Translated by Rosalva Bermudez-Ballin
"We have gathered here, because this is the place where, for thousands of
years, the indigenous paths of the Chiapas Highlands have crossed. This is
where part of its tradition lives, this is where its problems are sorted out
and this is a refuge for men and cultures. This place has seen the suffering
of indigenous people for centuries. It has seen them walk in search of
survival or justice for their reasons. It has seen them share their efforts
with their blood brothers. Here, men [sic] dared to live like men [sic]."
These words were not Marcos', nor Saramago's, nor Fernando Benitez's. They
were pronounced by Luis Donaldo Colosio in the Chiapan town of La Ventana, on
March 3, 1990, that is, almost exactly four years before another celebrated
speech by the ever remembered and loved Sonoran politician, at the National
Encounter of Indigenous Towns.
Is the substitute governor Roberto Albores capable of repeating Colosio's
words without turning red? Could the Chiapan Priistas, the landowners, and
the crop razers who keep that entity of the Federation as a reserve for
economic exploitation and political submission repeat them without cynicism?
Would, President Ernesto Zedillo, and the Secretary of the Interior Francisco
Labastida, and the Secretary of National Defense, General Enrique Cervantes
Aguirre, please, memorize them?
A rich state full of poor citizens.
Chiapas gives Mexico, energy, oil, coffee, forests. What does it receive in
return? How does the richness of a state that could be one of the most
prosperous in the country be translated?
Phillipe Aghion and Beatriz Armendariz, from the University College of
London, provided me the following data. The GNP in Mexico is12,263 pesos.
Nuevo Leon's is 21,289 pesos. Chiapas' is a little over 8,000 pesos. Chiapas
has the highest infant mortality rate in the country: eighty five infants out
of a thousand births die. In Chiapas there is one doctor for every thousand
Malnutrition reaches seventy percent of the population. Brutality and
injustice affects thirty percent of children under the age of fifteen, in
contrast to five and a half percent of all the illiterate people in the rest
of the country. The distribution of income is the most unjust in the country.
Brutality of treatment, injustice and exaction are the daily bread-the only
one that is theirs-for the indigenous people who, before Colosio, asked not
just for health, education and credit, bilingual education, ownership over
their natural resources in indigenous territories and their own authority,
but also for the liberation of jailed indigenous people who are constantly
harassed for no reason. And something else: they asked us, the ladinos, the
white and the mestizos, to please, "direct yourselves to us."