Declaration from the Third National Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress, the Indigenous Governing Council, and the EZLN
To the peoples of the world:
To those organizations and collectives acting in resistance and rebellion:
To the national and international Sixth:
To the media:
As Ayuuk, Binizza, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal, Guarijío, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixteco, Nahua, Nayeri, Otomí, Popoluca, Purépecha, Raramuri, Tepehuano, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, and Quichua (Ecuador) peoples, we have come together for the Third National Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Governing Council. Today, almost 100 years after the assassination of General Emiliano Zapata, we now face the pain and rage brought by the war waged against our peoples and the murder of our compañero Samir, killed for defending the land and his people. As a national assembly, we send our embrace of solidarity and struggle to his family and the community of Amilcingo, Morelos. As the CNI-CIG and the EZLN, for whom compañeroSamir will always be a glimmer of light, we send our solidarity and collective embrace.
Samir was killed by the neoliberal regime—we don’t know if it was the government, the business class, their criminal cartels, or all three together. The path was laid for this cowardly murder by the new federal executive, Andrés Manuel López Obrador [AMLO], through his offers of support not to those below, but rather to the owners of money and power, while making veiled threats against those of us who defend and fight for life. AMLO has promised to hand over to big business and the military elite what neoliberal capitalism and all of its various bad governments never could: our land. His administration’s new Agrarian Development Law aims to dismantle collective organization and collective property forms, deeming as “development” what is actually shameless theft and destruction. This is accompanied by military threats to our peoples via his “National Guard” in what amounts to the total reconfiguration of our country.
What above they call “transformation” has always mean the same thing for our peoples: we give our lives so that powerful and oligarchic interests, fewer and fewer but bigger and bigger, can live off of oppression, exploitation, and destruction. The so-called “Fourth Transformation”[i] follows the same path as the previous three, although more brutally and cynically, if such a thing is possible.
During the War for Independence it was local powerful interests, the sons of the European invaders, who took over our lands and tried, via the same liberal discourse that Power uses today, to make the existence of our peoples invisible. During the Reform period our communal lands, sacred to us, were made illegal in order to turn those lands over to the same looting invaders. The Reform laws and subsequent legislation on “empty” lands and colonization promoted the growth of the large plantations under the Porfirio Díaz regime.[ii] During the Mexican Revolution, while those above divvied up political power, below we defended and soaked the land with our blood. While it was Madero and Carranza who betrayed and murdered Zapata, it was our peoples who demanded a deep and radical social and agrarian transformation that never came to be. Thus each “transformation” heightened and deepened the exploitation, dispossession, discrimination, and disrespect of our peoples.
We have no doubt that this new government will intensify neoliberal policy and the forced integration of our country into the imperial orbit of the United States. After all, this administration has faithfully committed itself to continuing the macroeconomic policies of previous governments, implementing austerity and fiscal restrictions not seen since the Miguel de la Madrid administration,[iii] guaranteeing the autonomy of the Mexican National Bank, protecting foreign investment and promoting free trade. This administration is coming for us, for our territories; it is poised to carry out the extermination of our peoples wherever we are, as already seen in the war that we experience today with such rage and mourning. In this general assembly we see ourselves and our suffering in each other, and we understand that this is a single war made up of many wars waged with the same goal.
It is Francisco I. Madero, who betrayed Zapata, who inspires and influences the discourse of the new president, himself an admirer of the liberal and neoliberal developmentalism that is exterminating our peoples. And in reality, the “Fourth Transformation” began with Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, was intensified by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, continued as a war of conquest by Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, Vicente Fox Quezada, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, and Enrique Peña Nieto, and is now extended through the long-term project of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional [MORENA] party. For the originary peoples, the only “real change” is the increase in lies, deceit, persecution, threats, imprisonment, displacement, murder, mockery and disrespect, human exploitation and environmental destruction; in sum, the annihilation of the collective life that we are.
We as peoples have what those who orchestrate this destruction of the world need, and we will defend it from their capitalist transformation through our resistance and rebellion. We will resist and rebel even though we face, as we can already see, the military plans for domination and repression which are capital’s standard practice, whether that be in the form of the police, the army, shock troops, drug cartels, or paramilitaries.
Standing upon the ravages of decades of neoliberalism, the bad federal government intensifies racism and disrespect in order to dispossess the originary peoples. It seeks out indifference in order to inquire as to if there is opposition to its plans for destruction disguised as “progress.” In other words, its supposed “referendums” are merely mechanisms to harvest the hate and fear sown by neoliberal capitalism. They call that harvest “democracy.”
In the face of all of these projects of dispossession, of the destruction of our territories and cultures, we declare that these citizen or popular referendums, even those organized under the auspices of International Labor Organization Article 169, are meant to validate rather than consult on their proposed megaprojects and cloak them in false legitimacy. We denounce the referendums organized by the National Institute for Indigenous Peoples with regard to the National Development Plan 2018-2024, the Mayan Train, and the Trans-isthmus Corridor as a simulation of their validation. As an exercise of our fundamental rights to autonomy and territory our peoples say NO to these policies and projects of displacement, death, and destruction, as well as to the referendums organized by the bad governments to obtain consent from our peoples for those policies and projects.
The current neoliberal government under the leadership of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has its eyes set on our peoples and territories. Via the National Institute for Indigenous Peoples, it has put into place a web of cooptation and disorganization in our territories, clearing the way for an “industrial” war made of megaprojects and violence which, along with its other webs and wars, extends a dark net of death over the originary peoples of the country.
The Integral Project for Morelos, for example, consists of two thermoelectric plants and well as gas and water pipelines that will dispossess the Nahua indigenous peoples who inhabit the Popocatépetl Volcano region in the states of Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala of their land, water, security, health, identity, and life on the land. The State, along with Elecnor, Enagas, Abengoa, Bonatti, CFE, Nissan, Burlington, Saint Gobain, Continental, Bridgestone and many other companies have imposed this project via the use of state, federal, and military violence, instilling terror in the inhabitants through torture, threats, imprisonment, judicial persecution, the closing of community radios, and now the murder of our brother Samir Flores Soberanes.
Neoliberal leaders, first through those criminals Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto and now through Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aim to destroy the people’s rightful and justified resistance to the Integral Project for Morelos, and the racism sown by capitalist contempt, disinformation, and lack of memory serves to criminalize our resistance. In 2014 and 2018 AMLO declared himself on the side of the people against the thermoelectric plant in Huexca; today he calls us leftist radicals and conservatives, pointing to the money already invested in the project as a reason not to halt the death it forecasts, without regard for the pain and rage of our peoples.
Today the lie of what they call a “referendum” is deceitfully deemed “democracy”, carried out through violence, disinformation, and smear campaigns, not even taking into account the risk implicated by running the Morelos gas pipeline through the danger zone of the sacred Popocatépetl volcano, nor that of the elimination of the water supply to the Ayala ejido farmlands and the contamination of the Cuautla River. Life is worth nothing when it comes to big capital.
In the Mayan communities in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo, transnational tourism companies are making huge profits by appropriating communities’ sacred sites. In the same region, a war is being waged to impose the “Mayan Train” project which will transport the genetically modified crops of industrial agriculture as well as pork from enormous feed-lots that pollute the waters of sacred springs. The train would also connect the special economic zones of Puerto Progreso and Campeche on the Yucatán peninsula, where wind farms are also being imposed. In the indigenous territories of Tabasco and Chiapas, this war is waged via military and paramilitary repression. In turn, these regional conflicts become one mega-war together with the megaprojects that are planned throughout the territory of the originary peoples in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
At the same time that this capitalist transformation is orchestrated against Mayan peoples throughout the region, their land is stolen, purchased at incredibly low prices and then destroyed via agricultural exploitation and GMO contamination, in particular by the use of agrochemicals.
On the lands of the originary peoples of the Tehauntepec Isthmus, the bad capitalist government has announced its intent to go forward with the project so lusted after by the big international capitalists to create a means to transport commodities and loot the natural and cultural resources of the South-Southeast. This is a region which is home to a large number of originary peoples as well as the principal jungles, forests, and rivers of the county, including the country’s greatest concentration of biodiversity.
The bad capitalist government is using the tactics of past governments to impose this megaproject of death. One of its goals is to re-activate the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos by connecting them via a high-speed cargo train that will transport goods belonging to the big capitalists who control the world. This is neo-Porfirismo “transformed” into “progressivism.” The goal is to turn the Isthmus into a retaining wall to stop Central American and Mexican migration to the United States by offering migrants precarious and poorly-paid work. To accomplish this the government plans to build assembly plants and automotive factories, to generate a logging industry and renewable energy megaprojects like wind-farm corridors and hydroelectric dams, to exploit fossil fuel resources through conventional methods as well as fracking, and to initiate mining operations and transport of goods along the entire trans-isthmus corridor.
This project will not benefit our peoples or our county, nor will it transport our local products. On the contrary, it will mean handing over our territories and our lives to international capitalism, led by the United States, which has promoted interconnected wars that no wall can detain.
This “Fourth Transformation” version of Trump’s wall is in fact a multiplication of walls from the Guatemala-Belize border all the way to the Mexican isthmus. These walls will only able to be built to the degree that nature and the originary peoples are destroyed; their building material is environmental destruction and their mortar is our dispossession, exploitation, repression and scorn.
In the middle of the country, the brutal expansion of Mexico City is accompanied by industrial development and agricultural and real estate speculation which is destroying large swaths of territory. In the process of initiating construction of the New Mexican Airport in Texcoco, more than 100 hilltops were destroyed to extract materials that were to be used to fill in the Lake of Texcoco, affecting water sources throughout the region. The new government’s alternative, to build an airport at the Santa Lucía military base, means the same process of dispossession for the surrounding communities, which will be smothered by the same tragedy that big capital has brought to so many others.
