This text was the opening statement given at the National Assembly on State Violence and People’s Self-Determination carried out March 9th in Amilcingo, Morelos. The original in Spanish was published by the Centro de Medios Libres and can be found here.
March 9th, 2019
Compañeras and compañeros, thanks for coming today to this National Assembly, for heeding our call in these difficult times for us in Amilcingo, in the communities and hearts where the legacy of Samir is alive. Welcome to Zapatista lands, to the lands that our grandmothers and grandfathers defended against the bad government. In the name of progress and development, the bad government has dispossessed thousand of Indigenous and campesino peoples off their lands to give them to the landowners, leaving the people to live in misery.
It seems that a hundred years later things are worse. The new landowners are now companies and the new haciendas are now megaprojects. Unlike one hundred years ago, now the entire human population is at risk. We are on the direct path toward emptiness and death, doing damage at incredible speeds and exploiting unimaginable quantities of natural resources like the lands, waters, mountains, forests and jungles. All of this is driven by neoliberalism.
This is why that in the last few decades, in the countries of the south, we are living through an intense war being carried out against our people. Our communities are now sought after by the new landowners and their foreman: the bad governments. Everywhere we hear of megaprojects seeking to be installed in territories that belong to the people: mines, hydroelectric projects, fracking, highways, thermoelectric plants, gas-pipelines, wind farms, tourist complexes, water depletion, aqueducts and many more. These projects make up the grand list of ways in which they are appropriating what remains in the world of life and natural resources.
This has been a permanent war against non-western peoples, a permanent dispossession of our territories cloaked in different discourses throughout history, discourses such as civilization, freedom, equality, progress, development and democracy.
In recent decades we have also seen the struggles of many countries of the south to take control of their governments, to turn back the dictatorships in Latin America, to advance toward peace after long wars in Central America, to achieve democracy and to make a change that truly benefits the people of our Latin America. Thousands of men and women, organizations and social movements, have participated in these processes struggling to achieve these changes. People have been assassinated, movements have been repressed, social fighters have been imprisoned, and all to achieve changes in the bad governments, to have one of our own take the government and make change. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Chile, among others lived through these processes with governments that arose from the left, of the struggles of thousands of people that gave their hears, desires, time, hope, sacrifice, pain and even life. But this achievement was covered in a greyish red tone. The state policies undertaken by these governments did not change the basic principles of neoliberalism. They only gave nuance to the problems, utilizing their populist actions through social programs that only mitigate hunger and poverty, but did not eradicate it. They fell into corruption. They promoted dispossession and megaprojects in the territories of the people that struggled with them during their ascent to power, abandoning the movements and the ideal for which their power was derived from the support of all those of below.
Today in Mexico, it seems that we are living through a similar process. The hope given to the new president who came from the people, from below, from the struggle of many decades against the bad governments, that spoke of ending the mafia of power. Today that mafia of power is his ally. He disobeys the institutions of alternative forms of social organization. Today, he coopts them and concentrates his power through new figures like state delegates and new social programs. In the past he spoke of ending dispossession against the people. Today, not only has he forgotten his word, but he also expands the dispossession, justifying it with the same discourse of the governments that he criticized so often, the moneyed interests.
All of this was made clear when he promoted the imposition, disguised as a consultation, of the thermoelectric plant, gas pipeline and aqueduct known as the PIM. He did this in an authoritarian manner, without talking with the affected peoples, omitting the extremely high risk of installing a gas pipeline in a volcanic zone. He did this with a violent discourse calling those that shouted, “Water yes, Thermoelectric no” in their rally in Cuautla, “conservative radical leftists.” Not even the death of our compañero Samir was sufficient enough for him to reconsider or suspend the consultation and look for another way to talk with the affected communities, to really accept all the risks that this project implies. So, it is not the poor first? So, it is not the people that lead? So, it is not lead by obeying?
Well, none of that and much of the other. The other which is already known by workers of the local governments and of the Morena party of the old PRI style. Small letters at the end of the ballot specifying that the reduction in the price of electricity will not apply to Cuernavaca and Jiutepec, cities with the greatest results of the yes on the thermoelectric. Rigged consultation: ballots without information, without a neutral judge to count them, without electoral roll, without real information regarding the grave impacts, without tranquility from the police and militaries that guarded the voting booths, without freedom of expression for those that in the voting areas informed the people about the impacts of the PIM. These people who sought to spread information were threatened by people of MORENA, accused and detained by the police. Without respect for the pain of the people, of the many peoples for the death of Samir, without even mentioning the name of Samir Flores Soberanes and only referring to him as an activist when the president was questioned by the press about the vile assassination of our brother. Thus Mr. President, without memory for what you said in 2014, without decency, without respect toward us, the poor campesino Indigenous peoples, those for whom you speak of so much.
Sisters, brothers, the war against the people continues with this government, disguised as democracy with the veil of legitimacy that formed so much hope for the 30 million people that decided to vote for the president. For the hope that things will change, that the terror that we live due to the violence will end, that the dispossession stops, that the social security is completely recuperated and not fragmented into new programs that are not to eradicate poverty but to maintain it. Hope that there will be punishment to those responsible for so much death, violence, corruption and plunder of public coffers, hope of deep changes.
We respect the hope that so many people have. We applaud the strong message that enough is enough, but we want to tell them that the hope cannot make us blind. We must really see what happens. We must really analyze what is done and not follow with blind faith. We are a mature society. We are a knowledgeable people. Why refuse to see what is evident? Why attack instead of analyze before allowing hatred and rejection to be sown in the hearts filled with hope. To all of those people we want to say, we are not your enemies. We are people that also have hope in our hearts for change, but not through the president, but by many people deciding collectively how they want to live, what future to have without big capital and the interests of a few intervening and determining the future of all of us.
Sisters, brothers, that are here present, we want to say thanks for being with us, for accompanying us in this time of profound pain, for crying for our teacher, comrade, brother, friend, Samir, for being indignant for his murder, for demanding justice, for seeking to stop this monster known as the Integral Project of Morelos. The murder of our compañero is the responsibility of the companies and the government that ally together, that cover each other’s tracks, that use thugs and lies to end the lives of those that defend their territory.
That is why we call on you all today, to analyze the context that we are living with this new government, to think together about a plan of action before this betrayal of the Mexican people.
Today, as 100 years ago, another Madero betrays the people, and wants to use the memory of our General Emiliano Zapata as part of his populism and lack of respect for the people. We will not allow him to set foot on Zapatista land to commemorate the assassination of Zapata. We will not allow this project to pass. We will not allow that he continues with his simulation of democracy with other communities and other consultations. We will not allow the lies and the jokes toward the people. We will not allow that they sow hate and pit us against eachother between communities, between people. We will not allow that they continue to assassinate us.
We demand that Samir’s case be brought to the Nation’s Attorney General’s office.
We demand justice and punishment to those responsible.
We demand the total cancellation of the PIM.
Samir lives, the struggles continues!
Water yes, thermoelectric no!
Zapata lives, the struggles continues!
Assembly of Resistance Amilcingo
People’s Front in Defense of Land and Water Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala