Comandanta Hortencia's Words in Atenco
September 30th, 2006
translated by Zapagringo
Comandanta Hortencia brandishing the symbol of resistance in Atenco...
and Lupita holding her teddy bear in a plastic bag :-)
and Lupita holding her teddy bear in a plastic bag :-)
Seven indigenous leaders (four women and three men) of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) traveled from their autonomous communities in Chiapas to Mexico City recently. They are there to, amongst other things, speak with the people of Atenco and to participate in national meetings of the Other Campaign. Three of those leaders (Grabiela, Zebedeo, and Miriam) will stay in Mexico City to continue to organize for the freedom of the prisoners of Atenco while the other four (Gema, Hortencia, David, and Tacho) will soon return home to reportback to their communities on what they have learned about the national situation. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos is delegate zero of the Sixth Commission of the EZLN and these seven leaders are delegates one though seven.
On September 30th, many of them spoke to the people of Atenco. Amongst them was Comandanta Hortencia (Delegate Five), who is traveling with her daughter, Lupita...Delegate Five-and-a-Quarter ;-) As someone who works with alot of mothers and children, I was especially excited to read the words she spoke and, so, I've translated them here for you!
I am Comandanta Hortencia, Delegate number 5.
In the name of my compañera support bases, insurgents, militia-women, and in the name of all of the compañeras of different ranks of authority in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, I am going to say some words for our compañeras who are imprisoned in the jails of the bad government.
Us women, as Zapatistas, know that you are fighting. We know that you have struggled. And we know that you are resisting. And just as the bad government has its plan to take your lands, you are resisting the plans of the bad government.
Therefore, your struggle is very important. Like you, men and women, who have shown your resistance to the plans of the bad government. But we also come to say to the women of the Other Campaign who are prisoners in the jails, who are workers, students and indigenous-just as our compañera Magdalena is indigenous [a prisoner from Atenco]-.
Us Zapatista women, we fell the pain, courage, anger, and despair that, day after day, you endure in the jails of the bad government. But also we come to say to you compañeras who are in jail, you are an example for many women, how you have shown your resistance, rebelliousness. Because it is an example of how you have defended your dignity, not surrendering yourself, not humbling yourself before the plans of the bad government. The example set by these women is a very important example for us and other women.
Because in this way they are protesting the bad government and the political class. There it is being shown, that they will never be able to conquer and humble the organized women and communities. In this way, the jailed women are proving this.
But we also wish to say to our jailed compañeras that you not lose hope that sooner or later you will go free, because you have not committed a crime. You are innocent. Your only offence was to defend your land, your rights. It is only for this that you are in jail. This is not just.
For the government us women are nothing. Because of this we are seen as no more than objects. And they take us as the spoils of war. And many times they allot us to those that repress. This is what the bad government does, the injustice that they always give to the communities. It is what it has done to the indigenous and peasant communities.
On the other hand, there is the political class that is in power. Those that gave the order to attack and that repressed the community of Atenco on May 3rd and 4th, well, they are free. The truly guilty ones are not in jail. But this is not OK, they should be in jail, not the women, nor the men [of Atenco]. Because the women and the men [of Atenco] are not guilty. They only defended their land, their territory. For this and nothing more they are in jail.
The offenders are the rulers, those that attack the community. They should be in jail, they should not be governing as they are now. They are the murderers , the violators of human rights and the violators of women. But for them, what they have done is not a crime to the bad government. They are accustomed to this. They have been doing this for decades. They have now grown accustomed to it and, therefore, feel nothing.
Because this is what it has done: kill and violate Mexicans. Therefore they now don't feel that what they've done are crimes. Therefore, compañeras, it is what the bad government has done and is doing. Therefore we should unite our voice, our power, to demand the punishment of the guilty, those who are intellectually and directly truly responsible for what was done in Atenco. Because it is not just. The true murderers are free. They have to pay for their offenses.
But also, as women, we need to continue our struggle, whatever the cost. Because many times, as women, there are many things that impede us from fighting, from participating. There are many things, because we are women, we are indigenous, we are peasants. Therefore we encounter many problems, many obstacles. Therefore we shouldn't pay attention to the obstacles, but should look for how to struggle, how to move forward.
But what we should keep clear is that we don't need to ask anyone's permission. Much less ask permission from the bad government. Because the bad rulers, if we ask their permission they will never give it to us. And besides, they only bring us things that are not for the good of the communities. They only promise us things, they deceive us, manipulate us, give us all that is not good. It is what they have done for many years.
The bad rulers are never concerned with resolving the problems of the communities, but they have tried to destroy the indigenous and peasant communities. Therefore, with the bad rulers we shouldn't wait for anything from them. But we, the men, the women, the children, the youth, the elders, should organizer ourselves so we can have what we want.
But also, we wish to say, the indigenous Zapatista women, and the women of the Other Campaign, that we should look for how to struggle for the freedom of the prisoners of Atenco. But not only them, but we also need to fight for the freedom of all the political prisoners in the different jails of Mexico. Lastly, I want to say to the women of Atenco, to our indigenous compañera Magdalena, and to the women of the Other Campaign, that they not surrender, that they not be disheartened. Us Zapatista women are with you. And will continue fighting for freedom for all of you. Therefore, us, all the Zapatista women of Chiapas are with you and accompany you always. This is all of my word, much thanks.