Subcommandante Marcos

We're in the mountains of Southeast Mexico in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas and we want to use this medium, with the help of the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico, to send a greeting to the Free the Media Conference that is taking place in New York, where there are brothers and sisters of independent communication media from the US and Canada.

At the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism we said: A global decomposition is taking place, we call it the Fourth World War - neoliberalism: the global economic process to eliminate that multitude of people who are not useful to the powerful - the groups called 'minorities' in the mathematics of power, but who happen to be the majority of the population in the world. We find ourselves in a world system of globalisation willing to sacrifice millions of human beings.

The giant communication media: the great monsters of the television industry, the communication satellites, magazines, and newspapers seem determined to present a virtual world, created in the image of what the globalisation process requires.

In this sense, the world of contemporary news is a world that exists for the VIPs - the very important people. Their everyday lives are what is important: if they get married, if they divorce, if they eat, what clothes they wear and what clothes they take off - these major movie stars and big politicians. But common people only appear for a moment - when they kill someone, or when they die. For the communication giants and the neoliberal powers, the others, the excluded, only exist when they are dead, or when they are in jail or court. This can't go on. Sooner or later this virtual world clashes with the real world. And that is actually happening: this clash produces results of rebellion and war throughout the entire world, or what is left of the world to even have a war. We have a choice: we can have a cynical attitude in the face of the media, to say that nothing can be done about the dollar power that creates itself in images, words, digital communication, and computer systems, that invades not just with an invasion of power, but with a way of seeing that world, of how they think the world should look. We could say, well, 'that's the way it is' and do nothing. Or we can simply assume incredulity: we can say that any communication by the media monopolies is a total lie. We can ignore it and go about our lives.

But there is a third option that is neither conformity, nor scepticism, nor distrust: that is to construct a different way - to show the world what is really happening - to have a critical world view and to become interested in the truth of what happens to people who inhabit every corner of this earth.

The work of independent media is to tell the history of social struggle in the world, and here in North America - the US, Canada and Mexico - the independent media has, on occasion, been able to open spaces even within the mass media monopolies: to force them to acknowledge news of other social movements.

The problem is not only to know what is occurring in the world, but to understand it and to derive lessons from it, just as if we were studying history - not a history of the past, but a history of what is happening at any given moment in whatever part of the world. This is the way to learn who we are, what it is we want, who we can be and what we can do or not do.

By not having to answer to the monster media monopolies, the independent media has a life work, a political project and a purpose: to let the truth be known. This is more and more important in the globalisation process. The truth becomes a knot of resistance against the lie. It is our only possibility to save the truth, to maintain it, to distribute it, little by little, just as the books were saved in Fahrenheit 451 in which a group of people dedicated themselves to memorise books, to save them from being destroyed, so that the ideas would not be lost.

This same way, independent media tries to save history: the present history - saving it and trying to share it, so it will not disappear, moreover to distribute it to other places, so that this history is not limited to one country, to one region, to one city or social group. It is necessary not only for independent voices to exchange information and to broaden the channels, but to resist the spreading lies of the monopolies. The truth that we build in our groups, our cities, our regions, our countries, will reach full potential if we join with other truths and realise that what is occurring in other parts of the world also is part of human history.

In August 1996, we called for the creation of a network of independent media, a network of information. We mean a network to resist the power of the lie that sells us this war that we call the Fourth World War. We need this network not only as a tool for our social movements, but for our lives: this is a project of life, of humanity, humanity which has a right to critical and truthful information.

Zapatista Address to the Freeing the Media Teach-in organised by the Learning Alliance, Paper Tiger TV, and Fair, in cooperation with the Media & Democracy Congress, January 31 & February 1 1997, NYC. Was published online by IMC Chiapas, and has been widely circulated on the internet ever since.