Subcommandante Marcos interview
15 years since the formation of the EZLN

November 1998

In La Jornada over two days

November 16, 1998
Elena Gallegos, correspondent, from the mountains of Chiapas, November 16

Subcomandante Marcos states his conviction that there is still space in Mexico for dialogue and for the construction of new alternatives - "if not..then we're wasting our time!" - although he clarifies that this process "will not come from the government, nor with the government," which has already made the decision "to maintain the economic model without regard to the political cost", and neither are they interested in resolving "the transition to democracy."

Regarding the 15 years of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), the insurgent leader also makes a critical reflection concerning the movement's progress and mistakes; he admits that zapatismo made "hasty" judgments of some political forces and actors, among which he mentions the PRD and some sectors of the PAN, and even the PRI, which "would seem to be sensitive, not just to the indigenous cause, but also to the struggle for democracy."

He explains it straight-forwardly: "In political statements one tends to be very reductionist, to not make allowances, to not make distinctions, not recognize degrees, and it is very easy to sieze an example and say, they are all like that!"

In an interview with La Jornada, the Subcomandante summarizes, not just the experiences of the EZLN, but also of the country, from the zapatistas' perspective. During the conversation, the issues vary: from the meetings which they will be holding with the Cocopa and with civil society, to the ways they will seek to keep their movement from becoming "contaminated" by the struggles which the political elites will be engaged in during the run-up to 2000.

"Tomorrow it will be 15 years since the formation of the EZLN. How do you remember it?"

"It's been 15 years since the Zapatista Army of National Liberation was founded, and we are approaching the fifth year of the war ...

"In those 15 years, the EZLN has gone through various stages, no? I've already referred to the most important, which is in when the nucleus was established, and it began to work with the indigenous population, its growth exploded and it decided to break out."


"After all this time, what lessons did the EZLN learn? What errors did it commit?"

"It is a very rushed analysis, because, ultimately, one is talking about one's own history. Among the certainties we can mention that, ever since the EZLN was established, and began to enter into contact with the communiites, the insurgents, or, rather, the regular troops, began to learn not just to speak in the the terms of the indigenous communities, but also to listen. That is the primary contribution which the indigenous communities made to the EZLN, and which was a definitive part of its formation.

"That capacity for hearing is fundamental from January 12, 1994, on. The Zapatista Army is a political-military organization, a guerrilla organization, which, from that point on, demonstrated it knew how to listen to what was going on around them, and it knew the moment had arrived for something else, ...

"Then a whole new space of dialogue was opened, a dialogue that was also very intense, with ups and downs, with what we call civil society, and with various political actors, constantly broader in terms of their ideological spectrum, regarding the national question, and constantly more varied in culture, race, colors and flavors, in the international aspect."

Nonetheless, there were also mistakes. The Subcomandante mentions one of those which he considers the most serious: "Among the errors which we have committed throughout these five public years is the fact that we have made many hasty judgments."

"For example?"

"For example, characterizing the political forces. Since this country's history has accelerated, I don't know if it's been since 1994, and progress has been so dizzying, the positions of the political forces have been changing, but not in the sense of opportunism, but rather in adapting to the new circumstances, and we were not aware that the crisis was also affecting the political forces and actors.

"I'm not referring just to the parties, but also to social organizations, to the Church, to the Army, to everything that has to do with politics, to the media. In this way, since we were established during a different kind of time, that is why we say we are the rebellion of the colgados, because we hang a lot" - next to him, Comandante Tacho and Major Moises praise the aside - "with that criteria, we judged - many times unjustly, precipitously - positions, statements, behaviors, of the political forces."

"Specifically, which?"

"The most obvious was regarding the Mexican left: the Revolutionary Democratic Party. But not just the PRD, also what is called the radical left, the most radical social organizations, even the appearance of new guerrilla groups such as the Popular Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent Peoples."

The Subcomandante does not stop there. He also considers some of the judgments unfair which the EZLN and he made against some sectors of National Action [PAN], which would seem to be sensitive to the issues broached by zapatismo. "I'm not referring just to the indigenous, but also to the struggle for democracy, or by certain sectors of the Revolutionary Institutional Party, or by some independent sectors which are called 'the center.'

"Finally, other actors have appeared, which are not exactly political parties, and which are sensitive to the EZLN's basic proposals: resolving the indigenous question and the problem of the transition to democracy."

"In addition to the hasty judgments you talk about, weren't there also generalizations that weren't valid?"

"Exactly, that's what I'm referring to. In political statements one trends to be very reductionist, to not make allowances, to not make distinctions, not recognize degrees, and it is very easy to sieze an example and say, they are all like that!" That has happened to us with National Action and with the PRD, now like a chronic illness."

"Could one argue that, in order to justify yourself, that from there things were not seen as they are?"

"That, and that the EZLN is young as a public political organization, and that their method of doing politics doesn't fit the rules. Those are the political implications. There are more advantages than disadvantages in the fact that we don't enter into that basic code of political relations. It allows us a certain distance, more depth in analysis, a more critical position, although it also leads to errors like those I'm telling you about, and that we see here ...immediately."

"When you talked about what was done well and what didn't work, how would you explain the process that was played out between the first of January in San Cristobal, when you announced you were going to go to the capital of the country, and then later you started reflecting on how to channel the solution of the indigenous problem politically?"

"The EZLN went to San Cristobal de las Casas, to Las Margaritas, to Ocosingo, and to all the positions we took on the first of January in 94, in a situation in which we could not speak. And nor were we listened to...That day we became aware that we could speak, and that we could win a space in which to be heard. There existed, then, the possibility of presenting new political proposals, the basic ones - the indigenous problem and the transition to democracy - through another process.

"That process did not exist prior to 94. If it had existed, there would not have been an uprising. It is a space which had to be opened, and it began to be opened from the beginning of that year, with those ups and downs, setbacks and advances, which it has had.

"We see that where there has been progress, it has been thanks to the dialogue with civil society, with political actors who are for the transition to democracy, and the roadblocks which have kept that space from opening and from becoming wider, have come from the conflicts with the government.

"We believe that it is still possible to open that space for dialogue, for the coming and going of the word, for building agreements, political proposals, if not, we are wasting our time! But that dialogue, or that process of building new alternatives for the participation of the people, will not come from the government, nor with the government, not with this government, anyway!"

The Government has Already Decided

The Subcomandante believes that the current govenrment has already made a decision on its strategy: "To maintain its economic model, and Zedillo has said that very clearly, that the political cost does not matter. The Income Law and the Spending Budget of the Federation is the best demonstration that that cost doesn't matter to them, that everything else is of secondary importance.

"The fundamental problems, which are the transition to democracy, the transformation of the economic model, the settling of this country's historical accounts, among them that of the indigenous movement, but not only of that, but also that of the women, in spite of the progress, and barely beginning, that of the homosexuals and lesbians. And then that of the children.

"There are many sectors, apparently minority, which then turn out to be larger that one had thought, and which have not seen their space established within what is called the Mexican nation; and the govenrment has decided to disregard all those problems, and to focus all their efforts and all their capital, political - if they have any left - in maintaining the economic model and not in resolving any problems.

"All those sectors, apparently minority, and which we call civil society, can indeed build the other agenda of the transition in Mexico, the agenda of the problems of those from below, and not the agenda of the problems of those from above, to put it like that, in a reductionist way."

He does not stop there: "We believe that if we meet with those groups, and those groups meet among themselves, they are bound to build another program, which will not be the government's, but will be the Mexican nation's."

He ventures: "We would dare to say that Mexico's survival, as a nation, is there, and its destruction is in that attitude of 'the political cost isn't important...we will maintain the economic model!'

"Going back to the costs which came with the mistakes, the six month EZLN silence, whose vacuum was beginning to be filled by official statements constantly noting that it was you who didn't want negotiations, did it affect you politically?"

"Yes, I believe it affected us politically, but the benefits produced by that silence are greater than the damages."

"I don't understand you. Would you explain it to me?"

"Look, we assessed what it would mean to submerge ourselves, to grab our submarine and wait until everything passed. We knew that if we retired from the political scene with the basic weapon which we have, the word, a moment would arrive when the govenrment and other actors were going to fill that space, but we also knew that that had its limit: sooner or later reality would be confronted with that speech.

"We trusted and counted on the people's becoming aware that there was a fundamental contradiction. And, instead of opposing the word with the word, we decided to oppose the word with reality.

"In effect, we believe that is what happened. We said: 'this is our position', we consider it useless to reiterate it and reiterate it, and we remained silent. We also believe that was the government strategy: that the people would grow tired."

"The zapatista words would grow stale?"

"Yes. And that is what they are finally doing with the Fobaproa. Until the people say, 'great, now, fix it however you can! We don't want to know any more about what Lopez Obrador says, or Zedillo says, or what Gurrio already said, or what Calderon already said, and they are just fighting. Just fix it now however you can!'

"That was the government strategy regarding Chiapas, and the problem wasn't Chiapas, but the entire national indigenous question. Then, we said; 'If we go in that direction, we will provoke that exhaustion, the people will pull back and stop analyzing and feeling.'

"What we are seeking, in our speaking with society, is for the people to analyze and to feel. That is, to send a message to the heart and to the head."

Official Contradictions

With affirmative gestures, Tacho and Moises support what the Subcomandante says, who continues: "We think that is what ended up happening. Reality confronted the words, no? Acteal, the attacks on the autonomous municipalities, all of that, how to say it?...all that cheap stage drop that was set up during the coastal rains.

"...right away the rains buried not just the roads, but also the veil that assumed that investment in Chiapas had resolved all the social problems, and that everyone was fine...the only ones who were bad were the zapatistas, because they were foolishly resisting, and they didn't want to accept government help.

"No! What the rains did was to take away the veil, tear down the curtain, the stage which had been set, and then the poverty could be very clearly seen, the misery in sectors which weren't supposed to be like that: And there it is, still without answering the question: where did all the millions end up which they said they sent?

"But, getting back to the issue, it is true that the government began occupying the space we had left and engorged itself in its speech, although its practice was quite otherwise, and the moment came when it began to slip up, to contradict itself and to produce a counter-speech.

"Into that wide open space came the most absurd contradictions, between Labastida, Rabasa, Albores, Zedillo. Four speeches on Chiapas, four speeches on the EZLN, although they were on the same side. Finally, when we decided to break the silence once more [the Fifth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona], the assessment is positive; nonetheless, during that time we had important losses."

"Such as?"

"Such as the space for communication which had been opened with civil society. The contact we had was one of going and coming, because we contributed to those social sectors, but they also contributed to us. Since the silence was complete, and we had submerged ourselves in our submarine, everything that was left above was cut off. At the moment the silence was broken, what happened was we said "here we are,' and we tried to start mending it. In some cases we have achieved it, in others, not yet. That, then, would be the greatest cost of the silence.

"As for the internal process, after that period of silence we are stronger, we are larger than before, in spite of the other."

"But why?"

"Because what the EZLN does when it is silent to the outside, is to intensify its work inside, to unite the base more, to expand its political message within the adjoining territories. What an army would theoretically do, by expanding itself through occupying territories militarily, the EZLN does by expanding territories through the political message. This is not news, it is not a letter, it is not a communique, it is not an interview, but the work which is made from below and which begins to grow.

"And so, at the moment when we decided to break the silence and to propose the Fifth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, it was because we judged that we had the strength to do so, and that we had other options, we had achieved that internal growth.

"When we launched the declaration, we believed it had been left clear, demonstrated, revealed, the government speech and its real strategy regarding the indigenous question, the EZLN, Chiapas. It was the moment to speak once more with those with whom we believe that it is possible to build a peaceful solution.

"Then, the call for the consultation..."

"And what are your expectations for that? The times do not seem clear..."

"Look, effectively, there are two times: the time of the Mexican political class, whose calendar is marked for the year 2000..."

"And how are you going to have a consultation at that time without it being enmeshed in those times?"

""It should work out in such a way that the times of the political class fit in with the times of the people, that the political class learn to listen to that voice, if that voice is strong and organized, which is what the consultation is trying to do: an organized mobilization of the voice of society, and trying to make the political class keep in step with its rhythms, or it will be obvious that it decided to walk at its own pace and to ignore the rest of society.

"For us, this was the hinge that was missing from the consultation on the Fobaproa. In the consultation the PRD carried out, three and a half million persons said 'this is our position on the Fobaproa,' but it lacked the proposal of, what are we going to do with those three and a half million opinions regarding that package?, especially given Calderon's position, National Action's; the ineffable Nunez and his gang in the PRI; Zedillo's obstinancy; Gurria's amusing participation, and everything that is the political class.

