The Zapatistas to Invade Spain!

translation by LESLIE LÓPEZ

CounterPunch will be running a regular archive of letters, documents and kindred Zapatista-related materials. Leslie Lopez of Santa Cruz is translating such documents, many of them hitherto untranslated into English, and is generously making them available for readers of the CounterPunch site. –AC/JSC


November 25. Subcomandante Marcos sends a communiqués to Spanish rocker Angel Luis Lara, alias “El Ruso,” to be read at the inauguration of an Aguascalientes of Madrid. (Aguascalientes is the name the zapatistas use for their convention sites, after the original zapatista convention towards the Revolutionary Constitution of 1917.) In this letter, published in Mexico’s La Jornada, he harshly criticizes Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, the president of Spain, the Spanish king Juan Carlos and ex-president Felipe González. He reproaches the Spanish State for outlawing the independent Basque party Batasuna.

The communiqué sparks fiery reactions of criticism and support. Many intellectuals, including Carlos Monsivais and Marcos Roitman, express their disagreement with the tone of Marcos’ letter and urge the rebel leader to reconsider.

December 6. Judge Baltasar Garzón responds with a letter published in the Mexican newspaper El Universal. He questions Marcos’ perspective on the conflict with the armed Basque organization Euskadita Askatasuna (ETA) en el País Vasco. He challenges the rebel leader to take of his mask and engage with him in a “face to face” debate.

December 8. In Chiapas, large groups of foreigners speaking poor Spanish are observed taking pictures and ground measurements by indigenous residents of the Montes Azules biosphere. The foreigners were traveling in several processions of at least 22 military jeeps with US plates and flying the stars and stripes.

December 9. Subcomandante Marcos sends another series of communiqués to La Jornada. In one, he tells Garzón that he accepts his challenge, and proposes the Canary Island of Lanzarote as the place for the debate. At the same time, as a condition for the debate, he states that there must be a parallel event, a conference on the situation in the Basque Country. He proposes that in order to make that possible, the ETA declare a truce of 177 days, starting on the 24th of December. He says that if he loses, he will let Garzón unmask him, once; but that if he wins, Garzón must supply the zapatistas with legal counsel in their struggle for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture.

December 11. The Nobel Prize Winner for Literature José Saramago supports Marcos’ initiative. “I imagine that Garzón won’t care to come to Lanzarote,” declared the writer, and added that “it remains to be seen whether the ETA courage to take this giant step towards peace.”

December 12. The independent political party Batasuna accepts the EZLN’s proposal for dialogue, and thanks Subcomandante Marcos for “his interest, solidarity and support of the Basque cause.”

December 14. Former Bishop of Chiapas Samuel Ruiz García makes public statements in support of the zapatista communiqués; he contradicts Baltasar Garzón, saying the documents clearly show the EZLN’s rejection of violence.

December 14. A confidential military document is intercepted by NGO’s in Chiapas, where a multi-jurisdictional eviction of indigenous communities living in the Montes Azules biosphere reserve is being planned. In an analytical section of the document, planners reason that the timing is good because, among other factors, the EZLN is currently “very weak,” and that due to the poor reception of Marcos’ Aguascalientes letter, international reaction to the eviction would be minor. The communities named on the eviction list all pertain either to the civil zapatista support base, or the independent progressive organization ARIC (Rural Association of Collective Interest). None of the communities in the region which belong to paramilitary organizations or the dominant political party are on the list.

December 11-17. Federal and state troops begin to gather and move along the southern border of Montes Azules and throughout the Comitán-Margaritas region.

December 18. Baltasar Garzón, in a press conference, postpones answering the EZLN’s proposal and states that it is not sufficient to ask for an “opportunistic truce” from the ETA, which is tantamount to condoning their violence in the long run. He says, however, that he will answer, if only for “courtesy’s sake.”

December 20. A group of 57 academics, journalists, writers and political leaders from Spain and other countries sign “The Manifesto for the Word.” They take up the zapatista call to “give the word a chance:” they declare that they will begin the process in Madrid right away, on December 22, with a “Civil Forum for the Word” and say they will join the conference on the Basque conflict this coming April 22.


(La Jornada, November 25, 2002)

October 12, 2002.


For: Angel Luis Lara, alias El Ruso.

From: Sup Marcos.

Ruso, brother: First of all, a hug. Second, a piece of advice: I think you’d do well to change your pseudonym; the Chechnyans might get confused and then, that’s right, good-bye Aguascalientes and good-bye to one of the best rockers of our day.

The date (October 12) on which I begin to write these lines is not accidental (nothing is accidental among the zapatistas), nor is this absurd bridge which, today, I attempt to extend to where you are working to prepare the inauguration of the Aguascalientes in Madrid.

I’m sure it will all go very well for you and that the absence of that imbecile Aznar (the only thing he’s lacking, as his name indicates, is to actually bray) [“asno” means “ass” in Spanish] and of that constipated little king Juan Carlos will go unnoticed, even in the magazine ¡Hola!

But tell all the men and women working with you in that heroic project that they should not be shy. A magazine called Rebeldía is about to come out (deported, no doubt), which will certainly have a “society” page where you can insert a review that leaves the princess’ wedding in the category of “children’s parties.”

Besides, the aforementioned magazine Rebeldía will surely be consistent with its principles and the first thing it will do is rebel against spelling rules, so don’t invest too much in the advertising insert. By the way, if it includes photos it will be more expensive (unless it’s porn) and the price, I am sorry to inform you, is not in euros but marks since they prefer a strong currency [“marcos” is Spanish for “marks”].

So no sniveling if royalty do not attend. Instead, I think, there will be plenty of men, women, children and elderly people, not just from the Iberian Peninsula, but from there above all. If they are there, everything will be a success. But I should warn you that the police always come on the heels of success. Because the underdogs are just supposed to cry and resign themselves, as established in I don’t know what number proclamation that the crown emitted I don’t know when; and to the rhythm of the Civil Guard’s garrotes, everyone marches from their Aguascalientes to jail, or to the cemetery, which is the place that Spanish “democracy” has set aside for Iberian rebels.

Well do I know that those who attend the rebel party signified by an Aguascalientes will not be just from the Spanish state, but they will be the majority.

Transatlantic Canoes

We can’t come, since we’re planning to invade Europe shortly and, as you can imagine, everyone here already has their baggage ready (well, if you can call two bundles of chips, a plate of rancid beans, two bottles of non-transgenic pozol and chile to taste, “baggage”); however, nobody has a lifesaver handy.

The best-prepared among us have packed some pills for seasickness and ask, innocently, if there will be “bathroom breaks.”

But the worst is yet to come: it turns out I can’t convince them that we’re not going to get very far with cayucos (canoes made from hollow tree trunks).

Of course we mustn’t leave out the small detail that Chiapas does not have an Atlantic seaport and that, since we can’t afford to pay the passage fee for the Panama Canal, we’ll have to go all the way around the Pacific, by the Philippines, India and Africa till we get to the Canary Islands.

