In January 1996, the Zapatistas sent an invitation - for an intercontinental meeting - which concluded with the words "It is not necessary to conquer the world. It is sufficient to make it anew." The response was overwhelming. On July 27 of that year over 3,000 grassroots activists from over 40 countries spanning 5 continents gathered in Chiapas, Mexico with the aim of engaging in a collective process which raised important questions, shared stories of struggle, and started to look for some answers. Here are extracts from Subcommandante Marcos closing remarks of the First Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism:
When this dream that awakens today in La Realidad began to be dreamed by us, we thought it would be a failure. We thought that, maybe, we could gather here a few dozen people from a handful of continents. We were wrong. As always, we were wrong. It wasnt a few dozen, but thousands of human beings, those who came from the five continents to find themselves in the reality at the close of the twentieth century.
The word born within these mountains, these Zapatista mountains, found the ears of those who could listen, care for, and launch it a new, so that it might travel far away and circle the world. The sheer lunacy of calling to the five continents to reflect clearly on our past, our present, and our future, found that it wasnt alone in its delirium. Soon lunacies from the whole planet began to work on bringing the dream to rest in La Realidad.
Who are they who dare to let their dreams meet with all the dreams of the world? What is happening in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast that finds an echo and a mirror in the streets of Europe, the suburbs of Asia, the countryside of America, the townships of Africa, and the houses of Oceania? What is it that is happening with the peoples of these five continents who, so we are all told, only encounter each other to compete or make war ? Wasnt this turn of the century synonymous with despair, bitterness, and cynicism? From where and how did all these dreams come to La Realidad?
May Europe speak and recount the long bridge of its gaze, crossing the Atlantic and history in order to rediscover itself in La Realidad. May Asia speak and explain the gigantic leap of its heart to arrive and beat in La Realidad. May Africa speak and describe the long sailing of its restless image to come to reflect upon itself in La Realidad. May Oceania speak and tell of the multiple flight of its thought to come to rest in La Realidad. May America speak and remember its swelling hope to come to renew itself in La Realidad. May the five continents speak and everyone listen. May humanity suspend for a moment its silence of shame and anguish.
On the one side is neoliberalism with all its repressive power and all its machinery of death; on the other side is the human being.
In any place in the world, anytime, any man or woman rebels to the point of tearing off the clothes that resignation has woven for them and cynicism has dyed grey. Any man or woman, of whatever colour, in whatever tongue, speaks and says to himself, to herself: Enough is enough! !Ya Basta!
For struggling for a better world all of us are fenced in, threatened with death. The fence is reproduced globally. In every continent, every city, every countryside, every house. Powers fence of war closes in on the rebels, for whom humanity is a l ways grateful.
In the countrysides and cities, in the states, in the nations, on the continents, the rebels begin to recognise each other, to know themselves as equals and different. They continue on their fatiguing walk, walking as it is now necessary to walk, that is to say, struggling...
A reality spoke to them then. Rebels from the five continents heard it and set off walking. Some of the best rebels from the five continents arrived in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. All of them brought their ideas, their hearts, their worlds. They came to La Realidad to find themselves in others ideas, in others reasons, in others worlds.
A world made of many worlds found itself these days in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. A world made of many worlds opened a space and established its right to exist, raised the banner of being necessary, stuck itself in the middle of earths reality to announce a better future. But what next?
A new number in the useless enumeration of the numerous international orders?
An echo that turns itself into many voices, into a network of voices that, before Powers deafness, opts to speak to itself, knowing itself to be one and many. Let it be a network of voices that resist the war that the Power wages on them. A network of voices that not only speak, but also struggle and resist for humanity and against neoliberalism .
The world, with the many worlds that the world needs, continues. Humanity, recognising itself to be plural, different, inclusive, tolerant of itself, full of hope, continues. The human and rebel voice, consulted on the five continents in order to become a network of voices and of resistances, continues.
This intercontinental network of resistance, recognising differences and acknowledging similarities, will search to find itself with other resistances around the world.
This intercontinental network of resistance is not an organising structure; it doesnt have a central head or decision maker; it has no central command or hierarchies. We are the network, all of us who resist.
[This is an edited version of the original Zapatista declaration - August 3 1996]