not so? And a lot of people have to leave their land because when there are clashes between communities, there are deaths. So if you scratch your heads and wonder why they fought, well, they got the agrarian tribunal involved, the Agrarian Reform, or the mayor, or the governor, and this is why they began to fight. Now both sides are screwed.

So, we are telling you this story. We are going to Puebla, compañeros; there are some factories there that make denim pants. You know who owns them? That dirty bastard who goes around nabbing little girls, Karer Nacif, or whatever his name is. And his friend is – what? (Kamel Nacif) Yeah, that guy. If this guy can snatch a little girl he takes her off and does his thing with her. This guy is the owner.

Compañera: the work is fourteen to sixteen hours a day, and only forty-five pesos a day is earned. Forget about them having a union, or a bonus, or loans, or social security. They can’t even go to the bathroom, because the capataz, as they call them – the person you would call the foreman – the capataz tells them, “You’re faking it, you don’t want to work.” So if you go to the bathroom, the capataz has to go with the women to see if she is going to pee or shit. Really. If not, they shut the bathroom and say it’s out of order, that you can’t use it, and you have to hold it all day long or figure out what to do about it. If you’re going to get pregnant, well, forget it, you’re fired. There is nothing to help you so that you can have a good childbirth experience, and then so you can have the child with you a few months before returning to work. There is none of that… just get out because you’re fired.

And if the capataz gets “turned on” by the girl and she doesn’t do him the favor, she’s out of there. We can see that they are exploited as workers, but apart from that they mock them for their ways. Because they are indigenous who came from the mountains, who looked for work, and now they are laborers. They mock them because they are indigenous; for the way they talk, for their color, for their size, and for their bodies. And besides, they exploit them and they fuck them over because they are women. But where else can they go?

So, we began to go to different places; we were just in Sinaloa. We came from Sinaloa and Baja Sur. In Sinaloa there are these fishermen, Teacapán is the name of their community, and nobody knew anything about them until we actually got there. But we didn’t go there to ask for their vote. We went to hear them tell us about their problems. “Well the problem is that they won’t let us fish for shrimp, and that is what we live off of.” When you arrive at the community it is much like this one, but with a bunch of mosquitoes. And how much did we walk? Two or three kilometers when we were leaving and we passed a hotel. But it was very pretty, very clean. So we asked, “Why is he who works a criminal?” Don’t think that they put someone in jail for selling drugs, or because he kills people or robs them. They throw them in jail for working, and if you don’t want to go to jail you have to pay a bribe to the bureaucrat. That’s how it is in Sinaloa, in Teacapán.

Now let’s go farther up, to Dautillo, a neighborhood like this one, where they are fishermen. There is an illegal trash dump that results in a lot of mosquitoes and worms. The majority of people there are little kids who are in the school; we even went to the school with them. They are going to protest to the municipal government asking why they don’t get rid of the trash. And the mayor tells them, “The trash truck has broke down.” So we asked them why the truck broke down when it was time to pick their trash, but it didn’t break down when they picked up the rich man’s trash. It would have been fair if it broke down when it was time to pick up the trash of the rich, it’s not your problem, but instead it’s there to pick up the rich man’s trash. No. When things mess up it’s always when they are dealing with the poor folks.

So a compañero says let’s study in school, because there are scholarships. We went to talk to the students of the University of Sinaloa, and they told us, “It doesn’t matter if we’re busting our asses all day long studying,” it’s a lie that this is public and free. As this compañero explained to us, they ask for donations, but the donations are not voluntary. If you want to take a test, or get into the lab, you have to pay. So, you can get in for free, but if you want to get a passing grade you must pay, or your career is over and you won’t find work.

Well that is what we saw, and they told us:
He’s getting his medical degree.
And what is he doing?
He’s driving a taxi.
But why? Did he study for that?
No, he studied to be a doctor.

And so you are sending off your children to school while there are the doctors driving taxis. Then there is an engineer. What is he doing? Selling tacos. And this other guy who studied pharmaceutical chemistry is now in the U.S. picking cotton, or tomatoes, or whatever is available.

So we said: Who is going to do all of this studying and all that other stuff only to find that there is no work? We jumped over to Baja [California] Sur, in a ship. They didn’t want us on board because they wanted to know, “Who is Marcos?” We made it across anyway, and we got there to Los Cabos, which is the very tip of the peninsula. Shit! There are some really pretty hotels there. They have lights, water, telephone, the internet, a golf course, a swimming pool, all really nice. But where the workers live, there is no drainage. And you know what? They still get charged for it; they get charged for drainage service and yet they don’t have that service.

Now, lets go to La Paz, because I told them I would mention them. A neighborhood, also like this one, with poor people who work the same way: small merchants, street sellers, workers, clerks, and housewives. And the town puts a fucking antenna from IUSACEL, for cell phones, there in the middle of the poor neighborhood. Mind you that this antenna was right beside a person’s house. Fifteen or twenty meters tall, and it makes a terrible racket. Didn’t the hurricane just go through there? Then these kids told us – and don’t think that it’s me that is saying this – a kid took the microphone and said, “we were afraid all night long,” he said, “because it made loud noises like it was going to fall.” So they got their flashlights to see where the tower was going to fall so that they could get out of the way, even though they were little kids. But this woman stands up and she has a cane – she can hardly walk – and she asks, “Where am I going to run to? What you have to do is hope that it falls to the other side, only that my son lives on that side!”

