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Marcos Welcomes Mexico's New President:

"You Start from Zero"

The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

December 2, 2000

Mr. Vicente Fox
Los Pinos, Mexico City

Mr. Fox:

Six years ago we wrote a letter to Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, your predecessor. Now that you are the new head of the federal executive branch, it is my duty to inform you that beginning today you have inherited a war in the Mexican Southeast; that which on January 1st, 1994 the Zapatista Army of National Liberation declared against the federal government in the demand for democracy, liberty and justice for all the Mexican people.

Since the beginning of our uprising we have confronted the federal troops according to military honor and the laws of war. Since then, the Army has attacked us without any military honor and violating international treaties. More than 70,000 federales (including more than 20,000 of the so-called "special counter-insurgency troops") have surrounded and pursecuted the Zapatistas for 2,525 days (counting today). During 2,000 of those days they have violated the Dialogue Law, the Negotiation and the Dignified Peace in Chiapas, approved by the Congress of the Union on March 10, 1995.

During these almost seven years of war the Zapatistas have resisted and we have confronted two federal executives (self-named "presidents"), two secretaries of national defense, six Interior Ministers, Five "peace" commissioners, five "governors" of Chiapas and a multitude of mid-level bureaucrats. They're all gone. Some are being investigated for their links with organized crime. Others are in exile or on their way there. Others, still, are unemployed.

During these almost seven years we the Zapatistas have insisted, time and time again, on the path of dialogue. We have done so because we have an agreement with Civil Society, that called upon us to silence the weapons and try a peaceful settlement.

Now that you assume the title of the federal Executive Branch, you must know that, beyond inheriting the war of the Mexican Southeast, you inherit the possibility of choosing how to face it.

During your campaign and since July 2nd, you, Mr. Fox, have said time and time again that you are going to choose dialogue to face our demands. Zedillo said the same thing during the months that preceded his inauguration, but two months later he ordered a huge military offensive against us.

You will understand that the distrust in everything that is government, independently of what political party it belongs to, has already indelibly marked our thinking and walking.

If, from our understandable distrust of the word of power, we tell you the contradictions and frivolities that you and those who accompany you have committed without a first look, then it is also my duty to tell you that, with the Zapatistas (and I believe not only with the Zapatistas), you start from zero in what is referred to as credibility and trust.

We cannot trust in someone who has exhibited the shallowness and ignorance to state that the indigenous demands can be resolved with "a Volkswagen, a TV and a changarro."

(ed. note: "changarro" is a Mexican slang for a small shop or a market stand, related to the word "chango," or monkey).

We cannot give credit to whomever tries to "forget" (that is, "give amnesty to") the hundreds of crimes comitted by the paramilitaries and their patrons who deliver them impunity.

He who with shortness of vision and businessman's logic has a government plan to convert the indigenous into mini-micro-businessmen or into employees of the businessman of this six-year term does not inspire our confidence. All in all, this plan is no more than an intent to continue the ethnocide that, below different styles, brings neoliberalism forward in Mexico.

Thus, it's good that you know that none of this will prosper on Zapatista lands. Your program of "disappear an indigenous and create a businessman" will not be permitted on our soil. Here, and under many Mexican skies, the indigenous being doesn't just have to do with blood and origen, but also with the vision of life, death, culture, land, history, tomorrow.

They have failed to anhilate us with arms. They who try to eliminate us by turning us in to "businessmen" will fail.

Note that I have told you that, with the Zapatistas, you begin from zero in credibility and trust. This means that you don't have to overcome, still, anything negative (because it is fair to say that you have not attacked us). You can, then, prove those who gamble that your government will repeat the nightmare of the PRI for all the Mexican people, especially the Zapatistas, to be correct. Or you can, beginning from that zero, begin to construct with deeds what all government needs in its labor: credibility and trust.

The demilitarization that you have continually announced (although it varies between "total withdrawl," "repositioning," or "reaccomodating," that are not the same, something that you, your soldiers and we all know) is at the start, insufficient, but necessary.

Not only in Chiapas, but above all in Chiapas, you can prove those who desire your failure, or those who give you the benefit of the doubt, or those who plainly deposit what is called "hope" in you, to be correct.

Mr. Fox: In contrast with your predecessor Zedillo (who came to power through the path of regicide and with the support of that corrupt monster of the system of the party of the state), you come to the federal Executive Branch thanks to the rejection that the PRI carefully cultivated among the population. You know it well, Mr. Fox: You won the election, but you didn't defeat the PRI. It was the citizenry. And not only those who voted against the Party of the State, but also the previous and current generations who, in one form or another, resisted and combated against the culture of authoritarianism, impunity and crime that the PRI governments of 71 years constructed.