Because it would be in bad taste to arrive by land. We’d have to go through Mongolia, what’s left of the USSR–where we’d have to be careful to say that we’re on our way to see the “Russian” (Ruso) and that they’ll have to work it out–Eastern Europe, passing through France to stock up on the “Chateau Neuf Du Pape, harvest of ’69,” (I’m even making puns with wines), head through Italy and stuff ourselves with pasta, and then cross the Pyrenees. We’re not daunted by the long walk, but so much exertion is hard on the uniform.

While the enthusiasm builds among the crew to-be–almost as much as the vomit (as a matter of fact, I see one compa puking and I ask him why he’s throwing up if we haven’t even embarked yet. “I’m in training,” he says to me with that inexorable logic that reigns in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast).

Where was I? Oh yes! That we’re not going to be able to go to the Aguascalientes inaguration because we’re “in training,” as the compa said, for the expedition.

Of course, you shouldn’t tell anyone that we’re going to invade the Iberian Peninsula (stopping first in Lanzarote, where we’ll have a cup of coffee with Saramago and Pilar), because you know how the monarchy is, they get so nervous so easily, and then go away on vacation with the princesses and the jesters (I’m referring to Felipillo González and Pepillo Aznar, who, as I said before, carries his penitence in his name).

Moreover, speaking badly of the monarchy could cost you; at the very least, they’ll evict you from the premises, because of course you’ve gone and built the Aguascalientes in an “okupás”[squatters’] locale, since the seat should pertain to people of dignity, and nobody doubts that there is more nobility in any okupás house than in El Escorial [a famous castle in Spain; “escorial” also means dumping-ground].

Damn! Now I’ve gone and messed with royalty again and I shouldn’t, because when one messes with a garbage can one ends up smelling like shit, and you can’t get rid of that odor, not even with those bottles of adulterated perfume they sell in El Corte Inglés [a market in Mexico City where name brand knock-offs are sold cheap].

So, say yes to piracy but no to dispersion; back to this monologue which has the great advantage that you can’t say peep, like when you are face to face with the meritorious Civil Guard which, if you permit me, is neither civil nor guard. But everyone knows that the world of power is full of incoherencies.

What? I’m off on another tangent? You’re right, fuck, it’s just that the mere perspective of missing the warmed-up Galician soup that you’ll be ladling out because you don’t have a cent left over for anything else, makes me, shall we say, restless.

Conquistadores and neoliberals

I was saying that the date of this letter is not accidental, that if I begin this document the 12th of October to salute the Aguascalientes project, there’s a reason.

In some sectors there is the erroneous idea that the situation of the Indian peoples of Mexico is due to the Spanish conquest. And it’s not that Hernán Cortés and the rest of those ruffians in armor and cassock that accompanied him were benevolent, but that, compared to the current governing neoliberals, they are a bunch of charitable nuns.

From the men and women of dignified Spain we have only received words of fraternity, unconditional solidarity, attentive ears, and hands that help, that greet, that embrace.

So excuse me, Father Hidalgo, but the zapatistas now cry: “Down with the neoliberals! Up with the gachupines!”

I imagine that somewhere around there is a Catalonian band that plays ranchera music badly, but in work there’s no one who beats their rhythm. And those from Galicia should come, and those from Asturias, from Cantabria, from Andalucía, from Murcia, from Extremadura, from Valencia, from Aragón, from La Rioja, from Castilla y León, from Castilla-La Mancha, from Navarra, from the Baleares Islands, from the Canary Islands and from Madrid. To all of them, a great hug from us, and there’s enough for everyone. Because with so many brothers and sisters, and all of them so great, our arms have grown from the strength of the affection we have for them.

What? That I’ve left out the Basque Country? No, I want to ask you to let me make a special mention of these brothers and sisters.

Well do I know that that grotesque clown who calls himself Judge Garzón, hand-holder of the Spanish political class–which is as ridiculous as the court, but without its discreet charm (how has the duchess been? Just fine, Baron, I don’t miss that jester Felipillo at all because Pepillo is just as funny. By the way, you should zip up your fly, Baron, you don’t want to catch a cold, which is the only thing you could catch in the court, etc.)–is carrying out real State terrorism which no honest man or woman could see without becoming indignant.

Yes, Garzón the clown [in English] has declared the political struggle of the Basque Country illegal. After making a fool of himself with that idiotic story about nabbing Pinochet (the only thing he did was give him a paid vacation), he shows his true fascist vocation by denying the Basque people the right to struggle politically for a legitimate cause.

And I don’t say this just because. But because here we have seen many Basque brothers and sisters. They were in the peace camps. They did not come to tell us what to do, nor did they teach us to make bombs or plan assaults.

Because here the only bombs are Chiapan, which, as opposed to those of the Yucatan, never rhyme.

And here comes Olivio to ask me if I will give him some of the chocolates with nuts that they gave me because, it is rumored, I am veeeery sick. And he recites a bomb of a poem for me.

“Okay,” I say to him, noticing that the chocolates are already moldy. And Olivio deepens his voice as he recites: “Bomba, bomba: en el patio de mi casa hay una mata de naranjo, qué chula está tu hermana.” [“Bomb, bomb, in my yard there’s an orange tree, and your sister sure is cute.”]

I’m not offended so much by the part about my sister, but rather by the lack of rhyme; nonetheless, I give Olivio the chocolates…but in the head, because I throw them at him while I chase him till I get tired, which is to say, a few steps.

What’s more, here the only assaults are on good musical taste, like when I grab a guitar and entone, in my unmatchable baritone voice, the one that goes, “every time I get drunk, I swear something happens, I go straight to see you and I get the wrong hammock.”

Manu Chao is sure to give me a contract if he hears me. Of course, as long as I don’t have to pay for the two guitar strings that broke when, in a hand-to-hand combat with the insurgents I was singing that one about the Schizophrenic Cow. Or was it the Crazy Cow? Well, if Manu is out that way, give him a hand and just tell him that we’ll forgive him the strings when we see each other in the next station which, as everyone knows, is called “Hope.”

And if Manu doesn’t give me a contract, then I’ll go with Amparo’s group. Even though it might have to change its name, and instead of “Amparonoia” she’ll call it “Amparofobia,” since my critics are globalizing as well [in Spanish anti-globalization activists are called “globalifóbicos”].

Anyway­to be terrorists the main thing we’re lacking is the calling, not the means.

But, okay, so brothers and sisters of the Basque Country have been here, and they have behaved with dignity, which is how Basques behave.

And I don’t know if Fermin Muguruza is there, but I remember that once he was here, and they asked him where was he from, and he said “Basque,” and they asked again, “French Basque” or “Spanish Basque,” and Fermín didn’t even miss a beat when he answered, “Basque from the Basque Country.”

And I was looking for something to say in Basque to send my regards to the brothers and sisters of that country, and I didn’t find much, but I don’t know if my dictionary is any good because I looked up the word ‘dignity’ in Basque, and the Zapatista dictionary says “Euskal Herria.” Ask them if I am right, or if I should try again.

Finally, that which neither Garzón nor his epigones know is that sometimes dignity changes into a puff fish, and woe be unto whoever tries to crush it.

Festival of rebellion

So I’ve said before that Aguascalientes should be a festival of rebellion, something which doesn’t please any of the political parties.

