Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 24, 2019

Zapatistas 'When Tyrants Become Fearful' -- As surveillance increases, so does resistance

Message from the Zapatista Army for National Liberation on the 100th Anniversary of the Assassination of General Emiliano Zapata

April 2019
Spanish, Italian and German at:

To the family and friends of Samir Flores Soberanes:

To the Assembly of the Amilcingo Resistance:

To the Morelos-Puebla-Tlaxcala People's Front in Defense of the Land and Water:

To the National Indigenous Congress:

To the Indigenous Governing Council:

To the National and International Sixth:

To the CIG Support Networks and the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion:

To all those who struggle against the capitalist system:

Sisters and brothers:

Compañeros and compañeras:

This is Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, writing you on behalf of all of the Zapatista women, men, children, and elders. It is my job, as EZLN spokesperson, to communicate our collective word.

We also send you our collective embrace from the mountains of the Mexican southeast to the dignified lands of Emiliano Zapata and his successors in struggle—like Samir Flores Soberanes, our brother and compañero in the struggle to defend life. That embrace comes from all of the Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Mame, Mestizo, and Tzeltal Zapatista peoples. Brothers and sisters, accept this embrace from all of the Zapatistas of the EZLN as a symbol of our respect and admiration.

We aren't able to be present there with you as we would have liked, for the simple reason that the bad government has increased its military, police, and paramilitary presence in our lands, as well as its use of spies and informants. Flyovers by military planes and helicopters and armored vehicle patrols have once again reappeared here, just as during the presidencies of Carlos Salinas de Gortari [1988-1994], of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León [1994-2000] (political mentor of the current president), of Vicente Fox Quesada [2000-2006] after the betrayal of the San Andrés Accords, of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (that psychopath), and of that pompadoured thief in a suit and tie named Enrique Peña Nieto, but now with greater frequency and aggression.

Those patrols and flyovers are not monitoring the narco-trafficking routes, nor the routes of those exhausted caravans of our migrant brothers and sisters who are fleeing one unrecognized war to enter another, the latter hidden behind that yammering bully who occupies the [US] presidency. No, this death threat passes by air and by land through the indigenous communities who have decided to maintain their resistance and rebellion in defense of the land, and thus in defense of life.

In addition, army and air force personnel have been coming to the mountains and showing up in the communities saying that war is imminent and that they are only awaiting orders from "the top." Some of them pretend to be something they are not and never will be in order to try to gather information on the supposed "military plans" of the EZLN. Maybe that's because they don't know that the EZLN always says what it does and does what it says, or perhaps because their real intent is to stage a provocation and then try to frame the EZLN for it. It's the same strategy used by Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León and his lackey Esteban Moctezuma Barragán,[i] the latter today in charge of ambushing the democratic teachers' union.

The reality is that this bad government is just like the previous ones, only it uses a different justification: today the persecution, harassment, and attacks on our communities are "for the good of all"[ii] and are carried out under the flag of the "Fourth Transformation."[iii]

But that's not really what we wanted to write you about today. After all, any denunciation is quickly discredited by the president's insistence that it comes from "radicals of the conservative left," which just means that anyone who hasn't been paid off and dares to criticize the supreme government doesn't even qualify as "bourgie."[iv] He'll either say that or whatever random idea he came up with that morning, later to be celebrated by his followers on social networks (supposedly "modern" only because their fanaticism is digital) who have the same arguments as all those who applaud the excesses of tyrants around the world and who exemplify the words of Emiliano Zapata Salazar: "Ignorance and obscurantism have never produced anything other than flocks of slaves for the tyranny."[v]

What is currently happening in these Chiapan lands is just more of the same, the same things we have been subjected to over the past 25 years, and we repeat here what we have said before: those who occupy those positions above are all the same, and today we can say this literally—they are the exact same people as always. Reality washes away the makeup they try to use to simulate change.

Sisters and brothers:

Compañeros and compañeras:

We see that your resistance is great. We say this not only because you have resisted precisely as those above celebrate a great betrayal—that which assassinated Emiliano Zapata Salazar yet failed to detain the cause which lives and persists throughout centuries and throughout the territory that we still call Mexico: Zapatismo. We also say this because your resistance, your struggle for life, is inspiring for any honest person in the world. It's not a play for money, cushy jobs, or gifts. It is for the generations to come—if indeed the arrogance of the Ruler does not triumph and destroy all of our communities.