Although there is a radical difference in the way that you come to power, your political, social and economic project is the same that we have suffered in the most recent presidential terms. A project of the country that means the destruction of Mexico as a nation and its transformation into a department store, something like a "mega-changarro" that sells human beings and natural resources at the prices that the global market dictates. The hidden agendas of privatizing the electric industry, petroleum and education, and the sales tax that you try to impose on medicine and food, are just a small part of the grand plan of "restructuring" that the neoliberals have for the Mexican people.

Not only that. With you, we contemplate the return of moralist positions that are sealed with intolerance and authoritarianism. It wasn't for nothing that the results of July 2nd unleashed an offensive of persecution and destruction by the confessional right wing. This has been suffered by women (raped or not), youths, artists, dramaturges, homosexuals and lesbians. Together with retired and pensioned people, together with the handicapped, together with the indigenous, and together with some 70 million poor Mexicans, these groups are called "minorities." In "their" Mexico, Mr. Fox, these "minorities" don't have a place.

We oppose this Mexico and we will do so in radical form.

You can worry or not that a group of Mexicans, mainly Indigenous, also are not in agreement with the mercantile plans nor with the beligerance of the right wing. But you must not forget that if the PRI lost power it is because the majority of the Mexican people rebelled and succeeded in kicking it out.

That rebellion has not ended.

You and your team, from July 2nd to today, have not done anything but insist that the citizens should return to conformity and immobility. But it will not be that way. Your neoliberal project will confront the resistance of millions.

Some members of your cabinet and allies say that the EZLN must understand that the country has changed, that it they (the Zapatistas) don't have any choice but to accept it, to surrender, to take off the ski-masks and apply for credit to put up a little store, buy a TV and make monthly payments on a compact automobile.

They are wrong. We take it as a given that we fight for change, but for us, "change" means "democracy, liberty and justice." The defeat of the PRI was a necessary condition for the country to change, but not enough. Much is lacked, and you and the few members of your cabinet who are politicians know it. Many things are missing and, more importantly, millions of Mexican men and women already know it.

What is missing, for example, are the Indigenous. What is missing is to recognize constitutionally their rights and culture that, believe me, have nothing to do with the promotional sales of businesses. What is missing is to demilitarize and deparamilitarize the indigenous communities. What is missing is to free the prisoners of conscience. What is missing is to bring disappeared politicians to justice. What is missing is to reconstruct and defend our national sovereignty. What is missing is an economic program that satisfies the needs of the most poor. What is missing is that the citizens will be full time citizens. What is missing is that the governors settle accounts. And the peace is also missing.

Mr. Fox: During more than six years your predecessor, Zedillo, spoke about the will to dialogue and he gave us war. He chose confrontation and he lost. Now it is you that has the opportunity to choose.

If you choose the path of sincere, serious and respectful dialogue, simply demonstrate your disposition with deeds. You will have the certainty that you will have a positive response from the Zapatistas. There the dialogue can be reinitiated and, soon, it will begin to construct a true peace.

In the public communiqué that we attach, the EZLN makes known our demand for a series of minimum signals on the part of the federal Executive Branch. If these are made, everything will be ready to return to dialogue.

What will not be at play is whether or not we oppose what you represent and what you mean for our country. This there must not be any doubt: We are your contrarians. What will be at play is whether this opposition can happen through civil channels or if we must continue rising up in arms and with our faces covered until we find what we seek, which is not any other thing, Mr. Fox, except democracy, liberty and justice for all the Mexican people.

Vale. Good health to you and hopefully it is certain that in Mexico and in Chiapas there will be a new dawn.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

For the Clandestine Revolutionary Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Subcomandante insurgente Marcos

The Mexican Transition: Immediate History

Part I: Mexico's Next Secretary of State says Legalize Drugs

II: Fox's 1st Challenge is to enact the Chiapas San Andrés Accords

III: Fox Names Drug Reformer Gertz as Nation's Top Cop

IV: Answer the Call to Mexico City, February 2001

V: Marcos to Zedillo: "You Lost the War"

VI: A Play in Two Acts by Marcos

VII. Marcos Welcomes Fox: "You Start from Zero"

VIII. The Fine Print: Two More EZLN Communiqués

See Our Previous Nine Part Series on the Narco in Chiapas

Authentic Journalism From Outside the Mass Media's Mega-Changarro