I Am As I Am And You Are As You Are

The Zapatistas are fighting for everyone

| July/August 2001

Subcomandante Marcos is spokesperson and chief military strategist for Mexico’s Zapatista rebels. The following excerpt was first transcribed from a video message delivered by Marcos to a roundtable titled 'From the Underground Culture to the Culture of Resistance,' held at Alicia Multiforum in Mexico City on October 26, 1999.

We are fighters. We are fighters who are very 'other,' but fighters nonetheless. And we fighters know a few things. And among the few things that we know, we know about weapons.

So it is best that I talk to you about weapons. Specifically, I’m going to talk to you about the weapon of resistance.

Besides being fighters, we are indigenous Mexicans. We live in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, which is turning out to be the last corner of this country. We live like the majority of the indigenous in Mexico live. That is: very badly.

Our homes have dirt floors, our walls are of sticks or mud, and our roofs are of laminate, cardboard, or grass. One single room serves for kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living room, and henhouse. Our foods are maize, beans, chili, and the vegetables that grow in the garden. For medicine we have some little pharmacy, poorly stocked. Doctors? Only in our dreams. The school, if it is not being occupied by the government’s soldiers, is a hall where up to four different groups of students coexist. They are not very numerous, because our children start working when they’re very small.

Our lands are poor. They yield little in the way of harvest. We have only mud and rocks. The ranchers have the good lands. We raise livestock and coffee to make money, but we must sell them to the coyotes—middlemen—who sometimes pay us only one-tenth of the price of our products in the market. So our work, in addition to being hard, is badly paid. Even though we live in poverty like most of the indigenous population in the country, our lives are not the same. Our poverty is the same as the poverty of the others, but it is different, it is 'other' poverty. We are poor because that is what we have chosen. From the beginning of our uprising, they have offered us everything to get us to sell ourselves, to surrender.

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