“They are frauds,” interrupted Durito.

“Butwait Durito, I haven’t even started talking about the Mexican political parties.”

“I am not talking about those frauds, either, but rather about porn web pages.”

“But Durito, we don’t have Internet in the jungle.”

“We don’t have it? Sounds like the European Union. I have it. With some imagination and a little gum and duct tape I was able to convert one of my antennae into a powerful satellite modem.”

“And could you let us know, postmodern knight errant, why the porno web pages are a fraud?”

“Well, because there’s not a single one of beetles­not even beetles with those little “dental floss” panties, or whatever they call them­much less naked beetles.”


“Of course! Fuck! Aren’t you writing to Spanish specialists?” asks Durito as he adjusts his beret.

“Panty?” I repeat, trying to avoid the unavoidable, which is that Durito horn in on what I’m writing, a task for which he has more than enough hands and impertinence.

“Let’s see, hmm, hmm,” murmured Durito as he climbs up on my shoulder.

“Russian? Are you writing to Putin? I wouldn’t recommend it, he might hit you with a worse gas than the ones that you let loose when you eat too many beans.

I protest: “Look, Durito, let’s not start revealing intimacies, because I have a letter here that the Pentagon sent you asking for your formula for the development of ultratoxic gases.”

“Ah, but I turned them down. Because my gas, like my love, can neither be bought nor sold, but is something I give freely, without concern for whether the recipients deserve it or not,” says Durito with an exquisite Andalucian accent.

After a pause, he adds:

“And what is your theme for today, chaval?”

“And nothing, tío, except rebellion and an Aguascalientes that they are going to open in the Madrids,” I answer, infected by the flamenco beat spreading through the air.

“Madrid? Which Madrid? The Madrid of Aznar and the Civil Guard? Or the irreverent Madrid?

“The irreverent one, of course. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if Aznar wanted to stick his nose in.”

“Magnificent!” Durito applauds, and dances in a way that might bring Garcia Lorca back to life to compose his unknown and unpublished Ode to the Epileptic Beetle.

When he finishes his dance, Durito delivers his orders:

“Write! I’m going to dictate my speech to you.”

“But Durito, you are not on the program. Come on, you haven’t even been invited.”

“I know, the Russians don’t like me. But I don’t care. Come on, write! The title is ‘Rebellion and Chairs.'”

“‘Chairs?'” Durito, I hope you’re not going to come up with another one of your

“Quiet! The idea comes from a little piece that Saramago and I wrote toward the end of the last century called ‘Chair’.”

“Saramago? You mean the writer José Saramago? – I ask perplexed.

“Of course! Is there another one? Well, so what happened was, we drank so much that day that we ended up falling off the reiterated chair, and from the floor, I tell him, with all the lucidity and perspective of those on the bottom, Pepe, that little wine kicks worse than that mule Aznar–and he didn’t say anything because he was looking for his eyeglasses.”

“And then I told him: something is coming to me, hurry Jose, ideas are like chorizo with French beans, if you’re not careful, someone else comes by and eats them.”

Saramago finally found his eyeglasses, and then together we gave from to that story, in the late eighties, if I’m not mistaken. Of course it is credited in his name only; we beetles struggle quite a bit with authorship rights.

I want to curtail Durito’s anecdotes and I urge him: “OK, I’ve got the title, now what?”

“Well, it’s about how the attitude human beings have about chairs defines them politically. The Revolutionary (capital R) scorns ordinary chairs and says to others and himself: ‘I don’t have time to sit down, the heavy mission commended to me by History (capital H) prevents me from distracting myself with nonsense.’ He goes like this through life until he runs into the chair of Power, throws off whomever is sitting on the chair with one shot, sits down and frowns, as if he were constipated, and says to others and himself: ‘History (capital H) has been fulfilled. Everything, absolutely everything, makes sense now. I am sitting on the Chair (capital C) and I am the culmination of the times.’ There he remains until another Revolutionary (capital R) comes by, throws him off and history (small h) repeats itself.

The rebel (small r), on the other hand, when he sees an ordinary chair, analyzes it carefully, then goes and puts another chair next to it, and another and another, and soon, it looks like a gathering because more rebels (small r) have come, and then the coffee, tobacco and the word begin to circulate and mix, and then, precisely when everyone starts to feel comfortable, they get antsy, as though they had worms in the cauliflower, and they don’t know if it’s from the coffee or the tobacco or the word, but everyone gets up and keeps on going the way they were going. And so on until they find another ordinary chair and history repeats itself.

There is only one variation, when the rebel runs into the Seat of Power (capital S, capital P), looks at it carefully, analyzes it, but instead of sitting there he goes and gets a fingernail file and, with heroic patience, he begins sawing at the legs until they are so fragile that they break when someone sits down, which happens almost immediately. The End.”

“The end? But Durito…”

“No, no, never mind. I already know it’s too dry and theory should be velvety, but my style is metatheory. Maybe I’ll be accused of being an anarchist, but my speech is worth something as a humble homage to the Spanish anarchists of old. There are quiet heroes, and they don’t shine less for it.”

Durito leaves, though I’m sure he’d rather come.

OK, enough with the puns. What was I saying when that armor-plated impertinence interrupted me?

Ah! I was saying how Aguascalientes is a festival of rebellion.

And so, my dear Chechnyan, what is rebellion?

It could be enough for you to just take a look around at all the men and women who lent a hand in building that Aguascalientes, and at those who will attend its inauguration (not the closing assembly, because that will surely be done by the police) for you to get a definition, but since this is a letter, I should try to do it with words which, no matter how eloquent they might be, will never be as decisive as gazes.

And so it was that, looking for some text that might work, I found a book that Javier Elorriaga lent me.

The little book is called New Ethiopia, and it’s by a Basque poet named Bernardo Atxaga. In it there is a poem called “Butterfly Reggae,” that talks about butterflies who fly out over the sea and have no place to rest because the sea has no islands or rocks.

Well, I hope don Bernardo will forgive me if the synthesis is not as graceful as his reggae, but it helps me say what I want to you:

Rebellion is like that butterfly who flies out towards that sea without islands nor rocks.

It knows that there will be no resting place and yet it does not waver in its flight.

And no, neither the butterfly nor rebellion are foolish or suicidal; the thing is, they know that they’ll have a resting place, that out there is a huge old island that no satellite has ever detected.

And that big island is a sister rebellion which will set out just when the butterfly, that is, the flying rebellion, starts to falter.

Then the flying rebellion, that is, the sea butterfly, will become part of that emergent island, and will be the landing point for another butterfly already beginning its determined flight towards the sea.

This would be no more than a mere curiosity in biology books, but as I don’t know who said, the flutter of a butterfly wing is often the origin of the greatest hurricanes.

With its flight, the flying rebellion, that is, the butterfly, is saying NO!

No to logic.

No to prudence.

No to immobility.

No to conformism.

And nothing, absolutely nothing, will be as wonderful as seeing the audacity of that flight, appreciating the challenge it represents, feeling how it starts to agitate the wind and seeing how, with those drafts, it is not the leaves of the trees that tremble, but the legs of the powerful who until then naively thought that butterflies died if they flew out over the sea.