Thus your struggle not only merits support and admiration, but should be replicated all over the planet where nature and those who inhabit it are destroyed under the flag of "order and progress." There are times when a cause is materialized in a person—a man, woman, or other—and thus that cause takes on a name, birthplace, family, community, and history. That was the case for Emiliano Zapata Salazar, and it is the case for Samir Flores Soberanes, who they tried to buy off, to force to surrender, and to convince to abandon his ideals. He didn't, so they killed him. He did not give in, give up, or sell out.

Those who were relieved by his murder and who carried out a supposed "referendum" in mockery of that tragedy thought that everything ended there, that the resistance against that megaproject—criminal like all megaprojects—would be washed away by the tears of those who will miss their brother and compañero.

They were wrong, just as Carranza[vi] and Guajardo[vii] were wrong when they believed Zapata met his end in Chinameca[viii].

In the same way, the current president is wrong when, in an ostentatious display of ignorance of the history and culture of the country it claims to "rule" (the well-worn book on his bedside table is not Who Governs, but rather Who Rules), it paints Francisco I. Madero[ix]and Emiliano Zapata Salazar as friends. Just as Madero wanted to buy Zapata off, the bad government wanted to buy off Samir and the communities in resistance using aid programs and "development" projects and other lies.

Those communities and Samir responded by continuing the work of resistance, something that would have made Emiliano Zapata proud. He used to say that he could not be bought off with gold, and that here in Morelos there are still men—we would add "and women and others"—who have integrity.

The ignorance and arrogance that characterize the current head of the bad government aren't new, either. Nor is his court of admirers, a bunch of shameless crooks who rewrite history to suite the tyrant's moods and present him as the culmination of history. They applaud him and repeat, in a display of unrestrained sycophantism, whatever idiocy comes out of his mouth. He issues a decree that neoliberalism has ended and his coterie quickly rearranges facts, statistics, and development projects to hide them behind the scenes of the so-called "Fourth Transformation"—really just the continuation and intensification of the most brutal and bloody epoch of the capitalist system.

What's more, the gaggle of admirers that the tyrant has convoked is filled with lackeys of all sorts and states of indecency who live, and kill, to meet the real or assumed desires of the acting overseer.

For this reason the president does not need to issue orders to kill, disappear, denigrate, insult, imprison, fire or evict anyone who does not pay him their respects.

All he has to do is announce on stage, in the mainstream media or on social networks that he will exercise what he calls his "right to respond,"[x] and his lackeys see to it that the desires of their lord and master are carried out.

But all tyrants become fearful when a just and humane cause such as yours (which is also ours) is raised by the people. They think that by killing the leadership and most prominent individuals they will also snuff out the cause itself.

We do not know who murdered our compañero Samir, but we do know who singled him out, who, shrieking hysterically, put a target on his back so that mercenaries anxious to please the head of the armed forces would carry out the sentence dictated on that stage-cum-tribunal.[xi]

There was no "right to respond" for Samir Flores Soberanes, nor will there be such a right for the peoples resisting the project of death that is the "Integral Project for Morelos," a megaproject whose only purpose is profits for big capitalists based in Italy and Spain, the latter of which has been asked to seek forgiveness for the conquest it began 500 years ago and which the bad government [in Mexico] continues today.[xii]

You know all of this already, sisters, brothers, compañeros, compañeras. But we repeat it here because of the rage we feel over Samir's murder and the arrogance of those above who think they "rule" when they do not even govern.

We are enraged by the fact that those below are offered only disdain in the form of hand-outs disguised as aid programs and threats if they do not bow down, while those above, who will tomorrow betray those whom today they fawn over, receive smiles, champagne toasts and soothing declarations.

Compañeros and compañeras:

Sisters and brothers:

We know that this bad government, like previous ones, wants to co-opt the image of Emiliano Zapata Salazar in the hopes that the defense of the earth, which for the originary peoples is the name of life itself, will die along with him.

But we also know what is most important, what really counts: we the originary peoples will continue to resist and rebel.

It doesn't matter if they call us "conservatives,"[xiii] or, as they called the Zapatistas of the Liberation Army of the South 100 years ago, "bandits."

Like those before it, the current bad government and its "modern" lackeys can call us whatever they want. Our word and our silence are much greater than their hysterical shrieking.

The Zapatista struggle will live on, and the originary peoples will live on.

In cities and countrysides across the planet there are groups, collectives, and organizations of women, neighbors, artists, young people, scientists, workers, employees, teachers, students and others [otroas]who are rising up in struggle.

What matters is not their size, but their resolve. Together with them, and with respect and solidarity, it is necessary to build a global network of rebellion and resistance against the war which, if capitalism triumphs, will mean the destruction of the planet.

Bad governments will come and go, but the color of the Earth will live on and with it the colors of those who refuse cynicism and resignation, who do not forget or forgive, and who are keeping count of the insults, injuries, imprisonments, disappearances, deaths, and sentences to oblivion.

In that collective thought and collective heart, the world that today agonizes in death throes will be reborn.

Tyrants of all stripes will be brought down together with the system they serve.

And there will finally be life on Earth; life as it should be—that is to say, free.

Until that time arrives, we will tirelessly carry out every day the struggle embodied in the lives of Emiliano Zapata Salazar and Samir Flores Soberanes.

And in that daily struggle our rallying cry will be made real: Zapata and Samir live! And the struggle continues for…


From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico, April 2019

[i] On February 9, 1995, under the pretense of peace talks between the EZLN leadership and government representatives led by then-president Ernesto Zedillo's Secretary of the Interior, Esteban Montezuma Barragán, the federal government launched a military offensive against the Zapatista communities and the EZLN leadership. Montezuma Barragán now serves as López Obrador's Secretary of Education.

[ii] "Por el bien de todos," or "For the good of all" was one of Lopez Obrador's campaign slogans.

[iii] AMLO has deemed his own governing project the "Fourth Transformation," supposedly on par with historic events such as Mexican Independence (1810), a period of reform in the mid-19th century, and the Mexican Revolution (1910).

[iv] On April 10, 2019, the 100th anniversary of Zapata's death, AMLO visited Cuautla, Morelos, site of the proposed thermoelectric plant which faces widespread opposition, and, while pushing the idea of a popular referendum (consulta) on the power plant, repeated a now common trope by shouting at protestors: "Listen, radicals on the Left, as far as I'm concerned you're nothing but a bunch of conservatives!" ( See for his statement on April 10 in Cuautla and reports on his repeated accusation that anyone who criticizes him is "conservative".

[v] Emiliano Zapata, letter to Pancho Villa, 1911.

[vi] Venustiano Carranza was one of the major political leaders of the Mexican Revolution and head of state in Mexico from 1915-1920. Once in power he would try to snuff out Zapatismo in the South.

[vii] Jesús María Guajardo Martínez was a coronel in the Mexican army under Carranza who carried out the assassination of Emiliano Zapata.

[viii] Guajardo murdered Zapata after luring him to a rendezvous at the Chinameca hacienda on April 10, 1919.

[ix] An early leader of the Mexican Revolution, Madero was elected president of Mexico in October 1911. Upon taking office he sought to pacify the rebel peasants and their demands for agrarian reform and collaborated with elements of the old regime. Just a few months later, the Zapatistas' Plan de Ayala thoroughly disowned Madero's government, accusing him of having betrayed the peasant movement.

[x] With this phrase, "el derecho a la réplica," AMLO insists that he has the right to reply to what is said about him in the press. In practice, these replies do less to refute the published facts than try to undercut the legitimacy of the press as such; the phase has thus become a short-hand for denigrating journalism, something like the use of "fake news." See

[xi] See footnote iv.

[xii] In March 2019, Mexican newspaper Reformapublished a leaked draft of a letter written by AMLO to be sent to the King of Spain, asking Spain to apologize for its role in the conquest of the Americas. Following the publication of the letter, AMLO called for Reforma to publish the identities of its anonymous sources. See:

[xiii] See footnote iv.

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