Central Penitentiary of the State of Oaxaca, October 9, 2016
To the 5th National Indigenous Congress
To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
“October 2, 1968, the 48th anniversary of the student massacre of Tlaltelolco. It will not be forgotten!
I want to express my gratitude for the space of participation with my word.
My name is Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez. I am a political prisoner and prisoner of conscious from the region of Loxicha, Oaxaca. I have spent 19 years in prison, and have been the subject of the forced disappearance and torture by the Mexican State.
Sisters and Brothers:
From my trench of struggle, in the central penitentiary of Oaxaca, I send you a fraternal and combative salute, and a warm hug full of strength to each one of you. I also want to express my sincere and profound respect and solidarity with all of the participants in the 5th congress.
After 524 years of conquest, as the indigenous peoples of Mexico, we are stronger than ever. We are together to unite our forces into one force, to construct a new form of life for humanity, against the projects of death and destruction of neoliberalism. Although they cut the trunk of our tree, they could not remove its roots, and it began to sprout with the indigenous uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. On January 1st, 1994, the nation was shook, and the oppression, misery, oblivion and abandonment in which we live and continue living as indigenous people in all of Mexico was made visible.
From the arrival of the colonizers to these lands so to arrived injustice, violence and tyranny; bloody havoc, cruel and systematic genocide and extermination with the cross and the sword; to invade, to take possession of our lands and our souls. There were 16 million Indigenous people when they arrived. Fifty years later there were only three million.
With the arrival of the colonizers to our lands, they dispossessed us of our best lands, and because we didn’t want to be subdued, we were obligated to take refuge in the great mountains, hills and canyons to protect our lives and to continue developing ourselves as Indigenous peoples. We did this while they plundered our resources. Yesterday Western colonizers invaded us, and today we are invaded by neoliberal capitalism. Yesterday they arrived with the greed for gold; today they arrive for our natural resources, our lands, forests, minerals, waters, oceans, lagoons, and air. They are causing irreversible damage, destruction and death to us as Indigenous peoples in every part of the national territory. As a means to fully comply with their transnational objectives, together with the Mexican state and governors that are their servants, they had to make and approve structural reforms, in the interests of neoliberalism, to be able to plunder, exploit and dispossess without setbacks. They are utilizing repression, planting terror and fear with their military, police, paramilitary, white guard, assassin and narco-trafficking forces. This was the case in the most recent events in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca. On June 19th of this year, there were 12 deaths and more than 100 injured. Another example is the assassinated and forced disappearance of the 43 Normalista students of the Escuela Rural “Raúl Isidro Burgos”, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. Recounting all the bloody and cruel acts like the forced disappearance of men and women, massacres, assassinations, and incarcerations of those that struggle for the social and historical claims of our people. There is a long list of events in recent years in our country. We thus reject all forms of repression made against Indigenous peoples, expressed in the militarization and paramilitarization of our territories.
This is a call to everyone present in the 5th Congress, to put in a little more effort in contributing with our modest force to construct, to consolidate and strengthen the political organizing work of the National Indigenous Congress.
We hope that the results of the 5th congress will be fruitful in advancing our work against all that we have suffered: exploitation, dispossession, repression, and disdain for 500 years.
Long live the 5th National Indigenous Congress!
Long live the Zapatista Army of National Liberation!
Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez
Political Prisoner of the Región of Loxicha, Oaxaca
Translated from the original here: http://www.cgtchiapas.org/noticias/carta-saludo-al-congreso-nacional-indigena-y-al-ezln-alvaro-sebastian-ramirez