Letter to the Women who Struggle for Freedom in this World from Zapatista Women

Translated by Multi-Medios Karani.

February 11, 2019

The Zapatista Army for National Liberation.


February 2019

To: The Women who struggle throughout the whole world

From: The Zapatista Women


Sister, Comrade:


We send you greetings as we all are women who struggle, on the behalf of zapatista women.


What we want to say and advise you about is a little sad because we communicate that we will not be able to do the second International meeting of women who fight, here in our Zapatista lands, this March of 2019.


The reasons that we cannot, perhaps you already know, and if not then we will share a little:


It turns out that the new bad governments already said it loud and clear that they will advance their great capitalist megaprojects.  Those including their Mayan train, their plan for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, of planting trees for merchandise, wood and fruit.  He also said that miners and large food companies will enter.  And to top it all off, he has an agrarian plan that leads to the ultimate idea of destroying us as native peoples, in the service of turning our lands into a commodity, therefore they want to complete what former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari left pending because he not able to do because we put a stop to it with our uprising.


These projects are projects of destruction.  No matter how much they want to honey coat it with their lies.  No matter how many times they multiply their 30 million in support.  The truth is that everything they push forward goes against the native peoples, and their communities, their lands, their mountains, their rivers, their animals, their plants and even their stones.


So not only do they go against us as Zapatistas, but against all women who say they are indigenous. And also against indigenous men, but right now we’re talking about our plight as women.


They desire that our lands no longer be for us, but for tourists to come for a stroll and have their big hotels and four star restaurants, and the businesses that are needed for tourists to have the luxuries they desire.


They want our lands to become industrial farms that produce precious woods, fruit and water; Into mines to extract the gold, the silver, the uranium, and all the minerals that exist and that the capitalists covet.


They want us to become their pawns, to reduce us into their maids, who can sell our dignity for a few coins a month.


Because those capitalists, and those who obey them in the new bad governments, think that they can buy us off with money.


They cannot understand that we want our freedom, they do not understand that the little we have achieved came through struggling without anyone taking the account, without photos, without interviews, without books, without consultations, without polls, without votes, without museums and without lies.


They do not understand that what they call “progress” is a lie, that they cannot even care for the safety of women, who continue to be beaten, raped, and killed in their progressive or reactionary worlds.


How many women have been murdered in those progressive or reactionary worlds as you read these words, comrade, sister?


Maybe you know, but of course we say that here, in Zapatista territory, not a single woman has  been murdered in many years.  But they turn around, they say that we are the ones who are backwards, ignorant, that we are not a big deal.


Perhaps we do not know what the best feminism is all about, maybe we do not know how to say “cuerpa” or other jargon, or about gender equity or those acronyms that exist with so many letters that cannot even be counted. And it’s not enough for them to say “gender equity,” because they only speak of equality between women and men, even us, whom they call ignorant and backward, we know very well that there are those who are neither men nor women and that people call them “other” but that these People call themselves as they please, and it has not been easy for them to earn that right to be what they are without hiding, because people mock them, persecute them, violate them, assassinate them.  And people still go about trying to force them to be men or women and that they have to put themselves on one side or the other? If those people do not want to choose a side it is great wrong if they are not respected.  Because then, how do we have the authority to complain that we are not respected as the women we are, if we do not ourselves respect these people?  Perhaps, maybe it’s because we’ve talked about what we’ve observed from other worlds and we don’t have much knowledge of those things.


What we do know is that we fight for our freedom and that it is our turn now to fight to defend it, so that our grandmothers ‘ history of sorrow will not be suffered by our daughters and granddaughters.

We have to fight so that we do not repeat the story where we return to the world of just making food and giving birth to our young, to see them then grow in humiliation, contempt and death.


We did not rise up in arms to return to the same thing.


We have not been resisting for 25 years now to go to serve the tourists, the boss, and the foremen.


We will not stop being promoters of education, health, culture, administrators, authorities, commanders, in order to become employees in hotels and restaurants, serving strangers for a few pesos.  No matter if there are many or few pesos, what matters is that our dignity is priceless.



Comrade, Sister:


When you arrived in these mountains for the Encounter of 2018 we noticed that you saw us with respect, and sometimes perhaps with admiration.  Although not all those who came did this, because we know very well that there are those who came to criticize us and to look for the bad. But that does not matter because we know that the world is great and there are many ways of thinking and there are those who understand that not all can do the same, and some do not understand at all.  We respect that, comrade and sister, because it was not the purpose of the Encuentro. That is to say that it was not to see who gives us good qualification or bad qualification, but to find each other and know that we fight as the women that we are.


And we do not want you to look at us now with sorrow or pity, as maids who are given orders in a good or bad manner; Or as those that haggle over the price of their product, sometimes handicrafts, sometimes fruits or vegetables, sometimes whatever is at hand, as do capitalist women.  But who do not haggle when they go to buy their malls but they pay full the price that the capitalists have set and are even happy to do so.


No comrade, sister. We will fight with everything and with all of our might against these megaprojects.  If they conquer these lands, it will be on the blood of us women of the Zapatistas.


So we’ve thought about it and we’re going to do it.


Suddenly these new bad governments think or believe that, as we are women, we will quickly lower our heads, obedient to the boss and his new foremen, because what we are looking for is a good boss and good pay.


But no, what we want is the freedom that no one gave us, but that we conquered by fighting and earned with our own blood.

Do you think that when the forces of the new bad governments, their paramilitaries, their national guards come, we will receive them with honors, with gratitude, with joy?


No, what is going to happen, is that we will meet them on the battlefeild and we will see if they learn who Zapatista women really are, that we will not sell out, will not be defeated and will not surrender.


During the Encounter of Women Who Struggle, we strove to host you in a way to make you feel happy, cheerful and safe, comrade and sister.  And from that we have a great archive of criticism that you left us: that the boards were very hard, that you didn’t like the food, that it was very expensive, why this and why that, and why the other.  We already informed you about how we worked and of the criticism that we received.


And despite the complaints and criticisms, because here you were safe, without men bad or good observing and judging you.  We were all women, you know that.


And now it is no longer safe, because we know that capitalism comes for everything and wants it no matter what the cost.  And they will do it because they feel that many people support them and that they can do barbarism and a half and people will still applaud them.  And they will attack us and check their surveys to see if they have good ratings and so on, until they finish us off.


And even as we wrote this letter, the attacks of their paramilitaries began.  They are the same as before when they came from the PRI, then from PAN, then the PRD, then from the PVEM and now they are from MORENA.


So we say to you, comrade and sister, that we are not going to do the Encounter here, but do it on their land, according to their ways and times.


And although we are not going to attend, we will be thinking of you.



Comrade, Sister:


Don’t stop fighting. Even if those damn capitalists and their new bad governments get away with it and we annihilate, you have to keep fighting in your world.


Because well that we agreed in the meeting that we will fight so that not a single woman in any corner of the world is afraid to be woman.


And then your corner is your corner, comrade and sister, and there you are, as we are touched here in Zapatista lands.


These new bad governments think it easy to defeat us, that we are few and that no one supports us there in other worlds.


But what will be, companion and sister, even if only one of us remains, for that one will fight to defend our freedom.


And we’re not afraid, partner and sister.


If we were not afraid more than 25 years ago when no one looked at us, because less now that you looked at us, good or bad but you looked at us.


Partner, Sister:


Well, then we task you with the duty of tending to the little fire that we gave you.


Don’t let it burn out.


Even when ours is snuffed out here by our blood, and even if it is snuffed out elsewhere, you must tend to yours because, although times are now are difficult, we have to remain who we are, and that we are women who fight.


Well, that’s all comrade and sister.  The summary is that we will not host the encounter and that we are not going to participate.


And if they do the encounter in your world and ask you where are the Zapatistas, why did they not come, you tell them the truth, tell them that the Zapatistas are fighting in their corner of the world for their freedom as the women who we are.


That’s it, take care of yourself, comrade and sister.


Suddenly we dissappear.


Perhaps they tell you that you no longer think of the Zapatistas because they are done for already, that there are no zapatistas, they will tell you.


But when you think that we no longer exist, that they have defeated us, there without you to notice, you will see that we see you and that one of us approaches you and asks in a whisper so that only you can hear: “Where is the fire that we gave you?”



From the Mountains of the Southeast of Mexico.

Zapatista Women

February 2019

Source: Enlace Zapatista


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s