Gloria La Riva's welcoming speech at meeting for legal
representatives Manuel Mirun and Pedro Castillo of the EZLN
(Zapatistas) of Mexico, May 18, 1994, San Francisco

It is now almost five months since the Zapatista Uprising,
the insurrection on January 1. The opening shot of the revolution shook
the ruling circles -- not only in Mexico but in this country as well.
It inspired millions of people throughout Mexico, the rest of Latin
America and in the U.S.

I think it is true to say that in Mexico, everything is
measured before Chiapas and after Chiapas, because the EZLN uprising
changed the whole political climate in mexico in inmeasurable ways.

It has taken the people to a higher level of the struggle, to
see that the struggle is expressed -- once more -- in the only way
it can be truly successful, through revolutionary action.

In order to see the monumental significance of the Zapatista uprising,
it is necessary to place it in its historical context, especially in the
historical relationship between Mexico and its dominanting northern neighbor.

Mexico was once completely subservient to U.S. and British
interests, until the great Mexican revolution of 1910 which was further
advanced by the nationalization of much of Mexico's wealth in the 1930s,
the oil, mines, railroads, and almost all of Mexico's industry. This gave
Mexico a chance to be somewhat independent of foreigners, and to allow some

The issue of land was paramount -- the guaranteed right of land
distribution to the campesino was won through the Revolution.

Over the past two decades, Mexico has been brought once more under
the domination of U.S. and other foreign imperialist interests, the banks, the
IMF, the transnational corporations. Almost everything that was won in the 1910
revolution has been reversed, including the right of the people to land.

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was intended to
complete the process of the recolonization of Mexico by the U.S., in the
context of the New World Order.

Nothing, it seemed, could stand in the way. But then -- on the day
that NAFTA was scheduled to take effect, came thunder from the south, the
Zapatista uprising. In its first days, the insurrection exposed the truth
about this so-called "partership," that it was in reality the "partnership"
of a master and servant, of hacendado and campesino, of boss and worker -- in
other words it was a partnership between oppressor and oppressed. In
addition, NAFTA means the lowering of conditions and wages of all workers
in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Only the bosses win,
especially the U.S.

But not even NAFTA was exempt from the struggle. The Zapatista
revolution has shown the way to resist, it shows that the path of struggle
remains the only real hope of the oppressed.

And because of their boldness, their magnificent organization and
their courageous resistance, the Zapatistas have attracted the support and
sympathy of vast sections of Mexican society, especially among the campesinos,
the indigenous peoples, the workers and students.

And for the same reason, we know that they have incurred the intense
hatred of not only the government and ruling class in Mexico, but in this
country as well, even if it is not announced every day in the newspapers or
on TV.

We know, if we know anything, that the Pentagon, the CIA and all of
the other death squad agencies of U.S. military intelligence are preparing new
attacks, new interventions against the Zapatistas and Mexico. We have only to
look at what they have done in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile,
Iran, and what they have tried to do to Cuba for all these years, to know that
this is true.

We must be prepared to fight them. To fight U.S. intervention, overt
or covert, in Mexico. We must oppose new U.S. aid to the Mexican repressive
forces, whether it comes in the name of "stopping drugs" or in any other
disguise. When the Mexican military was bombing and strafing the civilian
population of Chiapas in January,they were doing it from state-of-the-art
Blackhawk helicopters provided for "drug interdiction" by the U.S.

We must organize to expose the human rights violations and abuses
against our brothers and sisters in Mexico. We must organize humanitarian aid,


We must organize a movement that stands in solidarity with the EZLN
and with the workers and campesinos of Mexico in their struggle for liberation.




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California Voter Foundation 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 & 1998