Yes, my appreciable Muskovite, it is well known that butterflies, like rebellion, are catching.

And there are butterflies, like rebellions, of all colors.

There are blue ones, who paint themselves that color so that the sky and the sea fight over them.

And there are yellow ones, so that the sun embraces them.

There are red ones, color of rebel blood.

There are brown ones, who thus take the color of the earth with them over the waves.

There are green ones, which is how hope tends to paint itself.

And all are skin, skin which shines no matter the color it is painted.

And there are flights of all colors.

And there are times that butterflies from all over gather and then there is a rainbow.

And the task of butterflies, as any respectable encyclopedia will tell you, is to bring the rainbow down closer so children can learn to fly.

And, speaking of butterflies and rebellions, it occurs to me that, when you are all in the circus, or in the trial, facing that clown Garzón, and you are asked what you were doing in Aguascalientes, you can answer: flying.

Even though they send you flying, deported to Chechnya, the laughter will be heard all the way to the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

And a laugh, my brother, is as welcome as music.

And speaking of music, as far as I know the dance of the crab has become fashionable in the governments of Mexico, Spain, Italy and France and consists, in broad strokes, of moving the hips and the arms counterclockwise.

And now that we’re on hands of the clock, if you see Manuel Vázquez Montalbán give him a squeeze from us.

Tell him that I’ve already learned that Fox asked him if he knew why Marcos and the zapatistas were so silent, and he answered, they’re not silent; the problem is you’re not listening.

By the way, tell him that Spanish sausage is not like diamonds, in other words, not eternal, and the ones he sent were finished long ago, and that if he doesn’t kick down, say with about 5 kilos, we are going to take him and Pepe Carvalho as hostages.

No, actually, better not. Because they’ll mistake us for terrorists and Bush, hand in hand with the UN, will sic another “humanitarian” war on us. Maybe he should send the sausage, and in exchange I’ll send him the recipe for Marco’s Special which, for good reason, His Majesty’s chef (ha!) has asked me for to no avail.

OK, I’m signing off now. Don’t hesitate to let me know what jail they put you in. I mean, for when we’re out that way.

No, don’t even think that it will be to set you free, but so we can make sure that you’re well locked up, because all of you are totally crazy. Imagine, wanting to inaugurate an Aguascalientes in Madrid. Next you’ll be wanting to create an autonomous municipality in prison.

Oh, and we won’t be able to send you cigarettes. But chips and pozol we can do, which are as dignified as you are.

Vale. Salud, if it’s about reigning, then let rebellion reign. From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, October, 2002.

P.S. Eva asks whether in the Spanish State (that’s how she said it) they have VCRs because she wants to take her collection of Pedro Infante movies. I told her that you have a different system over there. She asked me: “What do you mean they have a different system? You mean they don’t have a neoliberal government there?” I didn’t answer her, but now I say to her: “Comandanta Eva: What else could there be?”

Another P.S.

Don’t go thinking that I don’t know that rebels from Italy, France, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Holland and etc. are also going to be there at the Aguascalientes. Saludos to all of them and tell them that, if they don’t behave we’re going…to invade them too. We are going to globalize moldy chips and rancid pozol. And then we’ll see how the number of global-phobes increases geometrically.

Vale again.

The Sup in training for the crossing, that is, puking the moldy chocolates with nuts that El Olivio left on the ground.



December 6, 2002 El Universal

Baltasar Garzón Real.

Judge Magistrate (Central Instruction Trial Number 5, National Audience). C/. García Gutiérrez 1 28.004. Madrid – España.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos:

I’m not going to argue with you about you calling me a “grotesque clown.” I prefer to see my name openly associated with democracy as a clown than to hide it behind false rebellion, violence, lies, ignorance, lack of ethics and scruples, and other characteristics that you, ever more clearly, represent.

How dare you insult with impunity the Spanish people, who together have suffered the terrorist blemish for more than 30 years? Has no one told you that 853 people have been murdered with car bombs, pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, etcetera, in the back, treacherously, or by a bullet in the neck? How can you not know of the dozens of children murdered, of the more than 4,000 people mutilated and wounded, of the citizens who lost their belongings and their freedom? What would you tell those who today, December 3, 2002, have once again begun to suffer the claw of the terrorists in Santander?

Where in your letter are words, just a few words for those victims of terrorism? They are nowhere, because you (in your repressive fundamentalism, full of authoritarianism and arrogance) ooze hatred toward those victims, and towards all of us who are not like, or do not think like you.

With initiatives like the sectarian letter that you’ve written, the only thing you’re attempting is to be heard or ready by those who are already convinced and who feed each other, as you do, the viruses of violence, hatred and intolerance. That is no way to make a State, nor Democracy, nor form a country, nor conquer the hearts of citizens. The only thing you achieve is to plant the evil of a political position that is deformed and dead from its inception, as well as to betray those you claim to defend, and who deserve the utmost respect. With attitudes like that, you will even lose those who follow the mirage of the future that you have offered them. The indigenous cause is gravely threatened by the attitudes of extreme intolerance that you have adopted.

You speak of rebellion! Look, the rebellion that I understand is the one that is waged day by day, struggling from within the State of Law, within Democracy and for democracy; applying the principle of equality under the law, of the presumption of innocence and an independent justice. This is the rebellion practiced by many women and men who are searching for a better and different world. Among all of us we try to consolidate a system of guarantees that gives us cohesion as a diverse people and that forms our backbone as a multi-national State.

Perhaps you don’t know (or your friends haven’t informed you well, or you haven’t heard or read all the news or text that you ought) but the true heroes that live in the Basque Country and the true rebels are not the terrorists that you defend, but their victims, the men and women who try to defend a democratic option or consolidate the institutions or develop a free pulpit; or work without fear of suffering extortion and persecution. Those whom you euphemistically call “Basque rebels,” are beings submissively linked to the strategy of the most demented and unjust violence that exists in Europe.

No señor Marcos, in Spain ideas are not made illegal; no one is persecuted for their thoughts, beliefs, or disagreements. It seems as though you and others like you, who build your discourse on out-dated and repudiated Francoism, can’t stand the face that that stage has been passed in Spain; that freedom, control of power and State of Law exist here; and that in Spain terrorism is persecuted in keeping with the law, from the law, and with all the guarantees and controls established by juridic regulation. And I assure you that this regulation is one of the most rigorous in the world. Here there is a Constitutional Tribunal, and a European Tribunal of Human Rights, and there is also responsibility on the part of judges and all citizens. Here everyone has a place, including those who wish to separate and not be here, but, and this is the difference, via non-violence, through political struggle. If you do not understand this, you are not aware of what you way. So you should not speak of “rebellion” of those who kill, kidnap or wound innocents selectively or systematically; or those who massacre whole sectors of the population. Those are called criminals against humanity and should be persecuted, investigated and judged.

