An interview with a Zapatista guerilla
In Mexico for the Zapatista march to the Mexican capital in March 2001, Shaymus King interviews a young Zapatista guerilla in La Morelia.
11th April 2001
Q: From which municipality in Chiapas do you come from?
A: I come from the municipality of Francisco Gomez, which is in the Tzeltal canyons.
Q: How has the militarisation of Chiapas affected your community?
A: My village was affected lots. When the military invaded in 1995 we had to leave the village and take refuge in the mountains, with women, men, old folk and children. The soldiers came and destroyed the houses. They took all our tools and destroyed the water system. Meanwhile we were suffering in the mountains of hunger, cold and with sick children. It was so hard for all the people but the good thing was that in that time no one said that they would give up. We spent a month in the shadow of the mountains.
Q: Did you return to your village?
A: We went back. The soldiers left after 15 days and we went back, but with lots of fear. We thought they would take the leaders.
Q: Do you see any change for the indigenous people since the new government came to power?
A: I think so. For all that's going on, the people here in Mexico are aware of the movement. The civil society and friends from other parts who came here to show solidarity and learn. They come from many parts of the world to learn what's happening here, and about the suffering here, which is the same shit as in all the countries of the world.
Q: What do you think about what President Fox says about peace?
A: About this bloody Fox, he is speaking very much like he wants to change everything. But the reality is that nothing changes. Nothing more than pure politics so that people get the idea that this government is good. But in truth it's not a government which will change things. It wants to fuck people over, but in another, more clever way. I think that although he says it's all okay now, and that he's fulfilling the three signals, the Zapatistas will never trust him.
Q: How do you see the Zapatista march, and do you think it will be successful?
A: I think so. It has moved civil society lots, and people from the states of the Mexican nation, and that is a force to carry on forward, as well as having more unity, both with Mexican and international civil society. So, I think yes, there's success for this march. We'll never stop shouting and criticising these bastard businessmen and the bloody politicians.
Q: What is the Zapatista march about?
A: The Zapatista march is about this government's failure to fulfil all the San Andres peace accords, the need to demilitarise Chiapas and other states like Oaxaca, respect for the indigenous culture of Mexico, and also the liberation of Zapatista prisoners. There remain some 24, and some are still in prison since 1994.
Q: Do you still have hope that in Mexico there will be a peace with justice and dignity for the indigenous?
A: I'm not sure, if the government does nothing. The companeros will never drop their weapons if there is not real peace..... peace with justice and dignity. Not until the government changes all these things which the indigenous people are demanding. If so, there will be peace. If not, no. That should be really clear.
Q: Do you have any messages for friends in England, in your native language, Tzeltal?
A: Companeros y companeras: Bitil ayatek, ya cak beyex spajtil a wotanik, litoy taj lumal Chiapas, tas pisil te macha yas coltayguam ta lucha. (translation) Brothers and sisters, how are you? I send you greetings from my home Chiapas, for all of you who share the struggle.
DIGGING IN CHIAPAS - Shaymus King is a member of the Easton Cowboys, a team of football-playing activists from Bristol. He sent this dispatch from the Chiapas jungle during a recent away fixture against the Zapatistas - March-2001
BANGIN' IN BANGA - The 2nd PGA conference in Bangalore - Sept-1999