History of a Zapatista village - Marcos
north america / mexico |
indigenous struggles |
Thursday August 25, 2005 21:00 by Marcos (trans irlandesa) - EZLN
How Campo Grande became Dolores Hidalgo
This place where we are was a finca by the name of Campo Grande. The history of this place forms a quick summation of the history of the Chiapas indigenous. And, in some parts, of all the indigenous of the Mexican southeast, not just of the zapatistas.
History of a Zapatista Village
I'm going to tell you a story. Some parts of it were related to me by
zapatista compañeros and compañeras, and others I saw
and lived. If there are any inaccuracies, let us leave their
clarification to the historians. With their demonstrable facts, their
legends, their inaccuracies and their empty spaces, this is part of
our struggle, the history of the EZLN.
This place where we are was a finca by the name of Campo Grande.
The history of this place forms a quick summation of the history of
the Chiapas indigenous. And, in some parts, of all the indigenous of
the Mexican southeast, not just of the zapatistas.
Campo Grande lived up to its name: more than a thousand hectares
of good and level land, with abundant water, roads specially made for
taking out cattle and precious woods, landing strips so the owners
wouldn't get dusty or muddy traveling by way of the dirt roads and so
they could come in their light aircraft. Thousands of indigenous whom
they could exploit, despise, rape, deceive, jail, murder. That is how
the PRI agrarian reform, the institutionalized revolution, was
realized in Chiapas: the good and level land for the finqueros; rocky
ground and hills for the indigenous.
The owner of Campo Grande was Segundo Ballinas, known among the
residents as an assassin, rapist and exploiter of indigenous,
primarily of women, boys and girls. Later, the finca was divided up:
one part was called Primor, and its owner was Javier Castellanos, one
of the founders of the Owners Union of the Segundo Valle of Ocosingo,
one of those associations the finqueros used to disguise their white
guards. Another part was called Tijuana, and its owner was a Colonel
in the Mexican Army, Gustavo Castellanos, who kept the people
subjugated with his personal guard. And another part was the property
of José Luis Solórzano, a member of the PRI and their
candidate for different offices, known in the region for his
unfulfilled promises, his brazen lies and his arrogant and
contemptuous treatment of the indigenous. And so, the Powers in
Chiapas in short: finqueros, army and PRI-Government. For this evil
trinity, Chiapas could be a pasture for cattle; a hacienda for
exercising droit de seigneur, even with girls; a firing range against
human targets and one of the laboratories for the PRI's most modern
"democracy": here it wasn't necessary to know the candidates, not
even their names or their proposals, or for knowing the election
date, or what the options were, or any identification. Hell, it
wasn't even necessary to go to the polls.
During each election, in the municipal seat of Ocosingo, in the
offices of the owners and ranchers associations, the job of stuffing
ballot boxes was paid for with a sandwich and a drink. That
"democracy" had its excesses, of course: in one election prior to
1994, the PRI got more than 100% of the vote. Maybe there were too
many sandwiches and drinks.
During one August like this one when we are welcoming you here,
but in the year 1982, the finqueros and their white guards violently
evicted the residents of the Nueva Estrella village. They fired upon,
beat up and took various male indigenous prisoners. Some were
murdered. They separated the women and forced them to watch their
houses being burned. They took everything away from them. After some
time, they returned. When someone asked them why they returned in
spite of everything they had done to them, they responded with this
gesture (Marcos opened a hand with his fingers upwards, making it
understood "por huevos").
In 1994, on the first of January, thousands of indigenous from
this Tzeltal region, along with thousands more from the Tojolabal,
Chol and Tzotzil regions, after more than ten years of preparation,
covered their faces, changed their names, and collectively called the
"Zapatista Army of National Liberation," rose up in arms. The
finqueros fled, their white guards did the same, and they abandoned
their weapons with which they had supported their domination. The
zapatistas recovered the lands. Note: they did not "take" them, but
they "recovered" them. This is what the compañeros and
compañeras call this act of justice that had to wait dozens of
years to be carried out. These lands which had belonged to the
indigenous and which were usurped, are now indigenous once again.
They have, therefore, been recovered. The lands were divided up.
Hundreds of indigenous families, who had previously been crowded
together in a space of 2 hectares, founded - along with other
indigenous sans tierra from other villages in the region - this
zapatista village which is welcoming us today. This village is now
inhabited by, among others, those people who were attacked by the
finqueros in 1982.
This zapatista village is called Dolores Hidalgo, and, as the
founders, veterans of the 1994 uprising, tell me, the meaning of
"Dolores" is the sorrow that we have from more than 500 years of
resistance, and the name "Hidalgo" is for Don Miguel Hidalgo y
Costilla, who fought for independence.
Note that they said "500 years of resistance" and not "500 years
of domination." That is, despite the domination, they have never
stopped resisting it. And when we talk about domination, when we
recount our history, we are also talking about resistance. And now we
are not talking about our history as the EZLN, but about our common
history, the one we share with you, with your social organizations
and your movements. Our common history, that one which, when they say
"I rule and dominate," we and you say "I resist and I rebel."
But the zapatistas who founded Dolores Hidalgo are not referring
just to the resistance. They are also naming its sorrow. The sorrow
of the length of the path, the sorrow of exhaustion, the sorrow of
those who betrayed along the way, the sorrow of defeats, the sorrow
of errors, and, above all, the sorrow of continuing to move forward
in spite of the sorrows.
You will tell us of your history as organizations and as
movements, of your sorrows and your resistance and rebellion. We
shall surely recognize ourselves in more than one of the stories.
Many others will seem foreign to us. But in all of it we shall be
learning from you. And we will tell you what we have told others:
that we want to continue to learn. We shall learn with you, and with
many others like you, to think well, to speak well and to feel well
when we say "compañero, compañera."
Welcome compañeros, welcome compañeras.
Thank you very much.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
From the opening remarks to the third preparation meeting for the
Other Campaign, held in Dolores Hidalgo, Chiapas on August 20, 2005.
Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN