The following is a communique from the Follow-Up Commission of the National Indigenous Congress, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the signing of the San Andres Accords, read at the public event held on February 16th, 1997, in the Auditorium of the Workers' Union of the Nuclear Industry, Mexico City, with the support of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation and the participation of the Comandanta Ramona of the EZLN.
NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS
ONE YEAR AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE SAN ANDRES ACCORDS
On February 16th, 1996, in San Andres Larrainzar, the EZLN and the federal government signed the first documents of the San Andres Accords, dealing with the theme of "Indigenous Rights and Culture", toward the construction of a lasting peace with justice and dignity. Through a series of legal, political, and social measures, these accords were designed to resolve the great backwardness in Mexico regarding the situation of indigenous peoples, democracy and justice in the whole country, social well-being, economic development, and the situation of women, in general.
To arrive at the signing of this first set of accords meant a long process of reflection, consultation, and debate among our communities, peoples, and organizations, as well as with the participation of academics, specialists, and even government bureaucrats. Together, important consensuses were constructed toward finding solutions to the unbearable situation in which our people have lived for centuries. It was thus that Zapatista Army of National Liberation itself convoked all the communities of the different indigenous peoples to offer their word, and to participate in the design of a new relationship between the State, the national society, and the indigenous peoples. The Congress of the Union and the Federal Executive also carried out their own consulatation, which in no way contradicts the resolutions layed out in the San Andres Accords.
The same day the Accords were signed, the hundreds of indigenous organizations in the whole country, grouped together in the National Indigenous Forum and its five Regional Forums, gave our opinion that even though the Accords did not fulfill all the aspirations of our peoples--above all in terms of land and territories, points which will be dealt with later in the third set of talks on Well-Being and Development--; and even when certain elements were devalued by the government negotiators, the Accords signed in San Andres nevertheless represented a first step toward the resolution of our ancient problems.
The different indigenous groups convoked the creation of the National Indigenous Congress in October of 1996, making the San Andres Accords their own, and demanding that they be translated into concrete acts: reforms of state and federal Constitutions, of secondary laws, and of institutions and policies; and that they begin to pay off the historic debt owed by the Nation to its original inhabitants.
Then, as now, we knew that the given word for some did not represent a guarantee, and that it could be mocked. The signature of the federal government meant not leaving the words up in the air, that they would no be converted into promeses only to be carried away by the wind. But today we confirm that even the signature of those who govern, even with the word pledged before the Nation, one year has now passed and nothing has happened.
In its unequal and harmful propogandistic campaign, the federal government says there are those who want to see a rupture, a breaking apart, the separation of Mexico. This is not true. No one has expressed such wishes. They are not contained in either the spirit or the letter of the San Andres Accords regarding "Indigenous Rights and Culture", which are actually quite precise on this and many other points with respect to the unavoidable commitments which the government is obliged to respect and honor.
One year after the signing of the first Accords of San Andres, there are two explanations regarding why the demands of our peoples remain unsatisfied, being that there have been consultations, debates, and forums, both among citizens and among the governing officials. One explanation is that the blindness and deafness of the government kept them from understanding what they had signed, and today it keeps them from honoring their pledged word and to see more than their electoral interests for conserving their power. Another explanation is that the discourse we now hear from all the communications media is once again that of trickery, demagogy, treason, and death for our peoples and their leaders. Either of these explanations serves to fill our hearts with sadness. They were not true men with whom the peace for Mexico and Chiapas was negotiated.
Today, one year after that February 16th of 1996 in which the solutions seemed so near, once again it is in the hands of the Mexican people to oblige the government to respect and comply with the Law of Concordance and Pacification, those first Agreements of San Andres Sacam Ch'en de los Pobres, and its pledged word given to our peoples, to Mexico, and to the whole world.
We demand that the federal government stop its campaign of disinformation, distortion, and confusion which it is promoting all over the country in order to argue for its lack of compliance with its commitments and obligations.
We demand that the federal government stop its campaign of military, police, and paramilitary occupation of the indigenous regions of the country, principally in Chiapas.
We demand that the federal government stop its campaign of harassment against indigenous organizations and representatives throughout the country.
We demand that the federal government carry out its word, and learn to govern by obeying and honoring the commitments made with the Nation, and the public agreements it has contracted with Mexican society.
Never Again a Mexico Without Us!
NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS