For the first time, hundreds of members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) carried out a civilian march, peaceful and unarmed, in the center of the Lacandon jungle, in order "to remember the treason that the bad government did against us a year ago". To reiterate: "we are not going to surrender" and to insist that until their demands are fulfilled, their struggle would continue together with those of the indigenous people and the civil society.
In Guadalupe Tepeyac, in front of the empty Social Security hospital, its former residents asked that the government withdraw the soldiers that today have occupied it for a year, and they stated decisively: "They can not destroy the just struggle of our peoples". The march by the Tojobals who a year ago fled Guadalupe Tepeyac started at 9am from the collective farm El Carmen Villaflores--four kilometers west of their former home--led by a flag with the country's colors but instead of an eagle, in the middle there was a Zapatista with a three-starred cap, a bandana around his neck, and "carrilleras" across his chest, as well as the motto: "For everyone, everything, nothing for us".
There were about 500 indigenous people--men, women and children--who since the previous night began to gather to leave on the march from El Carmen to La Realidad, a distance of 20 kilometers along a dirt road. "They took our place, but they are not going to humiliate us; little sold-out soldiers, don't think that we have given up". "Federal soldiers, liberty can not be handed out, it must be sought", said some of the many protest signs that the demonstrators carried, who at no time stopped shouting chants against the government and the military.
Before leaving for La Realidad, Genaro explained to the few journalists present, that "in this march there will be no type of physical provocation against the Federal Army". Around him the indigenous people, some with skimasks and the rest with bandanas, lined up towards Guadalupe Tepeyac.
Passing in front of the military camp--where three soldiers videotaped and took pictures of the contingent--with fists raised and shouting at the top of their lungs: "We are here, we are not going to surrender. We are here and we are going to resist together with the rest of the indigenous people and with the Mexican civil society. We are struggling for land, education, food, housing, health, culture, work, liberty, justice, democracy and peace for all Mexicans, including the families of the federal soldiers".
Energetic and while some of their companeros painted on the wooden posts of the military post, the Tojobals declared: "While our demands are not fulfilled, our struggle will continue on". To the soldiers who were listening from their positions inside the base, they said, "We struggle for the well-being of your children; we are Mexicans, not foreigners; Why are you killing us and repressing us?"
Particularly tough against the members of the Mexican Army, the Tojobals did not stop yelling with all their force: "We are struggling for a free Mexico, and you [are struggling] to protect a group of rich who exploit your families too; children of poor people, for this reason you sell your life to get money. Federal soldiers, leave the place that is buying your life; don't kill your fellow Mexicans citizens".
All of this was said in front of the military post. From inside there was no response and the demonstrators a few minutes later went in front of the IMSS hospital in Guadalupe Tepeyac, which was opened in 1993, by then President Salinas de Gortari.
With a "yes and no, we have returned", they painted all over the hospital's walls: Long live the EZLN, the Zapatista Front of National Liberation, subcomandante Marcos, the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee--General Command. They denounced that their former homes "have been pillaged", while two military helicopters flew over the area.
On one of the small hills of the community the Mexican flag waved, put there a year ago by the federal troops who arrived here. The 80 families who lived here fled to found the new Guadalupe Tepeyac, further inside the Jungle.
"Where are the men and women of this village?" asked the person who had the microphone. And the unison response: "We are here". They remembered the words of comandante Tacho, shortly after the 80 families fled this Tepeyac a year ago: "Here we leave their hospital empty as a statue to the treason, and the streets empty as a shame of the government leaders". A day like today, but in 1995--they reiterated-- "the supreme government ordered the persecution of the Zapatista leadership by 60,000 armed men and their accomplices in the PGR (Attorney General's office); they allowed the invasion of various indigenous villages in Chiapas. Today we remember that the Mexican government persecutes the indigenous people in the villages and the cities, and that a year ago the supreme government jailed various indigenous people accused of being Zapatistas and to this day they keep them imprisoned as they have kept other indigenous people for decades."
Without stopping, the speaker continued to raise his voice as his speech went on, to add: "They have wanted to destroy our few belongings, but today we tell them that they will never be able to destroy our dignity and the just struggle of the indigenous people who have resisted for more than 500 years".
And again they directed themselves to the soldiers to ask them: "Leave here", and to tell them that "their place as guardians of the country should be along the borders to ensure that the foreigners do not exploit our country. They also should be putting Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the assasins of Luis Donaldo Colosio and of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu on trial".
Remembering that when they came here, "the soldiers asked us a year ago about the Zapatista leaders and they threatened us and humiliated us with their bayonets at our throats", the Zapatista Tojobals stated that today "we do not commemorate the treason of the bad government but rather the bravery of the indigenous of Guadalupe Tepeyac".
To conclude the meeting-protest, the demonstrators sang the Zapatista hymn and continued to La Realidad, but before leaving Guadalupe Tepeyac behind, they passed in front of another military base--where Aguascalientes, the site of the meeting of the National Democratic Convention in August 1994, was before--and there they yelled chants against the soldiers and the government as well as shouting again long live Marcos and the EZLN. Inside the soldiers and the military equipment could be seen.
Afterwards the demonstrators continued on their march. Five kilometers before getting to La Realidad, about 800 indigenous people from diverse communities in the area came out to meet them and together they walked to the Aguascalientes of this collective farm, at which they arrived at 2pm today.
EZLN March on Feb. 10 La Jornada, February 11, 1996 Twenty kilometers long, the first civil march of hundreds of unarmed Zapatistas Translated by Julia Sanchez, M.P., National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice