Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 12, 2023

The Color of the Earth -- Remembering the great caravan, a time for Indigenous heroes

In Zocalo Plaza, after two weeks on the road, this is what we found waiting in Mexico City. A half million people, with an acre of police attack dogs ready on the outskirts of town. As the caravan traveled into the city, mile after mile, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, lined the streets in neighborhoods, chanting “Zapata Vive!” Zapata is alive! and “No estan solos.” You are not alone! Aboard the Sonora bus, the cries sound back, “Zapata Vive!” As Marcos speaks to the people, aboard the Sonoran bus, they dance in the aisles. Nahuatls from Guerrero, overwhelmed and overjoyed by the flood of love, find a new strength. Jose Trinidad, Nahuatl, says, “If we do not do it for ourselves, who will do it for us? We struggle because we have nothing, not even anything to eat." -- Remembering the great caravan, a time for Indigenous heroes. -- Brenda Norrell

The Seven Messages

From the Zapatista Army
Advance on Mexico City

The First Key

From Temoaya, State of Mexico
March 5, 2001

Brothers and Sisters:

Starting today, we shall begin sending messages to Mexico City.
There are seven messages.
Each one of them has a meaning on its own, and they have exponential
meaning, that is, the one plus the two has meaning, the one plus the two
plus the three another meaning, and so on, until the seventh is complete.
Once the seventh has arrived, we shall enter Mexico City.
The First Key:
"You have nothing to fear.

Let those fear who close their ears and mouths to hearing and speaking with
those whom we are. They shall then be set aside. They shall find
themselves impotent as those without voice recover their voice and those
without face finally recover their face. Then their pursuits shall be as
nothing, those which are those of the conquistadors, those of the viceroys,
those of the conservatives who wanted to make us their empire, those of the
Porfirio landowners, those of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, those of Ernesto
None of them exist now.
And we, we are here.
History has a place for everyone. One takes it, or one leaves it. In
adding and subtracting, not only the "yes's" and "no's" are added, but also
the silences."

The Second Key
From Tepoztlán, Morelos
March 6, 2001

"The silence which we - who are the color of the earth - are has been
shattered. Above its pieces, we are raising ourselves up.
The possibility of our becoming again what we once were, and what we are
not, is not at stake.
Neither is our being what others turn us into.
What is at stake is whether or not the place we already have, and in which
we are, is recognized.
It is the possibility of being with everyone and not under the others.
The small we - of the great we which we are - does not matter.
Everyone is important: those who make laws and those who legitimize them.
Those who make history and those who write it."

'The Zapatistas are Coming!'

The Third Key
From Iguala, Guerrero
March 7, 2001

"This is Mexico. In order to make war one must challenge the government.
In order to achieve the peace with justice and dignity, one must also
challenge the government. We, thus, are challenging whoever objects. We
are challenging them."

The Fourth Key
From Cuautla, Morelos
March 7, 2001

"We shall, then, walk the same path of history, but we shall not repeat it.
We are from before, but we are new."

The Fifth Key
From Milpa Alta, Mexico City
March 8, 2001

"Those of us who take on a name and a mission, we are clothed and protected. He gave us the "nos" that we carry. The "yesses" are an inheritance from the principal ones that are the color of the earth. We don't have two faces. Two feet, yes we do. He who is one is she who is one, is the dignified and rebel woman who walks us. When the moon is a queen who carries three sadnesses, she announces that for three nights the force will be made stronger in the color of the earth.
"The seventh day of passage that left from the house of the Purépecha dawning, the color of the earth will paint all the lands that grow toward above. Only then will the pain begin to die. And the color of we who are the earth will dance with all the colors."

The Sixth Key
From Xochimilco, Mexico City
March 10, 2001

"On the seventh day dawning from the step that we gave birth to collectively, the word will be veiled. On the shoulders of wheat, we will be bread with everything that we are. The land that grows toward above will open its eyes and ears to the color of the earth. That is to say, it will open its arms to us.
"The day will reflect the one in the mirror and the rebellion will reiterate history. March will see the silence made into splinters and another voice, the brown voice, will be among all the voices that sing."

The Seventh Key
From the Heart of México
March 11, 2001

"The Seventh Key is..
You "

Words of the EZLN
March 11, 2001.
In the Zócalo of Mexico City.
Mexico City:

We have arrived.
We are here.
We are the National Indigenous Congress and zapatistas who are, together,
greeting you.
If the grandstand where we are is where it is, it is not by accident. It
is because, from the very beginning, the government has been at our backs.
Sometimes with artillery helicopters, sometimes with paramilitaries,
sometimes with bomber planes, sometimes with war tanks, sometimes with
soldiers, sometimes with the police, sometimes with offers for the buying
and selling of consciences, sometimes with offers for surrender, sometimes
with lies, sometimes with strident statements, sometimes with forgetting,
sometimes with expectant silences. Sometimes, like today, with impotent
That is why the government never sees us, that is why it does not listen to
If they quickened their pace a bit, they might catch up with us.
They could see us then, and listen to us.
They could understand the long and firm perspective of the one who is
persecuted and who, nonetheless, is not worried, because he knows that it
is the steps that follow which require attention and determination.

Brother, Sister:
Indigenous, worker, campesino, teacher, student, neighbor, housewife,
driver, fisherman, taxi driver, stevedore, office worker, street vendor,
brother, unemployed, media worker, professional worker, religious person,
homosexual, lesbian, transsexual, artist, intellectual, militant, activist,
sailor, soldier, sportsman, legislator, bureaucrat, man, woman, child,
young person, old one.
Brother, sister of the National Indigenous Congress, now rainbow of the
best of the Indian peoples of Mexico:
We should not have been here.
(After hearing this, I'm sure that the one at my back is applauding like
crazy for the first time. So I'm going to repeat it…)
We should not have been here.
The ones who should have been here are the zapatista indigenous
communities, their 7 years of struggle and resistance, their ear and their
The zapatista people. The men, children, women and old ones, support bases
of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, who are the feet that walk
us, the voice that speaks us, the looking which makes us visible, the ear
which makes us heard.
The ones who should have been here are the insurgent women and men, their
persistent shadow, their silent strength, their memory risen.
The insurgent women and men. The women and men who make up the regular
troops of the EZLN and who are guardian and heart of our peoples.
It is they who deserve to see you and to listen to you and to speak with
We should not have been here.
And, nonetheless, we are.
And we are next to them, the men and women who people the Indian peoples of
all Mexico.
The Indian peoples, our most first, the very first inhabitants, the first
talkers, the first listeners.
Those who, being first, are the last to appear and to perish...
Indigenous brother, sister.
We come from very far away.
We walk time.
We walk the land.
We are the bow and the arrow.
Wind walked.
We are the blood and the heart.
The guerrero and the guardian.
The embrace of the compañero.
They assume us to be defeated.
We have much time in our hands.
We came here to give ourselves name.
We came here to say "we are."
We came here to be gazed upon.
Here to see ourselves being looked upon.
Our name is spoken here for our journey.
This is what we are:
The one who flourishes amidst hills.
The one who sings.
The one who guards and nurtures the ancient word.
The one who speaks.
The one who is of maize.
The one who resides in the mountain.
The one who walks the land.
The one who shares the idea.
The true we.
The true man.
The ancestor.
The Señor of the net.
The one who respects history.
The one who is people of humble custom.
The one who speaks flowers.
The one who is rain.
The one who has knowledge to govern.
The hunter of arrows.
The one who is sand.
The one who is river.
The one who is desert.
The one who is the sea.
The different one.
The one who is person.
The swift walker.
The one who is good.
The one who is mountain.
The one who is painted in color.
The one who speaks right word.
The one who has three hearts.
The one who is father and older brother.
The one who walks the night.
The one who works.
The man who is man.
The one who walks from the clouds.
The one who has word.
The one who shares the blood and the idea.
The son of the sun.
The one who goes from one side to the other.
The one who walks the fog.
The one who is mysterious.
The one who works the word.
The one who governs in the mountain.
The one who is brother, sister.
Our name says all of this.
And it says more.
But it is hardly heard.
Another name covers our name.
We came here to be ourselves with those we are.
We are the mirror for seeing ourselves and for being ourselves.
We, those who are the color of the earth.
Here, no longer shame for the color of our skin.
Here, no longer embarrassment.
Here the pride of our being the color we are of the color of the earth.
Here the dignity which is seeing ourselves being seen being the color of
the earth which we are.
Here the voice which births us and inspires us.
Here, the silence no longer.
Here the shout.
Here, the place that was concealed.
Here the dark light, the time and the feeling.