You have offended those who have participated actively in the construction of the Spanish Democracy: the King of Spain and the presidents of the government, Felipe González and José María Aznar, among others. The vile insults you have used do not touch them; they degrade you. We all have defects, but you should not gratuitously disrespect those who, in Spain, have participated or participate in the historic scene, always respecting those who differ in thought and action; any of them or those who, in my country show their faces, do more than you do for your “movement.” Your reference to the Pinochet case is equally pathetic, and demonstrates a scorn that radiates, in the most absolutely base manner possible, towards the victims. There can be no doubt: you have joined the wrong team: just because they sing of your “deeds, doesn’t mean that terrorists and those like you who support them are more right than those who criticize them. You speak of dignity and rebellion but I believe you are mistaken as to the meaning of those words if you apply them to murderers and those responsible for terrorism, and, at the same time, you strip yourself of the dignity and rebellion you could have and that some of us, erroneously, attributed to you.

I confess that for me, señor Marcos, you represented something different: a kind of ray of coherence. Now I announce my grave error. I had put you in a category you do not deserve. You are nothing more than a ship gone adrift. When at the beginning, at the front of your “Army,” you had the sympathy of many (including mine), you had the chance to bring the indigenous cause into a good harbor, but you took the wrong way and now we know why. You don’t need to take off your mask to have unmasked yourself: you simply do not believe in the essential rights of man nor in democracy, nor even in the civil rights of your own people.

I am not, as you have said, a “fascist” nor a “State terrorist.” I have never taken up a weapon in my life (except to hunt a partridge now and then). I am in essence a pacifist. I take care to apply the law and to abide by it strictly and without fail, in a Social Democratic State, and one of Law, which is my duty as a professional of the law and in that lies my responsibility. For 22 years I have performed a public service; 14 of them I have spent combating, with the weapons of Law, drug-trafficking, organized crime, corruption, terrorism, and crimes of State and of humanity. In this long battle I have committed errors, but unlike you I have shown my face and signed my name, and taken responsibility for my mistakes. You, on the other hand, take shelter behind a fortunate vantage point that turns you into a strange, exotic being, a specter behind a mask and a ridiculous pipe. I generally do not give advice, but here is some: get rid of the costume and come out of your hiding place, show that you are a leader, show your face, face Mexican society, defend your ideas under equal conditions, say goodbye to weapons, set your men free, do not kidnap or sully Democracy. From “gachupin to gachupin,” (because I have no doubt that you have “gachupin” blood in your veins) and with the utmost respect and admiration for Mexico, country of my bosom, to which Spaniards as well as Basques are so indebted, I challenge you whenever you want and wherever you want, to speak, face to face, without masks or costumes, of terrorism, of rebellion, of dignity, of struggle, of insurgency, of politics, of justice, of all those values that function to build a country and a democracy and to defend the rights of those who have the least.

“Today is always ever,” said Antonio Machado. I harbor the tenuous hope that you recover the reason you seem to have lost and that democratic bse that, perhaps at one time, you had.

Fdo. Baltasar Garzón Real .


December 3, 2002.


La Jornada December 9, 2002




December 7, 2002.

To Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real, judge-magistrate of the Central Instruction Trial Number 5, National Audience c/. García Gutiérrez 1 28.004, Madrid España.

Mr. Baltasar Garzón:

I read the letter you addressed to me, dated December 3 of the current year and published the 6th of the same month in the Mexican newspaper El Universal. In it, along with allowing yourself to insult me with all kinds of name-calling, you challenge me to a debate in the time and place of my choice.

I hereby respond that I accept the challenge and (as the laws of errant knighthood require), since I am the challenged knight, it falls to me to set the conditions for the encounter.

These are the conditions:

FIRST. The debate will be held in the Canary Islands, specifically on what is known as Lanzarote Island, between April 3rd and 10th, of 2003.

SECOND. Mister Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real must obtain necessary and sufficient guarantees and safe-passages, from the Spanish as well as from the Mexican governments, such that the challenged knight and six of his shield- bearers might attend the contest and return safely to their hearths. The costs of transportation and lodgings of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and his procession will be covered by the EZLN; that’s what canoes, tortilla chips, beans and pozol are for; moreover, to spend the night, knights errant (or navigator) need no more roof than the dignified Canary sky.

THIRD. In the same place as the debate, to be held parallel to the event but not simultaneously, an encounter will be held among all the political, social and cultural actors in the Basque situation who wish to attend. The theme of the encounter will be “The Basque Country: Pathways.”

FOURTH. Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real must attend, speak and listen at said encounter. Moreover he must make an effort to convince the Spanish government to contribute, through detente measures, to create a productive environment for the event, and to exhort that it send a high-level delegation to the encounter, though it does not need to have decision-making power, as they will only be asked to listen and speak.

FIFTH. Sir Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos must attend said encounter, but only to listen, since the subject is something that only pertains to the sovereignty of the Basque people.

Moreover, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos must address the Basque organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (better known by its initials, ETA) asking it for a unilateral truce of 177 days, a period in which the ETA must not realize any offensive military action. The ETA truce should begin December 24th, 2002.

By the same token, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos must address the Basque political and social organizations, and the Basque people in general, inviting them to organize and follow through with the abovementioned encounter.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos will also address Spanish and Basque civil society, asking them to mobilize under the campaign “Give the word a chance,” whose objective is to put pressure on the Spanish government and the ETA so that they will create, throughout the Iberian Peninsula, conditions adequate for the encounter.

SIXTH. The winner of the debate will be named by a jury formed of seven people, all of them of the Spanish State. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos cedes the privilege of naming four of the jury members, and the design of who will preside the jury, and, in case of a tie due to abstention, who will cast the deciding vote to determine the victor of the joust, to Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real. The other three members of the jury will be invited by the EZLN.

SEVENTH. If Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real vanquishes Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos in a fair fight, he has the right to unmask him once, in front of whoever wants to come. Moreover, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos will publicly beg his pardon and will submit to the action of Spanish justice so they can torture him (exactly as they torture the Basques when they are arrested) and respond to the accusations which abound in Mr. Garzón Real’s letter, dated April (sic) 3, 2002.

If, to the contrary, Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real is the vanquished party in a fair fight, he commits to give legal counsel to the EZLN in regard to the charges that, as a last peaceful recourse of the zapatistas and before international legal institutions, will be pressed to demand recognition of indigenous rights and culture, which, violating international law and common sense, were rejected by the three powers of the Mexican government.

Moreover, if it is possible and if he so desires it, he will legally represent the EZLN before said international institutions ONLY in matters that pertain to the demand for legal recognition of our rights and culture.

This will be so since charges will also be pressed in regard to crimes against humanity by Mr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, the party responsible for the Acteal massacre (perpetrated in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast in December, 1997) where 45 indigenous children, women men and elderly people were executed. As will be recalled, Mr. Zedillo was recently rewarded by Mr. José María Aznar, chief of the Spanish government, for his participation in the massacre.

Similar charges will also be pressed against the chiefs of the Spanish government who, during the presidency of Mr. Zedillo in Mexico, were his accomplices in this and other aggressions against the Mexican Indian peoples.

These conditions are non-negotiable; Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real must respond, within a reasonable time frame, as to whether he accepts them. However, the details of the debate will be agreed upon by the sponsoring teams of the challenger and the challenged.

Mr. Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real: as you will see in the copies of the letters attached, I have already begun the task of fulfilling my part.