There it is, between them all. They organized and they said, “Get this thing out of here.” The law said that they had to get it out of there. But there it still sits, because the company doesn’t want to take it down. The neighbors are afraid that there is going to be a big windstorm that will make the antenna fall and cause some horrible tragedy. Then it will come out in the papers that those children died, that the women died, that men died because the antenna fell on them. But they are not going to say that they were being sued to get them to take it down. I told them that I would mention the name of the mayor there, he is Castro Cosío, and he is with the PRD. And I told them, wherever I go I am going to tell their story, until they get that antenna out of there. And I am carrying this here to San Quintín.

Okay… We came here because this place is isolated, we went through Santa Rosalia where, compañeros, it is all women who work in the squid harvesting industry. You know who the owners are? Koreans. Though Korea is a long way away they’re ensconced anyway. They fire the workers and the workers told us how they had been working. All day long they were working hard. And you know how they pay them? They pay them centavos (a centavo is one tenth of a penny) for each kilo of squid that they clean. They were calculating it, because they pay them between six and fifty centavos per kilo, thirty centavos per kilo. A kilo of squid in Wal-Mart (that stupid place) is like seventy-five or eighty pesos a kilo.

And who is going to keep the other eighty-nine pesos? The owner. And he gives a little to the mayor and to the governor, and some to Fox, and whoever else helps him to see that he remains unbothered. And the people they fired… did the owner give them severance pay? No, he gave them nothing, compañeros. Did anyone listen to them? Yes, the Other Campaign did. And we put these microphones on the compañeros’ and we couldn’t stop them because no one had spoken about this before. One woman almost went wild and started to name names.

Because each one of us knows that the pain of every place has a name. Who is responsible is not God, nor is it a matter of bad luck. Here the asshole has a name. Like that asshole named Castro Cosío in La Paz, and in every place this kind of person has a name, and we know it. It is the governor who sells out, the treasurer who rips off, the bureaucrat who doesn’t do his job – who has us running back and forth – or the policeman who humiliates us, all of these people.

Therefore, what we are saying is that we need to organize ourselves. But let us no longer fight alone, compañeros. If we are telling you this clearly it is because we have seen all of this, and we say: Everywhere we are traveling we can see there is a fuck load of strength. During the war for independence the indigenous remained the same. And then the Mexican revolution, and we stayed the same. Well, this time it cannot be the same.

If we are going to change things, things must change for the indigenous people. This is why we made an agreement with the National Indigenous Congress. Apart from everyone, as Indian peoples, we have to fight so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Of course we are going to topple the government, and of course we are going to run the rich off. But what if some other asshole comes in who is going to do the same things to us as they did before? This we can’t agree to. They have to respect us as indigenous, everyone who is such.

That is what we told them, because the day will come here in San Quintín Valley when it will be the Triqui community, and not the San Quintín Valley municipality, or whatever you want to call it. And all of these riches that the other guy is taking away is going to stay with you, and you’re going to say, “Well, this guy is going to be hurting because he is not eating.”

We went to Ixmiquilpan where indigenous who are Ñañhu and Otomies ran off the hotel owner, and now the hotel is property of the community where it is located. It was a very nice hotel, but it belongs to the community and they made it a cooperative. They split up the profits. Compañeros, compañeras: the children get scholarships right through college; they don’t pay a cent, not even for books. Because they make so much that it makes enough for everyone. And before, the owner only made enough for himself. The rest got forty-five, fifty, or one hundred pesos if they were lucky.

We went to other places and heard the matter of salaries, like the instance of the basic food basket that a compañero spoke about earlier. Compañeros, in order to more or less live well, everyday you have to earn 485 pesos. So you have to work, but they have to pay you ten times what they are paying now, because if you pay rent or you get sick you often need more money. And if you are shut in all day long, you are not going to see any television, or go to the movies, or go dancing, none of that.

So, with all of this happening we say again: what we have to do is organize ourselves and get to know each other, so that throughout the country they might know what is happening in San Quintín Valley. But not so Fox hears about it and finds it embarrassing or shameful so that he does something about it, or the governor of Baja California either. It is to see that people who are just like us can say: I am like them, let’s see if we can join them and then we can do what we want to do, struggle, because that is what we know. If we didn’t know how to struggle, the Spanish would have finished us 500 years ago. And they didn’t finish us, because we know how to resist. Now, it is about winning our freedom.

And so, what compañero Carlos is proposing, and what we came to propose as well, is not about someone coming here to give orders. You all organize yourselves, and when you are ready to struggle, we will agree and they will have no choice but to respect us. If you all struggle here, we will support you in other places as well. And if we are struggling in other places, you all will support us there, too.

That is our proposal. Thank you compañeros, thank you compañeras.

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