Indigenous and Non-indigenous Brother, Sister:
We are mirror.
We are here in order to see each other and to show each other, so you may
look upon us, so you may look at yourself, so that the other looks in our
We are here and we are a mirror.
Not reality, but merely its reflection.
Not light, but merely a glimmer.
Not path, but merely a few steps.
Not guide, but merely one of the many routes which lead to tomorrow.

Brother, Sister Mexico City:
When we say "we are," we are also saying "we are not" and "we shall not
That is why it is good for those who, up above, are money and the ones who
peddle it, to take note of the word, to listen to it carefully, and to look
with care at what they do not want to see.
We are not those who aspire to make themselves power and then impose the
way and the word. We will not be.
We are not those who put a price on their own, or another's, dignity, and
convert the struggle into a market, where politics is the business of
sellers who are fighting, not about programs, but for clients. We will not
We are not those who are expecting pardon and handouts from the one who
feigns to help, when he is, in reality, buying, and who does not pardon,
but humiliates the one who, by merely existing, is a defiance and challenge
and claim and demand. We will not be.
We are not those who wait, naively, for justice to come from above, when it
only comes from below. The liberty which can only be achieved with
everyone. The democracy which is all the floors and is fought for all the
time. We will not be.
We are not the passing fashion which, made ballad, is filed in the calendar
of defeats which this country flaunts with such nostalgia. We will not be.
We are not the cunning calculation which falsifies the word and conceals a
new fakery within it. We are not the simulated peace longing for eternal
war. We are not those who say "three," and then "two" or "four" or "all"
or "nothing." We will not be.
We are, and we shall be, one more in the March.
Of Indigenous Dignity.
Of the Color of the Earth.
That which unveils and reveals the many Mexicos which are hidden and suffer
under Mexico.
We are not their spokesperson.
We are one voice among all those voices.
An echo which dignity repeats among all the voices.
We join with them, we are made multiple with them.
We will continue to be echo. We are, and we shall be, voice.
We are reflection and shout.
We shall always be.
We can be with or without face, armed with fire or without, but we are
zapatistas, we are and we shall always be.

Ninety years ago the powerful asked those from below which Zapata was
"With whose permission, Señores?"
And those from below responded, and we respond:
"With ours."
And with our permission, for exactly 90 years, we have been shouting, and
they call us "rebels."
And today we are repeating: we are rebels.
Rebels we shall be.
But we want to be so with everyone we are.
Without war as house and path.
Because so speaks the color of the earth: The struggle has many paths, and
it has but one destiny: to be color with all the colors which clothe the

Brother, Sister:
Up there they say that this is the end of a tremor. That everything will
pass except their being above us.
Up there they say that you are here to watch in morbid fascination, to
hear, without listening to anything. They say we are few, that we are
weak. That we are nothing more than a photograph, an anecdote, a
spectacle, a perishable product whose expiration date is close at hand.
Up there they say that you will leave us alone. That we shall return alone
and empty to the land in which we are.
Up there they say that forgetting is defeat, and they want to wait for you
to forget and to fail and to be defeated.
They know up there, but they do not want to say it: there will be no more
forgetting, and defeat shall not be the crown for the color of the earth.
But they do not want to say so, because saying it is recognizing it, and
recognizing it is seeing that everything has changed, and nothing will
change now without everyone changed, changing.
This movement, the one of the color of the earth, is yours, and because it
is yours, it is ours.
Now, and it is what they fear, there is no longer the "you" and the "we,"
because now we are all the color we are of the earth.
It is the hour for the fox and the one he serves to listen and to listen to
It is the hour for the fox and the one who commands him to see us.
Our word speaks one single thing.
Our looking looks at one single thing.
The constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.
A dignified place for the color of the earth.
It is the hour in which this country ceases to be a disgrace, clothed only
in the color of money.
It is the hour of the Indian peoples, of the color of the earth, of all the
colors which we are below, and which colors we are in spite of the color of
We are rebels because the land is rebel if someone is selling and buying
it, as if the land did not exist, as if the color we are of the earth did
not exist.

Mexico City:
We are here. We are here as rebellious color of the earth which shouts:
We did not come to tell you what to do, or to guide you along any path. We
came in order to humbly, respectfully, ask you to help us. For you to not
allow another day to dawn without this flag having an honorable place for
us who are the color of the earth.
From the Zócalo in Mexico City.
Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Mexico, March of 2001.

The Seven Messages
Solve the Seven-Part Zapatista Riddle

EZLN Translated by irlandesa and by Narco News
Para los siete mensajes en español haz click

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