It causes us great concern to see that the PINFRA corporation continues to build the Mexico Tuxpan-Peñón Texcoco highway on lands that are part of the Nexquipayac ejido, while various companies continue working at the site of the New Mexican Airport in Texcoco, the purpose of which has not been adequately explained. On the other hand, the federal government has promised the military control over the administration and profits of the new airport in Santa Lucía. This is essentially fees paid in exchange for protection of the power of big capital against our peoples, who have organized ourselves to stop this war in every corner of the country, always in favor of life. This is why the CNI-CIG will continue fighting for the cancelation of the New Mexican Airport project, regardless of whether the federal government intends to build it in Texcoco or Santa Lucía.
In this sense, and in exercise of our rights to territory and autonomy, we declare that these megaprojects will come up against the will of our peoples.
Lopez Obrador’s bad capitalist government is intensifying the war against women in our country. His reinforced support for those in power effectively increases the rate of femicide, the trafficking of women, and torture and sexual exploitation. That is why we women and men of the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Governing Council and the EZLN believe that if we organize ourselves as women in struggle in the city and the countryside, we will chip away at capital’s wall until it falls.
Below, in all of our geographies as originary peoples, we continue planting the seeds of autonomy. We are building and furthering the power that comes from below with the network of networks of resistance and rebellion. These networks are a mirror not only of the peoples that make up the CNI-CIG and the EZLN, but of many others who plant seeds of hope and who are reflected in this third national assembly.
Today we denounce the open war waged against the dignified struggle of the indigenous Nahua community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán, which is carried out by the repressive forces of the three levels of bad government alongside organized crime—the same forces that have been used throughout our whole country as a tool of death and as a justification for militarization of the country and the creation of the National Guard.
We demand full respect for the autonomy of the Tila ejido in the state of Chiapas and condemn the threats of displacement and repression made by the illegitimate ejido commissioner, who has the bad governments’ support in order to form shock troops to attack our compañeros who have been an example of dignity and organization.
In addition, by agreement of our national assembly, we continue to demand the return—alive—of our compañero Sergio Rivera Hernández who was disappeared August 23, 2018, due to his participation in the struggle against the Autlán mining company in the Sierra Negra of Puebla. We demand the cancellation of the Coyolapa-Atzala hydroelectric dam project and of mining projects in the Sierra Negra.
We demand the return—alive—of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa and justice for the compañeros who were murdered.
We demand the cancellation of mining concessions throughout the country. These concessions are destroying the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, where the Canadian mining company Salamera is destroying the territory of the Chontal people. This same company intends to increase its operations in the Chimalapas region, in the Wirikuta desert of San Luis Potosí, and across the whole country.
We make a call to redouble efforts to secure the freedom of our compañero Fidencio Aldama Pérez of the Yaqui people from Loma de Bácum, Sonora, as well as that of our compañeros Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Mireles and Teófilo Pérez González of the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in the State of Mexico, and that of all the political prisoners in Mexico.
We demand an end to the hostility and threats against our brothers and sisters of the Amilcingo community in the state of Morelos, where our fallen brother Samir’s spirit lives on. These threats are being carried out by the three levels of bad government which want to impose the “Integral Project for Morelos” at all costs.
We demand the cancelation of French firm EDF’s wind farm known as Gunaa Sicarú, intended to encompass more than four thousand hectares of communal lands belonging to the Binnizá community of the Unión Hidalgo, and we reject the supposed referendum that the government intends to use to obtain “consent” for the project. We also demand an immediate end to the prospecting by cave scientists affiliated with PESH (Huautla Caving Systems) in caves and caverns belonging to the Mazateco people of Huautla who did not authorize this activity.
We call on the originary peoples, on the networks and organizations that have supported the CIG-CNI, as well as on the collectives and organizations of workers, students, women, peasants, and youth who struggle against neoliberal capitalism, to grow our resistance and rebellion and to participate in a National Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress with the organizations, networks, and collectives organized in struggle throughout Mexico and the world. The Assembly will take place on the centennial of the murder of General Emiliano Zapata Salazar, April 9 and 10, 2019, in the state of Morelos. There, we will declare once again:
SAMIR LIVES; THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!
From the Third National Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Governing Council
For the Full Reconstitution of our Peoples
Never Again a Mexico Without Us
National Indigenous Congress
Indigenous Governing Council
Zapatista Army for National Liberation
[i] AMLO has deemed his own governing project the “Fourth Transformation” to align it with historic events such as Mexican Independence (1810), a period of reform in the mid-19th century, and the Mexican Revolution (1910).
[ii] Porfirio Díaz held power in Mexico from 1876 through 1911, a period often referred to as the porfiriato.
[iii] President of Mexico from 1982-1988.