"Then those three and a half million opinions, which are real, where do they enter into play? Where do they come in? On what balance are they weighed? I think that weight is up in the air, and if the political class does not take it into account, because they are three and a half million, but they could have been more, since I am sure that the position on Fobaproa takes in a lot more than that, if the political class ignores all of that weight, they are going to pay for it sooner or later.

"At the most, in two years, if they aren't already paying for it in the last state elections.

"We are trying to make the consultation, above everything, a mobilization, that's what we are thinking with the meeting which is going to be held in San Cristobal, that the EZLN is not saying "we are going to ask this question, do it!,' like the consultation in 95 (August), but rather involve the greatest number of people, the greatest number of sectors, in a new way.

"We are saying that the problem which is at stake, is not just the indigenous one, but rather another relationship betwen those who govern and the governed. Today it is the indigenous, tomorrow it is the women, and then the children or whatever it might be."

"And you believe that the way this is resolved will be how the others will be resolved?"

"On two levels. How the political class resolves it is one thing, whether the Congress enters into it, whether Zedillo does, etcetera. The fundamental aspect for us is how society resolves it, if the moment arrived in which society says "we are going to impose a method of doing politics which consists in making ourselves heard,' the political class would have to hear, or they would have to be left to one side.

"Finally, a space is going to open of social, civil, peaceful insurgency, which can produce two countries: that of the political class, that which is seen in the Congress, in the parties, in the government palaces, and that which really acts in society."

"Won't this be very high risk for the EZLN? Because the people are very much into something else, very concerned for their own economics..."

"Yes, like in 94, it was a high risk to come out when the country was in an economic boom, when we were in the 'First World.'

"We have much trust in the people, and we know it is not the same as 94, that it is better, as 94 was better than 90, and better than 85. Yes, in the middle of the national problem is the economic problem, and the new increases make it more serious; but the people are more critical now, more analytic, and now they look for the reasons for things, it is not just the desperation of the 'it doesn't affect me', but rather the reflection that someone is responsible for this and there is a reason for it.

"This inconformity can be transformed into rebellion, and a rebel tends to be open to all sides, to seek others, and that is the point at which the EZLN is going to meet with other social groups. We have much hope!"

continued on November 17, 1998 with ...

From the mountains of Chiapas, November 17 * Dialogue will not be able to be renewed as long as the government does not accept, with all its consequences, the peaceful means of resolving the conflict in Chiapas, which means carrying out what it agreed to, and letting go of all expectations of a military solution, Subcomandante Marcos reiterates. He says that it is essential to put a mechanism for mediation back in place, and he suggests that the Cocopa cannot be that, "it was not created for that, and it lost many of its coadvisory possibilities."

He denies that the EZLN is killing time in hopes that Cuauhtemoc Cardenas wil be president in the year 2000 - "those are accusations they use, in the struggle for sucession, to attack the opponent" - and he assures that the question is not whether the PRI, or PAN or the PRD win, "the problem is whether or not the political class is willing to settle the unfinished business, among which is that if the indigenous peoples."

According to Subcomandante Marcos, it should be made clear that, for the zapatistas, "nothing is resolved for us if a particular candidate wins, but rather if particular conditions are carried out" in order to reach peace in Chiapas.

He insists that the zapatistas have much hope for the consultation on the Cocopa's legislative proposal, "that is what is remains for us," and he says they have much hope, not just because it is going to turn out very well, but because it will mean one more step - he enumerates the experiences, such as the PRD consultation, or the EZLN's, or the one concerning the Federal District's government - in this other way of doing politics, when society says: 'I have to make myself heard in a more direct way, not just through representative democracy.'

"The government or the political class are not going to open those spaces. It is society which should do it, in such a way that they are effective. The question is resolving, not just what we are going to say about something, but resolving the form in which that something we say has worth, and that is where the other aspect comes in, which is the times of the political class, whose future, as leader of the country, is at stake.

"It either learns to listen, and to act accordingly, or it is going to disappear, and it is going to be supplanted by another political class which will be sensitive to that."

"How do you interpret Secretary Labastida's remark: that you can stay in the selva two, four or five years, sending communiques, since there are other, more urgent things to solve"?

"As a sign of chronic imbecility. They say, 'the country is doing well, we can ignore all those problems,' believing that if they resolve the economic model 'we can live with a guerrilla group in the Mexican southeast, with a constantly more combative opposition, with two guerrilla forces in the country's south, in Guerrero and in Oaxaca, the ERPI and the EPR', or, rather, 'we can remain in power, and Marcos can stay in the selva sending communiques.'

"The problem is, things aren't like that. The economic model which they are following necessarily implies the deterioration of political relations. Every day that passes there are not less, but more, problems for the governing class, and if we add that the model brings with it the importing of crisis, that is, to the economic problems which are a product of its stupidity, you add what is going on in other countries, not in two, three or five years, which is how long Labastida hopes the conflict will last, things will take care of themselves until the EZLN is isolated, and they say, 'look, they are alone now,' 'they are out of style,' 'the people got tired of the romantic guerrillas.' That was what Chuayffet was looking for.

"But, since they don't offer anything other than absolute failures, political, social, and economic now, no?, then that doesn';t happen. Zedillo is promising two years of austerity now: and the last four years, what were they? Since he came in, there hasn't been one single moment of rest for the people, and the blame has varied: either the December mistakes, or the zapatistas, or the 'vodka effect,' or the 'dragon effect.'"

"What is the possibility of renewing dialogue with this government?"

"The government has the answer. We have five conditions for renewing it, and beyond the five conditions, there is one single question: Your government; you, Zedillo, are you willing to assume all the consequences of a peaceful solution to the conflict?

"That means carrying out what you agreed to, giving up all expectations of a milittary solution, be willing to resolve the fundamental problems, economic and social, of the group concerned. Not of the EZLN, because you have indeed offered to resolve our economic problems." He bursts out laughing.

"If the government cannot answer that question, or answers 'no,' as it has said, then we cannot think that there could be a solution through dialogue," he adds, becoming very serious.

"Rabasa, Labastida, Zedillo can say whatever they want concerning their willingness to dialogue, but what they practice is clear. Zedillo signed the accords, and there it says that the resolutions will be presented jointly to the Congress of the Union, and at the very hour Zedillo rejects them and presents his own proposal, he fails to carry out what he signed.

"The problem is not the Congress. He's passing the buck to them, and he's saying Congress is to blame because they're not legislating. No. The one who is not carrying out the accords is not the parliament, nor the Cocopa, it is the federal government. It did not carry them out, it presented its own proposal, it attacks the communities, it maintains the climate of harassment, and it does not give up the possibility of a quick strike.

"With that, he answers us every day, 'I am not willing to assume the peaceful means to resolve the conflict with all its consequences.' Then, the one who has to answer the question is the government.

"You published what Gerry Adams said, that the fundamental basis of the solution of the problem in Ireland was the equal treatment of the parties. No! For the government, we are bad children, and they cannot treat us as equals, nor make commitments, as equals to equals. On the contrary, it restricts the dialogue scheme to a very narrow opening: you come, you present your plea, and it answers you, yes to this, yes to this, no to this...But a peace dialogue to resolve a war isn't like that."

"In this context, what sense is there in meeting with the Cocopa?"

""The Cocopa's work is to help the dialogue achieve its objective of attaining peace in Chiapas, doing whatever possible to see that the conditions are carried out which will allow the renewal of that dialogue. The Cocopa's commitment is not with the EZLN, it is with the process. That is the mandate they have by law. The commitment shouldn't even be with their political parties, or with their parliamentary groups, but with the peace process.

"And in order for this peace to be achieved, the accords must be carried out, detente measures be obtained. We are not asking them to resolve the conflict, what we are going to ask them is to work in that way.

"Nor are we asking them to be a mediatory body. We do not accept that the Cocopa is that. It is not its job, nor was it created for that. In fact, we would think that the Cocopa would lose many of its coadvisory possibilities if it played a mediatory role, which is the role Rabasa wants to give it. We have already had the experience of a mediation which exhausts itself, and it can break up, as happened with the Conai."

"The lack of a channel...specifically, the disappearance of the Conai: what were the repercussions?"

"The National Intermediation Commission had two functions. To be the virtual representation of civil society. In January 1994, civil society put itself between two armies, and it prevented the confrontation. The symbol of that mobilization was the Conai, and, in this case, Bishop Samuel Ruiz.

"In addition, it was the mechanism through which one party communicated with the other. At the moment the government put the Conai aside, once again two armies were left face to face. They did that because they thought the moment favored them in military, political and economic terms."

The subcomandante puts into words what he considers the government's logic to have been: " ' I need mediation to achieve peace, but I do not need it for war,' then the campaign against the Conai came along, and all the actors who had committed to peace paid for it, among them, the Cocopa...the Cocopa of before, the deputies from before, those who had even bet their political future, and who dared to draw up the proposal for the law, but they did it, until the parties said, 'yes, there it is.'

"At the time the Conai gave way, is put to one side, since the commitment [by the government] was to war, the actors who are around, among them, also civil society, also lost a mechanism, and that mechanism, if peace is going to be achieved, has to be restored."

"How will it be replaced?"

"We believe the process will start with the encuentro - it will go into effect starting the 20th in San Cristobal -, I imagine there will be many ideas there on how to replace that mechanism. There cannot be a process of dialogue, nor of peace, without a mediatory body. We have to achieve that."

"What is the use of all of that if you say that one party does not listen?"

"Yes, the government is one party who doesn't listen, Zedillo doesn't hear, and he can say, "I am not going to resolve this problem,' but we can manage to build a social movement which will make him carry it out, we think that then Zedillo, or whomever, has to decide his political future. If he makes a decision against the majority of the nation, without worrying about the cost, then the historic responsibility is on that side.

"In the dialogue of San Cristobal, and of course the government columnists did not mention it, we committed ourselves to civil society to exhaust all mechanisms for peacefully resolving the conflict. That is why we are looking at one side and the other. We have to honor our word, that is our way."

"I repeat: do you think you can force the government, because that has not happened with economic policies?"

"The economic model has not had the opportunity to be questioned..."

"It is constantly questioned..."

"Yes, but in the dailiness of the home, at work: at what point has this questioning been organized in order to have itself heard and to have its weight felt? We do not have that experience. It is not enough for us to organize all those people who are very angry with the economic model. How can we do that so it can be heard? And then: how can we do that so that word has weight? That is a problem which we ourselves have to resolve, not the zapatistas, society.

"There is the discontent, and this is not about about channeling it in party terms, the vanguard that organizes popular discontent and marches to victory, etcetera, etcetera, - like they say in those cases - this is about that discontent being able to manifest itself, and there are no mechanisms for it. In addition, there is a great campaign by the government and the media to say: the basic problem is not economic, but one of security, which they intend to resolve with policies, not by changing the economic model.

"Finally, El Divino is not going to be in jail, nor Madrazo Pintado or Cabal Peniche...none of the real criminals. It will be the robbers and cops of Trino's "Cops and Robbers" which La Jornada publishes."

A Recounting of the EZLN's 15 Years

"In that recounting, 15 years from the founding of the EZLN: what would be the characteristics of the governors, commissioners and Secretaries of Government who have dealt with the conflict?"

"The fundamental? Then, that the one who is on top can, but doesn't want to. He can achieve peace, but he doesn't want to, because he's not willing to pay the price. From the moment the conflict broke out, the central power took the reins in Chiapas, and decided on the governors, commissioners, Secretaries of Govenrment, everyone followed the line from Los Pinos.

"First, what Salinas wanted was for it to be over. That was Camacho's job, which was patch and paste at the best, and get the conflict over in a few days, and even get the Nobel Peace prize for Salinas. Then Madrazo Cuellar's job was for the conflict not to get worse.

"When Zedillo came along, he kept up a line of negotiation, while the military aspect advanced, he gained time for that. Paradoxically, it's what they criticize us for, that we are marking time for the year 2000: as if we were going to be Presidential candidates!

"The one who is marking time is the government, and every once in a while they push the war button to se if it works - February 95, Acteal, the attacks on the municipalities - , Moctezuma, Bernal, Coldwell and Rabasa. The Secretaries of Government do the same thing: they gain time. They are either tough or weak depending on what the strategy requires.

"The governors have played that way as well. I remember the example of the napkin Moctezuma had when they told him the zapatistas were not going to accept Robledo's arrival because it was the result of fraud. Then he grabbed a napkin and said 'this is Robledo, I'll throw him away, but: how much will they pay for him...?' As if the zapatista uprising was to put in or take out governors, and the same thing happened with Ruiz Ferro, who left not because of what happened at Acteal, but because it was made public. So Rosario Green said, chin, she would know!

"And Albores arrived because Labastida wanted someone hard, docile and malleable, and when they tell him 'talk nice..he talks nice!, talk mean..he talks mean!, attack...he attacks!"

"Speaking of the year 2000, there is speculation that your strategy is to wait for a PRD government, that it would be better to negotiate with Cardenas."

"Noooo! We have not changed our position. We didn't first put down conditions for the peace, just so when they're going to give them to us, change them for others and for others, until another regime comes. The problem isn't who gets in, whether the PRD, the PRI or the PAN. The problem is whether or not the political class is willing to accept that it has to settle that unfinished business, such as with the indigenous peoples, but not just that.

"Nothing will be resolved for us dependent on whether one or the other is in. Our problem is not whether a particular candidate is in, but rather that particular conditions are met."

"What do you make of the reports, then, that Marcos is waiting for Cardenas?"

"That the political class' time and the year 2000 are like...what is the fat guy's name?" he asks Tacho - "Ah! Lopez Velarde, who says there is evidence that the EZLN and the PRD have agreed on the year 2000. Since the succession is at stake now, and it's not certain the PRI candidate is going to win, then any subject of interest, which can be used to raise or lower the candidates, is used.

"If Cardenas says something, it has to be used to attack him. The same thing happens with Fox, Medina Plascencia, Bartlett, Moctezuma and Labastida. And I am not characterizing any of them, Chiapas and the EZLN serve to disparage one and the other, because it is a problem to be resolved. For the political class, it's one more card in the deck to be played.

"But we are not a problem because we want to be, but because the regime believes it. The forgetting and the abandonment of the indigenous peoples is the responsibility of the government, and that will have to be paid for sooner or later."

The Consultation and the Year 2000

"I insist: won't carrying out the consultation carry with it the risk of its being corrupted by the year 2000?"

"The problem is that: that 2000 would corrupt the consultation and the peace process, but we want to construct that process on another side and to construct a time against the current, different from the political one. We already know that it is difficult, but it is going to happen. It is not possible for the political class to listen to the people and to believe, in the end, "I gave them some food, a cap and some cake, and they're voting for me!'."

"In response to the processes going on in Ireland and Spain, how do you see Mexico?"

"In every process or conflict, the moment always arrives in which the parties, or one of the parties, realizes that the solution they want cannot be unilateral, and it is not going to be achieved the way they are doing it. Therefore, they have to dialogue and achieve a bilateral agreement. That moment has not arrived for the Mexican government, it could have arrived for Aznar.

"The Mexican government thinks that it can impose its decisions, or, that it can resolve the problem of Chiapas...we said before, with Conasupo stores, but now they are going to disapappear, right? - good, with food stores and school breakfasts. They believe they can make the decision unilaterally and impose it through violence. They do not consider it possible to construct a bilateral agreement, because they do not consider the other party equal. Like a father from before, who does not treat a bastard son equally. They say uglier. They say we are sons of bitches, but you don't have to put it like that, or can you put in bad words?"


"Listen, here I am controlling myself and watching my vocabulary."

"I thought you had already forgotten about it."

"I believed you wouldn't publish them."

"The government says you insist on all or nothing."

"I was reading "Presidentes en su tinta," by Naranjo, and I read there about the "all or nothing." It's Salinas referring to the opposition, and then Zedillo picked it up again.

"What the zapatistas are demanding is their right to live in justice, liberty and dignity. The response is: Nooo, you want all or nothing! How can you ask me to want to live like that?, nooo, ask me for something else!, but, what human being wants to live with less than that? It cannot be said of someone who desires that, that he is being intransigent.

"We told the government, 'you committed yourself to doing something, you signed it, do it!, and they tell us we are intransigent, that we want all or nothing. Perhaps their word means nothing to the government, but for us, it does. The one in the position of all or nothing is the government. That is how we respond to it, and that is the way it is."

"Newspapers like The New York Times point out that the results of the last elections are a demonstration that the PRI could win in 2000..."

"Evidently the regime still has resources for surviving. Somehow it has maintained itself, but the fundamental problem of a government is not being one, but rather in being legitimate. Maybe the gringos and other newspapers say the PRI can maintain the government, but it is not going to be able to recover the legitimacy now that it had before. Not this PRI. Perhaps another, yes.

"If you want to do politics, legitimacy and credibility are fundamental, and the current government and PRI are lacking both. That is ungovernability. The people don't believe you, don't pay you any attention, and there you are, shut up in the labyrinth."

"Will this be one of the problems of the current regime?"

"It is the fundamental one. It is not Chiapas, nor Fobaproa or the budget, but legitimacy and credibility. De la Madrid, Salinas and Zedillo squandered all the political capital they had. Zedillo used up the last centavos they had left. They did it in order to maintain the economic model, because no one but the PRI, and their political allies, are going to pay for it. If National Action joins with them, they will pay as well.

"It's what is happening with the crisis of the state parties and presidentialism. I believe the basic problem is not who is going to be President, but rather what political relationships are going to be created, beginning in 2000, between those who govern and the governed. Besides, in the neoliberal scheme, the old political classes and their relationships have to be destroyed, so the generations who need globalization can rise up, and that is what is happening in Mexico."

"And in the face of that, what is the alternative for society?"

"Society has to change its relationships with those who govern. The question is that many things fall in that process of destruction, they not only assassinate Colosio, and, just wait!, let's see who they're going to assassinate after the Pope leaves, the assembly comes and accounts begin to be settled, because the old political class is not going to sit down and decide, yes, disappear me, put me in jail, make me an ambassador, I give up all privileges!

"The people need to build a space to protect themselves from that war, and to survive, to constructother kind of relationships, and that has to do with the consultation, with the peace process, with the economic model, and the people are capable of that, and of much more."

"The opposition governments repeat the errors of the PRI scheme?"

"Yes, but the people have another expectation, which could now lead them to say no to someone. The PAN and the PRD should understand that the society which put them in power, can take it away from them, because now they have the strength to destroy the State party system."

"What lessons does the oppostition need to learn for the year 2000?"

"What they should learn from the PRI is that they should not resort to assassination to settle internal fights, that when they are doing their dirty work it splatters, because it is not possible to keep that up without paying for it. It is also necessary to change the relationships with the governed, in order to not remain isolated."

During the Succession, the Zapatistas will Go another Way

"How are the zapatistas going to view the succession process?"

"We are going to turn to another way, from where we have always watched. We will turn our sights to where it is possible to construct alternatives. The zapatistas are not watching the PRD or the PAN. Lie! They know the parties have a place. We want that place to change, and for the political class to look at that other way, that of the Indians, the campesinos, the women, the homosexuals..."

"In many circles they predict the zapatista movement will be a defeated movement..."

"We are not going...we cannot be defeated. If they defeat us, we win! The only way to defeat us is to make it impossible for us to exist. We are struggling for a country in which it will not be necessary to resort to arms in order to defend ideas, rights. As long as that exists, there will always be zapatistas."

"They say you have turned Chiapas into the ultimate revolutionary tourism center for the millenium."

"That bothers them a lot, but it has prevented the zapatistas from being turned into a fundamentalist movement, ethnic, of indigenous against ladinos. When the companeros from the communities meet with other people, white, red, black or yellow, and they realize they can be companeros or brothers and not enemies, that skin has nothing to do with scheming, that the color white is not the color of a son of a bitch who only comes to screw you, but rather he recognizes in him another person with whom he can talk, and who he can help, then that has an effect."

"Do you still dream?"

"Sometimes I have nightmares," he says, laughing, "but, yes, I dream that we win, that we can return to work the journalist trade, that we have children, that we make a normal life, but with everyone, knowing that there are not others who lack the opportunities.

"When we win," he says, in a way of saying goodbye, "I am going to go another way. And, for those who want to stay in the selva, then I'll send them their sugar and tostadas. We believe it is possible to win, because a world cannot last much longer now, which does not recognize the other."

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SPANISH IN MEXICO ******************************************* NUEVO AMANECER PRESS ******************************************* TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH BY irlandesa *************************************************************   ___________________________________________________ NUEVO AMANECER PRESS-N.A.P.To know about us visit: ******************* In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest. This information is for non-profit research and education purpuses only. **We encourage you to reproduce this information but please give credit to the source, translator and publication. thank you.** General Director:Roger Maldonado-Mexico Director Europe: Darrin Wood-Spain Advisor and Special Correspondent:Guillermo Michel-Mexico. NAP Coordination Mexico-USA-Europe: Susana Saravia (Anibarro)-USA Translator:irlandesa **************************

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