A few words from Zapatista women during the closing ceremony of the First International, Political, Artistic, Athletic, and Cultural Gathering of Women Who Fight
A few words from Zapatista women during the closing ceremony of the
First International, Political, Artistic, Athletic, and Cultural Gathering of Women Who Fight, which took place in the Zapatista Caracol of Tzotz Choj
March 10, 2018
Good evening, good morning, and good afternoon, friends and sisters who fight, wherever you are.
Sisters and friends who accompanied us in this First International Gathering of Women Who Fight, we are going to say a few words on behalf of all of us Zapatista women of the five caracoles.
We would like to thank our fellow women citizens from the support teams, whom we well know worked so hard handling mail, registration, transportation arrangements, and organizing event schedules and locations.
We would also like to pay tribute to our Zapatista sisters who were not able to attend this gathering and stayed behind so that we might be able to attend.
Likewise, we would like to thank our male partners who stayed behind to care for our families, our animals, our homes, our stations, and our fields, and who remained vigilant in the event that bad governments would attempt to conspire against our gathering.
However, our final words are especially directed at you, sisters and fellow women who fight.
We thank you with all of our humble and simple hearts, hearts of resistance and rebelliousness, for your participation, women who fight in the five continents of the world—those who are here, as well as those who are watching what has happened here.
We thank you for listening, for watching, for speaking; we thank you for your workshops, your talks, your art, your videos, your music, your poetry, your stories, your theater plays, your dances and rhythms, and your paintings; we thank you for strange things that we did not even recognize, and for everything you brought so that we may get to know your struggles and learn from them.
We welcomed everything as a very valuable gift that we will care for and enlarge, because we will take it to our communities and peoples so that more Zapatista women may partake on it, this gift that you have bestowed upon us.
We received it with respect and affection because all of you made great efforts to travel from your places of struggle, from your era and in your ways, from your worlds, and arrived here to this gathering, whose success remains to be seen.
We have seen some of the things that were delivered to the feedback table. We have yet to read everything and analyze it together. In the feedback box we found a letter with a message that we believe touches us all. We will read it to you. (They read a letter from relatives of the missing students from Ayotzinapa, asking for support because the bad government wants to close the case and let it fade into oblivion.)
We have not reviewed all the comments, but we assure you that we are committed to correct those things you have pointed out as wrong and to improve those things you have pointed out as lacking.
We will say that, yes, until now the vast majority of comments criticize errors and flaws we have as an organization.
We assure you that we will take into account all of your criticism so that we may improve for next time, if there is a next time. All of these criticisms, as well as the comments that we shared during these few days, will be published in the Zapatista website so that all of you may see them.
In any case, in general, we would like to know what all of you think.
Thus, we ask you, friends and sisters:
Did it go alright?
Or did it go badly?
Well, here in our notes we wrote that whether you reply that it went well or badly—well, to be honest, we ask you to keep it amongst ourselves, as women and as women who fight. So, please, do not go around talking about it, particularly to the men.
To tell you the truth, sisters and friends, we are very worried because we do not know how to move forward.
This is the first time that as women, alone, we organize a gathering like this.
And we organized it from the grassroots—that is, we held group meetings and discussions in our towns and communities. Later, in the regions, in the zones, and eventually in all five zones together.
And, thus, you can see that, between us, it took time to organize a small gathering—imagine how much worse it was to organize a large one such as this!
It took months until we all agreed, because, if we are going to do it, we must do so together, as a group.
And there is no book or manual for this.
And it was not an option to ask the men because they do not know how to do it either; as we said, this had never been done before.
Thus, we had to figure it out ourselves.
Thus, we have worked on it day and night. Sometimes we lost our appetite, or we could not sleep.
Or we are worried about whether it will turn out well or badly.
We worried as Zapatistas, but also as women.
Because we invited you. Thus, it is our responsibility whether it succeeds or not.
Where will you sleep, where will you eat, where will you shower, where will the toilets be? What about the sound, the electricity, running water? What will happen if someone gets sick? What will we say to you and how? How will we listen and look at you?
Thus, from the bottom of our hearts, we ask for your forgiveness for our mistakes and failures. Surely, next time, if there is a next time, it will not turn as badly as some have said.
Because we believe that the most important thing is, first, that you are comfortable here and that you feel at ease.
But it is also important to look and listen to everyone, because otherwise it was pointless to come all the way here; fairness demands that we listen and look at everyone, whether we agree with them or not.
Thus, a group is not enough to organize all this. This is why more than two thousand Zapatista women from all five caracoles are here.
And maybe that was not enough, because we are about five thousand, although some say eight thousand and others say nine.
Who knows how many women who fight have arrived during these last few days, but we believe that we can agree that we are great in number.
And we did not think that so many would come because this is a remote location where there are no comforts.
If we had known that so many of you would come, well, maybe more Zapatista women would be here, so that we would be able to embrace you all, each and every one, and communicate individually what we now communicate as a group.
There would be six Zapatista women for each of you: a pichita (our name for newborns), a girl, a young woman, an adult woman, an elderly woman, and a deceased woman.
All women, all indigenous, all poor, all Zapatista, would embrace you warmly, because it is the only gift that we can give in return.
But in any case, sisters and friends, please imagine that, what we are saying now is being told to you by a Zapatista woman while she embraces you and whispers in your ear, in your language, in your way, at your pace:
“Do not give up, do not sell out, do not give in.”
In this way, with these words, we say:
“Thank you, sister. Thank you, friend.”
Sisters and friends:
On this day, March 8, at the end of our participation, we lit a small flame inside each one of us.
We lit it with a candle so it may last, because with a match it will be consumed quickly and with a lighter it may break down.
This little light is for you.
Take it, sister and friend,
when you feel alone,
when you are afraid,
when you feel that the fight is tough, that life is tough.
Light it again in your heart, in your thoughts, in your guts.
And do not leave it behind, sister and friend.
Take it to the missing ones.
Take it to the murdered ones.
Take it to the jailed ones.
Take it to the raped ones.
Take it to the battered ones.
Take it to the harassed ones.
Take it to those women who have been assaulted in any way.
Take it to the migrants.
Take it to the exploited ones.
Take it to the dead.
Take it and tell them, each and every one, that they are not alone, that you will fight for them.
That you will fight for the truth and justice that their pain deserves.
That you will fight so that the pain she carries may not be repeated in any woman anywhere.
Take it and turn it into outrage, into courage, into determination.
Take it and join together with other lights.
Take it and, maybe, you will realize that there will be no truth, nor justice, nor liberty within the patriarchal capitalist system.
Then perhaps we will meet again to set fire to the system.
And maybe you will be next to us watching so that no one will turn off the fire until there are only ashes left.
And then, sisters and friends, on that day that will turn into night, perhaps we will be able to say with you:
“Well, now we will really begin to build the world we deserve and need.”
Then, perhaps, we will really understand that the true hard work begins at that point and that right now we are only practicing, training, to learn the most important things that we will need.
And what we need is for all women—no matter their origin, their color, their size, their age, their language, their culture—to never be afraid again.
Because over here we know well that when one says “Enough!” it simply means that the journey has just begun and much remains to be done.
Sisters and friends:
Here, in front of those who are present and those who, despite being absent, accompany us with their hearts and thoughts, we propose to continue to live and fight, each in their own way, at their own pace, from wherever they are.
Do you agree?
Well, when we wrote this we did not know whether the answer would be yes or no, but I will move on to the following proposal:
As we already saw and heard, not all are against the patriarchal capitalist system. Well, we respect that. Thus, we propose to study and discuss in our groups whether it is true that the system imposed on us is responsible for our suffering.
If the answer that emerges is yes, then, sisters and friends, then some other day we will announce our agreement to fight against the capitalist patriarchy and any other form of patriarchy.
Of course, we say we stand against any patriarchy, regardless of its ideology, its colors, or its flag. That is because we believe that there is no good and bad patriarchy, but that they are all the same in how they treat us women.
If the answer that emerges is no, well, we will still be seen fighting for the lives and freedom of all women and hope that everyone, according to their thinking and beliefs, will work to build a better world as they see fit.
Do you agree to—from wherever you are and according to your ways and your era—study, analyze, discuss, and—if possible—agree to name those who are responsible for our suffering?
Well, since we did not know if the answer would be yes or no, we will continue to the next proposal:
We propose to agree to meet once again for a second gathering next year, not only here on Zapatista lands, but wherever you are, according to your ways and to your era.
In other words, that others organize gatherings of women who fight, or whatever others may prefer to call us.
Do you agree?
Well, we still did not know what your response would be, but you will anyway be welcome here, sisters and friends.
All we ask is to let us know in advance, because it is so difficult if we are told that five hundred are coming, only for a zero to get lost on the way and for five thousand or more to arrive.
And that, when you come, you are able to say that your communities met, discussed, and agreed to whatever you do agree upon.
That is to say, that you arrive having grown in your heart, your thoughts, and your struggle.
But you will anyway always be welcome, women who fight.
Thank you for listening.
Now we will formally close.
I leave you with Commander Miriam:
Good evening, friends and sisters.
Thank you, friends; thank you, sisters from other countries of the world and from Mexico, for making the effort to come here, to this little corner of the world.
We have thus finished our First International, Political, Artistic, Athletic, and Cultural Gathering of Women Who Fight.
It is 8:36 p.m. Zapatista time and I declare our first gathering adjourned.
Take care and have a safe journey.
Caracol 4, Torbellino
Morelia, Chiapas, Mexico. March 10, 2018