From gachupín to gachupín, since a quart of Spanish blood runs in my veins, I hope that you understand and that you remain willing to follow through with the debate to which you challenge me.

You have the opportunity to choose: you may put your knowledge and your skills at the service of a just and noble cause (and at the same time demonstrate that international justice doesn’t just exist to approve wars and cover up criminals), or to continue where you are, caressed by those who are on top at the cost of the blood and pain of those below.

Vale. Salud and I hope all of this works to give the word a chance.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. December, 2002.

PS. Please know, your honor, that all the insults you lavish upon me in your letter leave me practically i-m-m-o-v-a-b-l-e. The thing that hurt, way bad, is that bit about the “ridiculous pipe.” So I’m making a new one which, as you’ll see, will create quite a furor when I appear with it in la Gran Vía and in las Ramblas. By the way, is smoking allowed in front of la Cibeles?

ANOTHER PS. The part about the “ship gone adrift” actually does worry me. Does that mean that the coasts that I spy from here are not those of the Island El Hierro (considered the edge of the world until the discovery of America), after all, but are in fact the Java Islands? I’d been saying, when we passed by Krakatoa, that, for a change and to honor the “zapatista” thing, we had chosen the longest road. Sigh.


Zapatista Army of National Liberation

December 7, 2002.

To the Basque leftist (abertzales) political, social and cultural organizations. Basque Country.

From Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Mexico.

Brothers and sisters:

I write to you in the name of the children, elderly, women and men of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation of Mexico and I greet you all with respect and admiration.

I believe I am not mistaken is supposing that you are well aware of the polemic that has developed in the wake of the zapatista letter read in the Aguascalientes of Madrid at the end of November of this year.

As you will see in the letter I attach here, I have accepted the challenge to debate by Judge Baltasar Garzón. Since I am the challenged party it falls to me to establish the conditions, and I have let him know that one will be that a parallel event must be held along with the debate: an encounter among all the political and cultural forces implicated in the Basque Country situation who are willing to participate. I have also written to the ETA, asking it to declare a unilateral truce for 177 days as of December 24 of this year, in order to create conditions that would make the said encounter possible.

So, that is a dense synthesis. You will be able to see more details in the mentioned letters. But I write specifically to you for various reasons.

Besides inviting you to participate in the encounter, I am writing you to ask you to join the petition I am making to the ETA, since you have the moral authority and prestige that I lack to do so.

I also ask that you, with your inclusionary approach and your tolerance, gather as much force as possible to organize and carry out the event. I ask this of you because, historically, the left has always demonstrated that it is better organized than the right. The subjects, rhythms and so on of the encounter should be matters decided on by all the forces who wish to give the word a chance.

Well do I know that, unlike the parliamentary Mexican left, you actually have an alternative political project, not just for the struggle for Basque sovereignty but for the construction of a more just, more democratic and freer system, that is, a more human one. This is why I turn to you, to your experience, to your decision to struggle, to your heroism and to the moral authority which, I have no doubt, you have constructed within the noble Basque people. Nor do I doubt that there are as yet unknown pathways to conquer Basque sovereignty.

Nor do I doubt that those paths are currently closed due to the terror which is encouraged by both sides.

This is why I ask you to speak and to listen, that you speak among yourselves and listen to each other. Not that you renounce your convictions and your projects, but that you make them known in a space which you should struggle for, along with all honest men and women.

I ask that you struggle to make this space a reality. No one has anything to lose (except us, the zapatistas, but that’s our specialty) and there is much to be gained.

I ask that you dedicate your best efforts to giving the word a chance.

Another thing (yes, I know I’m way beyond importunate, but ye are noble), I ask that, even though everything is against it and nothing comes out the way we would have wanted it, you in whatever way possible open that space and convoke all those which wish, to speak and listen to what everyone has to say and to hear.

Vale. Salud, and I know this is sounding like a slogan of a movement without any one home, but the word must be given a chance.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, December, 2002.


Zapatista Army of National Liberation,


December 7, 2002

To Spanish and Basque Civil Society.

Iberian Peninsula, Planet Earth.

From Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos


Ladies, gentlemen and children:

I write to you in the name of the elderly, women, children and men of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, of Mexico, to greet you.

Recently, a letter of ours, read at Madrid’s Aguascalientes, opened up a polemic and a condemnation of us, because the missive was ambiguous in terms of the actions of the Basque organization ETA. Although at the beginning of the letter it was pointed out that “nothing is accidental with the zapatistas,” and that we were clearly referring to political rather than armed struggle of the Basque people, the lack of an explicit condemnation of terrorism was interpreted as the EZLN’s support of the ETA and its actions.

I should tell you that the ambiguity was purposeful, as was the overall tone of the letter. We seek to provoke the hispanic temperament of a man and thus launch a noble and honest initiative which, in the part that concerns us, represents the last chance to achieve a peaceful, dignified solution to our demands which are, as everyone knows, the recognition of indigenous rights and culture.

As you know, we do not practice terrorism, and on repeated occasions, in written and spoken declarations, we have condemned terror, regardless of its source. And if this time we did not make it explicit it was for reasons that now can be clearly seen. To the families of the victims of the ETA and the Spanish State, among whom there are more than a few sympathizers with our cause, our sincere apologies if with that ambiguity we were disrespectful of your pain. We wish with all our heart that you understand us and that someday you might forgive us for what we are responsible for.

We are also sorry that your suffering has been manipulated by the Spanish government to distract and hide its criminal ineptness in the ecological catastrophe that has descended upon the noble people of Galicia, which has demonstrated its ability to organize and resolve its problem while those who govern stroll through the social pages of Madrid’s newspapers.

As you know, Judge Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real has challenged me to a public debate on various subjects. We have decided to accept the debate and to establish, as one of the conditions, that there be an encounter among those interested in and affected by the Basque situation, so that they can speak and listen to each other, without bombs, gunshots and arrest warrants. The theme of the conference is “The Basque Country: Pathways.”

In order to make this conference possible, I have sent a letter to the Basque organization ETA, to ask that it declare a unilateral truce of 177 days (beginning December 24th of this year) thereby creating an environment in which the encounter can take place.

We think that something should be done to change the criminal logic that is currently being imposed on the entire planet. We think that terror can be fought with terror, but it cannot be overcome; that legal arguments serve to justify torture, disappearances, murders, but they do not put an end to those who, with ideological or religious arguments, justify the death of others.

In the world today we are presented with a final choice, which, like all final choices, is a trap. We are obligated to choose between one terror and another, and to criticize one supposes support of the other. In this case, we are obliged to choose between the terrorism of the ETA and the terrorism of the Spanish State, and if we define ourselves as apart from one we are accomplices of the other. You and we know that the alternative is not one of these things or the other, but one which is constructed–a new path, and a new world.

It would be beautifully just and instructive if, in the middle of a polarized world where death and destruction only vary in their arguments and their irrationalities (where to condemn the punitive actions of Bush is equivalent to supporting the fundamentalist insanity of Bin Laden), it were in the Iberian Peninsula where a space is opened to give the word a chance.

It would be marvelous if it were Iberian dignity that told the entire world that it is possible, and necessary, to give the word a chance.

