<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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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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EZLN and CNI Urgently Convoke Fourth Indigenous National Congress

The Meeting Will Be Held in Ocoyoacac, in the State of Mexico, May 5-6

By Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada

April 6, 2006

Nurío, Michoacán, April 3: The Indigenous National Congress (CNI in its Spanish initials) and the Sixth Commission of the EZLN put out an urgent call today to hold the fourth Indigenous National Congress on May 5 and 6 in the indigenous Ñañú community of San Pedro Atlapulco, in the state of Mexico. The call was read by don Juan Chávez Alonso, the moral authority of the Purépecha people, after a closed-door meeting between the representatives of the Central-Pacific region of the CNI and Subcomandante Marcos.

It is worth remembering that the third Indigenous National Congress was held in Nurío, during the 2001 Zapatista march. Five years later, and with a very different proposal, the “House of the Purépecha” is once again the place where this new step will begin, in a moment of great importance in the lives of the original peoples of Mexico, and as part of the Other Campaign, which this Sunday held a meeting here with representatives of dozens of groups from Michoacán’s Tarascan Plateau.

The announcement is based on three propositions: “Whereas, up until 2001 the indigenous peoples of Mexico carried out a long struggle for constitutional recognition of our rights according to the San Andrés Accords, which were betrayed by all the authorities of the Mexican state, expanding the war of conquest, looting and devastation that those from above have waged for 513 years on the first peoples of this nation and today has as its goal the destruction and relinquishment of the country.”

“Whereas, beginning with the mockery and betrayal that the constitutional reform on indigenous issues of April 28, 2001 represented, and which has been accompanied by a set of laws and official policies tending toward the destruction and privatization of our land, territory, food base and culture, our people have decided to no longer solicit legal recognition of their rights, but rather to exercise these rights and autonomy in action.”

And, “Whereas the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, released by the EZLN, invited all those from below to build a great anti-capitalist and leftist force to work for the creation of a new national program of struggle and a new constitution with the goal of halting capitalist devastation, we resolve to urgently convoke the authorities and direct representatives of the indigenous peoples, tribes, neighborhoods, communities and organizations to convene the fourth Indigenous National Congress, which will take place in the community of N’Donhuani-San Pedro Atlapulco, in Ocoyoacac municipality in the state of Mexico.”

The most important part of the congress will be the discussion of two points: one, an evaluation of the indigenous struggle since the third Indigenous National Congress held in March of 2001; and two, a diagnostic and evaluation of the war of conquest and capitalist neoliberal devastation of the indigenous people and the entire nation.

Signing the call to the congress were Subcomandante Marcos for the Sixth Commission of the EZLN, and communities, fronts, organizations, elders’ councils, traditional authorities, and collectives representing the Indigenous National Congress from Michoacán, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Durango, Guerrero, Colima and the state of Mexico.

Upon his arrival in Nurío Saturday night, where he was festively received by hundreds of indigenous from the community, Delegate Zero said: “Five years ago we came here to the house of the Purépecha. We were here in the CNI meeting that dozens of Indian peoples from this country had called, and together we added our voice to the powerful demand that our rights and our culture as indigenous people be recognized.

“Five years ago we offered our word of dignity to demand a place for ourselves on the national flag. The powerful and their political parties denied us that place; they betrayed us. Among those that betrayed us is the man who today governs, badly, the lands of Michoacán, the man who calls himself governor and says that he is concerned about the people from below. From these people and people like them came the betrayal of our offer of dialog and agreements for this country to recognize the indigenous, those that built this nation up upon their backs, with their blood.

“Now we come not to offer dialog or agreements. Now we recognize them as our enemies. Now we recognize that the conquista, the war of conquest, has not ended, and that once again the foreigner wants to take over our lands through governmental tricks. We are no longer seeking dialog with he who rules, what we seek is for the ruler to fall, to disappear along with the rich who have made us submit to them throughout this long night that has lasted more than 500 years. The time has come to rise up in a great civil and peaceful movement to take, by force, the place that we should have in this Mexican nation. Now there is no sense in waiting for an attentive ear from the powerful. We do not interest them. They despise us.”

Flanked by indigenous authorities from several different communities and Mexican states, he concluded: “We have arrived at the house of the Purépecha to begin to create, together with them, the great accord that will once again raise a rebellion like in the Mexican Revolution, like in the war of independence, but this time taking care to make sure that this time the Indian peoples are not forgotten in the hour of triumph.”

Burning Their Ships

On Sunday night, when the meeting with the Purépechas was ending, Delegate Zero said: “After listening to all of your words, what we have heard in the rest of the country has been confirmed. The ships from which the foreigners are disembarking are the political parties, the houses of Congress, the municipal, state and federal governments. From there a strategy is being carried out for destruction of the earth, for depopulation as they destroy everything there is, make communities into deserts and cause them to disappear together with the people that inhabit them. Migration is not happening only in Michoacán, but across the country. It has caused entire communities to really disappear, in addition to the disappearance of their communitarian life.”

At the same time, he said, “the economic crisis is provoking people to abandon the countryside, because what the land provides is no longer enough to sustain oneself. If we continue to see this legal destruction of the countryside, it will provoke in us as Indian peoples a primary resistance mechanism, a reflex that we have to resist and oppose. We turn then with the Sixth Declaration to the non-indigenous peasant farmers, and we find that same strategy of destruction and depopulation all across the country.

Marcos added that the crisis in the prices of products from the countryside “is obligating people more and more to sell their lands, now that Article 27 [of the Mexican constitution, regarding communal land rights] is no longer an obstacle, and they have the full support of the law. We insist that this is a war that has the full support of the federal government.” He mentioned the effects of this “war,” which is not being waged only against the Indian peoples, but “against all those from below.” In the cities, the factories, the health clinics, the schools. Their objective is very clear: destroy, depopulate, and repopulate, but this time not with Mexicans.”

Speaking before a hundred Purépecha leaders and farmers, all adherents to the Sixth Declaration who spent hours speaking of how people live and toil in the communities of this part of Western Mexico, the Zapatista delegate responded: “Everywhere the people are organizing and resisting. But it is not enough. In this war of conquest, those from above will stop at nothing. Even in the Zapatista region, which we are not so bold as to call ‘liberated’ but rather say ‘in resistance,’ with all the advances it has had and with our presence, the people suffer from a total aggression that destroys alternatives.”

The Zapatista delegate’s words among the indigenous people of the coast and now the Michoacán plateau as well have reached an intensity, doubtless stimulated by the speeches, attitude and determination that the Other Campaign has encountered in its activities in recent weeks: “The only way to resist that war of conquest, to stop it, would be for all the resistances that are now dispersed to unite. If the resistances continue separately, they will continue to be heroic, valuable and eventually something of the past. If we continue on our own, every man for himself, we will be beaten.”

He explained that the Other Campaign’s proposal is to unite the resistances and rebellions. “Because in our opinion, to end this war, we need such a level of organization that the resistance ends up being a quick one. Why, if we are able to join all our forces to resist that offensive, should we stop there? Why, if we are able to unite all that strength at a national level, should we stop at reforming the country little by little if we already have the strength to completely destroy the system that has us like this? Let’s overthrow the government and destroy this system that promotes destruction.”

Coming out in favor of a new constitution, Marcos concluded: “We think that in order to confront that war we have to go after them, to go into the offensive. It is no longer possible to survive in resistance if we do not organize this uprising at a national level. The time has come; we must rise up. And we have to decide if it will be about never needing to be on our knees again, or just about hoping that someone else recognizes we exist. In our opinion, we must rise up and stay on our feet for the rest of history.”

After the Other Campaign’s two days of work in Nurío, Delegate Zero was received by some 700 farmers from the 14 Pamatácuaro communities, to whom he said: “We don’t have to talk about the government any more. Not one word. Why should we ask permission to govern ourselves? We have demonstrated that we can govern better than those cabrones up there.”

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America