For all of these reasons, we are convoking you to mobilize throughout the region, on hispanic soil, to demand that of the Spanish government and the ETA: a chance for the word.

Vale. Salud and, if not now, when?, the word must be given a chance. From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, December 2002.


Zapatista Army of National Liberation December 7, 2002.

To the Basque political-military organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). Basque Country.

From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Mexico.

Madams and sirs:

I write to you in the name of the children, elderly, women and men of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation of Mexico.

As you might know, recently, in a letter read in Spanish territory, we referred to the struggle of the Basque people for their sovereignty. Although the text clearly referred to the Basque political struggle rather than the military one, the words were purposefully ambiguous in regard to the actions of your organization, ETA.

The objective of the ambiguity was to provoke what we have provoked. We are aware that we put at risk the moral capital that we zapatistas have conquered throughout the world, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, but it was necessary…then.

You and we know very well that the EZLN has not carried out, nor will it carry out, a single military action against civilians. You also know that we condemn those kinds of attacks, which tend to take the largest number of their victims among people who don’t even know what is going on.

There have been more than a few civilian victims of your actions. Among them are people who sympathized with our cause and who, like the rest of those civilian victims, died with the anguish of not knowing why.

We consider the struggle of the Basque people for their sovereignty a just and legitimate one, but neither that noble cause, nor any other, justifies the sacrifice of civilian lives. Not only does it not produce any political gain whatsoever, and even if it did produce it, the human cost is unpayable. We condemn military actions that harm civilians. And we condemn them equally, whether they come from the ETA or from the Spanish State, from Al Qaeda or George W. Bush, from Israelis or Palestinians, or from anyone who, under any name or acronym, whether or not they produce ideological, religious or State reasons, take their toll of victims among children, women, elderly and men who have nothing to do with the matter.

I know, too, that in the Spanish government’s list of dead and wounded, the thousands of Basques who have been executed, tortured and disappeared by State forces are not included. However, I am not writing you to compare lists of the dead. In that regard we come out ahead, since there have been millions of indigenous Mexicans who have fallen since the Spanish conquest. And we do not put our dead out to compete with anyone.

No, it is not to speak of what has happened in the past that I address you now.

A few days ago, the Spanish judge Fernando Baltasar Garzón Real challenged me to a debate. I have answered him in the affirmative and I have established as one condition among others, that an encounter be held among all the political, social and cultural forces implicated or interested in the Basque Country’s situation, so that they can speak and hear about Basque pathways.

To this same end, in the name of all of my compañeros and compañeras, I ask that you decree a unilateral truce for a period of 177 days, beginning in the first hour of the 24th of December of 2002. I also ask that you publicly commit to not carrying out a single offensive military operation during that period, thus contributing to create an environment in which that conference can be held, that is, to give the word a chance.

It would be good if Euskadi Ta Askatasuna sent one or several delegates to speak and be heard, not to negotiate or sign anything, to the encounter “The Basque Country: Pathways.” I know that you would run risks, but if you are willing to die or be taken prisoners in the military actions you engage in, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be willing to suffer the same fate in political action.

That is what I am asking of you­not that you surrender, not that you abandon your weapons or your convictions. I only ask that you give the word a chance and thus honor the great risk that the zapatistas have risked and will again. In case you do not accept, I offer myself personally as a good victim in your next attack. You can accuse me of being a “collaborationist” with the Spanish State (which will be something of a paradox, since the Spanish authorities accuse me of being an “apologist for terrorism”). The argument will be the least of the matter. There will be no reproaches or reprisals on our part, since at least I will know why I die. I await your response.

Vale. Salud and a chance for the word.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

México, December, 2002.


Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Mexico

December 7, 2002

To all the political, social, cultural and religious forces of the Basque Country, regardless of your ideology.

From Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Ladies, gentlemen and children:

I write to you in the name of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation to invite you to join and make yours the mobilization “A CHANCE FOR THE WORD” which will attempt to get the ETA and the Spanish government to create an environment in which the encounter “The Basque Country: Pathways” can occur.

This encounter would be held on Lanzarote Island, in the Canary Islands, April 3-7 of 2003 and has no motive other than trying to change the war-mongering logic that is sweeping the world.

We also invite you to make that encounter your own, that you organize and participate in it, in the time and manner that you consider appropriate.

The encounter is supposed to be one of the conditions that we established for entering the debate to which Judge Baltasar Garzón challenged us, but, if it does not happen or some misfortune or contretemps should impede the celebration of the joust, we respectfully ask that you carry out the encounter anyway, in the place and time most convenient for you.

I won’t go on here so as not to repeat what has already been said in the letters I am attaching.

We are sure that this initiative, if it is successful, will become a ray of hope for all the peoples of the earth.

Again, our saludo, our respect and our admiration.

Vale. Salud and don’t you think it’s worth it to give the word a chance?

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, December, 2002.


La Jornada, December 15, 2002

Response to the invitation by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

We write to you in the name of thousands and thousands of Basque citizens, men and women who, following the suspension of the political organization Batasuna by Judge Baltasar Garzón in the four Basque provinces under Spanish administration, have been left stripped of their most basic civil and political rights, such as the right of political organization, the right of free demonstration, the right of assembly, and even the right of free expression. This illegalization is added, moreover, to a list of previous illegalizations–of the newspaper and the radio station Egin; of the magazine Ardi Beltza; of the pro-amnesty movement, on two occasions; of the youth movement, on three occasions; as well as the criminalization of Basque schools, of the adult literacy association, of the civil disobedience movement, and of dissident popular sectors in general…

We have not the slightest doubt, that this judicial act which outlaws Batasuna as of 2003, and the Law of Political Parties in the Spanish Parliament–whose objective has been publicly recognized by the president of the Spanish government himself, José María Aznar–that this is a response to the international climate fostered by the supposed anti-terrorist initiative by the US president Bush, after the September 11 attacks in 2001 in the United States. It is not that September 11 began anything new, but those attacks have played into imperialist plans to accelerate aggression, which is designed to create a new international order, based on the domination by the powerful of the weak, of neoliberal uni-thought where the left and stateless nations have no place.

Nor has the Basque case been the only example of this kind of anti-democratic political action in the world. It is clear that the Israeli head of state Sharon has stepped up his aggression against the Palestinian people. The Russian president Putin has done the same in Chechnya. The actions of President Uribe, in Colombia, is similar, where guerrilla movements have become terrorist movements. And let us not even mention the announced attack of Iraq, of the past military aggression against Afghanistan. And there are many more examples that could be given from throughout the world.

But such action is not just directed at national liberation movements of oppressed peoples. Right here in the European Union, the movement against globalization and neoliberalism is also suffering from a clear criminalization policy, as demonstrated by the arrest and jailing of numerous Italian militants by order of the Berlusconi government.

In other words, all those who oppose the uni-thought and the established neoliberal order, in defense of their identity as a people or of their class condition, are systematically persecuted throughout the world. Political, military, cultural, economic, ecological and gender aggression, including violence, is legitimated by States, and the self-defense of those attacked, violent or not, is persecuted. Just as we said in Genova at the counter-summit of the G8, eight cannot impose their globalizing project by force of arms on 6 billion inhabitants.

The aspiration of all the peoples of the planet, to live in peace under a just social order where wealth is not the patrimony of only a few and where the force of imposition does not rule, but rather reason, solidarity among peoples and persons, had never been so ferociously repressed and silenced by the centers of military, economic and media power. As Che Guevara said, imposition, oppression and the philosophy of plundering the weak, are what fuel the philosophy of war. Put a halt to social injustice and the dominion of the powerful and we will establish a firm foundation for peace.

Our people has never been a bellicose people, but it has been a rebel people: rebel against oppression, rebel against injustice, rebel against imposition. Euskal Herria wants peace, a solid, stable and lasting peace, without interventions or impositions by the States that dominate and divide us in two, brothers of the north and the south, torn apart by political interests and the vicissitudes of an historic process of configuration of the ruling classes in emergent European capitalism.

We want peaceful coexistence with Spain and France in the framework of equality and mutual respect; we want to live in solidarity with the Spanish and French people and with all the peoples of Europe and the world, and we yearn, finally, to have a new state of social relations, where war, violence and oppression are nothing more than a bad memory for humankind.

Despite what has been said about us in the media all over the world, Batasuna has never justified nor encouraged recourse to armed struggle, not in Euskal Herria nor outside our country, but it does believe that while democratic and just conditions to resolve conflicts do not exist, here and in the rest of the world, there will always be a part of the oppressed who will resort to the use of political violence as a means of action. This is why we refuse to condemn it politically, because the condemnation does not resolve the underlying political problem, and our responsibility and obligation as a political force of the left is precisely to look for solutions to the problems of this world; because another world is possible; if it is a socialist one, even better.

For all of these reasons, we thank Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and the EZLN for their interest, solidarity and support of the Basque cause, and it is reciprocated, since from Euskal Herria we follow the just struggle of the EZLN, and many of us Basques have participated in the international zapatista march or in support brigades, like those organized by the Basque internationalist group Askapena.

We are also betting everything on dialogue and agreement among all the parties as a method of resolving the conflict and of national construction and social change. We are creating the political conditions for a political transition without violence. In said process, ETA granted a truce which lasted for 20 months to support this Basque process supported by the social, union, institutional and political majority in Euskal Herria. However, the government of Madrid, instead of taking advantage of the situation, just like the British government did in the Irish case, set about dynamiting it. Aznar was the primary responsible party in the explosion of that political process that was supposed to be the definitive political resolution of the problem. The objective of the government of Madrid is not peace, it is the liquidation of the process of Basque sovereignty, even though this may be exercised non-violently and democratically.

But social processes, and the Basque emancipatory process are not an exception; Batasuna is looking for democratic formulas of resolution based on the recognition of the right to free determination of our people in all of its territory, because that is the scenario that the majority of Basque people want. We Basques want to take up the word under democratic conditions and we want everyone to respect that decision, independent of the results. We are conscious that Basque society is plural, and we want to construct a country for every one of the Basque citizens, without exclusions, a country of everyone and for everyone, a country which recognizes all the rights of everyone and all its citizens in all of Basque territory–all rights, from self-determination to the right to live, and all the other civil, political, economic and cultural rights in between.

This scenario should guarantee equality of opportunity for all political projects. We, with humility and with a lot of work, will contribute a project for an independent and socialist Euskal Herria.

In conclusion, we greet you and we are willing to participate in any serious political initiative with a democratic base that has as its objective the creation of the necessary political conditions for everyone, with the objective of guaranteeing that Basque men and women may freely and democratically decide the future of Euskal Herria. Un saludo fraternal y revolucionario.

Long live the solidarity of the oppressed peoples!

Gora herria!

Euskal Herria, December12, 2002.


La Jornada, December 21, 2002

December 20, 2002

Manifesto for the word

Recently, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has publicized a proposal for mobilization in our country to give the word a chance and to build, this coming April, an encounter for conversation and debate on the so-called Basque conflict.

Via several documents, addressed to civil society as well as various organizations and people, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation once again indicates its unmistakable commitment to dialogue, as well as its desire to contribute humbly to unblock the closed mindedness and intransigence that impede the constitution of a political framework that would propitiate the resolution of the so-called Basque conflict via the word.

The undersigned have heard the call of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and we make it our own, convinced that the word and dialogue are the key and the most important factors in the resolution of conflicts and the follow-through of peace, freedom and democracy for everyone.

In the last few years, the men, women, children and elderly people of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation have been an example of dignity and ethics for all of us. Their decided struggle for the recognition of the rights and culture of the indigenous people of Mexico has been a mirror that has reflected the men and women across the planet who defend and hoisted the desire and the need for another possible world, one that is more just and more human.

In these times in which we live we observe with concern the imposition of a logic of permanent world war waged by the powerful throughout the entire world. The imposition of this logic is radically undermining any real possibility of the real democratic exercise of dissidence and is taking shape as a dangerous and generalized reduction of citizenship and liberties.

The undersigned of this manifesto work, in one way or another, with the word. The word is our tool and our clay, our instrument and our music. The word brings us joy and sorrow, it lulls us to sleep and wakes us up, it greets and takes its leave of us. The word unites and separates us, it condemns and absolves us. The word constitutes us and differentiates us as the human beings that we are among other species. But the word cannot exist freely and truly in a world of imposed silence, a world of fear, a world in which we are systematically condemned to an irresponsible and unjust “with us or with them.”

The undersigned of this manifesto wholeheartedly unite with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation’s proposal and we ask that all of those who have been felt its appeal that you listen and give the word a chance, using it and taking care of it, making it public, shouting it to the five winds.

We take up the word so that others will take it up as well, so that it is multiplied and we are multiplied, let us make it ours so that they can never take it away from us again, so that it may be, as of now and forever, the only weapon.

The undersigned of this manifesto reiterate our support of the proposal by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and we make it our own. In so doing, we call on civil society of all of the Spanish State to make it equally its own and to participate in the Civic Forum for the Word, which will begin December 22 at 11:00 a.m. in the Instituto Cardenal Cisneros of Madrid.

Let us begin, let us walk with the word, let us travel the path of dialogue to speak and hear each other. Let’s give the word a chance. Spanish State, Europe, Planet Earth.

December 2002.

Signed by 57 artists, intellectuals, and political personalities, including:

Ignacio Ramonet, director of Le Monde Diplomatique; writer and journalist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán; musician Manu Chao, musician Pedro Guerra; journalist Pilar del Río; director of Radio France International, Ramón Chao; professor and writer Marcos Roitman, various council members and leaders of Izquierda Unida, including militant Jaime Pastor, philosopher Javier Sádaba, of the Universidad Complutense; académicos de la Universidad de Barcelona, including Joan Martínez Alier, of the Ecological Economy program; Amparo Sánchez, member of the musical group Amparanoia; film director Pedro Pérez Rosado, Madrid city council member Inés Sabanés, deputies of the Autonomous Community of Madrid Angel Pérez Martínez and Dolores Ruano; and Hans Modrow, representative of the European Parliament.

Leslie López lives in Santa Cruz, California. She can be reached at: