dorset chiapas solidarity

Communiqués 1

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All the Communiqués and other words issued by the EZLN from 21/12/2012

until 01/07/2015. For all the more recent words, please go to https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/communiques-2/

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EZLN Denunciation Of Paramilitary Attack

New Paramilitary Attack. Caracol Resistance Towards A New Dawn, La Garrucha

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Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Mexico

June 25, 2015

To the National and International Sixth:

As we already know, the bad government mixes fraud with violence. It doesn’t matter which political party they’re from, those who rule always seek to stay above on the backs of those below. The Ruler himself feigns deafness; these denunciations don’t matter to him because he pays the press well to say nice things him.

Before, it was Juan Sabines Guerrero, the one everyone insisted was very much a leftist politician. The progressive politicians came to receive awards from him, and even “the legitimate one”[i] came to shout enthusiastically, “long live Juan Sabines!” It is the very same Juan Sabines Guerrero who set it up so that his successor in government would be that ‘famous blonde’ Manuel Velasco Coello, because they are both from the families who, along with a few others, divvy up the political posts in Chiapas among themselves. Juan Sabines stole, committed fraud, and spread violence.

Now Velasco does the same. If just a few days ago they carried out an enormous fraud in the elections, violating their own laws above, now they are preparing for the upcoming local elections with the blood of those below.

Mere lies are not enough for the governments above; they also want to repress, incarcerate, and kill.

Now they are repressing the democratic teachers movement for merely insisting that this cursed educational reform is a lie, that it’s a reform by the boss against the workers. It isn’t to improve education, it’s to worsen it. And the reformers don’t know anything about the schools, they don’t even know how to teach. Because the government doesn’t like the truth to come out, it lies. But since now nobody believes the government, it resorts to repression.

How shameless they must be to make the head of state education an alcoholic murderer that says one thing one day and the opposite the next. How is somebody who can’t even speak properly going to create educational reform? The person I speak of is named Emilio Chuayffet, and he is one of the murderers of Acteal, the one who would get drunk and say idiotic things. He’s doing the same now.

This isn’t only happening in Chiapas, but also in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and other states, where the bad governments want to cover up the truth with beatings, gas, bullets, and threats.

It’s clear that they aren’t satisfied unless their “democratic” elections result in people being beaten, imprisoned, and murdered. And then all the parties fight over the scraps; they don’t even remember who was killed—his name was Antonio Vivar Díaz and he was a teacher—nor who was beaten and imprisoned.

The governments above are built on deceit and repression.

But the blood of the teachers isn’t enough for Manuel Velasco in Chiapas. He also wants to drink the indigenous blood of the communities.

Despite the fact that human rights organizations have denounced it, Velasco continues to encourage his paramilitaries to attack Zapatista bases of support.

That’s what is happening in the municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, where the three [levels of] government agree among themselves to incite provocations: Enrique Peña Nieto, Manuel Velasco and Octavio Albores. These governments are behind the paramilitaries from Pojkol.

Even though the community they are from has disowned them, they continue to attack. The indigenous people there who are party members say that they don’t control these paramilitaries, that the paramilitaries get their orders form the municipal president of Ocosingo and the state government in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. That that’s where they get their weapons, equipment, vehicles, and orders to attack the bases of support.

This just happened a few hours ago:

Caracol Resistance Towards a New Dawn

Junta de Buen Gobierno[ii] Path to the Future

La Garrucha, Chiapas, Mexico

June 24, 2015

Public Denunciation

To the general public:

To the autonomous alternative, or whatever-you-call-them media:

To the honest human rights organizations:

Sisters and brothers of Mexico and the world:

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We once again denounce attacks against us by the paramilitaries from the ejido Pojkol, barrio Chiquinibal, municipality of Chilón, and 21 persons from the same paramilitary group from Rosario, official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.

Facts:

Today, Wednesday, June 25, 2015, at 8:05 am, 28 paramilitaries from the Pojkol ejido of the barrio Chiquinbal came to the town of Rosario in the Autonomous Municipality of San Manuel, where our EZLN bases of support live. They came on 8 motorcycles and with a Nissan without license plates. Of the 28 paramilitaries, 8 carried 22-caliber weapons.

In Rosario there are 21 paramilitaries who are trying to invade our recuperated lands, and they are supported by this group of 28 paramilitaries from the Pojkol ejido of the barrio Chikinibal.

At 10:05 am, a white RAM truck without license plates arrived with two people inside: and engineer and a rancher, Guadalupe Flores, who lives in Ocosingo, Chiapas, and was the owner of these lands before 1994. The 28 paramilitaries from Pojkcol and the 21 paramilitaries from Rosario met with the engineer and the rancher. After they finished their meeting they began to measure the land, supposedly to construct a temple, and they also measured sites for house construction. Then the rancher gave the paramilitary group some documents, apparently the blueprint plans for the recuperated lands. 

At 1:26 pm, they fired their guns 10 times behind the house of one of the compañeros who is a base of support, intimidating the entire community.

At 1:27 pm, 8 paramilitaries from Pojkol entered the house of a base of support, but didn’t find anyone because the owner of that house had already left in order to avoid conflict. After 23 minutes, they went to another compañero’s house; at 1:50 pm they destroyed the house of a compañero base of support, stealing all of his possessions, including the roof of the house, which consists of 12 sheets of 3.5 wide tin, two chickens, 4 picks, 20 eggs, 2 axes, 2 solar energy cells, $2000 pesos in cash, 2 hoes, one tape recorder, one 100 meter hose, and 150 kilos of beans. They put all of the compañero base of support’s things into the truck that belonged to the supposed engineer, and the truck and the 28 people from Pojkol headed off toward Pojkol with all of the stolen goods.

As authorities of the Junta de Buen Gobierno, we are clear that these acts demonstrate that this person pretending to be an engineer along with the ex-owner of the ranch are the advisors of these paramilitary groups.

We also see clearly that the bad government is acting in many forms and ways to attack us. These same paramilitaries are the ones who killed one of our bulls, destroyed houses, destroyed our collective store, stole our belongings, and used herbicide to fumigate our pasture where we keep our collectively owned livestock of the San Manuel municipality. They shot off their weapons there, drawing letters in the dirt saying “pojkol territory,” and leaving burnt bullet casings around; this was in August of 2014. 

These are the same paramilitaries who came on May 10, 2015, when one of them, named Andrés, shot at a little girl base of support.

This is our third denunciation; the first and second detail the previous acts.

These groups of people are trained and financed by the federal, state, and municipal governments. They have tried to provoke us multiple times with their counterinsurgency strategy, because the bad governments think that we are going to fall into their traps and stain ourselves with the blood of our indigenous brothers who are messed up in the head because they are paid for this activity and their conscience has been sullied by the bad capitalist system.

We want to say clearly that we will not stand here with our arms crossed as our bases of support are harassed in whatever way and with whichever means the bad government chooses to use against us. We have said clearly that we will defend our lands at whatever cost; we were born from this land and we will return to her.

Brothers and sisters, we will continue to denounce what is happening and we hope that you will be alert to what might happen to our compañeros and compañeras bases of support.

We hold the federal, state, and municipal governments directly responsible for whatever might happen, as they hold direct responsibility for these actions, and this is not the first time we have denounced what these groups of people are doing.

Sincerely

Authorities of the current Junta de Buen Gobierno

Jacinto Gómez Pérez                                            Colosio Pérez Lorenzo

 Nely Núñez Sánchez                                             Alex López Álvarez

So there you have it, compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth.

As we see it, it isn’t that the bad government simply isn’t paying attention because it is busy with its propaganda and lies, but rather that it is precisely the bad government who is giving the orders. What else could explain the fact that the names of these criminals are already known and yet they walk around with their weapons in front of the government authorities and nobody says anything? Because these people are the government’s employees. The paramilitaries state it clearly, that nobody can do anything to them because Velasco’s government protects and pays them.

That’s what we have to tell you for now, compañer@s. It’s all the same: from above there are only lies, beatings, contempt, and exploitation.

From below must come organization. For life, not the bloodbath that the system’s foremen, supervisors, and overseers want on the orders of their master, neoliberal capitalism.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico

June 2015

[i] Refers to Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, former PRD presidential candidate self-designated “the legitimate president” after the 2006 elections, which were widely denounced as fraudulent.

[ii] Good Government Council

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EZLN: The Method, The Bibliography, And A Drone In The Mexican Southeast.

Words Of Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano At The May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

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The Method, the Bibliography, and a Drone Deep in the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Sub Galeano, May 4, 2015.

Good day, or good afternoon.

This time around I won’t take up a lot of your time so that you can enjoy the artistic exposition and rest a little, since the seminar/seedbed is going to become more and more complex each day. So I’m going to limit myself to just a few pieces of advice that of course you will not follow, and to telling you the most absurd story that I can remember.

The way that we have organized our participation is that Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and I will be taking turns.

It’s like a division of labour: I’ll confuse you, and he’ll clarify.

I’ll say things in a complicated form, and he’ll tell you them in a more simple form.

We are going to do it that way because there are many ways in which critical thought can be presented, and we think that it’s important to learn and attend to all of those ways.

That’s because this is not about gaining followers for one line of analysis or another, or about the way one line of analysis or another is articulated. Rather, this is about provoking ideas, thoughts, discussion, and debates. It’s not to defeat a supposed ideological opponent, but to respond to the question that all of us [i] will end up asking: What’s next?

We Zapatistas think there are a series of basic concepts that are worth analyzing. And there are also a series of fundamental presuppositions.

For example, this seminar/seedbed has been convoked as a meeting of critical thought versus the capitalist hydra.

So with that in mind, we are taking as a given that:

1. The current dominant system is capitalism, and that its logic is that which dominates the world.

2. That this capitalist system is not dominant in only one aspect of social life, but rather, it has multiple heads, that is, many forms and ways of dominating in different and diverse social spaces. To put it in the terms of the little girl called Zapatista Defence: That stubborn-ass capitalism doesn’t take a bite out of you in one place, but in many places.

3. There is a disconcerting element in this Capitalist Hydra. If you understand the Hydra as a mythological animal, you know that it has many heads, and that if you cut off one head, two more are born, and that one of these heads is like the heart of the Hydra, “the mother head,” to give it a name. But there is another hydra, a small animal that not only reconstructs its destroyed tentacles, but also adapts, mutates, and is capable of regenerating itself completely from any one of its parts.

Those who attended the Zapatista Little School and studied the textbooks perhaps remember that we went on and on about the many ways that the system has to attack us. And that these ways often transform themselves.

Maybe there will be a chance later to come back to this, but for now, it is enough to point out that we are not referring to a mythological monster or an animal of the genus of the hidrozoos hidroides—a predator of less than two centimeters long— but that we are referring to a real monster. And it is one is the most bloody and cruel known in reality or in fiction since humanity became divided into dominators and dominated.

Of course there may be someone out there who insists that capitalism is not the current dominant system, or that it is but only in the economic realm, or only in the political realm or only in that of gender.

Or there may also be someone who insists that it is the State that is the mother head of the Capitalist Hydra, and not the social relations of production where there are those that have capital and there are those that have no more than their own abilityto work.

Or those who say that these struggles against the Hydra’s various heads are secondary and subordinated to the primary struggle, whatever that may be. For example, that the struggle over gender is secondary, and the struggle over political power is primary.

That’s fine. You can make your arguments, analyze and allow them to CONFRONT reality.

That is why we are here. To launch, from below and to the left, a debate that abounds in ideas and analysis and does not reduce itself to name-calling. That is, there is no reason to convert this into some version of a social networking site where the exchange of name-calling can’t exceed 140 characters.

4. There is an element here that is not explicit but which is fundamental: practice. What called us to begin this theoretical reflection—because we do hope to have more seminars/seedbeds—is not the need to increase our cultural baggage, to learn new words, or to make good arguments in order to hook up or delink from others, or to demonstrate that we can be even more unintelligible. What’s at stake here—and then for everyone in their own time, place, and way—is the transformation of reality. That is why it is we, the Sixth, who must amongst ourselves [ii] take on the responsibility to maintain and give potential to this reflection. This is simply because while many things make us different, there is one thing that identifies us all: we have decided to challenge the system. Not to improve it, not to change it, not to give it a makeover, but to destroy it.

And this destruction is not achieved through thoughts—although of course, there will surely be someone who says that we must unite our minds and repeat “disappear, disappear” with true faith and persistence. No, but thought can help us understand what we are up against, how it works, what its ways are, its calendar, its geography. To use an expression from the Little School: the ways in which it attacks us.

5. Although we begin from the assumption that the capitalist system is dominant, this is accompanied by the certainty that it is neither omnipresent nor immortal. Resistances exist, whether we know about them or not. The system does not impose its dominion in a straightforward way without disruptions. It encounters resistance above, yes, but those resistances below are the ones that really threaten it. As we have said: we are not talking about something that could be, we are talking about something that we are already doing. And I think it is clear that in this we are not only talking about Zapatismo.

6. “Neither theory without practice nor practice without theory,” we have said. In saying that, we are not talking about a division of labour: those who think on one side, those who act on the other. What we are pointing out is that those who do theory should also have a practice. We’d almost say that it should be by scientific method, but critical thought has that particular venom: if it’s only thought, it doesn’t manage to be critical. And those who are working on that practice should be reflecting on that practice. This is not only because if one depends on a theorist to explain things for you and tell you what to do, then you end up, well, how should I say it? You end up anxious about whether or not you should vote. But also, and above all, we should keep in mind that our struggle doesn’t have a defined timeline. On the contrary, it will span entire generations. These theoretical reflections that we provide should serve those who follow us when our calendar comes to its last day. They will be, in a word, their inheritance.

7. Neither lazy thought nor dogmatic thought nor deceitful thought. We don’t know about you, but if we Zapatistas were lazy in our thinking, we would belong to an institutional political party. And if we wanted a dogma, we would subscribe to a political sect—oops, I meant to say, a religious sect. And if we wanted to swallow massive amounts of bullshit, we would govern ourselves by the rules and orders of the paid media. Critical thought has as its motor the act of questioning. Why this and not something else? Why this way and not another way? Why here and not in another place? As we Zapatistas say, one walks by asking.

8. There is no 8, because I already told you, I wasn’t going to use a lot of time, and I still have a few more things to tell you today, including an anachronistic story.

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A few moons ago, in one corner of these mountains of the Mexican Southeast, a group of us,compañeros and compañeras of the General Command of the EZLN, met. Our objective was to intersect or share information that we had gathered both inside and outside the communities.

That’s how we do things. It’s not the analysis of one person that determines what we are going to do or not going to do, but rather an exchange of analysis, reflection, and thought. This is what thecompañeros and compañeras who are the bases of support have accurately called a “sharing.”

I hope that there is time and a way for me to elaborate on this later. But for now it is enough to say that it wasn’t always like this.

In that meeting there had been something that each of the reports had in common. Each one noted changes or alterations in the economy of counterinsurgency in the communities, at the local level, and at the national and international levels as well.

After talking and listening, we came to the conclusion that what we saw was the same thing: a profound crisis was approaching—not only an economic one, although it was also economic. A storm, in fact.

Synthesizing that early morning’s sharing:

The signals?

One. – An economic crisis like never before. What we are seeing now are just the very first rains. The worst is yet to come. The economists up above have claimed that the turbulence will be overcome in a few months. At the latest, a few years. They are not allowed to tell the truth: that they have absolutely no clue where this crisis is headed. And that’s because it turns out that it is not only an economic crisis. It has to be multiplied by the unnatural environmental disasters, seeing as they are the effect of a man-made cause: the transformation of everything, including the most basic and elementary of things —water, air, sun and shade, earth and sky—into commodities. And from there, the exploitation of these things, far behind the most elementary logic. And not only that, there are also the planned catastrophes, but we will talk about those later.

Another. – The loss of legitimacy of the “traditional” institutions (parties, government, judicial system, church, army, police, media, family) and the absolute lack of an effort to recover them.

One more. – A corruption so scandalous in the political classes that it borders on psychopathy. The level of degradation is such that even the true Power—that of money—is shocked by it. So shocked, in fact, that it fears that what the arbitrary tyranny of money couldn’t do, the corruption of those who govern will: provoke a rebellion.

And another one. – We are faced with a reality that can be synthesized today in one word: Ayotzinapa. For us, Zapatistas, Ayotzinapa is not an exception, but the rule. What we see there is the family portrait of the system at a global level.

It has been said that organized crime or narco-trafficking has permeated politics. But the truth is the reverse: the traditions and customs of a corrupt political class (like the Mexican political class in the case of our country, but there are other nations that comply with the same measures) have been transferred to organized crime.

How can I put it? Do you realize how in the media and entertainment industry, the genocides and serial murders are presented without feeling, with a kind of numbness? Well, the modern political class isn’t like that, they aren’t numb. They perceive perfectly what is going on and they have emotions. The only thing is they aren’t emotions of shame or remorse or contrition. No, they take joy in what’s going on. We are not faced with something mechanic that tortures, kills, dismembers, disappears, or exhibits a victim. We are talking about relishing a crime, about feeling and enjoying the power of evicting a person from their home, of dispossessing them of their land, of taking away their things, of imposing upon them terror, of making them see their fragility. Of emphasizing their defencelessness. Of humiliating them. Disdaining them. Crushing them. Murdering them. To kill them in life and also in death. And all of this for no other reason than because they can, because they want to display their exercise of Power and its managers across the entire axis of the social pyramid: from the tycoon to the head of the family. Passing through along the way, governors, legislatures, judges, police, informers and snitches, supervisors, floor managers, overseers, and foremen.

For example, there are those who think the way in which the federal Mexican government and the political class has faced what has happened in Ayotzinapa has showed their weakness, their clumsiness, their incompetence. Perhaps. But what we see and think is that they went about it delighting in each of its steps. We think they savoured every tear shed by the family members. That they celebrated the families’ rage and impotence. That they found pleasure in reading or listening to every testimony of the survivors, of the mothers and fathers of those who are missing. If the great majority of people were horrified and moved, above there was only delight. Those government officials in charge of the issue such as the Attorney General, practically gorged themselves on the tragedy. Today we are not faced with the removed, affluent class from before that delegated to others (police, army, paramilitaries) the act of concretizing the crime. No, those in power today are not satisfied with a seat in the VIP box’s first row. They want to feel the direct pleasure of disposing of lives, of belongings, of histories. With hitmen and police on either side of them, there stand today’s heirs of real Power.

Another another. – Although the old structures of political and economic power still appear once in a while in order to spew out some bit of nonsense, they are but shells of what they once were. The majority of the big, previously national companies are not merely brand names for the large global capitalists today; all of them, absolutely all of them are tied to and submissive to the international banking institutions. Ironies: always fearful of those below, they were dispossessed by those more above than they. Cultivating paramilitaries (the “Brigada Blanca,” or White Brigade in Mexico, the “GAL” in the Spanish State) for the dirty wars against those below all over the world didn’t work. Now they console each other in the always decadent social pages of newspapers, magazines, frivolous programs, and through Facebook for those seeking the most economic option.

While those nostalgic for yesterday’s economic power fight amongst themselves and regroup whenever the common people appear to be rising up, the great monarchs of money—those who instead of appearing on Forbes’ list of the richest have a seat at the table of advisors for the stock traders of the large banks and department stores—assume their positions. Those who really rule acquire lands, bankrupted businesses, and “qualified staff.” The work of “cleaning up the ranks” will be done by businesses who, although they don’t know it yet, will also go bankrupt. Then the big guys come in without the restraints of unions, collective contracts, or loyal staff.

The supposedly national repressive apparatuses, erected with the alibi of defence in the face of an external threat and the necessity for internal control, genuflect ridiculously before their superiors in the metropolis. That part about destabilization fed by foreign interest was true, but the internal threat was not dressed in the uniforms of the guerrilla, but in suits, ties, and imported bodyguards. They didn’t carry firearms or Molotov cocktails or instruction manuals for subversion, but rather credits with infinite instalment terms… impossible to pay off.

Are you all shocked by the scandals that appear and have appeared in the mass media and social networks? Are you scandalized by Peña Nieto and Videgaray’s mansions? By the corruption of the governments across the globe? Well if you really want to be terrified, then get an interview “off the record” with someone from the mass media. Reverse the rules. Instead of being interviewed, ask the questions yourselves. Don’t ask them about what has come out publicly; ask them about what has been silenced. But not because it was censured, but because it didn’t even appear as something worthy of investigation or worthy of print. Then you will know what it is to vomit out of disgust and terror. If you want, stay and listen to their justifications (reasons of the State, people are not prepared to hear the truth, all of the truth—well, really not even just a part of the truth—we were threatened, our titles were at stake, as well as our projects, our work, our lives.)

One more and that’s it. – The crisis that is coming is not going to send a telegram, and it won’t be announced on monuments or on a poster board. No, it puts a foot in the door before you manage to close it. It squeezes in through the windows, emerges in the cracks. It slips in between the news about the currently fashionable scandals. You know what they say about the revolution not being televised. Well, the crisis is in fact televised, but it looks like no one is paying attention.

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The crisis cannot be hidden inside a blue VW bug, or under a beige poncho. It can’t be jailed, or disappeared, or murdered. It can’t be put on the list of disappeared. It can’t be negotiated in the halls of Congress, in the United Nations, or in the International Monetary Fund.

Oh true, crises like this one don’t come alone. They are accompanied by all the acrobats of history: prophets, leaders, supreme saviours, new religions, the ‘change begins with oneself.’ The ‘help yourself and I will help you.’ The ‘think positively.’ The “Smile we’re gonna win.” The “We will be your worst nightmare.”

Culture? Art? Science? These will be clandestine activities if they remain independent. If they are of the paid arena, they will be worth less than the tip the valet parking guy receives at the latest hip club. Ironies: terrified by piracy (we prefer to call it “alternative production”), these people will become employees of the large entertainment industries. That is, they will produce whatever those who pay them order them to.

Now then. What if this isn’t the case? What if this is just a Zapatista hallucination? What if local and national free enterprise can continue its buoyant step into a bright future? What if the international banking institutions don’t really prey upon the goods of families, countries, and continents? What if global capitalism does indeed recognize differences and diversity?

What if the parties of the left do in fact prioritize their principles and programmes over their eagerness for official posts? What if those who govern moderate their rapaciousness and dedicate a good part of their loot to reconstructing a social security net? What if this is just a passing rain shower, a few dark clouds that will drift on by themselves?

If all this happens—that is, if nothing happens—would it have done you damage to be organized? Would it have so disturbed you to have taken, along with others [iii] your destiny into your own hands? Would it have been such a bother to have listened to others, similar to or different from you? Would you be poorer, less of a person? Would you feel empty, incomplete, useless?

The world, your world, would it be worse or better?

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Now, let me return to that meeting I was talking about in one of our corners.

After we saw that yes, the situation is indeed bad, we went on to the part we call the deliberative phase.

We decided two things. One was to prepare ourselves for an era of economic crisis. The other, to inform our compañeroas of the Sixth and ask otroas [others] from the Sixth and elsewhere what they were seeing.

The first point didn’t present much difficulty. Already organized in resistance, the Zapatista communities could confront these problems because it is in fact what they already do and do collectively.

The second was more complicated. Two monumental obstacles were in front of us: the geography and the calendar.

As Zapatistas we have the fortune of having compas in the most diverse geographies. Although it was possible to convoke an international event as we have done before, the reflexive character that the situation merits would have been very difficult. Even so, although we could construct the space of analysis and reflection, it would need to be centralized. And this would mean that only some people could be there, and that many, the majority, couldn’t. Money wasn’t the only problem. It’s also about each person’s work and struggle in their own places.

And that isn’t even to mention the difficulties of the calendar.

So we thought we would get it started and ask our compañeros, compañeras and compañeroas of the Sixth to continue the process. To go about building this space in their own places according to their own times and ways.

That is how the idea of this seminar, really a seedbed, came about. So that the little girl, the Zapatista Defence, doesn’t think that we are here training priests.[iv]

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Ok then. Now for the advice:

Many years ago, these sharings or exchanges were not possible, at least not directly. Contact between our different zones was very sporadic and superficial. The bridge through which we communicated was the EZLN, and in particular, through the General Command. That’s where the various information reports were delivered, that’s where they were evaluated, “crossed,” and compared, and where what was to be done or not done was decided. Of course, there also was not that much to evaluate. We were dispersed, and the isolation that protected us also limited us.

We grew. A movement like that of the Zapatistas has that curse: to grow. And I am not referring to growing in quantity, but rather in problems and challenges. That is how our history is made, and how we make our history.

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We Zapatistas think that in order to understand something, one has to know its genealogy. That is, its history. In other words, how it became what it became.

Do you remember that part about the choice between seeing the tree or the forest? Well, as Zapatistas, we see the roots.

We have said this before, but I am going to remind you of it now: Our rebellion is our “NO” to the system. Our resistance is our “YES” to something else being possible.

We have also pointed out that our meta-theory is our practice.

Alright then, you already know that, down the road, the level of seriousness of a theoretical reflection is judged by its quantity of bibliographical references. They say and they write, “as so-and-so points out in such-and-such book.” It may sound a little strange, but the more so-and-so’s mentioned in a theoretical text, it is considered more serious, more respectable… and more boring. Nooo, I’m just kidding, not really. It’s very good to read and hear these thoughts. Although sometimes it turns out that one learns what so-and-so thought but who knows what the actual author thinks. And so one [v] thinks, “Well then, if they were to tell us what that other person said, they should have just submitted the other text, or used that scientific method known as ‘copy and paste.’”

In the end, what I want to tell you is that in everything that we write and say, it is the Zapatista resistance that constitutes our bibliography.

Perhaps you hadn’t realized that, although I think that maybe you have.

Now you have here your own drone, in order to get a look at the span of Zapatista resistance. Of course some of you, [vi] will say that you have been in Zapatista communities and you already know about their resistance. But I’m not talking about the resistance of a community. I’m talking about Zapatista resistance as a collective effort. Resistance viewed from the inside.

OK, the drone you will have the privilege of listening to now is named Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Because of his previous work and his current job, he knows better than anyone the genealogy of Zapatista resistance. Its history, how it became what it is, this idea that brings us to say, as you heard yesterday, hay lum tujbil vitil ayotik.[vii]

Listen to him. Read him. Through his words, you will be able to see a terrible and marvellous history. You will understand that this is like having a subterranean drone and you will have the privilege of a gaze from the deepest parts of Zapatista resistance.

What I am going to tell you, surely others will say or write better than I have, with more hard facts, better arguments, and more profound conclusions.

But what he is going to tell you, you are not going to find anywhere else. Not even by talking with him. Because he presents himself to you as a collective, and it’s precisely through him that we speak as a collective.

So my advice to you is, don’t miss the sessions where he talks.

Of course, we are not going to tell you exactly when it is his turn to talk and when it is mine. That is because I don’t want to be up here alone talking about cat-dogs, cracked walls, soccer and basketball.

Here I am going to tell you an anecdote. When, on May 2, when you all left Oventik, it started to rain. A huge storm. But the bases of support stayed there, dancing, and playing sports. I was in a corner listening to the narrator because they have something like a sports broadcaster who narrates the game. Then came the awards ceremony. Do you know the name of the team that won the women’s basketball tournament? They are called “The Defeated.”

Sherlock Holmes and Euclid, typos, planned catastrophes, gender defeats, Iolaus [viii] giving a hand. War, always war.

That is why we are doing a survey of which invited guests have the highest popularity ratings so that I can put myself into position where I can at least say to Doc Raymundo “Chin up, doc” and he, noble and generous, will reply, “Chin up, Sup.”

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Mexico, May 4, 2015.

From the Diaries of the Cat-Dog.

Note: I tried to put this story in Twitter form but I couldn’t. See, I saw on Twitter the other day one user [ix] who put out a whole communiqué in fragments of 140 characters. No, I wasn’t angry, I was envious because it turned out better for him than for me. Okay, here goes:

“The Ship”

I should warn you that the stories of the Cat-Dog are very other. I’ve said it before—in contrast to those traditional stories that begin with “once upon a time…” Zapatista stories (and not just the stories, but that’s not the point here) begin with “There will be a time…” And as it turns out, the stories of the Cat-Dog begin with: “there is a time…” This means that the stories of the Cat-Dog are very modern because they happen in real time. So, here goes.

“There is a time…

A ship. A big one, as if it were a nation, a continent, an entire planet. With all of its crew and its hierarchies; that is, its above and its below. With its disputes over who commands, who is more important, who has the most—the standard debates that occur anywhere there is an above and a below. But this proud ship was having difficulty, moving without clear direction and with water pouring in from both sides. As tends to happen in these cases, the cadre of officers insisted that the captain be relieved of his duty. Complicated as things tend to be when determined by those above, it was decided that in effect, the captain’s time had passed and it was necessary to name a new one. The officers debated among themselves, disputing who had more merit, who was better, who was best.

The commotion was heard in the deepest part of the ship, below the water line where the majority of the crew lived and worked. Even though they weren’t seen, they were important. In plain terms, the ship moved thanks to their work. The commotion above was nothing new for those below. They knew that every once in a while, those above fought over who would be captain. None of this mattered to the owner of the ship. It could be whoever, what interested the owner was that the ship produced, transported, and collected commodities across the oceans.

Among those who worked below there was a group that was set apart for being very other. Because they were men, women, and otroas, we will call them “Loas Otroas.” Loas Otroas were small beings, dirty, ugly, bad, poorly spoken, and worst of all, they didn’t comb their hair.

Since the rest of the ship didn’t know that there were people there who couldn’t be accommodated in the structures and diagrams they had been shown, they tended to say that Loas Otroas were really Martians who wanted to take over the ship and take it to another galaxy. Fortunately, the captain of the ship heard these rumours and named a commission of distinguished intellectuals to provide a scientific explanation for the disturbing existence of Loas Otroas. The intellectuals met in an exclusive meeting space built especially for these kinds of things, and after a few days and a hefty salary, they presented the results of their study. “Loas Otroas, they said, are not Martians. In reality, they are made in China. The Chinese manufactured them there in China and sent them to planet Mars, so that from there they would end up on the boat and sabotage the industry of combs, brushes, shampoos, gels, barbershops, and beauty salons.” The captain of the ship congratulated the scientists in a confused tweet, as tweets tend to be. Specialized journals announced and circulated the discovery.

Nah, that’s not really true, but if it seems like an absurd explanation, there are worse ones in the paid mass media.

But getting back to the ship.

Loas otroas, as they were, were always cursing those above and getting into mischief to irritate the officers. Meaning, every so often they were organizing another rebellion. So, the officials presented great speeches about interplanetary threats; they exchanged gazes, calculating together how to take advantage of the occasion, and they gave the order to create order among the disordered, that is among Loas Otroas.

Loas Otroas called on other people to rebel, but the great majority of those below did not respond to this call. What’s more, and not on few occasions, they applauded when one of Loas Otroas was taken on deck and, amidst the great discourses of the officials on the rationality of command and the irrationality of rebellion, made to jump overboard.

Were there sharks? Those who worked below didn’t know. What’s more, they only knew what happened above and outside when the officials gave them information. But even with their losses,Loas Otroas kept on with that discourse of “neither master nor boss, nor god nor ruler,” and other equally anachronistic ideas, like that one about “the boat should belong to those who propel it.” The ship, for its part, continued its erratic swaying from one side to the other, without anything seeming to affect it. And every so often, unoa otroa was taken up on deck to be thrown into the sea. What were they accused of, judged and condemned for? This didn’t matter to the executioner. It was enough for them that this being was dirty, ugly, bad and rude, to know that he or she was guilty, even if just guilty of being who they were. But this time, something unusual happened. The dispute among the officers over who would be captain had created so much noise and chaos that no one had bothered to serve up the usual discourse and praise for order, progress, and fine dining. The executioner, knowing only how to follow existing patterns, didn’t know what to do; something was missing. So he went to look for some officer who could comply with what tradition dictated. In order to do so without the accused/ judged/condemned escaping, they sent him to Hell, that is, to the “watch post,” also known as “the Crow’s Nest.”

The watch post is at the top of the tallest mast, and was seen by all of the crew as a punishment. Maybe because of the wind, the rain, the sun, the cold, or the stormy gales, the “crow’s nest” was considered a branch office of hell. From there, enemies were sited, unknown vessels were caught creeping up, monsters and catastrophes were seen coming; prosperous ports where commodities (that is people) were exchanged came into view, as well as incomprehensible islands populated by Loas Otroas. Whatever notice was given from that post was received by the officers with anger and displeasure. If what was in sight was an enemy ship, the captain gave over everything without a word, and then later, with the cadre of officers, toasted the progress the looting had brought onboard. Yes, it sounds stupid, but that is how everything worked on the deck of this ship. If what was sighted were monsters and systemic catastrophes, those in charge celebrated modernity… or post modernity, depending on the fashion decreed by the newest navigation manuals. If what was sighted were unknown vessels creeping closer, leaflets and pamphlets were quickly distributed among the crew.

In these leaflets, the crew was called upon to view the panorama optimistically. They called for meditation, personal self-improvement, and love for one’s neighbour. “Change begins with oneself” tended to be the title of these papers which were produced in great quantities… and which almost no one read. The announcement of arrival at the port of immediate destination was received with more disagreement and dissent than with bother or annoyance. From the profits made from the buying and selling of commodities, the officials gave a few crumbs to those below. As the profits were large and the handouts below small, there was plenty of money for the officials to build huge new cabins for themselves or adorn the nautical museums with splendid statues praising their lineage.

If someone is listening to this story and thinks everything on this ship is extravagant and irrational, they wouldn’t be wrong. For all the lifestyle habits created above to manage society’s interactions, with its rules of etiquette, good manners, and hierarchies, the whole of all this doesn’t cease to be abhorrent or abnormal. A serious analysis of the organization of the ship would conclude that the fundamental absurdity of life on the ship is that what maintains it afloat is below the water line, in the lowest part of that proud ship. Despite scientific and technological advances, nuclear turbines, 4G-LTE tablets, super high definition images, and fast food, the principle motor of this ship is human.

If whoever is listening to me pays attention to the organization of the ship that I am describing, they will realize that despite the fact that it is those below who are making it possible for the ship to sail, who are producing not only the necessary things for the ship to function but also the commodities that give purpose and destiny to the ship, they don’t have anything other than their capacity and knowledge to do this work. They also don’t have the possibility of deciding anything about the organization of this work so that it completes its objective; it is the officers above deck who decide this. Of course, taking care of appearances, every once in a while they simulate the taking into account of the opinions of the sailors—male and female, because on this boat there is gender equality in working one’s ass off. For this task, they would organize a curious game that consisted of presenting to the sailors various colours, and asking them to choose one. The colour picked by the majority was used to paint the body of the ship, and they would even install a special flag to identify it. But nothing really changed: the owner continued being the owner and was the one who chose the destination and determined the organization of the ship. I say this was “before” because this cadre of officers was attentive to modern advances and soon replaced this process with that of surveys: ‘What colour do you like the best?’ Fortunately, modernization did not extinguish a sense of shame of those above deck and they continued on with the formalism of voting for which colour was the prettiest.

However, the sea winds were agitating the boat more and more frequently. More enemy boats appeared with greater frequency and are more aggressive. If whoever is listening to me thinks that the cadre of officers, by reason of their supposed abilities, would see a way to deal successfully with these new threats, you are mistaken. So busy are they pulling profit from the small portion allotted to them, that these officers have indeed become more and more agile, yes, but principally in discovering 1001 ways to take a little more, not only from what they can steal from those below, but also what they can snatch from their peers. The issue is that those who should be responsible for guaranteeing the internal organization of the boat so that it complies with its function, have by their actions resigned their duty. The ship sails, as it has for a while now, on pure inertia.

But let’s get back to the protagonist of this story and its bitter destiny in the crow’s nest.

That this branch office of hell was located above was just one of those paradoxes that populates the geography of the current sea. Contrary to what one might think, the being in question, loa otroa, climbed up with enthusiasm, agile as indeed those below tend to be. S/he climbed with admirable skill up the tallest mast and settled into the narrow vigilance post.

Following an unknown impulse, unknown at least to the person who tells the story and those who listen, this strange being did not wallow in self-pity; rather, s/he took advantage of this privileged position to look.

It was no small thing what this gaze took in.

Loa Otroa looked toward the deck and paused a moment on the slogan that the owner of the ship had engraved in bronze on the front of the boat: “Bellum Semper. Universum Bellum. Universum Exitium.”

Loa otroa did not know Latin. Me neither, actually. But someone has done a translation and we can say that it is something like “War Always, Universal War, Universal Destruction.”

While we look for the way to get the translation to Loa Otroa, s/he continued there above, observing what happened on deck. Over there for example, was a stage full of little flags of one colour. Over there a little further, another with flags of the same colour, and another, and another. It’s curious because from close up, it looks like they are a lot of different colours and shapes, but at a distance you can see that all the stages have the same design and the same colour. Bored, Loa Otroa looked to the horizon. S/he shuttered and sharpened her gaze to confirms what s/he has seen. Loa Otroa climbed back down to deck and went through the hatch to the bottom part of the ship.

Once there s/he looked for a notebook and begins to draw incomprehensible signs. S/he calledLoas Otroas and shows them the notebook. Loas Otroas look at each other, look at the notebook, and look at each other again, speaking a very ancient language. Who knows what they saw because there is no translator on hand. But after a little while like that, exchanging gazes and words, they begin to work feverishly.

The End

I know, I was just as indignant as you are now. “What do you mean ‘the end’? What did s/he see from the watch post? What did s/he draw in the notebook? What did they talk about? Then what happened?”

But the Cat-Dog just meowed barking, “We don’t know yet.”

Later he barked meowing, “Those who call themselves social scientists should learn how to use those four words.”

Thank you.

[i] The text uses “todos, todas, todoas,” meaning “everyone” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] The text uses “nosotroas” meaning “we,” see endnote i.

[iii] The text uses “otros, otras, otroas as” meaning “other,” see endnote i.

[iv] Seminario, which we are translating as seminar, can also mean seminary. See the reference to this in an earlier EZLN text by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano:http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/03/el-muro-y-la-grieta-primer-apunte-sobre-el-metodo-zapatista-supgaleano-3-de-mayo/

[v] The text uses “uno, una, unoas,” meaning “one” see endnote i.

[vi] The text uses “alguno, alguna, algunoa” meaning someone, see endnote i.

[vii]“How good it is, the way we are now.”A reference to a phrase used in Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ talk from May 3, 2015: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/14/on-the-elections-organize/

[viii] Greek mythological figure, Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles who helped his uncle slay the Hydra of Lerna.

[ix] The text uses “usuario, usuaria, usuarioa,” meaning user, see endnote i.

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EZLN: Resistance And Rebellion III

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Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

May 8, 2015

Good afternoon compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

Perhaps by continuing our explanation of how resistance and rebellion are weapons for us you will better understand some of the things that our compañeros and compañeras here at the table have talked about.

Through our resistance and rebellion, we have come to understand that by putting resistance and rebellion into practice we confirm that we will not allow in our struggle what happened in 1910, when so many of our fellow Mexicans died. Who took advantage of that situation?

Our resistance and rebellion teach us that it was the carrancistas [followers of Carranza], theobregonistas [followers of Obregon] and the maderistas [followers of Madero], all landowners, who took advantage of the situation to govern, to put themselves into power. And that bunch of bastards who are in power now are the great-grandchildren of those same people, and so it is our resistance and our rebellion that tell us that we must govern ourselves.

But our resistance and rebellion also tell us that just because we, people of the same race, are the ones who govern, does not mean—and we have said this from the beginning—that just because we call it a Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council], does not mean that this government by its very nature is good. Rather that we must monitor it, take care of it, keep watch over it.

That is why I’m saying that what the compañeros and compañeras said is true. Even if we bring indigenous people to power, if the people are not organized below to monitor their government then we will get even bigger rats than before. Because a poor indigenous person has never seen the kinds of things, so many things, that he or she sees in that governing office,. So that’s what happens to us in that position. Thus it is important not to just trust. We have to actually be organized to monitor our government. That is why we say it is the people who rule.

When I say that we need to watch over our government and that we need to be alert and all of that, we do this through our practice of struggle, of resistance and rebellion. We don’t leave our autonomous governments to govern alone, we are very other in this sense. Of course, each one of us has responsibility in our work areas, so we learn that it isn’t just the compañero and compañeraauthorities who have to be good at thinking through proposals, we all have to become good at this.

So the way it works is that our authorities have meetings, for example in one of the Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion. And there may be 15-20 people in a meeting among the compañerosand compañeras from all the work areas: health, education, agro-ecology, commerce and these kinds of things. So one of the compañeros or compañeras in charge of a given area says, “I am having such-and-such problem,” to the collective gathered there, that is, all of the rest of the authorities who are in charge of other areas. So they begin to discuss the problem among all of the authorities. That’s why we call it collective government. And from there ideas begin to come out, proposals. But that doesn’t mean that whatever they come up with is implemented directly.

They can’t simply implement these ideas straightaway because first they have to go to the municipal assembly of authorities. That is where all of the comisariadas [local land authorities],agentas [local authorities], comisariados and agentes gather. There the compañeros present their proposal for solving the problem. Among them—the compañeros who are authorities, the assembly members, and the authorities of the communities, men and women—use our Zapatista law as their guide. There they might say, ‘oh we already know that’s allowed because it has already been discussed; our communities have already accepted that before so we can decide here that this proposal can go forward.’ And the compañeros and compañeras, comisariados, comisariadas might then approve the proposal. But the compañeros and compañeras who are authorities know when to say ‘we can’t decide here that we are all in agreement. We have to go consult our compañeros andcompañeras in the communities.’

When the municipal authorities or the Junta de Buen Gobierno launch or present their proposal in the assembly, the assembly of authorities, the way they do things goes like this. Pretend that we here are in what we call the maximum or highest-level assembly. Here is where we have the first round of discussion about the problem. When we feel we’ve got to the point where we can’t go any further, and we haven’t found a solution, we divide up into regions. So we would divide everyone here in this room into 10, 15, 20 regions in order to go discuss it. Then we come back to the assembly and talk again until we find a solution.

If we don’t find an answer through that discussion because it just couldn’t be determined here, we take the proposal to the communities—the discussion is extended to every single community. We have to find a solution and that solution can come from a community, from a particular group, or it can come from an individual – something that a compañero or compañera suggests – or it can come from a whole community. Then that word, that opinion, that thought goes all the way to the highest-level assembly until we decide which proposal is best for resolving this problem.

So you can see here that the autonomous authorities do not do what they do alone. That is, their work is discussed and considered by all of the compañeros and compañeras bases of support in the communities. For however good a government or Junta de Buen Gobierno they may be, they can’t just make their own policies. Rather, what they propose has to be approved by the people, by the communities. The communities thus know from the very beginning what it is that is being proposed, what it is that their authorities want to do, and how they intend to do it.

This way of doing things has meant that our authorities can’t just do whatever they want, whether that’s at the zone level, in the Junta de Buen Gobierno, the MAREZ, the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion, or at the level of the local authorities. There are always assemblies locally in each community. No local authority can do something without the local assembly knowing about it. It is the same thing at the municipal level. They cannot launch any project without the community being informed. It is the same at the level of the Junta de Buen Gobierno. They cannot begin or launch any project or work without informing and consulting the thousands of men and women.

So compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, if we say no to a given proposal or project, it is not necessarily because it is bad, but rather because we have our own processes. For example, regarding the work relations with some NGOs that are still working here, they think that if they ask me and I say no, it’s just me saying no. And if they ask me and I say yes, then that’s good enough. But the reality is that there are thousands of us, so it takes a long time to discuss the project, to decide whether we want to accept it or not, or how we want it to be. This takes awhile. And when the answer is given by our people and then the people from the outside who offered the project or proposal say well no, we can’t offer it any more, the moment has passed, it’s no longer possible, well then, that’s that. That’s what our resistance and rebellion is for. If there’s no project from the outside, we will just continue working.

Within our resistance and rebellion, there are two things that the compañeros of the communities and their three levels of government never let go of, things that can’t be bypassed. One, the progress on everything that has been agreed upon in the community has to be reported back to the community: how is it going? For whatever kind of work we do, health, education, agro-ecology, and all the other kinds of work, there has to be an account or report: What is happening? How is it going? Why is that happening? How did you resolve it? What are you doing now? At the same time, there must be reports on all of the funds that have come in and on what has been spent.

In the practice of our resistance and rebellion, the compañeros and compañeras have been innovative in the practice of accountability, where the Junta de Buen Gobierno or the MAREZ must provide clear accounts. The compañeros and compañeras asked how can we be certain that what the accounts say is true, even though it is compañeros and compañeras who are doing them, even though they carry the name of Junta de Buen Gobierno. But do we know that they’re right?

So the compañeros and compañeras innovate. They get creative because there is a lack of trust, so they have to figure out how to create trust. So they created the rule for the Junta de Buen Gobierno, where there is a lockbox or whatever you call it there where the money is kept. They decided that the Junta de Buen Gobierno can’t take money out of the box without the presence of the Vigilance Commission. The Vigilance Commission is made up of the community bases of support who are taking their turn there in the caracol. Every day, every month, every year you can find them there with the Junta de Buen Gobierno and the Information Commission, which is the compañeros and compañeras who are comités [Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee, CCRI] or who are candidatos or candidatas to be CCRI, or suplentes or suplentas to be CCRI.

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So these two commissions accompany the process any time that the box is opened, not that box that holds the dead but that of the money. Then one of the two commissions asks:

“So let’s see compa from the Junta de Buen Gobierno, how much do you need?”

“Well, I need 15,000 pesos.”

“Let’s see.” They take out the 15,000 pesos and give it to the compa. “Count it so that later you can’t say that it wasn’t all there.”

So the compa from the Junta de Buen Gobierno counts it and goes to buy what they need. Upon their return in the afternoon, they meet with the two commissions again and the compa from theJunta with the two commissions look together at the accounts. They check how any money has been spent, or whether there is anything missing.

So that is how we create trust in the accounts presented by the Junta de Buen Gobierno. This accounting and presentation of information happens every six months, every three months, and every year. But because the process is controlled, because the Junta is not just on their own, there are people who can confirm that the accounts are accurate.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that we have found a way to do justice. It is one part of how we… let’s see, how could I explain it? By carrying out this process without doing politics, we could say, without giving political talks to the partidistas, but instead by resolving their problems, it’s clear that we do not sell justice, that justice cannot be bought. And in doing justice there is no fee; people aren’t charged for justice. So then the partidistas realize and decide, well let’s go to the Zapatistas because if we go to the [state] officials, we’ll need money.

So by doing justice within our resistance and rebellion, we are doing what we call neutralizing, because then those non-Zapatistas [who come for resolution of their problems in our justice system] do not act against us. But this is not because we’re doing political work per se. We’re just acting [on principle] and that is what they see.

Another thing that we do that has contributed to the construction of our resistance and rebellion is that we don’t try to force people to be Zapatistas or bases of support. In our community practice, that is, in each community, we talk to others, those who aren’t partidistas, because in the communities there are people who are partidistas and people who aren’t partidistas. So we talk to them and if they want to join us in our school, which is part of the Zapatista education system, they can do so without paying.

All they have to do is fulfil the community agreement regarding how that community supports their education promotor or promotora [like teacher, literally promoter]. Each Zapatista community does this differently. The community may work in the promotor or promotora’s vegetable garden or cornfield to collect the fresh corn. They may collectivize and give beans to the education promotoror promotora. So the brothers who aren’t Zapatistas but want to send their kids to our schools can do so as long as they fulfil this community determined requirement. Those brothers who aren’tpartidistas can then send their children to the Zapatista autonomous school.

The result of this work is that when the compañeros and compañeras have a celebration in the communities, for example November 17, which is the anniversary of the creation of the Zapatista army in 1983, during those celebrations, the Zapatista children and the little boys and girls whose parents are not partidistas participate all together. They recite their poems or give small speeches or performances so their parents can watch.

During these parties the partidistas don’t participate, unless they happen to play the keyboard. But their children don’t participate. So then the parents whose children are in the autonomous Zapatista school take up the task of talking to the partidistas, saying why don’t we just run off the official teachers? Because look at my son, my daughter, she already knows how to read and write. She can already give a small speech. And look at yours, your son and your daughter—they don’t know how. So what are we going to do? Why would we be against the Zapatistas? So then they start to talk about it and the partidistas see that what the others are saying is true.

These are all things that our rebellion and resistance have created for us, have made possible for us. And I’m going to keep telling you about it because it is thanks to this resistance and rebellion that we are fighting. We’re demonstrating that one can take action without a gun. This is the important thing in these cases. But that doesn’t mean that we’re saying that the guns are not useful.  One day they will be useful.

I want to repeat here compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters that there cannot be resistance or rebellion without first being organized. Because organization is people, it’s women and men, it is communities. So if there is no community, no people, if there aren’t men and women, then what do you have? Perhaps you have an artful way of speaking. Or you are good on the soapbox, as we say. But without people, that just vanishes into nothing.

So how do we make what a poet says into organization and practice? How do we put into organization and practice what a singer sings? How do we practice and create a new organization from what an artist illustrates? These are the questions, help me make a list of these things. This is the point. This is why we organize.

Because our resistance and rebellion (inaudible), it is with this resistance and rebellion that we have achieved our form of education. That includes the programme or the topics of study, let’s see, how do you say that? Who is a teacher here? The study materials. It is the compañeros andcompañeras in the communities that have to decide what kind of education they want for their children. I remember a discussion with some compañeros who invited me to talk with them about what materials their young people were going to study. And one of the things they said was, well, in social science, the system says we’re supposed to talk about the bullet train. But what bullet train is going to come through here? No, what we have to think about is what we need in social sciences here in our autonomous municipality. Here in our zone of rebellion. And I said, yes, goodcompañeros and compañeras. That’s how we have to think about it. And they said:

“We want them to study history because in the SEP [the state school system], in the education that the government provides, they tell us that Mexico already had its revolution. That that’s why Zapata died. So we want our kids to study the real history.”

And I asked the compañeros and compañeras, well what do you mean by that? And they said:

“Well, we want our young people to wake up.”

“But how?” I asked them again.

“Look,” they said, “how do the different eras of modes of production or society function? These different things, like feudalism, slavery, capitalism, imperialism, and we don’t know how many more.”

And then the compañeros and compañeras said:

“In the time of slavery, how did politics work? How did ideology work? How did the economy work? What were the social and cultural realms like? How were things in that time? We need to know all of this to awaken children. So that they know.”

And I answered the compañeros and compañeras: “I don’t know. I didn’t study that either. I didn’t study at all compañeros and compañeras.” And they said:

“So how should we do it?” And I said:

“Well, let’s see who can help.”

Here in Mexico there are a lot of students and sometimes they come down here, so we suggested this, that what we wanted to know about was how society and the mode of production worked in each of these eras.

“There’s not a book about that. We don’t know either.” They responded.

Does anybody here know? Because that’s what we want. What was the feudal era like? How did politics work in that time? How did ideology work in that time? How did the economic, social and cultural realms work in that time? Because now we compañeros and compañeras know about capitalism, now about neoliberal capitalism, and now we can describe how the political, ideological, economic and social realms work.

So that’s why I’m telling you that with our resistance and rebellion we have a new form of education, a new form of health care. It is our resistance and rebellion that have taught us how to do these things, but we also have failures.

Look, before when we hadn’t yet suggested or clarified to the NGOs what I explained to you the day before yesterday, we built things like clinics, or mini-clinics, because they provided funds to do so. And what was understood was:

“Ah a clinic. How great! Now we’re going to have healthcare.”

But about 4 or 5 years ago, we realized this wasn’t true, because it implied organization and when the compañeros wanted to organize themselves… well, why am I telling you about this? Because, well imagine that we have here the clinic or the mini-clinic. And the communities are here five to six hours a day trying to get this clinic running. And the health promotors or promotoras come in shifts to attend the clinic. But at the same time we had started the work of what we call the three areas: which are medicinal plants [also midwifery and bone-setting]. And the compañeros andcompañeras were learning what plants work for what kinds of things – cough, flu, parasites, pain, diaorrhea, vomiting – all of these kinds of things. So, pure and simple, we weren’t going to the clinic. So the compañeros and compañeras began to say:

“What is the purpose of the health promotor going to the clinic? We’ll just have to feed them. But that’s not actually working for us. What is working for us is the promotora who works with medicinal plants.

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So this changed things for us. And this is where what we were talking about yesterday comes into play. We began to re-organize ourselves and at the same time re-educate ourselves. So what we did was that the compañeros that were the promotores carried out a campaign. They gathered things like the ultra sound machine, the equipment for pap smears, the lab equipment, and the dental equipment and went to the communities. They organized themselves by municipalities or by regions and went to carry out these services. So in that process they were able to detect who had what kinds of problems – hernias, tumours, appendicitis and these kinds of things. So it was no longer just letting the doctors who support us know what was going on. And we were also able to support the doctors, because this way they would already know what the patients had. It would be there on the film or on the x-ray or on the ultrasound.

So this really is a new kind of health [or healthcare] for us because we are able to detect ourcompañeras and compañeros’ health problems beforehand, before the doctor. And also of course the partidistas’ health problems.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that the compañeros have the freedom to practice what they think at a local level. For example, there are communities that began to create what they call the BAC. So, we asked them what that was and it turns out that it is the Autonomous Community Bank. That is, it belongs to the communities; they themselves created it.

And it is through our resistance and rebellion that we are improving our communications media. That’s what we call it. That includes the Zapatista autonomous community radio that thecompañeros of the Junta de Buen Gobierno themselves run. They use these radio broadcasts to transmit what they want the Zapatista and non-Zapatista communities to know.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that we practice a new democracy. That is where thecompañeros, the communities, and the authorities try new things altogether. Sometimes we fail on those things but we realize when it happens so that we can see how to improve them.

For example, and this is really important, one of the changes that we had to make in order to improve was the following. Before, we mentioned that there is a new education where the children really do learn how to read and write and do maths, so these young 18 or 19 year olds are named as authorities because they have these skills. So when the assembly meets, all of a sudden its all young people. The municipal council and also the MAREZ, are all young people. But it was a mistake to have all young people in there because they haven’t had the experience of being an older Zapatista; they don’t know what it was like during the times of clandestinity; the effort, the sacrifices and everything that required; the incredible courage and everything it took to rise up in 1994. The young people haven’t had that experience. Things have been very easy for them.

So the communities realized that this wasn’t working and they began organizing the young people to have their own school that teaches them their work – their task, their duty, their obligation, what it means to be a Zapatista authority. But this school is for all of the communities. All of the men, women, and young people so that they understand what their task and their duty is when they are chosen to be an authority.

Within this democracy one of the ways that we experiment with how to do things and help thecompas is, for example, and I don’t know what to call this, if its direct or indirect or somewhat direct, you’ll have to figure out which one it is; but for example let’s say that here in this room we are the authorities and among ourselves we know everyone, we know which compañero orcompañera is concerned about the work, is really interested in the work, who wants and is able to help and orient others. We see who doesn’t just talk about those things and but is really able to practice them.

So, what we do here is propose that a compañero or compañera be a member of the Junta de Buen Gobierno, if that is what we are choosing someone for. Now we here are authorities and because we know each other we propose that particular compañero or compañera, but we don’t decide that here. Rather, we have to take that proposal to the communities and that is where we explain that we, as assembly members, think that this compañero or compañera will be a good choice to do this work because we have seen this or that.

And then the communities say, because this is what the communities ask us, “is it true what you say about this person? Because it will be on your head.” And that is where we as authorities have to be truthful about things; if we really have seen that the compañera is interested and concerned and has demonstrated that she can orient and support others, then that is how the authorities help the communities choose people. It’s not because a given compañero or compañera runs their own campaign.

For example, how do the communities monitor or keep watch over their authorities. So the Vigilance Commission is in the caracoles at all times (inaudible). They monitor or keep watch over the authorities, but the compañeros and compañeras, they have in their head and heart the importance of the task of keeping watch over their authorities. Very recently, a member of theJunta de Buen Gobierno – because they have shifts – well this member had finished his shift and was in his community, and went, I don’t know where, to make some purchases in the city and someone saw him there with a Tecate [a brand of beer] in his hand, but he was in the city. But so then that compañero or compañera who saw him notified the Junta de Buen Gobierno that so-and-so was seen with a Tecate, which is to say that our compas pursue their authorities wherever they go. They keep watch over them.

So for example, in democracy, how, even in the children’s classes, do we go about teaching them this, so that they understand why their parents are in meetings?

The teachers say:

“Okay kids, our festival is coming up” -for example May 3. The community celebrates a festival on May 3, and so the teacher says “and you children, what are you going to do?”

“Well we want to have a piñata or we want to do a skit or a bit of theatre,” the kids start to say and they consult with all the children about what they want to perform.

Dances, theatre pieces, piñatas, or whatever they want to do.

So the kids start to learn how to organize themselves. That is in addition to the fact that they accompany their moms and dads in the assemblies. Here one thing that we have learned in our resistance and rebellion is that we can’t be afraid to go to the community and suggest our proposals – however difficult it may be. The compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno are learning this also; that however difficult it may be to do, we must go to the communities and make our proposal so that they talk about it, they think about it, and that they learn because we don’t want a situation where the compañeros and compañeras – because they think they understand what the people in the communities want – launch initiatives without telling the communities. I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to say here.

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So let’s take me as an example. Let’s say the compañeros and compañeras have seen me, and they know and I know that I can hit upon exactly what the people want. And so because they have seen me, I start to think a lot of myself and I get a big head and I begin to launch initiatives that I think are good without consulting the communities. So the compas say we are not going to permit that, because for however much we may understand and really nail what is needed, we still have to go to our communities because if we don’t, then we start to create a bad culture. We start to create a bad culture all over again. I started to think about this when the compa Zibechi was talking because it is true what he said. The ex-president of his country showed a nice face towards the outside but inside, who knows. Because as we Mexicans say, you can see the face but you can’t see the heart, and well, he told us how it really was.

That’s one of the things we have detected from within our resistance and rebellion and have said that we are not going to allow; that the people must be informed, the people must be consulted. So that’s what our resistance and rebellion has allowed us. It gives us time to invent things, to create things, to imagine. We don’t have an instruction manual and this is the truth. There is not a book for this. Our manual is evaluating our work to see how to improve it. Our manual is the actual problem that arises. It is how we have to resolve this problem; and that is how we advance, confronting those problems and resolving them with an imagination in our practice. So that’s the thing about our resistance and rebellion. We don’t give up. We are very stubborn. We don’t just let something go. We have to resolve it. We have to find the solution. So we have to understand our resistance and rebellion as if the shots, the bullets were real. As if the bombs were real. That is, we have to understand it as a war in order to confront the enemy, meaning we have to take it seriously. Because this is one of the ways that we defeat the enemy, finding solutions for how to better our own self-government. What we mean by that is that the struggle, the fight, is not just with weapons and bombs, but also on the political terrain, the ideological, the economic terrain, and everything else.

Our resistance and rebellion exists because we are working on them, because we are organizing them. Because we are there alongside our people—struggling, supporting, orienting, improving. At the same time, our resistance gives us security and simultaneously helps us keep watch over ourselves, take care of ourselves. And like I told you, this resistance is alive and active because we are working on it. We really consider it one of our weapons of struggle. Because, for example, our actual guns have been resting for the past 20 years, but if we don’t take care of those guns then they become useless. But we do take care of them, so they are just like they were in 1994. They are still useful because we are still taking care of them.

So our organization, our rebellion and resistance is what makes us, what allows us to take care of ourselves, what gives us safety and security. And we have to keep improving them as we are able through our work. Our resistance and rebellion has helped us see that if the political parties hadn’t split us into many different parts, things would be a little different. Because the political parties divide us, and then so do the social organizations that are co-opted by the political parties, which are like the sharks or attack dogs of the political parties. Then those social organizations also divide and provoke, and they continue to do this. I’m going to give you an example here of how we confront this problem and what we have seen as effective.

You will remember, and if you don’t I will remind you of Zinacantán, and what happened in Zinacantán, where the perredistas—members of the PRD—cut off the water supply to ourcompañeros who are bases of support. And when we went to take water to our compañeros, theperredistas attacked us with rocks, clubs, and bullets. What happened happened, and the Junta de Buen Gobierno, as a solution, bought a little piece of land where there is a water spring and gave it to the compañeros who are bases of support.

But here is the example of what I mean by the political parties dividing us, dividing our communities. Because what happened then was that a group of former compas left; they stopped being Zapatistas and so the compas bases of support said, “well we are not going to give them water any more, because now they are no longer a part of us.” And they went to suggest this to the Junta de Buen Gobierno, but the Junta said to the compañeros:

No compañeros, water is life, so we cannot tell them that we are not going to let them have water, even though when we went to give water to you, our bases of support, the perredistas shot at us. But that is not how we do it. We are just going to invite them to take care of the water and to respect the trees that we have planted there, so that they grow and also protect the water.”

There are a million things that I can tell you in this regard, of how they fuck with the communities, of how the political parties divide us, but this is how we combat that. Sometimes being humble works and sometimes it doesn’t. Because what the compañeros did in that case, in letting theperredistas access the water, that was about humility.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that the compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno and the MAREZ made an agreement across all levels of authorities to carry out the sharing or the exchange. Because there was an internal exchange or sharing and that helped us to create, to invent among all of us, what became the Little School. This process gave us a lot of strength because the exchange that the compañeros held with all the MAREZ, theJuntas de Buen Gobierno,is what demonstrated that they are true teachers.

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And this is where we see that what happened upon the arrival of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in 1983 is real. Because at that time, the first compañeros insurgentes and insurgentas,well when they came they were very square or rigid, but upon arriving and through our interaction with the compañeros and compañeras of the communities, this rigidity was dismantled.

Because in the communities they were already in resistance. They lived in their communities and it was immediately clear that the compañeros and compañeras of the communities were already in resistance. For example, there were communities that named their own comisariados despite the fact that the municipal president demanded that he got to name that position. They weren’t bases of support at that time in 1983, and even though some communities said ‘what the municipal president says doesn’t matter, what counts is what we say,’ there were also other communities that did go to the municipal president so that he would name their comisariado.

So at that time, there were these two types of communities. Since there were communities that were already in resistance, there it was a task of reinventing more forms of resistance.

So compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters, that is our experience. It is a small experience, like this little corncob that the compas from the north gave us.

So, evaluate from where you are what makes for a good seed and which seed is not good and can’t be put into practice. Then decide what is the first thing you have to do, and then the second, and the third, and the fourth and so on.

There is one more thing I want to tell you because what we are saying here is real. I remember in the year 1985 the commander, the person in charge of the section I was with, got us together one day and explained: we are the Zapatista Army for National Liberation. Each section was made up of 4 people, so the 4 of us turned and looked at each other and said, “we are the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, the 4 of us.”

He told us: here we have two options. We are going to work, and if we are going to work, it will have consequences, because we’re going to grow. We are going to convince the people, and there are going to be many many compañeros and compañeras, but for this we need to be very careful with security. Or, we are not going to work, that is, we are not going to do political work and we are going to be here getting very bored of each other’s faces month after month and year after year because we didn’t want to work.

So one has to think carefully about which option they choose.” And that is what we did. We began to work and by the year 1986 there were battalions of insurgentes and insurgentas. There were battalions of milicianos and milicianas.

But don’t forget compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, if that is what you decide to do, that we start like this, small. But if we work, we grow, and if we don’t, then we are ever smaller and we die without really doing anything.

All right then compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, that was our participation for this session about resistance and rebellion. We leave it to you to see what is useful for you and what is not. And the first thing to do in order to achieve what you want to do, what we recommend, is that the first thing is to organize yourselves, because if there is not organization there isn’t anything.

Thank you very much compañeros, compañeras.

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EZLN: Resistance And Rebellion II.

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

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May 7, 2015 (evening session)

Good evening, compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

It seems like a splash of cold water on our faces was indeed what we needed, because now we are definitely getting some thought-provoking ideas.

So we will need to translate this from Spanish to Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Tzotzil, and Chol, and from there a joint response will arise, because there are some things proposed by the compañeros at this table that we are interested in discussing.

We continue with our words of explanation and discussion on what resistance and rebellion mean to us as Zapatistas.

For us, as an organization that resists and struggles in rebellion, we first need to be clear on why one would resist and rebel. If we are not clear on the “Why?” the “For what?” and the “From what?” we simply cannot go forward.

For us, resistance and rebellion give us life. Why? Because we are clear on the “For what,” the “From what,” and the “For whom.” So we carry out what we’ve agreed upon and see if it brings us results, or better, if it brings us the results we wanted.

That’s how we are able to see that when resistance and rebellion are organized, they give life. And it is precisely because of resistance and rebellion that we are now here speaking with you. If it would have been otherwise, if ferocity had surpassed our sense of rebellion, we wouldn’t have paid attention to what happened next, the movement of January 12, 1994 [the civilian mobilizations calling for a halt to the war]. And if we hadn’t paid attention to that, who knows where our bones would be spread now; we wouldn’t be here speaking with you all.

So it is thanks to our rebellion and resistance that we were able to understand that movement, and that’s why we are here with you. But it’s also thanks to rebellion and resistance that we have been able to construct something for ourselves as Zapatistas, something small, tiny, like this [he holds up two fingers pressed together]. Can those in the back see this? Ah no? Well that’s exactly the point. This is how we began—small—so small you can’t see it, but if that resistance and rebellion is organized, it starts to multiply.

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When this thing was that small, we used to say amongst ourselves, “One day, we’re going to speak with all Mexicans, with brothers and sisters, compañeros and compañeras from all over the world.” Well, here it is. That now exists in reality. But for this to happen, one must resist and rebel.

In talking about resistance and rebellion, we’re not saying that there’s only one way. That’s why we say not to copy, that it’s not about copying. But for us, the Zapatistas, our self-government—that is, our autonomy to govern ourselves—is thanks to resistance and rebellion. If we would have dedicated our energy only to bombs and bullets, to military efforts, then compañeros andcompañeras, brothers and sisters, we wouldn’t be here right now, and that’s the truth.

But because it was understood that resistance is also a weapon in the struggle, and that organizing resistance was important, we are able to be here today and you can see this in our actions; that’s how we are battling capitalism. For us, resistance and rebellion has no end. That’s how we understand it in practice, because through our resistance and rebellion we can meet our needs.

For example, we found an answer to the lack of education available to us, we found our own [education] promotores, and we figured out how to feed those compañeros and compañeras. And with the problem of health, we sought out and trained compañeros and compañeras. Then we found they needed more support and assistance because it’s also a question of specialization in health, as it isn’t always the same medicines that work; there are always new types of illnesses. So we had to resolve that issue also.

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In each instance, with each step we take to resolve each problem, we have to again organize our resistance. As a joke we used to say, “Why was it again that we wanted autonomy?” So our answer to that was, and you have already noticed how we talk around here, “To fuck over capitalism!” And then, again how we talk here, “The thing is you have to work really fucking hard to build it!”

So that’s why we say that it never ends. With each step that we take, we construct, and this is always accompanied by resistance and rebellion, organized, of course.

Resistance and rebellion guide our laws as Zapatistas. Through resistance and rebellion, we create and improve our laws and accords, always through assemblies in the communities, always through democracy. That is to say, through the thought and the voice of the people.

The justice we create is strengthened by our resistance. Here I want to give you some examples because it’s really necessary to have resources. First, we are clear amongst ourselves what it is to create a justice that is different from the capitalist system, but in putting it into practice we start running into difficulties. For example, in the case of a murder: under our theory our law states that if I am the murderer, then I need to work not only to provide for my family but also to provide for the family of the person I murdered.

Once this actually happens the problems arise, because when you put the murderer to work you need to give him the tools. But then he might escape; some have in fact escaped. So you would have to kill him so that he doesn’t escape, but we wouldn’t do that. Why? What’s the problem? Well, because there isn’t a jail where all the work that would need to be done would be inside. That is, everything the murderer needed to work would have to be inside the jail, as well as some way to convert this work into maize, beans, everything that is necessary in order to eat and to distribute food to the family who suffered a loss and the family responsible for that loss. But this doesn’t exist; there aren’t the resources for that. So what’s the system’s problem? In some jails they do have these resources, but they are stolen by the same people who mete out justice, or who say that they mete out justice.

So what do we do when this type of problem arises? Because it has arisen in the past. What thecompañeros do for now is mediate while the murder is being investigated. The authorities speak with the family that suffered the murder and the family responsible, and that is how the information is shared and communication carried out. While the investigation is going on, sometimes the family responsible for the damage might say, “We will give them 40,000 pesos,” and then the authority says, “It’s not up to me to accept. I will need to ask the family that suffered the damage because we as authorities can’t put a price on a life.”

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So this is why the authority plays a mediating role. The authority goes and relays the offer to the family that suffered the damage and it goes back and forth until an agreement is reached. That’s how it has worked and how we resolve things today. And it’s there where resistance and rebellion come in—because as I was saying yesterday, it’s not enough to have strength and rage in the face of the enemy, in the face of capitalism—there are also things that we know we cannot do, such as stealing. We know perfectly well why there is theft, and why there is violation of laws. Where do those problems come from? Because there are violations when there is theft.

So all of these things need to be investigated because a lot of times these problems arise with drugs and alcohol, with drunkards. So what the authorities do is carry out an intense campaign in the communities to prevent this from happening, to prevent violations committed by drunks or drug addicts by reminding them how difficult things will be for them if they commit crimes; this includes preventing them from killing as well. So where this does end up happening with is thepartidistas [political party followers or members].

So then we end up having problems because it turns out that we end up taking care of thepartidista murderers, feeding them and policing them to make sure that they don’t escape. That’s why we say that Zapatista justice is for everyone, no matter who you are. It’s a nice thing to say but in practice it’s not easy to do because now you’re talking about taking care of someone for a week where you have to heal them, feed them. And watch out because his family might go complain that you’re violating his human rights because you’re not feeding him. So then this became a problem for us Zapatistas.

I tell you this, compañeros and compañeras, not so that you become discouraged or demoralized. It’s so that you can you can take note that in order to govern yourselves you must organize yourselves, and recognize all it takes in order to govern yourselves.

What we did in order to resolve that problem was that we said to the partidistas, “You know what, Mr. Comisariado [local authority], we are going to resolve this case, we are going to investigate it and everything, but you all need to keep the murderer over there in your community, or take him to that government you believe in, the bad government.” So then the partidista family says, “No, we want to resolve the problem here because there [with the official government] we won’t know where they will hold him, we won’t know how they will violate the family’s rights, and we also don’t have money to go back and forth, and on top of that, there’s the money needed for an attorney.”

So what we say is that they will need to jail them and be responsible for them in their community, so that the partidista community realizes how much work it is, how many resources it requires, and what a problem the murderer is because you have to take care of him, you have to feed him, and this makes for a lot of work. And so we have educated the partidistas like this, and little by little we see them fighting drug addiction. Where this is really hard for them is in those places where this problem is really out of control; they even tell us, “We have already picked him up and taken him to the government maybe four or five times, but the bad government doesn’t know what to do with him either and just lets him go.”

It is in our resistance and rebellion, where we’re forging a path, where we’re seeing how to put into practice and improve implementation of our seven principles of lead by obeying, that we say that the people rule and the government obeys.

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Here I want to give you all an example of what we experience with “the people rule and the government obeys.” For example, in a municipal assembly, which can be three or four regions—with each region having dozens of communities, which is why we call it an assembly of the autonomous municipality—the authorites of the MAREZ [Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion] put forward a proposal perhaps for a cooperative or a collective work project. Then it circulates among the communities and when the time comes to see what the people think, then the majority say, “Yes, we are in agreement,” and there are one or two communities that say, “We are not in agreement.”

So a discussion begins where we ask them to give us their reasons, and to see if it’s clear what is meant by collective work and what the goal of collective work is. Then the communities that are not in agreement present their argument: “It’s because we are very far away, we have a lot of expenses.” And so from there the municipality, that is, the authorities and the communities that are in agreement, begin to think of a way to make collective work a closer possibility for those who say they don’t agree. I’m not sure if you all understand me.

So then the discussion goes back over to the community that was not in agreement, and then the community authority comes back and says, “The community still doesn’t want to.” So then the assembly, the majority that does agree, asks him, “But why?”

– “Well, it’s because the people rule.”

And then the discussion begins once again and they reply:

– “You are mistaken, compañeros from X community, you are mistaken. You’re understanding things backward. We who make up the majority here will rule because the majority of the municipality’s communities are in agreement.”

So then the authority returns to the community to say that the majority, the voice of the people, is what rules, and you all must obey. The authority has to explain it until they’re finally convinced. The municipal authority has to go directly to the communities to explain things, and during the visit the authority observes many things. Sometimes when the municipal authority visits the community and speaks directly with the bases—complying with what our seven principles say about convincing the people, not defeating them—the municipal authority realizes that the community authority has not been explaining things well, because he’s the one who doesn’t want to do the collective work project. Then the community automatically punishes its authority because he was supplanting the community’s voice.

That’s why I was telling you all that about self-government, it’s not that we can’t do it, but that we must struggle a lot to do it. We have achieved it through our resistance and rebellion because we do a lot of political work, ideological work, a lot of explaining about how we see capitalism, and a lot of evaluating of how we are doing as an organization.

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That’s where we realize that the only thing we can do is struggle with all of our will and a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of sacrifice. That is, a lot of resistance and a lot of rebellion. That’s how we’re going to be able to keep on struggling because we know full well that capitalism is not going to let us live in peace.

Our resistance and rebellion has given us the strength to put this into practice—to exercise collective freedom—because a lot of things that we come across on our path, in our governing process, we are figuring out how to resolve and improve from within our freedom. For example, there’s what I was saying earlier about the zones training a new generation of young people because that’s what allows us to understand things, but we don’t stop with just understanding. We have realized over these last 20 years that if all we do is say things, then nothing will get done.

So once when we discover what is important, what is necessary, once the decision is made by the people to move forward on that work, we begin to put it into place. First we have to take into account the voice and the decision of the people, and from there we begin the work. Because we have to try it and see if it works out, kind of like experimenting; that’s how we go about improving things.

That’s why we say that our resistance and rebellion is what has helped us improve our practice of freedom in what we want to do. For example, the compañeros and compañeras of the communities have the freedom to replace an authority who does not comply with the community’s rules, or to reprimand or punish an authority who doesn’t comply with the rules.

Our resistance and rebellion have given us the freedom to create, invent, and imagine how to make our government work better in order to have a better life, and that is what is helping us figure out how to keep improving how we govern, how to keep improving the work of our autonomous governments.

With our resistance and rebellion, the Zapatista people, men, and women now have the right to speak their word, that is, they have the freedom of expression. And they have the right to be heard, whether they are in agreement or not, they still have the right to be heard.

But at the same time, the people, men and women of free expression, are also free to think and propose, free to present opinions on what they think is a good idea or not, free to make proposals on how things could improve or on a new way of doing things; they have the freedom to study, think, and present new proposals. They are free to analyze and then say if they agree or don’t agree, they are free to discuss in order to reach the best possible agreement, the one with the most advantages, And for that, things have to be thoroughly discussed. And finally, our people have the freedom to decide which ideas will be put into place.

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Within our resistance and rebellion, we have discovered something thanks to the practices of thecompañeras. When we speak of the three areas of health—midwifery, bone setting, and medicinal plants—it was the compañeras who said that we need to rescue that past culture where medical doctors weren’t necessary (because indeed, we had no access to them before), where the people lived with the help of plants, roots, leaves, and hulls. One day they said why are we going to throw our tears into the grave, packing the earth down over our dead, burying all their wisdom and intelligence there; we need to rescue it.

So we reflected on that and were able to understand it in the political sense. What was that sense? We said, “What happened in 1810? What happened in 1910? When Villa died, when Zapata died, the struggle ceased with them.” That’s what happens when things are concentrated in just one person, the rage, wisdom, intelligence, the art, the art of struggle, of fighting. We said, “Why is it just us, the political leadership of the clandestine committee?” And so we began to think about what to do.

So, from within our resistance and rebellion we said, “So that this doesn’t happen to us, we need to give our inheritance to our compañeros, that is, to the new generation. But this inheritance is not about land, a cow, or even a louse or a flea, right? No, it’s about struggle, about the organization—the EZLN, and about autonomy.” And in the process of that experience, reflecting on the how and what and all that, one of our compañeros and compañeras said,

– “But we’re still missing something, compas.”

– “No, I think we’re ok.”

– “No.”

– “But what’s missing?”

– “We still need to know what the Sixth, the Other [the Other Campaign], will have as inheritance.”

We then begin asking, “What Other, what Sixth?” because there isn’t an organization that speaks for it. It’s not like the autonomy that already belongs to the communities and is their form of organization, where they govern themselves, women and men, and the EZLN as an organization is also there, keeping on. So then, what Other, what Sixth? Or who exactly from the Sixth? So the answer was, “We’ll have to get to that later, compas.”

So now as a collective we have started to see what to do. And with that resistance and rebellion we see that it’s true what the compas are saying: “What?” “How?”

We don’t have anything to give as inheritance, on the contrary. It is our compañeros andcompañeras from the communities who have an inheritance to provide to the compañeros andcompañeras, those from the Sixth who are willing to engage with the truth. That’s how the Little School was born, and that’s what I mean that it’s the compañeros and compañeras who provide the inheritance.

But before that all happened, before they became Little School teachers and guardianes, we had heard what I was telling you about the compañeras, where they said that we needed to rescue things and not bury them. And it’s true, we would cry for our family members when they died, but we buried their wisdom and intelligence with them. I don’t know, we said something about how we should not be selfish, that we have to teach the compañeros and compañeras. And we are not going to live forever, even if the enemy doesn’t kill us, even if we don’t die in an accident, the fact is that we are all going to have to leave sometime, we are all going to have to return [to the earth] sometime.

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So then we started to reflect on why it’s always us with the microphone. “Why is it always me?” we asked ourselves. “Why are we going to be afraid of the people?” Just like how they are the ones who govern now, it should be the same with this issue. And if we’re going to provide an inheritance then it should be complete: they, the compañeros and compañeras, should be the teachers.

So we had to organize this and encourage them, and the truth is the compañeros from the communities are going to know what to do when we’re no longer here. That’s the point, you know, that we needed to give them the space to do it, and it turns out they know how to explain things better than we can, that’s the truth. I’m an insurgent, I’m in the encampment, I’m not in the community. They are the ones who live it daily, not me. I’m in the camp, giving the orders, of course.

It was through our resistance and rebellion that we understood how to resolve this problem of giving orders. The previous way of doing things wasn’t the fault of the compañeros, those who have carried forward these 20 years of governing, and it wasn’t our fault either, because it was necessary at the time, we trained and prepared ourselves to follow orders. In the military orders have to be followed and not debated. There is no democracy, and that’s how we prepared thecompañeros milicianos and milicianas, that’s how we were able to control thousands of combatants; it worked not to argue over orders. But when the time came to construct autonomy, it was difficult to change our thinking, because governing is not about orders but about agreements.

But when we’re organized, we can create and undo, and this can be seen in actions. We had to do political and ideological work once again in order to make sure the compañeros understood. That’s why we say that each thing has its purpose, its function, and these are not the same. It can be done, but it requires organization.

Because we think and believe that…this is why I told you this morning that “I don’t like being up here.” But the way that we’re organized is that what our people ask us to do we have to do. We who have been many years here up in front, we want the compañeros to also be there, now that we have given them the space, we want them to take this place. But the compañeros say, “The things is that we have a hard time speaking Spanish.” And so we have to do what the compas say.

It’s our way of walking, working, struggling, with our resistance and rebellion. Because we think that this way, we who represent are not indispensable, that everyone must learn, practice, and carry out these tasks so that before one goes, before they return to where we all must go [the earth], they have confidence in the compañero or compañera who will take over. Like a doctor giving a medical consultation, we provide support by drawing on our own experiences. Because it’s not the same to have the compañeros and compañeras just sitting there and listening; when they take the microphone and talk, then you see it’s like the compas say—now his hand isn’t shaking, but just a little while ago it was. Because it’s true, it’s not the same thing.

So what is needed is for the compañeros to practice, and to have us there helping them because once we’re dead we can no longer be consulted. Or can we? So there it is. It’s not the same when you are next to them, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, during the moments of your life and you can say, “Listen compañero, compañera, you think it’s okay how I have it here written out? You think it’s okay how I am going to explain it, discuss it, guide it?” And so that’s how we support each other, that’s how we help.

That’s why we say that we are very other. Because we move as if trying on a shoe, or clothes—you measure and see if it fits, try it on, and if not then you keep looking for the one that fits. That’s how we are compañeros, compañeras, brother and sisters, that is what our resistance and rebellion is about.

We’ll continue tomorrow.

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EZLN: Resistance And Rebellion I

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Resistance and Rebellion I.

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

May 6, 2015

Good afternoon, compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

I am going to talk to you about how our resistance and rebellion are our weapons.

Before we begin talking about resistance and rebellion, I want to remind you that we are an armed group. We have our weapons, as one more tool in the struggle, that’s how we explain it now. Our weapons are a tool of struggle, just like the machete, axe, hammer, pick, shovel, hoe, and other such things. Each of these tools has its function, but the function of a weapon, well, if you use it, you kill.

So in the beginning, when we rose up at the dawn of the year 1994, a movement of thousands of Mexicans from all over the country emerged, grew to millions, and pressured the government, the baldy—that’s what we call him, Salinas the baldy—to sit down and dialogue with us, and at the same time urged us to sit down to dialogue and negotiate.

We understood the call of the people of Mexico. So we gave the order to retreat from violent struggle. It was then that we discovered, through the compañeras—because in combat our people died—but the compañeras were developing what we might call another way to struggle. Because the government, a month later, a year, two years later, wanted to buy us off, as we put it, they wanted us to accept aid and forget about struggle.

Many of the compañeras spoke and they asked why and for what our compañerosdied that dawn of 1994. Just as our combatants, men and women, had gone to fight against the enemy, we had to see those who were trying to buy us off as our enemy as well. It was important not to accept what they wanted to give us.

So that was how it started. It was very difficult to make contact between the zones because the whole area was full of soldiers. Little by little, we were able to pass the word from compañeros in one zone to another about what the compañeras were saying, that we should not accept what the bad government was handing out. That just as our combatants had gone to fight the enemy that exploits us, we as bases of support also had to fight this enemy by not accepting its handouts. And so little by little, in this way, this idea spread throughout all the zones.

Today we can give many different explanations for what rebellion and resistance are to us, because they are things that we discovered a little at a time, practicing through our actions, such that now we can actually, as they say, theorize these ideas. Resistance for us is to stand firm and strong, to respond to any attack from our enemy, the system. Rebellion for us is to be fierce in our response and our actions, according to what is necessary, to be ferocious and valiant in carrying out our actions or whatever it is that we need to do.

We discovered that resistance is not only resisting one’s enemy, refusing its crumbs or leftovers. Resistance also means resisting the enemy’s threats and provocations, even, for example, the noise of the helicopters. Just hearing the noise of the helicopters can make you afraid, because your head is telling you that they are going to kill you, so you start running and that is when they see you and shoot you down. So the key is to not be afraid, to resist, to be strong and firm and not run when you hear the noise. Because the fucking helicopter noise does, in fact, scare you, it alarms you, but the key is not to be afraid and to stay calm.

We realized this, that it isn’t just about refusing [aid]. We also have to resist our own outrage against the system—and this part is difficult and good at the same time—we have to organize this resistance and rebellion. What is the difficult part? There are thousands of us who employ the weapon of resistance, thousands, and there are thousands of us also who know how to control our rage and convert it into struggle. These are both difficult, which is why I began by saying that in our form of struggle we find our weapons.

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What we have seen is that organizing these two weapons of struggle helped us to open our minds and our way of looking at things. But this only works if resistance is organized– if one knows how to organize it and begins from a point of already being organized, because there is no resistance or rebellion without first having organization.

This requires a lot of political and ideological work, a lot of talking and guidance in the communities about resistance and rebellion. I remember an assembly ofcompañeros and compañeras where we were talking and the compañeros andcompañeras were comparing peaceful political struggle to violent struggle. So some of the compañeros and compañeras asked, what happened to our brothers in Guatemala? Thirty years of violent struggle and what situation are our brothers in now?

Why does resistance within a peaceful political struggle have to be organized so well? Or why do we have to prepare our military resistance? Which will better serve us?

We realized in that discussion that what it is that we want is life, just as we said when Mexican civil society held that mobilization on January 12, 1994; they wanted our lives preserved, for us not to die. So how do we do that? What else do we need to do to resist and rebel?

There we realized that one thing we’d have to do was resist the mockery that people made of our form of governing, our autonomy. We would have to resist provocations from the army and the police. We would have to resist the problems caused by social organizations. We would have to resist the information that comes out in the media, all that stuff about how the Zapatistas are over, that they no longer have any strength, that the defunct Marcos is negotiating under the table with Calderón, or that Calderón is covering his health care costs because he is dying… well, he’s dead already, he did die in the end, but not because he went to Calderón for a cure, but rather to give life to another compañero.

So all of these psychological bombardments, we could call them, are meant to demoralize our bases, and they make for a bunch of things that we have to resist.

Later we discovered the resistance in each one of us, because we began to take on various tasks and responsibilities, and problems do arise at home—maybe this doesn’t happen to you all, or maybe it does, or maybe it’s even worse for you—but problems arise and we have to learn to resist individually, and at the same time collectively.

When we resist individually we think about the questions that come up about my dad, my mom, my wife, of “where are you?” “what are you doing?” “who are you with?” etc. Right? So one has to resist doing something bad, beating one’s wife who then abandons her work, and then later there are complaints, there isn’t any corn, or beans, the firewood isn’t gathered, there are problems with the kids, and all of these kind of things happen as a result. That is where resistance is individualized.

When we resist as a collective, it is done with discipline, that is, through agreement. We make an agreement regarding how we are going to deal with different types of problems. A recent example: in February, a group of people that aren’t Zapatistas were living on recuperated lands. We hadn’t said anything to them, but they got this idea that they wanted to be the owners of the land, so they started the process to legalize the land in their name.

And it became clear that Mr. Velasco was telling them they needed a certain number of people in order to do this, so these people started to look for others to be members of their village, and people began joining and they were armed. They grew to 58 people and then they started to invade the land that belongs to thecompas, recuperated land. So the compas said, “we’re not going to allow this.”

“How many are there?”

“Well, close to 60.”

“That’s enough to justify our going in with 600 people, armed, and finish them off, given all the problems they’ve caused.”

They had poured a liquid over the compas’ pasture that burns the grass, they killed a stud and destroyed some of the compañeros’ houses. So the compas were already really pissed and rebellious, they had really had it. But this is when the other compas intervene:

“Remember, compañeros, we are a collective,’ they say to the 600 that are gathered there:

“Remember the orange? What have we said about what happens if you poke a hole in a piece of fruit?”

“Ah yes. But do those assholes understand things like that?”

“No, we are not going to let the ways and times of those assholes be imposed on us. We have our own way and time.”

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So what happens to an orange or lemon if you poke a hole in it? It rots the whole barrel of fruit. And what does that mean in this situation? That whatever we do will affect the rest of our organization. That’s the thing. So we have to ask the bases of support if we are going to respond with violence, or another way. Since we were already thinking about this, we were already practicing this idea that we’re talking about now, our bases didn’t permit a response like the one suggested above.

So we said to the compas: those people who are really rebellious, mad, really pissed off, they’re not going in. Tell their representatives that they’re not going because if they do they’re going to kill somebody, so it’s better that they don’t go. Tell their representative so he knows and can inform them; making sure they know is his problem. Also, the people who are really scared are not going either. The only ones going are those who understand that they must go, not to provoke, but to work the land, to plow the cornfield, build a house and everything else. So at dawn, the 600 [compas] went to the land, unarmed. They coordinated among themselves to retake control of their land.

This is how we control both rage and fear. We gather, explain, talk, and make the issue clear, because the truth is that the great majority of compañeros are not going to allow that kind of violence.

We have been developing this resistance for 20 years. At the beginning it was difficult because we often face difficult situations and need to know how to resolve them. I’m going to give you an example of how hard it is to change things, okay? Under Salinas’ government, they sponsored “projects,” giving out cash or credit, and the compas were receiving these projects. Imagine, milicianos, corporals, sergeants, Zapatistas accepting these handouts. So a good half of this money goes to what? Bullets, for our weapons, and equipment, and the other half goes to buy a cow like it was supposed to. So they would buy what they were supposed to with just a part of the funds, which is why the government stopped giving them out, even to the brothers who are partidistas [political party followers or loyalists].

So the compas came up with this idea, the one I have been telling you about, that we should agree on this practice of refusing stuff from the government. It was really hard, but the compas understood. They said yes, we’re going to do this, we’re going to resist. The downside of this was that sometimes when we are supposed to have a meeting, they say “ah no I can’t come, I don’t have any transportation money because I’m in resistance,” which is really just an excuse, it’s not that they don’t have it, it’s just a cover, a pretext.

But we started taking seriously this thing about refusing anything from the system, and we found that it meant that we had to work hard on our mother earth, doing the kinds of things that I have already told you about in these days we have been together here. That is where the compañeros began to see the fruits of their labor and they realized that it’s better to work the earth and forget about that stuff the government gives out.

We began to see that resistance and rebellion gave our organization security and sustenance. We began to practice all kinds of things, like the example I have been telling you about, of not talking to the government; none of our bases talk to the government, not even when there is a murder. We discovered that with resistance and rebellion we could govern ourselves and with resistance and rebellion we could develop our own initiatives.

Each zone organizes its own resistance, on economic, ideological, and political terrains. Some have more possibilities in particular areas than others, so we experiment. For example, the compañeros of Los Altos [the highlands] have to buy corn most of their lives, they do grow some but very little, and they have to buy it. So what we have done is have other zones take their corn and sell it to the compasin Los Altos so that they don’t have to buy it from the government store. So the money from the compas in Los Altos goes to another Caracol rather than to the government. Sometimes this works out well, other times it doesn’t, but even when it doesn’t work out, at least it’s a bad thing that we produced ourselves. For example, the corn is transported in tons, so one time the compañeros in charge of collecting the corn weren’t checking it and the compa bases of support, the bastards, put a bunch of rotten corn in the middle of the package, and since the other compas didn’t check it, it made it out and was transported. But when it got to its destination where it would be consumed, they checked it over and saw thatcompas were selling rotten corn to other compas.

So we have been correcting these types of problem, to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen. If we are going to be in resistance, the resistance has to be really well organized. A kind of exchange, like bartering as they say, didn’t work for us, because we can’t take tons of pears or apples from Los Altos to sell in the Jungle, and that’s what the compas produce a lot of there, vegetables [fruits]. So that doesn’t work for us, and now we are discussing how we are going to do this, we’re about halfway through the process of organizing that.

I’m going to give you a series of examples.

In 1998, the government came in and dismantled the autonomous municipalities, that was when Croquetas[i]—Albores—was still governor. In [the municipality of] Tierra y Libertad, in the Caracol I of La Realidad, the judicial police came in and destroyed the building that housed the autonomous municipality’s governing offices. The compañeros milicianos[ii] were the most emphatic in wanting to fight the judicial police—who were really soldiers disguised as police—and they were told that they couldn’t fight them. It was the compas milicianos who were most enraged that they were destroying the building where we housed our autonomous government.

So we went to the communities to see what they thought, and the communities said: let them destroy it, our autonomy is here, we have it here among us, the building is just a building. So we had their support and with that on our side we gave the order that the milicianos should not respond and make the organization pay the cost of their rage, and the milicianos and milicianas responded “fucking authorities.” But we began to see that sometimes the rage of the base doesn’t help us get where we need to go, and sometimes it is the CCRI [Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee] or the regional authority, or others that end up paying the price.

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Another example was when the army destroyed our first Aguascalientes. It was the same situation, we insurgents and milicianos were ready [to fight] because we knew that if they took a part of what we had, it would feel like total defeat—we thought very militarily then. Because in the military if you lose a battle, you’re fucked and you have to recover lost ground, but it requires double the effort. So again, what guided us was this question:

“What do we want, death or life?”

“Well, life.”

“Then let those assholes do what they’re going to do; we’re not going to kill them, but they’re also not going to kill us.”

“But what do we do if the ambush is already starting?”

“We have to send word ahead.”

So we had to get out of the way, and in doing that we avoided a lot of death, on our side and also on that of the enemy. In one of the ambushes authorization was given for a response, and that’s where General Monterola fell—he was a corporal then, but later we made him a General.

It also happened that way in the Caracol of Garrucha when the autonomous municipalities were dismantled, in the autonomous municipality of Ricardo Flores Magón. The same thing happened, the order was given not to respond to the violence that the enemy and the government wanted. That’s also how we have managed to endure so many provocations from the partidistas—those who let themselves be manipulated.

This is what has happened to the compañeros, in the placeswhere these attacks and provocations have been particularly harsh, the caracol of Morelia, the caracol of Oventik, of Garrucha, and of Roberto Barrios; the paramilitaries have been particularly cruel there in Roberto Barrios, Garrucha, Morelia, and Oventik.

For example, in San Marcos Avilés, our bases of support are constantly harassed. What the paramilitaries do is try to force you to fall for a provocation, it’s clear that they have been well trained by the government and the army, because they will frustrate you every possible way, taking your coffee, your beans, your corn, pulling up whatever you plant, cutting down your plantain trees, carrying off the pineapple you grew; they just annoy you. Until one day our bases said enough is enough. The good thing is that this rebellion and resistance is organized collectively, so thecompañeros and compañeras bases of support from San Marcos Avilés went to theJunta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] to say: we have come to say that we can’t take it anymore, we don’t care if we die, but if we do we’re going to take them with us.

So that’s when the Junta de Buen Gobierno and the Clandestine Committee [CCRI] called the compas together and explained: we’re not going to tell you no, we are first and foremost an organization; second, if any of you survive whatever happens, you’re not going to be able to go home, you’ll have to go into hiding because those assholes are not going to let you live, what they want is to finish off the bases of support. So what you have to do is create a document and a recording and we will get that to the government, so they know that their people there are going to die and so are we, and there you have it, whatever happens happens.

Later we tried to find one more way to deal with the problem. The compañeros andcompañeras made their recording and we found a way to get it to the government, and it is still there, still valid. So the government, we know, I think gave money to the partidistas that are there, and they calmed down, because that’s how the government works. For whatever they want to do, they provide a “project” or distribute a little bit of money, that’s how the government has always worked. Who knows what they’re going to do now because they’re not going to have a government like that anymore.

We mention this about how we resist, because we have tried… well, we ask ourselves why would we kill another indigenous person. This idea enrages us, if I told you exactly how we talk about it in our assembly, well its horrible, because we begin to insult the government every way we can think of. We are filled with rage because they are so incredibly manipulative; and also because, and pardon my language, because they are idiots, male and female, that let themselves be manipulated to go against their own people.

For example, these people from the ORCAO. One part of the ORCAO is now coming to realize that what they are doing is totally wrong, but there is another part that nobody is interested in, but that gets paid and keeps making threats. A month ago the compañeros from Morelia had to resist what the ORCAO was doing. The CIOAC? Well you can imagine, they’re the ones behind what happened to the compaGaleano and what happened in Morelia, that’s the same CIOAC Histórica. So, because we want life, and thanks to our forms of resistance, we have not fallen victim to the government’s manipulation and resorted to killing each other.

We have also resisted those who come here—visitors come from Mexico City—and tell us or tell our people that we are reformists because we aren’t waging armed struggle, or others who come and tell us that we are extremists. So who are we supposed to believe? No, one must resist this kind of talk, and our answer is: it’s one thing to say things and another thing to do things, because saying them is very easy, I can stand here and yell about what to do, but once you’re here on the ground it’s something else altogether.

Thanks to our resistance, compañeros and compañeras, sisters and brothers, we don’t say that weapons are no longer necessary, but we have seen that disobedience, if it is an organized disobedience, works; the government can’t enter here, thanks to the compañeros and compañeras. We see that we are going to continue to be able to improve, to organize our resistance and rebellion even better, demonstrating that we do not ask permission of anyone.

Rather, we agree among ourselves about what it is that we have to do, and that is what encourages us, as does the generation that is now with us, those who are 20 years old, the young people of today. They say: we are firm and ready, but teach us how to do what is required, how to govern ourselves. So now the zones, through the organization of their resistance and rebellion, are training a whole generation of young people, men and women, so that they can truly carry out what we have already said here, that word that has been around for centuries and forever—and seems religious but isn’t—rebellion. Because it really is for always and forever and thus we need the new generations to prepare themselves so that the grandson of those large landowners like Absalón Castellanos Domínguez or Javier Solórzano can never return here.

So we have a great task in front of us to improve this process. This doesn’t mean,compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, that we are renouncing our arms, but rather that with this political, ideological, and rebellious understanding that constitutes our perspective, we have to turn this resistance into a weapon of struggle.

The compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno are telling us that we need another body, so we asked among the compas of the CCRI, “why are they saying this compañeros, compañeras? And they said “now we understand why the Juntas de Buen Gobierno had to be born.”

They talked to us about it, explained it. When the MAREZ, the Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities in Rebellion were only loosely organized together—we could say it that way, because some had projects [from outside groups] and others no, some had nothing at all – then the Junta de Buen Gobierno was formed and began to regulate the municipalities so that their access to projects would be equal, even. Now the Junta de Buen Gobierno is realizing that there is an unevenness again. Some have more projects because they are more easily accessible, near the highway or closer in general and others are very far away and so don’t receive anything. But we as the Junta de Buen Gobierno, they say, can’t decide to create a new body, we have to follow the will of the assembly, and during the exchange between the zones they have to discuss if in fact this is the moment to create another body. Because we are also right now organizing this resistance and rebellion against the storm that is coming. And the compañeros are also saying: this is the moment, this is the time for a new body, because we are going to have to begin to act in resistance and rebellion on an inter-zone level. The thousands of Zapatistas have to fight together in their resistance and rebellion, so they have to be organized. But it is thanks to this terrain of struggle of resistance and rebellion that we have some guide for how we will carry this out. And that will be our tool, because we are not going to ask anyone for permission. For us, that era in which they [above] refused to recognize the Law on Indigenous Rights and Culture is over, we’re done with that. If they do not want to respect that, well that reality becomes our tool.

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All right compañeros, we’re going to continue later with this part about resistance and rebellion, with more examples, but throw some cold water on yourselves to wake up.

[i] “Croquetas,” or doggy biscuit, was the nickname assigned by the EZLN to Roberto Albores Guillén, whose bloody tenure as governor of Chiapas lasted from 1998-2000.

[ii] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

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Words Of The Zapatista Youth: Compañera Selena

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Words Of Compañera Selena, Listener, [I] At The May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

Good evening compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth.

Good evening brothers and sisters.

Good evening to everyone in general.

The topic that I will be explaining to you, actually I will read it to you, is the same topic the other compañera presented on, but with more information about the youth, both Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas.

We as Zapatista youth are facing a low intensity war that the bad government and the bad capitalists wage against us. They put ideas into our heads about modern life, like cellphones, clothes, and shoes; they put these bad ideas into our heads through TV, through soap operas, soccer games, and commercials, so that we as youth will be distracted and not think about how to organize our struggle.

But we Zapatista youth have not often fallen for this, because despite these attempts when we do buy clothes they are not the stylish ones; we buy the kind of clothes the poor wear, which as you can see is how we are dressed right now. We also buy shoes, but they are just a whatever kind of shoe, like the poor use; we don’t buy the kind with the pointy heels. If we were to use that kind of shoe, well where we live there is a lot of mud, and if we young women wear these shoes we’re going to get stuck, and we’re going to have to use our hand to get the shoe out. We also don’t buy those leather boots because the same thing can happen, they can come unglued in the mud because they are not strong enough; yes, of course we buy boots, but they are work boots, the kind that resist the mud, we don’t buy shoes that don’t resist.

And we also buy cellphones, but we know how to use them like Zapatistas, for something useful. We also have TV, but we use it to listen to the news, not to distract ourselves.

We did buy these things, but first we had to sweat and work the mother earth to be able to buy what we wanted.

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On the other hand, youth who are not Zapatistas are those who most often fall for the tricks of the bad government, because believe it or not, those poor-poor youth abandon their families, their community, and they go to work in the United States, to Playa del Carmen, or to other countries, just to be able to buy that cellphone, that pair of pants, shirt, or stylish shoe. They leave because they don’t want to work the earth, because they are lazy. Why do we say they are poor-poor? Because they are poor like us; but they are also poor thinkers because they leave their communities and when they come back they bring bad ideas with them, other ways of living. They come back with ideas to assault or rob others, to consume and plant marijuana; and when they get back to their houses they say they do not want to work with the machete because they’re no longer used to it; that it would be better to go back again to where they were, that they no longer want to drink pozol,[ii] they say they don’t even know what pozol is anymore, even though they grew up with pozol, with beans. They pretend, in those places where they go, that they aren’t familiar with the food of the poor; they pretend to be children of rich folk, but this is a lie; they are poor like us.

On the other hand, we Zapatistas are poor, but rich in thinking. Why? Because even though we have shoes and clothes and cellphones, we don’t change our thinking or our way of life, because to us as Zapatista youth it doesn’t matter to us how we are dressed, or what kinds of things we have. What’s important to us is that the work we do is for the good of the community. That is what we Zapatistas want, and it’s what we want for the whole world: that there not be rulers, that there not be exploiters, that we as indigenous people are not exploited.

I’m not sure if you understood what I read.

Well, that was all the words I wanted to share with you, hopefully they are useful to you.

[i] The Zapatistas use the Spanish “Escucha,” or listener, to refer to an assigned position or responsibility, often given to young people, to go and listen at a meeting, gathering, or event and report back to others in the Zapatista communities who were not in attendance.

[ii] A drink made from ground maize mixed with water and often consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midmorning or midday meal

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Words Of The Zapatista Youth: Compañera Lizbeth

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Words Of Compañera Lizbeth, Zapatista Community Member, At The May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

Good evening compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters.

We are going to explain a little bit of how we have been living and doing our autonomous work after the 1994 armed uprising.

We as Zapatista youth today, we are no longer familiar with the overseer, with the landowner, with the hacienda boss, much less with El Amate [a prison in Chiapas]; we do not know what it is to go to the official municipal presidents so that they can resolve our problems. Thanks to the EZLN organization, we now have our own authorities in each community, we have our municipal authorities, and our Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and they resolve whatever type of problem that might arise for a compañera or compañero, for both Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas.

We now have freedom and rights as women, to have opinions, discuss, and analyze, which is not how it was before, as the other compañera said.

The problem we still have is that we are shy about participating or explaining how we are working, but we compañeras are in fact doing the work.

Also, we women are already participating in all types of work, such as in the area of health, doing ultrasounds, laboratory work, pap smears, colposcopies, dentistry, and clinic work. We also participate in what we call the three areas, which includes midwifery, bone-setting, and medicinal plants.

We are also working in education as formadoras [teacher trainers] and coordinators, and education promotoras [like a teacher, literally “promoter”].

We have women broadcasters and members of the Tercios Compas [Zapatistamedia team].

We participate in compañera collectives, in women’s gatherings, and youth gatherings.

We are also participating as municipal authorities, which includes many different kinds of work, and we women do these tasks. We are also working in the Juntas de Buen Gobierno as local authorities, and as board members for the compañeras’ businesses.

In different autonomous work areas, we are already participating alongside our compañeros. Although we as young women don’t know how to govern yet, we are named to be community authorities because they see that we know how to read and write a little bit, and then we learn the rest through doing the work.

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In the majority of the work that we carry out we are all young women, and we can tell you clearly that this work is hard, it is not easy. But if we have the courage to struggle, we can do these tasks where the people rule and the government obeys.

Now, men and women practice this form of struggle and of government every single day. We now see this as our culture.

That is all I wanted to say, compañeros and compañeras.

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EZLN: Words Of Comandanta Dalia

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Words Of The EZLN’s Comandanta Dalia At The Seminar “Critical Thinking Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

May 6, 2015

Good evening compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters.

I’m going to explain a little bit of what compañera Comandanta Rosalinda said.

Just as she explained, it is now my turn to talk about how we become authorities. From 1994 on, we knew that we had rights as women. That was when we woke up. This is how little by little we grew to understand the work of thecompañeras.

In the communities, in the regions, we began the practice of organizing ourselves to fight for the good of the community, without having to have an education to do so.

In 1994, we realized that as women, as mothers and fathers, we had the courage to send our husbands, our sons, our daughters to fight, and we knew well that to confront the enemy is not easy and one can come back alive or dead. But we never dwelled on those things. We were clear that the women had the responsibility to raise whomever of our sons and daughters were left. This is when we understood that we thought the same way as thecompañeros.

To be a suplenta [the second or substitute to an authority position], first one has to do the work, to give talks about the struggle. We came to see that there were more responsibilities for doing that work. There are meetings in the regions, municipalities, and zones. There are frequent visits to the communities to better organize thecompañeras and compañeros in the collective work to sustain the resistance throughout the lands we recovered in 1994, which had been taken away from us by the large landowners. Since the time of clandestinity, we were doing collective work, and also giving talks in each community, to men, women, boys and girls, so that they could understand the struggle.

This was so our children didn’t grow up with these bad ideas; we don’t let them learn these bad ideas from the capitalist system.

This is how the work of the compañeras and their participation as Zapatistas kept advancing in all types of work and in any responsibility given to them by the community. In this way, the compañeras came to recognize their rights, that we do have this freedom, the freedom to give opinions, to analyze, to discuss, to plan, on any topic, and in that way the compañeros also understood the rights of women.

The first courage the compañeras showed was to permit their spouses and daughters to be in the struggle. Secondly, they gave their husbands this freedom, because we saw what the men were doing, and that as women we could also do that; we have that courage.

We also have words to offer, ideas to analyze, ways to look at problems. Even though it was very difficult for us, we made the effort. Even though the compañeromen were bastards before, we knew how to get them to understand; there are a few that still act like little jerks sometimes, but now it’s not all of them.

But the majority now understand. The compañeras don’t just let it go, they don’t remain humiliated like before, and like compañera Comandanta Miriam said, now the women bring their complaints to the civilian authorities, such as the agentas orcomisariadas [local autonomous authorities]. In each community we have agentasandcomisariadas, and if it can’t be resolved by the agentas and comisariadas, it goes to the municipal authorities. They are able to resolve things according to the rules and agreements we have in each community.

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But don’t think that all of the compañeras complain because they are scared of their spouses; rather, it is important to know these things and talk between compañeras. Whenever we have meetings people begin to talk, and we compañeras have to investigate. That is, we have to figure out how to fix things ourselves, because amongst ourselves we have a lot of patience, not like the men who don’t have patience.

So we saw that yes, we could do the work, and now we take the time and space to participate, and to train another generation, even if we make errors in the process. But if we make mistakes, we fix them ourselves. In this way, we are making our struggle, and we continue organizing; we have a lot of patience as women, which is why we move from local authorities, regional authorities, candidata, suplenta, to becoming part of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee [CCRI].

To better organize the compañeras and to help the youth understand more, we have to orient, convince, to be a kind of matchmaker and infect them, not with illness but with good ideas. It’s not a bad idea to help them understand that they shouldn’t live exploited by the capitalist system; this is what we are doing, and the young people are already organizing. And it’s just like you see here, present with us are these two compañeritas, youngcompañeras. Their names are Selena and Lizbeth; they are going to be our future authorities, fruits of their generation.

We are doing this in steps, steps without an end; that is why we are here as the CCRI with the Sixth Commission. Thanks to the organization, we have learned to read a little bit, to write a little bit, to speak a bit of Spanish. Before we didn’t know how to speak even one word in Spanish. This is why we are not going to stop organizing as women in this capitalist system, because there is still sadness, pain, imprisonment, and rape. Just as the mothers of the missing 43 do not stop organizing.

This is why we are sharing with you brothers and sisters of the national and international Sixth. Thanks to our Zapatista organization, we Zapatista women are now taken into account; we men and women organize together because of the bad capitalist system.

We want change in everything, in the entire world, for the whole country. But if we don’t organize ourselves, and if we don’t fight against the capitalist system, it will continue until it finishes us all off; there will never be a change.

We need to be fighting at 100%, men and women. To have a new society where the people rule. We as Zapatista women are not going to stop fighting, even as the bad government kills us, because the bad governments are always persecuting us.

I’m sorry compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, I don’t know how to speak Spanish very well. Since I don’t know it well, I hope you’ve heard what I said.

That’s all.

Thank you.

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EZLN: Words of Comandanta Rosalinda

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Words Of The EZLN’s Comandanta Rosalinda At The Seminar “Critical Thinking Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

May 6, 2015

Good evening compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters.

What compañera Comandanta Miriam just explained is all true. We were poorly treated, humiliated, and unappreciated because we never knew that yes, we did have the right to organize, to participate, to do all types of work; this is because no one had given us an explanation of how we could organize to get out of this exploitation.

At that time we were all in the dark, we didn’t know anything. But during the time of clandestinity, there came a day when some compañeras were recruited, and they went on to recruit other compañeras village by village.

Then came the time to name a compañera to be the local authority for each community. They named me as a local authority of my community. That is when I started going to meetings in order to bring more information back to the community. Later on we held meetings with the compañeras in the village to explain to them how the collective work could be organized, and to also to explain to them that its necessary to have compañeras who are insurgents and milicianas.[i]

If the fathers and mothers understood, they sent their daughters to be milicianas, to be insurgents. And thesecompañeras did the work with incredible gusto because they already understood what exploitation in the bad system was. This is how the compañeras’ participation began.

Of course, this was not easy at all, but little by little we came to understand, and in this way we moved forward until 94 when we came out into the public light, when we couldn’t stand the mistreatment from those capitalist fuckers. There we saw that it was true that we did have courage and strength just like the men, because we could face off with the enemy, without fear of anyone. This is why we are ready for anything the bad capitalist system tries to throw at us.

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Later, I went on to be a regional authority. The regional authority is responsible for holding regional meetings with the compañeras who are local authorities; for taking information to the people, for organizing the compañeras in how to do work in the community. We also went to visit the communities to organize more local authorities, and to help the other compañeras understand that it was necessary for women to participate. This is how we started participating

Little by little we lost our fear and embarrassment, because we now understood that we had the right to participate in all areas of work. We came to understand that making a revolution required both women and men.

That’s all, compañeros, compañeras.

[i] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

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Political Economy from the Perspective of the Zapatista Communities I

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moises at the Seminar: “Critical Thinking Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, in May of 2015. 

May 4, 2015

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Good afternoon compañeroscompañeras.

What I’m going to talk to you about—not read to you—has to do with what the economy was like and is like in the communities, that is, I’m going to talk to you about capitalism. I’m going to talk to you about how it was 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and in these past few years. I’m going to speak to you about this in three parts: how the communities lived before, 30 years ago; how those who are not organized as Zapatistas live today; and then about how we live, we the Zapatistas of today.

This isn’t to say that we don’t know how it was centuries ago; we do know. But we want to demarcate things from here because we are 30 years old—starting from ’83, the year 1983 when the group of compañeros arrived, and so from that date to now, we are 30 years old.

Before the Zapatista Army for National Liberation was created, we indigenous from Chiapas didn’t exist for the capitalist system; we weren’t people to it; we weren’t human. We didn’t even exist as trash for it. And we imagine that’s how it was for the other indigenous brothers and sisters in the rest of our country. And that’s how we imagine it is in any country where indigenous people exist.

Where we live, that is, in the mountainous regions, in the hills, they had it designated as a reserve. They didn’t know that indigenous people lived there, in what they call the Montes Azules Biosphere. So nobody counted how many little boys and girls were born there. That is, capitalism didn’t know anything about us; nobody was counting us because we didn’t exist for them.

So then how did we survive there? Well, with Mother Earth. Mother Earth is what gave us life even though there wasn’t any government, any governors or mayors taking us into account. We were forgotten. They only thing thought to be of importance there were the very good lands surrounding our communities, and so there were a few men (with their wives of course) living there, the land owners, the finqueros, or the owners of large estates.

They are the ones who had thousands of hectares of good land, good water, good rivers. That’s why they expelled us from that area; they pushed us into the mountains because for them, those hills were useless—they didn’t provide anything for them, so that’s where they left us.

Why do they need thousands and thousands of hectares of good land for themselves? It’s so that they can have thousands and thousands of heads of livestock, cows. How was it that they were able to stay there for such a long time? Because they had great gunmen, who we call the guardias blancas [white guards], who kept us from coming onto their lands, onto the lands that they said were theirs.

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So then, what economy in the communities could we talk then if we were forgotten? The only thing these plantations did was exploit our grandparents and great-grandparents. What happened with us was that we had to become inventive; we had to imagine how we had to live, survive on our Mother Earth, resisting all of the evil that the landowners and estate owners sent our way.

No one knew about highways, no one knew that there were things called clinics and hospitals, much less schools, or classrooms for education. There were never any health campaigns, programs, grants, nothing. We were forgotten.

So then, like we’re saying—because I speak for all of the brothers and sisters, compañeros who are organized today, I don’t speak just for myself—in these last 20 years, we now see the capitalist economy inside the communities because now those above have started to take an interest in the communities. Not so much an interest in the communities themselves, but an interest in where they live, where we live—well and where we once lived because there are brothers and sisters, compañeros and compañeras who have died.

First it wasn’t enough that they had the best lands, which had already served them for many years. Now they started taking an interest in the hills, in the mountains; this is another commodity for them, as it’s been said many times over here—it is nature’s wealth. So then they started to organize themselves so they could evict us from the very place they had pushed us into, the very place they had ordered us into. Now they want to push us out of there. That is, they want to dispossess and evict us because now they want that wealth.

The wealth that exists there, well, we together with our great-great-grandparents, as we say, have taken good care of it. And that’s what they want to take, to extract—that capitalist who, in only a few years, will destroy what it took Mother Earth billions of years to make.

How is that? Well, just remember the trick of the capitalist system, the trap that it set when they changed Article 27 so that the ejidos could be privatized. Because what they’re trying to do now is make Mother Earth sellable and rentable.

I will have to invite you to use a little imagination, because we’re talking about 20 years ago—when we came out publicly.

When the government saw all of this, then it did start coming to these areas, disguising itself in many different ways. One way is for the bad government to go around saying that it is fulfilling our demands by building highways. But that’s not why they’re building them—it’s because of the change of Article 27 that allowed the privatization of the ejidos. So the government takes advantage of the situation in two ways: it saw that we rose up and now it acts like it’s fulfilling our demands by putting in highways and funding projects. But then, while they say that with these projects they are contributing one or two million pesos, when this sum is divided into a hundred, two hundred, three hundred projects, what’s left for each is a pittance, and even then it doesn’t go to the communities—it just goes back into the pockets of the various levels of government. But they declare it success anyway; this is what they tell us.

If you only knew how the compas and the brothers and sisters talk about these projects. They say there are projects called “pececito,”[i] whatever that means. That’s why I’m saying they take a little money and make a bunch of projects.

Also, a few schools and clinics have now started popping up. There are students who don’t even know how to read but they’ve been awarded scholarships. And they say that if you provide your new popular health insurance identification card in the clinics, they will take good care of you. But when you actually visit the clinic they say that there are no doctors available; and if there is a doctor available, then they say that they don’t have any medicine; and if there is a doctor available and if they do have medicine, then its expired medicine. But because we can’t read, the doctor gives it to you anyway but it doesn’t cure whatever you have. The point is just to make it look as if they’re giving you your medication; you don’t even know if it’s the medicine you need for your illness.

So just like I’m describing to you, new projects like this started popping up over the years. Since the bad government has implemented these projects that distribute a little money, what has happened is that they are used to help the government control those who would become Zapatistas. I think they call it a counter-insurgency campaign, or a low-intensity war, I don’t know what they call it but it’s to control you so that you no longer struggle, like “Here you go, now we’re fulfilling your demands. And if you’re even thinking about joining the Zapatistas, just take a look at my military, they are much better prepared, and all you’re doing is sending yourself to your death.” So this is all a campaign to control them.

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I tell you this because those communities that allowed their ejidos to be privatized—because there were some that did allow it—now are like the cities with vagabonds walking around, homeless, drug addicted to [paint] thinner and those kinds of things. Now it’s the same in those communities because they sold off their land, received the property deeds as if they were ranch owners—in their case, small ranch owners, petty proprietors—and once they own it they then go and sell it off and now they are left out on the streets. Now they don’t have anywhere to cultivate their maize, their beans.

Others, those who have received a project of some kind, are now having to pay back interest according to what capitalism dictates. Just to give a few examples, over by the Caracol of La Realidad, there is a community named Agua Perla, where the Jataté River runs. That community received these government projects and now there’s a group of caxlanes [non-indigenous people] or mestizos that arrives telling them: you know what gentlemen, this is what you owe. This land is no longer yours and just so that we don’t have any problems, why don’t you move on over to Escarcega—that is, to Campeche, I think that Escarcega is in Campeche—or why don’t you move to Oaxaca—where there’s fighting with the Chiapas government and the Oaxaca government, Las Chimalapas.

That’s where they’re asking those inhabitants who are partidistas [party members or followers] to go. I have to call them partidistas because before, it was just the PRI followers, the PRIistas who were fucking with us, and now all of the political parties are, so that’s why we now call them partidistas.

Another community in Roberto Barrios, named Chulum Juarez, has also received projects. It’s the same thing: they offered to build them a highway, and the community accepted it because it would be paved and they started building it really quickly. It only took a few months to build but it was really well made. Now that there’s a highway, now that they’ve received their domo (that’s what they call corrugated tin roofing and other things), now that they’ve put down gravel on the community’s roads, now that all that is in place, with the highway in place, now they come and they tell them, “You know what gentlemen, you’re going to have to leave because there is uranium in this hill and the government is going to extract it. So if you want to live then you will need to leave. Go to Oaxaca if you want, and if you don’t leave on your own, you will be forced to do so.”

So that’s what they began preparing to do 20 years ago, and now they’re carrying it out. And even more so now that they have changed laws for the capitalist system, it’s a done deal, it’s on paper. So what we say to that is, “It’s down on paper that this is all authorized, but what remains to be seen is when it runs up against the people, if they will stand for it, and it also remains to be seen if when it runs up against us, the Zapatistas, if we will stand for it.”

So in light of all these things I am telling you about, the question for us—because we study our own history—is: why do they, under capitalism, change the way that they dominate us in order to keep getting more than what they already have? Why do we, the exploited, continue on the same?”

That’s what we ask ourselves, because with the partidista brothers and sisters—this is how we refer to them, because we also make a distinction between partidistas who do not harm us, who we call ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters.’ But we’re not going to call the fucking paramilitaries ‘brothers and sisters’—those guys, well, those guys are real sons of bitches.

Anyway, this is what happens with the partidista brothers and sisters. Once we came into the public eye, like the compañera Vilma says, we Zapatistas recovered our Mother Earth. It’s as if they had taken our mother away from us and we had to go find where she was, and once you find her you have to get her back. We can say this in a lot of different ways, but the point is to get her back, not fight amongst ourselves.

Something like that happened; they had taken our mother away from us so we began to organize ourselves, because that is the first thing. You have to organize first and that’s what we did. We had to organize ourselves as women and men to go get her back. There isn’t another way to say it.

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Everything arises from Mother Earth so we had to go recuperate her, and so we began to organize ourselves to see how we would work Mother Earth. As the years passed, the bad government and the bosses, the landowners, started to say that because of us, the Zapatistas, those lands, those thousands of hectares were now unproductive. And we Zapatistas accept this—they are not productive for the landowners or for capitalism; they are productive for us, because what they make now are not the thousands of heads of livestock that the landowners used to produce. What they produce now are thousands and thousands of cobs of corn, just like this one.

Mother Earth first gave us tiny corncobs like this one on the lands that the landowners had taken away from us. And they did take them away from us—it’s not true that we are taking them away from anyone. They were ours, and they had so mistreated Mother Earth that our first harvests were tiny just like this. Our grandfathers already knew how to work the land, and little by little we were able to find our way all over again, once again, with our Mother Earth.

We work these recuperated lands collectively. We say “collectively,” but one needs a lot of practice in order to figure out how to do that. For example, we first began working the land collectively, all of us. That is, nobody had their own milpa [cornfield]. Rather, we were completely together, all of us. Then, we would have the problem of too much rain, or of drought, or a storm, and so we started to suffer losses. The compañeros started to say that no, we shouldn’t do things this way. Why don’t we organize ourselves and come to an agreement on how many days we will contribute to collective work, and how many days to our own plot.

More than anything it was the compañeras who came up with this idea because they are the ones who cultivate the food’s flavourings—we call them cebollín, the onions, and other flavourings that the compañeras use for cooking. So because they worked collectively, when one compañera would send her son or daughter to the milpa to bring back something, everyone would go and everything would get picked, because it belonged to everyone but there wasn’t an agreement about it yet.

They start seeing this as a problem and the compas begin to discover various ways to do things. Like what to do if others want to take some corn, because since the milpa is collective, if one person takes some corn, then it all goes quickly, like a violation of the collective form because there was no agreement on how to use it. So the compas made an agreement—x number of days we will all work collectively, and x number of days we will work for ourselves.

The collective work is done at the level of the village, that is, the local level, the community; it is also done at the regional level, as we call it, where the region is a group of 40, 50, or 60 villages; and collective work is also done at the municipal level, by which we mean a group of 3, 4, or 5 regions—this here is the Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities in Rebellion. And when we say “collective work of the zone,” this means the work of all of the municipalities that exist in a zone like Realidad, or Morelia, or Garrucha—the five zones.

So when we talk about zones, we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of villages, and when we talk about municipalities, we’re talking about dozens of villages. So that’s how collective work is done, and collective work is done not only on Mother Earth.

I’ll just remind you, as the now defunct Sup Marcos had said, in those days when they said to us, weren’t we supposed to be anti-capitalists and we’re over here drinking Coca Cola? I don’t know if anybody here might remember that. How can I explain this; what happens is that they idealize us, they think that everything that we say we magically accomplish. No compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters. The truth is that what we are is organized.

I’ll give you a clearer example. I remember that a compañera from the city was really angry because she witnessed a Zapatista compa yelling at his compañera, and he was wasted, intoxicated, drunk. So we told the compañera, be calm compañera, because that compañera is going to report it to the authorities, and tomorrow or the day after that compa will have to face punishment. You shouldn’t think that because we say the word “clean” that magically everything will be clean; that if we say the word “black” then magically everything will be black. No, that’s idealizing the situation. But yes, the compañera is going to report it and then punishment will come.

The point is to be organized. Because before, when there were women being mistreated, there was no trustee, there was no councilman, there was no mayor to resolve the compañeras’ problems. And what’s more, the trustee, the councilman, and the mayor were often worse; how could they possibly resolve anything?

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Well then, we are talking about collective work. So we have other types of collective work, such as the sale of that thing that I just mentioned. And it’s not because we like it, because for us Zapatistas, in order to do away with capitalism we have to destroy it. And one way to destroy it is to take the means of production into our hands and administrate them ourselves. So then, if we sell things—like for example, here we have dirt, but what about that over there? The thing those flower are in? Is it produced by capitalism or not? And those eyeglasses you’re wearing? What about that? Everything that you have on?

But yes, we understand it as a way to scratch at capitalism. Yes, it is true that we will lower its profits a little. That’s not a lie, we understand it. But when we do something it is because we have come to an agreement through communication amongst all of us, and it is one thing to say something and another to do it. For example, I remember that a lot of NGOs around here were saying, “We won’t allow it” when [the supermarket chain] Chedrahui came here [San Cristóbal de las Casas]. They said, “We won’t buy from there.” That promise didn’t last two weeks. So it’s one thing to say something and another thing to do it.

Well then, now I will discuss with you some things that we started to discover as we were doing collective work, and this work was varied, not only work that had to do with Mother Earth. We started to see things about our resistance, we started to discover things.

We began the resistance with our compañeros and compañeras from our communities, and I want to tell you how the idea to resist was born. In those days when we rose up against the bad government, it began to use or utilize people to spy on us, “ears” we call them, people who listen to what the Zapatistas do and how they move. So then the compañeras and the compañeros realized that the teachers were serving as these spies, these ears, so they fired them.

Then we had a problem—we no longer had any teachers. So then we had to invent, we had to imagine, we had to create. And then, as I was mentioning earlier, the government started to tell everyone that it was going to give out a lot of projects. It was like others started to envy us, because it became clear to us that they’re giving out what they’re giving out because the government doesn’t want them to be Zapatistas. And so they’re giving away these things because of us. “Ah, well then,” we said.

And that’s when the compañeras start to say “No,” because compañeros who were insurgents and milicianos[ii] had died in ’94. Those compañeras are the ones who started to say, “If we armed ourselves and went out there and our compañeros died out there, why would we now accept the leftovers, the handouts, the crumbs that the bad government gives out? What it wants is to buy us off like it’s buying off those who are not already Zapatistas, just so that they don’t become Zapatistas.”

So then the idea started to grow and multiply, that refusing to accept things from the bad government was the same as being a combatant. And then we began to discover that it had to be more than just not accepting things. I tell you this because it was when we started to see that they were giving out a lot of projects to the partidistas that we started to say that we have to work the Mother Earth. And when we started to talk like this, the compañeros and compañeras said, “Yes, of course, because when our great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were alive, did they get beans, rice, oil, and milk as handouts? No, on the contrary, all of the efforts of their work went straight to the boss. And why is the government now going to give you a kilo of Minsa [corn flour], Maseca [corn flour], beans, etc.? And not only is it genetically modified, and chemical, it’s not even real milk.

So that’s when we said that we have to work the Mother Earth. And so we started to really strengthen the resistance. Those of us compas who understood this quickly now have beans, maize, coffee, pigs, turkeys, and other animals. Those who are partidistas receive corrugated tin roofing, cement, and other cheaply made construction material. Since they don’t work the land and because the compas do have resources, when the compas need something and offer to buy the wheelbarrows and corrugated roofing from the partidistas, they immediately sell. The compas buy this stuff from them because they have the resources to do so since they work the land.

So the compas realized what was happening, we figured it out. It’s because we indigenous are very practical. If we see that something works then we say, “ha, now we’ve screwed them,” so then we all start doing it and keep at it because it works. So then the compas put in even more effort to work the land.

And that’s when the government started to say that it was giving out a lot of projects. “Look at all the red corrugated roofing,” they tell everyone, because the roofing they give out is always red. But the compas install this roofing on their houses too. So the government says, “Look—those come from our projects,” but it’s not true because those are the compas’ houses with the corrugated roofing that they bought. Then the government realized what was going on and now they try to control the people, they force them to show that they have built their houses with the material the government gave them. That’s what the partidistas started to do as well, because they also have these housing projects, and they force the people to show that they’re using the building material for themselves, because otherwise the material will end up with the Zapatistas, they say.

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For us, in the Zapatista communities, we see the conditions of the partidista brothers, and honestly, compañeros and compañeras, it makes you really sad to see how they live. It makes you feel a bitter sorrow to see it because many of the youth that we used to know are no longer there. They left seeking the American Dream, to find that green money, dollars. And many never returned, and some who have returned have very little left of their former selves, and they’ve returned and are in a bad way, now addicted to drugs, they smoke marijuana. And those who don’t smoke marijuana come back with a different culture. They say that they no longer want to drink pozol,[iii] and worse, that they don’t even recognize it.

So the son or daughter returns home and they arrive at their father’s house, their mother’s house, and their father and their mother are also not doing so well because the government has them accustomed to sitting around with their arms crossed. It has their brains programmed to when they will receive their Oportunidades [government program], which I think they now call Prospera. That is, the partidista brothers have been made useless because they no longer work the land. I think that the word to describe them is “submissive.”

At least in the era of slavery, you knew very well that the boss was enslaving you. But in this case no, because now he’s gotten you used to things, he’s programmed your chip, that is, your head, he’s programmed your brain. So now you don’t understand what’s going on and you don’t see their faces behind it, whether Peña Nieto or Velasco or the other one, or any of the rest who will deceive you.

Why do they do that? Because it’s the other face they use to get what they want; and what they want is the Mother Earth so that they can extract all her riches. Force isn’t the only way to take Mother Earth. What they don’t want is to have a situation where the army and police have to kill, but the day will come when they clash with the people who aren’t going to allow what they’re doing. For now, what all those projects to do is get people used to them, programming them so that they become accustomed to no longer working the land. And from there, people get used to it and it’s even worse if the people have applied for the land title because then they can sell it.

The result is that their land can be taken away, this is what is happening to the partidistas brothers. That’s what capitalism is trying to get—what Mother Earth has.

When we say that in the partidista communities the situation is really sad, I can give you an example. And hopefully those brothers and sisters are here right now so that they can confirm all that we say. There is a community over near La Realidad, I think it’s called Miguel Hidalgo, near the village of Nuevo Momón. Up until a few months ago, the brothers there used to be CIOAC-Histórica—they supported what was done to our compañero teacher Galeano. Weeks after what happened to compa teacher Galeano, something happened with those brothers who are now ex-CIOAC. They no longer want to be CIOAC, but they used to be, and because of different party politics, different political ideologies with the projects, they decided, “It’s better to step aside so we don’t end up killing each other.” So when their community violently kicked them out, they went to land that was recuperated [by the Zapatistas] in ’94 to take refuge.

There’s no respect there. The leaders of the social organizations have a lot to do with this because they don’t stick up for themselves, they sell out and the men and women of that organization haven’t organized themselves.

That’s why we say that the way that things are is a disaster. The government has those partidista communities used to things the way they are, but now I’ll tell you something that happened maybe a month or month and a half ago. You’ve seen how the government has said that it’s going to have to cut back social programs, and that in the communities they receive scholarships even though the students don’t know how to read or write. Each student receives 1,000 or 1,200 pesos, and so parents who have four children in school get their 5,000 pesos. The mothers and fathers got used to this.

Maybe a month or a month and a half ago, those families with four children in school who are receiving scholarships are now only receiving 800 pesos for all four. And what they’re saying is, “Now they have fucked us over.” Well yes, now they have fucked you over, brothers. What can we tell you? And because this is our way as indigenous people—as if we were cellular phones—the word spreads very quickly. If someone is lost, the community quickly finds out that someone is lost. If someone is sick, the community quickly finds that out. It’s like a telephone that lets you know.

So we, together with the compas from the communities, the bases of support, held a meeting where we explained how much worse the situation is going to become, and not only for us the indigenous, but for all of Mexico, the country and city—and not even just Mexico. So as Zapatistas, we have family members who are not Zapatistas–there are some families who are good, and others that want nothing to do with us. We can recognize the ones who will understand, which ones aren’t against us, we talk with them about the situation. And that’s how word gets around that the situation is about to get bad, and then accounts begin to emerge that it’s true, that such-and-such official came by and left us with an invoice. That’s how information starts coming out.

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That’s the part we were reading out loud yesterday, that they were asking us what they could do about it. And what we tell them is, “Organize yourselves, brothers and sisters.”

“But what are we going to do when we organize?”

“Think it through.”

“But how are we going to think it through?”

“How you live, start from there.”

And another thing that we see in the lives of the partidistas is that it is not the fault of the children that they live how they live. On top of the bad government’s bad guidance, the children are also abandoned. Who knows what will end up happening to them? Or maybe they will wake up when they realize what’s going to happen, but for that we think that a lot of things will need to take place first. They will go become pickpockets, bandits, thieves of maize, beans, everything, and worse if they are addicted to drugs. There are communities who smoke a lot of marijuana, and that’s the truth. That’s what I mean when I say that the children there are like abandoned baby chicks.

All this that we’re telling you about is how we live. You all know what the living is like where you live. The only thing that we’re saying is that it is time to put ideas into practice, because if not it’s just going to be talk, talk, talk. What I am about to tell you might be a bad example. It’s about the believers, the ones who have (inaudible) by the hand, from the Bible, however they call it, for always just reading, reading, reading, and he died. And they said justice, freedom, and no to injustice. But those are just words. It’s the same thing with the politicians.

So then, compañeroscompañeras, brothers, and sisters, we are not telling you to rise up in arms. And we’re also not telling you to take our example and copy it. No. All of us have to study our own terrain and see what is possible for us to do there. But what we all do need to do is to put things into practice.

For example, it’s like when we say that what we want to build is for centuries and centuries, and forever. And so we ask, “How are we going to do this? If the older Zapatistas fighters don’t prepare their children, that is, if they don’t prepare the new generation, those who are 19 and 20 years old now, then we will see that 50 or 60 years from now the grandson of Ex-General Absalón Castellanos Dominguez, the former governor of Chiapas will be back and he will be the one giving orders in the communities all over again if that new generation isn’t prepared. And that new generation has to prepare another, and so on so that what we create can last for centuries and centuries, forever. But if this doesn’t happen, it won’t last.

One of the bases of our Zapatista economic resistance is Mother Earth. We don’t have those houses that the bad government builds, with cinder block and all that. But we do have our health and education, and we live by the people ruling and the government obeying.

When I pause awhile to think about what I want to say to you, what I’m thinking is how it’s one thing to talk about our economic situation and another about how we are governing. It’s difficult for me to explain this because the compas don’t do it the same everywhere.

An example: With some of the compas’ collectives, when it’s time to sell, whether it’s maize, beans, or livestock, what the compas do is organize themselves collectively and act as a kind of coyote [middleman] in order to compete with the coyote. For example, I’m a Zapatista and the compa is selling coffee, or livestock, or maize wholesale, and he’s asking 23 pesos for a kilo of coffee (I think what it’s at now). I, as a Zapatista, investigate how much the coyotes are selling the coffee for at retail, and I see that it’s selling for 40 pesos over there. But the coyote is only paying 23 pesos for it over here, so how much is he making off of it? What I do then is calculate how much transportation costs are going to be for me if I go sell retail like the coyote, and how much more I can afford to pay the compa than what the coyote is paying him. If the coyote is paying 23 pesos for the kilo, then I buy it for 24 pesos. And then the compa Zapatistas come, as do the partidistas, and now the coyote doesn’t have his clients anymore. So then the coyote hears that I’ve been paying 24 pesos and he’s only been paying 23 pesos, then he tries to compete with me and begins to pay 24 pesos. Then what the Zapatista will do is to calculate again, sees that he can still raise his buying price, and offers 25 pesos for the kilo. So it’s like pitting two coyotes against each other in competition, you understand? That’s how the struggle goes.

At the same time, the partidistas go around saying, “You see how the Zapatistas pay us more? By one peso.” That’s how life is in the communities. That’s why I say that there’s not just one way to do things, you have to figure out a way. This has to do also with the economy for autonomous authorities.

For example, under autonomy, everything was going well in health, education, and in agro-ecology, as well as in the three areas: bone-setters, midwifery, and herbal medicine as the compas call them. But when the projects started coming, when the donations from our compañeros and compañeras in solidarity starting coming, then when those donations and NGO projects dwindled, the organization of our construction of autonomy weakened—that is, education and health.

So we realized then and there that we failed because, how else to say it, that all we wanted to do was spend and that was it, that it wasn’t coming from our sweat, as the compas say. Because when it comes from your own sweat then you will take good care of it, you won’t go around spending it however you want. So we realized that what we were doing wasn’t right and that we had to remedy it.

When we tried to fix the situation, we came across another problem. A lot of the things that we do, the way that we go about organizing ourselves, don’t think that it’s because we are really imaginative, that we have superpowers or whatever else.

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No, compañeroscompañeras, brothers, sisters. We go about inventing, creating things. We go about resolving problems as they come, and what really happens is that we just don’t stop trying. We don’t ignore the problem, we have to resolve it and the advantage is that we ourselves are the ones to do it. We don’t depend on any government body to do it. If we’re not doing well, then none of us are doing well. If we are doing well, then we are all doing well.

So as I was saying about the projects and the donations, we have to correct this situation ourselves, and when we figured out how to correct it, then that’s when those people seeking projects started getting unhappy. Because we said, “We need to be able to reproduce this. We can’t just be spending. We need to think about how to reproduce this when the day comes that there’s no more project, when there’s no more donations from our brothers and sisters, compañeros and compañeras in solidarity. So in this way, we do know how to resist like before.

So that mistake we made, that failure with the economic situation made us remember the old days of clandestinity, because back then we were able to construct clinics while we were still clandestine, and we didn’t know back then that we would one day see compañeros and compañeras from the Asian continent, from the five continents. We didn’t even dream it but nevertheless, we were able to do it, not through solidarity, but through sweat. So then we started to talk to the compañeros about that, and we recovered that practice and began to work and that’s how we’re doing it now.

That’s why we say that we are re-educating and re-organizing ourselves in the face of the looming storm. In reality, compañeros and compañeras, we could say a lot more. Things really aren’t that easy, but so that you get an idea. The point is that we don’t just sit there and take it and we don’t give up.

I’ll tell you something else about collective work that took place about two or three months ago. So we are reorganizing ourselves, as we say, re-educating ourselves, so we have to give collective work everything we’ve got so that we understand how we are going to move, or how we are going to struggle.

So it turns out that as the compas in the communities, regions, municipalities and zones were meeting in their assemblies, a Zapatista compa says, compañeroscompañeras, I’m not going to join you in collective work because I don’t see anything there for me. Nothing from there buys my salt, or my soap. But it’s not to say that I’m not going to continue on in the struggle. I am going to continue being a Zapatista, and if we need to contribute [money] to the struggle then I am in agreement.

So then the compa say, “Compa, you’re wrong in what you’re saying. You have to remember what you are, you’re a Zapatista, and right now we’re not just discussing collective work, we’re also discussing what it means to be a Zapatista. The Zapatista has to confront everything. So if you say that you don’t want to be part of collective work because it takes us four, three, five days, then what you’ll have to do instead is work on in the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion, and that service is three years long, while with collective work all we’re talking about is three, four days. Think about what you’re saying.”

And they’re in an assembly, just like how all of us are gathered right now. Then the son of the compa stands up and says, “It’s true, this is my dad’s bad habit.” The son is a health promotor [promoter/advocate], and he says, “My dad says that I am just a health promotor by name only because I don’t even know how to give someone an aspirin. That’s what he tells me because what he wants me to do is leave my cargo as health promoter so I can go away to study”—that is, not at the autonomous school, that the compa go who knows where to study—“But every time my dad gets sick, he comes and asks me to give him a pill.”

I tell you this story, compas¸ so that you can see that the point is for you to not just sit and take it, or just talk about it. Confront it, do it, find it, invent it, create it. That’s what this is about.

So think about that. You’ve seen that we work the land, your guardianes and guardianas [iv] have taken you there. Is it not true that the Zapatistas work the land? Is it not true that the Zapatistas do not emigrate?” Just remember that story that I told you about that compa base of support who he said that he didn’t want to do collective work because that is what causes problems. In that case you oust yourself, you expel yourself. Because around here, being Zapatista means confronting it all, and there are some who no longer want to, and that’s how they in effect leave. Those who do this have really already left, they straight up don’t want to struggle anymore. That is, they have abandoned the organization.

That’s why, given the little that we do economically, we don’t pay for electricity, water, land ownership, nothing. But we don’t receive anything from the system either. And as it’s already been said, but to affirm it here, part of the reason we do our collective work at the zone, region, municipality, and community level is because we always have within our sight the possibility that we may need to mobilize to support the brothers, sisters, compañeros, compañeras. We don’t mobilize to demand that the government fulfil its promises, we don’t generate resources for that.

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So then, what we will be talking more about is that in this process of evaluating how we are doing, what we want to do, and what we are thinking about doing, it is the compas, the communities, who authorize action, who rule, who decide. We don’t depend on the government. And since this is our way of being, we’re going to keep on working, struggling, and dying if necessary in order to defend the way we are doing things now.

[i] It seems Subcomandante Moises is pointing to the irony that the name of this government program (“pececito” or little fish) serves as a homonym to “pesesito” which might be also be a joking way of referring to a single lonely peso.

[ii] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

[iii] A drink made from ground maize mixed with water and often consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midmorning or midday meal.

[iv] The Zapatista “guardians” or “votanes” that accompanied each student of the Zapatista Little School during their stay in Zapatista territory.

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EZLN: Political Economy From The Zapatista Communities II

Words Of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Seminar “Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra,” May 5, 2015

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Good afternoon to everyone, compañerascompañeros, brothers and sisters.

In response to what we have been listening to yesterday, and the day before, we have been commenting in the commission of compañeros and compañeras of the CCRI, that it seems to us that you can see there what it is that we want to do. This is the reason all of us are here, and if we haven’t been dreaming or sleeping, then we are thinking about the things that we have discussed, what the compas and brothers and sisters already brought up and talked about. They have already told us a lot about what this hydra is. So the question is what do we need to do against it?

Organize ourselves. When we give this response, organize ourselves, it means that our brain is already telling us what must be done first, and then second, and third, and fourth, and so on. And so, it’s an idea, when it is in your head it is an idea. Now, when you move your tongue, then it is in your words. What is still missing is action, that is, to organize. Now when you are organizing yourselves, watch out, because it isn’t going to come out like you thought in the idea, or like you said in the word. You are going to begin to encounter a lot of barriers, a lot of challenges.

Because if we don’t organize ourselves, we’re going to get to the year 2100, well, that is, those of us who are going to get there, and we’ll still be talking about ideas, words, and thoughts while capitalism has kept on, where were those of us who criticized capitalism so much? Where will we be if that’s how things are?

Ok, this is what we were reflecting on among the compas of the CCRI, of the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

We’re going to continue sharing about yesterday’s theme, about how the economy works in the struggle, in the resistance of the Zapatista men and women, but in practice, not in theory. From our practice we take the little bit of theory that we are sharing for now.

For example, this is how we work, we don’t receive anything from the government, in fact we don’t even speak to the government, not a single base of support does so. Even if they murder us, we don’t speak to the bad government. How do we deal with what we need to tell bad government? One way is through the public denunciations that the Good Government Councils make so that the bad governments get the message. And if not, well then in the Zapatista community radios, because as we were discussing yesterday, the government has its spies, its ears, and there is someone who is recording the messages on the Zapatista community radios, and so we put this information there. There’s also another way, but we’ll talk about that later.

We seldom deal in money. For example, we don’t have a choice when we have mobilizations, because we have to pay for the gasoline with pesos, they don’t accept kilos of maize or beans. And this is what we fight, what we combat. Everything that I’m going to be discussing here through examples, happens through a lot political and ideological work, a lot of explaining, a lot of conversation about the importance of and necessity for what we want to do.

For example, education. I’m going to tell you how we came up with our education process for the Zapatista school. A compañero who is a formador [teacher trainer] in the zone spent six months in the caracol training the education promotores and promotoras [like teachers, but literally ‘promoters’], where hundreds of students, student-future teachers go to be trained.

And so this compa who is an education formador went to see his family. When he got to his father’s house he said, “I’m here, papa.” And the father of this compa formador asked, “Did you bring your maize? Did you bring your beans? Because here you don’t have anything,” And the formador said:

-But what do you mean?

-What do I mean? Well you aren’t working.

-How can you say I’m not working papa, if I am working there with the compas?

– What did your compas give you? If your work is a benefit that we offer, then why don’t they also think about the fact that here you also have to have something here to be able to live.

-No, the thing is that we are in the struggle too – said the compa.

– Yes but we also need to survive in order to struggle.

– Yes – said the compa formador.

-You know what my son? – said the father – Son, you need to go back there. Speak to the autonomous authorities, because if you don’t it’s going to continue on this way, without organization.

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And so the compa had to go back and talk to the Good Government Council, and the Good Government Council organized with the compañeros who were in ‘the commission,’ which is what we call the vigilance commission and the information commission, that is, the compas, compañeros and compañeras of the CCRI. They organized and began to discuss this problem because well, it is a problem.

And the junta and the CCRI say, yes it is true, this work takes a long time and will keep taking time, and so we need to figure out how to make it work. And so the discussion began there about what to do.

– Well, we need to take it out of the little that we have.

-But how long will it last, the little bit that we have?

– No well, it will only last about a year.

And so they started to think about the problem until they came up with an idea. For example, the zone works collectively, all of the bases of support who live there participate in collective work projects. So the Junta’s proposal is that the bases of support from the community of the education promotor or formador don’t go to do their collective work project, and that instead they work in the cornfield, the bean field, the coffee field, and the pasture of the formador’s family. That way the formador will have maize, beans, coffee, a few animals, but it is the other compa bases of support that will do this work and that way he can have what he needs to live on. So they don’t provide pay, they aren’t giving a salary to the compañero and compañera education formador, and they do the same thing for the people who train the compañero and compañera health promotores.

Other compañeros, compañeras in other zones, live in different situations. For example in the Selva Fronteriza Zone or the Selva Tzeltal Zone the situation isn’t the same situation as it is for the compas in Los Altos; it is very different. So there are zones where they work collectively in cattle raising, and so when the compañeros try to organize their first steps, there are some things that they realize immediately.

For an example of what I am talking about, for the collective work at the zone level, the thing is that the communities are really far away, and the compañeros have to spend a lot of money in order to get to the location where they do the collective work. Since this costs a lot, what the compas decided to do is distribute the tasks, but the work itself is collective. So let’s imagine that this is a zone, imagine this building is a zone, but each community is very far way, some of them are 10 hours by car. So the compas come to an agreement. It might be the case that there are different collective work projects, there is a bakery over here, over there in that corner is a shoemaker, over in a another spot there is the farm that grows x thing, and then over there another collective project for the zone. So all of the communities, the bases, go and work at the collective project that is closest to them, in order to avoid having extra expenses, and then just the representatives meet to discuss how things are going.

The point is that there isn’t anyone who doesn’t work collectively. And in case you have this doubt or some day it occurs to you to ask, what happens with the people who don’t want to do the collective work? We don’t force anyone to work. We don’t force them, we simply say to them, “that is fine, compañero, compañera, if you don’t want to, but as a Zapatista, when we need to cooperate for something, you will have to pay out of your own pocket.”

And in our deeds and our practices, this is how the compas have managed to survive and this is how they have built their movement, the compañeros. And it is how the ones who don’t want to do the collective work have integrated themselves as well.

It is the same thing in these zones that work collectively in cattle-raising. All of the collective work that they do is for the struggle, for the movement for autonomy. Here what we learned in practice is that what we were doing wasn’t working, that is, we made a mistake, we failed when we required 100% collective work. We saw that this didn’t work because there were complaints, there were a lot of problems.

The complaints were that there wasn’t any salt, or there was no soap. Complaints that the products of the harvest weren’t distributed on time. Complaints that compas who had many children were apportioned equal amounts tocompas who had few children. And so this all made us realize that it would be better if the communities, the regions, the autonomous municipalities, and the zone come to an agreement about how they wanted to work.

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The point is that they want time for the family and time for the collective. That is how the compas work. For one example we could take cattle-raising. When I talk about cattle-raising, there is not just one way of doing this. There are, for example, cattle collectives who do cattle breeding; others who don’t, who just purchase the young bulls, have them for a few months and sell them, take their profit and buy another, as if they were trading goods.

There are zones that also work in shoe making, where the compas make shoes. There the compas were very critical of and called out the others, the ones who do cattle raising, saying that the skins of the cattle that they eat, or who die, just rot there, the skins of horses, donkeys, mules, that there they are just lost because they don’t know how to tan them. And so the compas tried to find someone to teach them how to do the tanning but no one wanted to do it, because they were looking for a teacher at the place that buys the skins. Well, maybe you all know someone who can teach us.

Another form of Zapatista economy—and who knows why the compas put it like this—but the autonomous banks like the BANPAZ, BANAMAZ, well now they call them BAC, for Banco Autonomo Comunitario (Autonomous Community Bank). There are two ideas at play in these banks. One is about having basic necessities like soap, salt, sugar, and that type of thing. The bank is for the money that the compas have once they sell their beans, corn, pig, whatever they have, so they can put that money into their local supply store. That way, the money that they make selling their products goes into the collective cooperative and this little bit that they make goes toward the movement for autonomy, or the struggle, and not to the partidistas [party-followers or party loyalists].

So this is what they do in the BAC or the autonomous banks. Because before when they had to borrow money from someone, Zapatista or not, they were charged up to 15% interest per month, meaning they were taken advantage of. That is why the compas created this fund, this autonomous bank, for health issues and for commerce. Thecompañeros have had problems in this area; don’t think it has gone perfectly. But these problems are being improved, and if there are good things, it is because of the decisions of the people in the communities, men and women.

For example, if I borrow 10 thousand pesos from the autonomous bank for a family health problem, and my child or my wife is cured, I pay 2% interest. If they aren’t cured, if my child or wife passes away, then the money lent is also lost; I don’t have to pay it back. This is an agreement that they made in the zone, that if someone dies, then the money doesn’t have to be paid back.

Where does the fund in the autonomous bank come from? There are different ways that the compas create these funds in different zones. For example, one agreement that they have made in order to not place a big burden on the compas, the bases, is that they agreed that each base of support should pay one peso per month. Or, that is to say that this month, in May, I should deposit one peso, and then in June I deposit another peso. As a base of support, I pay 12 pesos per year, and given that there are thousands of us, then there are 12 thousand or 15 thousand pesos at the end of the year. This money is what goes into the fund, into the autonomous bank.

Money also comes from the donations made by our brothers and sisters, compañeros and compañeras in solidarity. One part of these donations goes into this fund, into the autonomous bank, and another part goes to the collective work projects in the zone.

Another way to acquire resources is through agreements in the zones. When it is time to sell the harvest, be it coffee or corn, they agree that, for example, each base of support contribute 80 kilos of corn, or 50 kilos of beans, and then they sell it by the ton and the money from the sale goes into the fund. Then they decide whether to deposit this fund in the autonomous bank or to invest it in something else.

Another thing that the compas do by zones is collective work in the cornfield, or collective work in the coffee grove, and then they sell those harvests as another form of income.

Ok, so there is something else that we want to share here, so that some day when you are struggling if the same thing happens to you, you are aware that such things go on. Yesterday we were talking about NGOs, and we said that there were fewer projects than there used to be, but this isn’t because there are no longer NGOs or because NGOs don’t manage projects anymore, they’re still there. It is because there was something going on that we didn’t like. A few years ago, an NGO came to the compas in the Good Government Council. They proposed to do a health project, and the compas agreed; there were 400 thousand pesos in the project. Later they came back to explain how the project would work, but this time the person who came was a different member of the NGO and so the Good Government Council asked to see the project paperwork and the information about the total resources for the project.

– You don’t have it yet? They asked.

– No, that is why we are asking for it.

– Oh, it’s my pleasure to give it to you.

And so they went and got it and gave it to us, and the project had a budget of 1 million 400 thousand pesos. And so we saw that this NGO was giving us 400 thousand pesos and keeping 1 million for themselves. Of course, it was to pay the light bill, they said later, to pay the rent, and I don’t know what else. And so from that moment we started to think that, I don’t know exactly how to put it into words, but isn’t NGO supposed to mean Non-Governmental Organizations?

And so there are these people who latch on to those who are struggling against injustice, inequality, misery and all the rest. Smart, huh?

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From this moment on, the compas let the Juntas of the zone know that they had to be careful. Now we ask each NGO that comes to present their projects for the total budget. Sometimes they say “oh, we will bring it to you,” and years pass and they haven’t managed to bring it to us, they must not be able to find their car.

And so that’s what happened. Some stayed, and they are here accompanying the compas on the Good Government Councils. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t NGOs out there funding themselves through projects, maybe even saying that they are working with the Zapatista autonomous municipalities in rebellion, but whatever, that’s their problem.

I will give you an example of another way that the compas are able to gather resources, which has to do with health, because the compas of the Good Government Councils made an agreement with some doctors who provide assistance. The doctors told us that there are two types of surgeries, minor and major, and that the minor surgeries cost somewhere between 20 to 25 thousand pesos and the major surgeries cost much more. So the doctors who provide assistance to the compas go to the autonomous hospitals and do surgeries.

It really is a huge help because they use their saws and remove what needs to be removed and that’s it; the compasdon’t have to pay. The compas are only responsible for the cost of the antibiotics, which they take afterwards to avoid infection, and which only cost about a thousand or twelve hundred pesos. In other words, it is a major savings.

Another way they gather funds, as I already mentioned, is that word gets around. It gets around the communities, and yesterday we were talking about this, about how the partidistas go to the Zapatista hospitals because they don’t have a doctor, they don’t have a surgeon, and word gets around about how the compas are organized, so all of the partidistas go to the hospital where the doctors in solidarity come to work. And so what the compas have done is that in a zone assembly they decided that they have to charge something, but they also don’t want to charge too much.

For example, if the doctor says that a surgery is worth 6 thousand pesos, then the partidista will have to pay 3 thousand. And if they say that a surgery is worth 8 thousand, then the partidista has to pay 4 thousand. This way the partidista is still saving money, because otherwise in another hospital they would be paying between 20 and 25 thousand pesos.

This is one way that they try to have some income, revenue. There are zones that have work collectives that make crafts. There are compañeras in the zones that work in cattle raising collectives or who sell food, doing collective work periodically when there are particular events. For example, each time we have a party, the food vendor collective is there selling food.

In this collective work, as we call it in the zone, the compañero authorities of the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion and the Good Government Councils are the ones responsible for promoting, motivating, and seeking out advising support and encouragement from the compas from the Clandestine Committee.

Now the compa bases of support also participate, making proposals in the assembly about the kinds of collective work that can be done. These collective work projects that we are discussing have really helped us to understand and truly monitor our government, because they are the ones that administer the projects, our government, the Good Government Council, or the MAREZ. And because this work comes from the sweat of the people, then thecompas demand clear accounting from their authorities, of how much came in, how much was spent, what it was spent on, and how much was left. And they don’t leave their authorities alone; they are accountable to the people, and you can imagine what happens if there is money missing. Because now instead of going to jail one does collective work, because that person has to pay in collective work what they stole or spent.

In the collective work that we do, because we are talking about hundreds of men who go to work, small problems arise that quickly become big ones. For example, I know that there is going to be work in the cornfield and so I need a machete [inaudible], but then this compa brings an enormous machete. What’s the point? The point is when I am working, well the regular machete doesn’t reach very far, and the guy who has the enormous machete can cover more ground, or that is to say that he thinks he is very sneaky because he can do less work. And so when this happens, the authority, or the person in charge of the collective work, assigns 2 meters to each person, and well, that means that the person who tried to be sneaky by bringing a bigger or smaller tool screws himself.

Because it is these types of things that discourage people, demoralize them, cause problems, and they start saying “why did the manager allow that? Because it is his brother-in-law, his father-in-law,” and this type of thing, right? And they look for how to resolve them. And sure, others are smoking cigarettes and others file their machetes a lot to waste time, meaning there is no shortage of ways people try to be sneaky. I hope this doesn’t happen to you because if it does you aren’t going to be laughing.

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And so the point is, like we were saying yesterday, that we can’t let this go. We are very stubborn, very hard-headed. We don’t abandon the issue. We seek out a solution, advising and clarifying and explaining things, and that is how we continue along.

For the collective work projects that we are discussing, what has really helped us a lot is working this way, where the month is divided into 10 days of collective work and 20 days of family work. Each person agrees. Someone might say no, 5 days for collective work and 25 for the work of the family. But each place makes their agreement, at the level of the community, or the region, or autonomous municipalities, or zone. These are the four levels at which the collective work projects happen, which is to say there are four levels of assemblies, we could say, four levels at which to come to agreement.

And so what we are discussing here, compas, what gives us strength is the fact that we are organized. We are organized in everything and we share the same thinking, which is that we all remind ourselves that here we need to resolve our own problems. We don’t think that anyone is going to resolve them for us, not the government or anyone. And so, compañeros and compañeras, we have to resolve this problem, we have to do this work. We have to think, we have to discuss, we have to analyze, we have to encourage, we have to consult the bases of support. Really the compañeros have developed this profoundly, they have even developed the mechanisms for doing it, because it is a process.

Note that while we have been here, there has been proposal from the Good Government Council, and we as the authorities who are here understand the great importance and need for this, but our bases do not yet know, and so we need to go back and inform them. And so it will take us 10 or 15 days, and then we will have another assembly and see how it turns out. That is, there are processes that we must go through in order to make a decision, but what makes this possible, the fact that we manage to do it, is because we are organized.

The organization is what unites us. That is why this thing we say, to organize yourselves, is so importantBut once you try, the first question is what are we going to do, how are we going to do it and there will be a mountain of problems, you’ll see, which is why we are having this conversation. Because those of you here who are going to try to organize are really going to have to have guts, because you’ll see, you might be the first one to abandon the process. And when I say abandon, it could be for many different reasons, it might be that you will steal what your people have, or that it turns out that you are only good at yelling at people but not at working, that you only make demands and yell but you yourself do nothing. Or it could be the opposite, that you work like crazy and you look at your people and they aren’t following your example and so you ask yourself, “well, why am I killing myself here?”

You will see that what we are telling you is true, when you try do it, and that is why we are telling you this, because this is how it is, there isn’t any other way. Even though you might want to try to find one, there just isn’t any other way. There is this idea of what they call disobedience, or, the idea that you must disobey the system. How? Thecompa bases of support, now they are disobeying, and the government has no entry there, not in politics, nor in ideology, and with regards to economy we come out about even really, because we don’t pay millions in taxes, millions of pesos, but we also don’t receive the millions that they say they give out, and so that is why we say that it more or less equals out. But the government has no entry into our cultural or social life.

So I can see that your eyes are starting to look like little armadillo eyes. Tomorrow we’ll continue and (inaudible).

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EZLN: Words Of Comandanta Miriam

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6th May, 2015

Good Evening Compañeros And Compañeras.

I also have the chance to talk to you a bit about what the situation was for women prior to 1994.

Women suffered through a very sad situation since the arrival of the conquistadors. They stole our land and took our language, our culture. This is how the domination of caciquismo [local despotism] and landowners came into being alongside a triple exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, marginalization, mistreatment, and inequality.

The fucking bosses had us as if they were our owners; they sent us to do all the work on the haciendas, without caring if we had children, husbands, or if we were sick. They never asked if we were sick; if we didn’t make it to work, they sent their servant or slave to leave the corn in front of the kitchen so that we would make tortillas for them.

Much time passed like this, with us working in the bosses’ house. We ground the salt because the salt then was not the same as it is now, now it comes finely ground. The salt we used before came in large balls, and we women had to grind it. Women also ground the salt for the livestock, and shelled coffee when it was coffee harvest time. If we started at 6 in the morning, we finished at 5 in the evening. Women had to keep preparing the bags of coffee throughout the whole day.

This is how the women worked. Women were mistreated in their work, carrying water and all of that and paid miserably; they were only given a little handful of salt or a handful of ground coffee, that was the payment given to the women.

Years passed and women suffered like this. And when our babies cried and we nursed them, we were yelled at, made fun of, insulted physically; they said that we didn’t know anything, that we were useless, that we were a bother to them. They didn’t respect us and they used us as if we were objects.

They did whatever they wanted to a woman; they chose the pretty women or the pretty girls as their lovers, and left children all over the place; they didn’t care that the women suffered, they treated them like animals, with their children growing up without a father.

They sold us as if we were commodities during the acasillamiento[i]; there was never rest for us women.

I’m going to talk a little bit about the acasillamiento. Acasillamiento refers to when people go to the haciendas or ranches with their families and stay there and work for the boss. The men were the ones who did the work of planting coffee, cleaning the coffee fields, harvesting the coffee, clearing the pastures, planting the grass, all this work, taking care of the corn and bean fields. The men did this work for the boss.

Apart from this, there is another thing I could tell you about the acasillamiento, which are themozos or slaves there, men and women who are always going to live on the hacienda. Those men or women that are slaves or mozos, who live at the hacienda, are men and women that sometimes don’t have family. For example, a family comes just to work on the hacienda, and sometimes the dad and mom get sick and die and the children are orphaned. The boss takes these children and raises them on the hacienda. And what do these children do? Its not like the bosses adopt them as an adoptive child, but rather as a slave. Those children grow and this is the work they are given: if the boss has a pet, or pets, such as a dog, a monkey, or some kind of animal, the boss has the mozo take care of it, care for the animal. Wherever the monkey goes, that’s where the child is; they have to take care of it, bathe it, clean where it sleeps. That’s how it works.

Later, when the boss has a party—because before the priests would come to the large haciendas of the bosses and baptize their children, or for a birthday, or to perform a marriage ceremony for his daughters—and afterwards they would have parties and tell the mozos to guard the door. They would have the mozo watch the door while they were celebrating with their colleagues and friends. The mozo guards the door, he can’t let even a dog come into where they are partying, and he has to be there all day, for as long as the boss’s party keeps going.

And the women slaves were the ones who made the food, washed the dishes, and took care of the boss’s son, or the children of the boss’s friends.

That is how the people on the haciendas lived, and they didn’t get to eat what was eaten at the gatherings; they had to drink pozol[ii] if there was pozol, eat beans if there were beans. That was all they ate, meanwhile the boss ate the good stuff, but with his friends.

Later, when the boss wanted to go to the city, from his hacienda to a city that is, say, a 6-day walk, the mozo would go along. If the boss had children—sometimes the children are disabled—themozo had to carry the boss’s child to the city. And if the boss’s wife came to the hacienda, themozo goes again and carries the child back again.

And when they harvested coffee, in any harvest on the hacienda, the mozo had to be tending to the mules. I don’t know if you know about horses, but the mozo had to saddle and unsaddle the boss’s horse, herd the cattle, and take the loads to the city where the boss lives. If he lives in Comitán the mozo had to go all the way to Comitán. He had to leave the hacienda and go as the mule-driver. This is how many enslaved men and women suffered during that time.

If there are fruit tree orchards inside the hacienda and one of them climbed up to pick some fruit, the bosses wouldn’t let them. They got them down by whipping them, I don’t know if you know how the lash works; they would hit them with it. They can’t pick fruit without the boss’s permission because the entire harvest was to be taken to the city. This is how the men and women suffered.

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After so much suffering by women and the exploitation during the acasillamiento, the men started realizing how their women were being mistreated. Some thought it better to leave the hacienda. One by one they started leaving and taking refuge in the mountains because these hill lands were not claimed by the plantation owners. So they took refuge there. They thought it better to leave so that the women would not continue to suffer on the hacienda.

After awhile in the mountains—and many spent a long time there—they realized that it was better to join together and form a community, and that’s how they came to live that way. They got together, talked, and formed a community where they could live. That is how they formed the community.

But again, once they were living in the communities, those ideas that came from the boss or theacasillado were brought in. It’s as if the men dragged these bad ideas along with them and applied them inside the house. They acted like the little boss of the house. It’s not true that the women were liberated then, because the men became the little bosses of the house.

And once again the women stayed at home as if it was a jail. Women didn’t go out; they were shut in their houses once again.

When girls are born, we are not welcomed into the world because we are women; when a little girl was born, it is as if we were not loved. But if a boy was born, the men celebrated and were content because they are men. They brought this bad custom from the bosses. That’s how it was for a long time. When girls were born they acted as if women were useless, and if a boy was born, as if they could do all of the work.

But one good thing they did was that they did not lose the memory of how to form a community; they began to name community representatives and hold meetings and gatherings together. It was good that this idea was not lost, it wasn’t taken away and it came to life again. The bosses and the conquest wanted to make this culture disappear, but the bosses were wrong, because the people could still form their community.

Another thing is that the man gives the orders in the house and the women obey what he says. And if he tells you that you’re going to get married, you have get married. He’s not going to ask you if you want to get married to the man who came to ask for your hand; your father already accepted the liquor they offered, he drank it already and this obligates you to go with this man that you do not love.

This is how we came to suffer once again with our husbands because they told us that women are only useful in the kitchen, or to take care of their husbands, or to take care of the children. The men didn’t hold their children; they didn’t support the women. They only gave you the child, and then who cares how the child is raised. And—I’m going to talk about how it really was for years—we women often say that a baby was born every year, every year and a half, growing up like a little staircase, every year or year and a half there is another one. But the father didn’t care if his wife was suffering because she had to carry firewood, plant the cornfield, clean the house, sweep, take care of the animals, wash the clothes, take care of the children, change the nappies, and all of that. All of that was women’s work.

This is why we say that we suffered triple exploitation as women. Women had to be awake and in the kitchen at 3 or 4 in the morning, depending on how much time the men needed to get to their fields. The women had to get up early to make pozol, coffee, and breakfast for the men. The men go to work, and when they come back in the afternoon they want the water for their bath to have been carried up to the house already and be ready for them to bathe. The men bathe and then leave the house to walk around, to play, and the women are once again stuck at home the whole day, until the night—around this time right now—the women are still awake; they don’t go to sleep until 8.

So we were really suffering. The men didn’t care if you were sick, or how you felt, they didn’t ask—that’s just how it was. That is how women really lived; we’re not lying because that is how we lived.

When you would go to church or a ceremonial centre for a festival, and women did go sometimes, you had to lower your head. You couldn’t raise your head, you had to walk with your head bowed, without turning to the sides, and covering your head with the rebozo [shawl] like this, so that just your face shows.

A lot of time went by like this, during which men dragged along these bad ideas, these bad learnings. That is how it happened, compañeros. As if we were nothing. As if only the men could be authorities, only the men could go into the street and participate.

There was no school. Later on in some communities there was school, but we didn’t go because we were women; they didn’t let us go to school because if we went they’d say that we only went to school to find a husband. And that it was better to learn to work in the kitchen because if we were indeed going to have a husband, we needed to learn how to take care of him.

And when our husband hit us, when he insulted us, we couldn’t complain. If we asked for help from the other institutions of the bad government they were much worse because they defended the men, and said the men are right; and so we remained silent, humiliated, and embarrassed at being women.

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We didn’t have the right to come to meetings to participate, and they said that we were stupid, useless, and that we weren’t worth anything. They left us at home. We did not have freedom.

There was no health care. Even where there were clinics and hospitals that belonged to the bad government, they wouldn’t see us because we didn’t know how to speak Spanish. And sometimes we had to return to our homes, and many women and children died of curable diseases; we weren’t worth anything to them, and they discriminated against us because we were indigenous. They said that we were just dirty barefoot indians, and we couldn’t enter the clinics or hospitals. They wouldn’t let us, they only took care of people with money.

All this we suffered in our own flesh. We never had the opportunity to say what we felt for many years, because of the teachings of the conquistadores and the bad governments.

That is all, compañeros. Another compa will continue.

[i] Indicates the time period in which the caciques, or local land bosses, held great expanses of land and had almost total power over the indigenous workers in a kind of indebted servitude.

[ii] Pozol is a drink made from ground maize mixed with water and often consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midmorning or midday meal.

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EZLN: On Elections, ORGANIZE

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MAY 5, 2015

April 2015

To the compas of the Sixth:

To those who are reading because it interests them, even though they’re not part of the Sixth:

These days, every time that this thing they call the “electoral process” happens, we hear and see the stuff that comes out saying that the EZLN calls for abstention, that the EZLN says that people shouldn’t vote. They say this and other idiocies, these big-headed people who don’t study history or even try to understand. And they even put these absurdities into history books and biographies, and then charge for them. That is to say, they charge for these lies. Like politicians.

Of course, you know that we’re not interested in these things that those above make up in order to try to convince those below that they’re concerned about them.

As Zapatistas, we don’t call for people not to vote, nor do we call for them to vote. As Zapatistas, every time we get the chance we tell people that they should organize to resist and to struggle for what they need.

We, like many other originary peoples of these lands, already know how the political parties operate, and it’s a bad history of bad people.

And for us Zapatistas, it is a history is already in the past.

I think it was the late Father Juan Chavez Alonso who said that political parties separate and divide the people, creating confrontation and conflicts between them, even among members of the same family.

And here we see this happen again and again.

You all know that in many of the communities where we live, there are people who aren’t Zapatistas, and who aren’t organized, and are scraping by hoping that the bad government will give them a few handouts in exchange for letting them snap a photo that makes the government look good.

And so we see that every time there are elections, some dress up in red, others in blue, others in green, others in yellow, others in faded colors and so on. And they fight amongst themselves; sometimes they even fight among family members. Why do they fight? Well, they fight over who is going to be in charge of them, who they are going to obey, who is going to give them orders. They think that whatever particular colour wins, the people who supported that colour will receive more handouts. We see thay they say they are very aware and decisive in their political party choice, and sometimes they even kill each other over a fucking colour. Because it’s the same thing among all those who want a political position, regardless of whether they dress up red, or sometimes in blue, or green or yellow, or sometimes they put on a new colour. And then they say they are of the people and that therefore the people have to support them. But they aren’t of the people, they’re the same bad governments who one day are local representatives, and the next are union leaders, then they are party functionaries, and then municipal presidents, and that is how they work, bouncing from one position to another, and also from one color to another. They are the very same people, with the same last names, from the same families as always, the sons, grandchildren, uncles, nephews, relatives, brothers in-law, boyfriends, lovers, friends of the same cheats and bullies[i] as always. And they always say the same thing: that they are going to save the people, that this time they are going to behave themselves, that now they won’t steal so much, that they are going to help those who have nothing, that they’re going to pull them out of poverty.

Well, then they spend their money, which is of course not theirs but rather what they take from taxes. But these little cheats and bullies don’t spend that money helping those who are down-and-out. No. They spend it on their political propaganda, putting up their posters and photos, on radio advertisements and TV spots, on ads in newspapers and commercial magazines, and even in the movie theatres.

Well, the people in the communities who are partidistas[people who identify with a political party] during election times and very conscious of which colour they’re supporting, as soon as it’s clear who won they all switch to that colour because they think that way they’re going to get their little handout.

For example, supposedly now they’re going to get a television. Well, as Zapatistas, we say that they are being given a garbage can because through this television they are going to get a mountain of garbage.

But, regardless of whether the parties gave them what was promised before, now they’re not nor will they give them anything at all.

If the parties gave them anything at all, well, it was in order to make them lazy. They even forgot how to work the land. They’re just there, waiting for the next government payment to arrive so they can waste it on booze. And there they are in their houses, making fun of us because we are cultivating, while they just sit there waiting for their wife or daughter to return from collecting the pay-out, the government’s handout, that they sent her after.

It goes on like this until the day comes that the pay-out doesn’t arrive. There is no notice, it isn’t announced by the paid press, no one comes to tell them that they are their saviours. There is simply no more support. And then this brother or sister realizes that now they have nothing, that there is no money for booze, but there’s also none for corn, beans, soap, or underwear. And so they have to return to the farm plot that they had abandoned, now so overgrown that they can’t even walk through it. And because they have forgotten how to work, soon their hands are covered in blisters and they can’t even hold a machete. That’s how useless they have become living off handouts from the government instead of working.

And this kind of thing is already happening. They don’t talk about it in the news controlled by the bad government. On the contrary, the news says that there is a lot of government support. But nothing is getting to the people. Where does the money go that the government says it’s spending on handouts for the campaign against poverty? Well, we know that those up above have already said that there is going to be less money, or that there isn’t going to be any at all. Do you all think that if the campesinos accustomed to getting hand-outs stop working, those above distributing the handouts really do work? Well no, that guy up there is also accustomed to getting something for nothing. He doesn’t know how to live honorably from his own work; he only knows how to live if he has his government position.

Well, now that there is less money, there are no handouts. All of the money remains up above. The governor takes a chunk; the judge takes some, so do the police, a bit goes to the local representative, some to the Municipal President, some to the trustee, some to the campesino leader and well, there’s nothing left for the partidista’sfamily.

Before there was a little something, but now there’s nothing. “What’s happening?” asks the partidista. He thinks that it’s because his colour doesn’t work any more and so tries another colour. The result is the same. In their assemblies thepartidistas get angry, they shout and accuse each other of things, they call each other traitors, sell-outs, corrupt. Ultimately, it’s both the ones who are shouting and being shouted at who are all traitors, sell-outs, and corrupt.

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And so, the ones that they call the party’s base lose hope, worry, and feel bad. They stop joking because they realize that in the Zapatista’s homes there is corn, beans, vegetables, there is a little bit of money for medicine and clothes. Our collective labour helps us support one other when there is need. There is a clinic; there is a school. And it’s not because the government has come to help us. We, ourselves, have helped one other as Zapatista compañeros andcompañeroas[ii] of the Sixth.

So the partidista brother comes to us all sad and asks us what to do, saying that he is screwed.

Well, you know what we say to him:

We don’t tell him that he should change to another party, the one that is now the least bad option.

We don’t tell him to vote.

Nor do we tell him not to vote.

We don’t tell him that he should become a Zapatista, because we already know, through our history, that not everyone has the strength of heart to be a Zapatista.

We don’t make fun of him.

We tell him that he should organize, plain and simple.

“And then, what do I do?” he asks.

And so we say to him: “then you will see for yourself what to do, what emerges in your heart and your head, no one else is going to tell you what to do.”

And he says: “The situation is really bad.”

And we don’t lie to him, or make grand narratives or speeches. We tell him the truth.

“It’s going to get worse”.

– * –

Well we know that’s how things go.

But also, as Zapatistas, we are clear that there are still people, in other parts of the city and countryside, that fall into beingpartidistas.

And well, being involved with the party seems very attractive, because you can get money without doing any work, without toiling away to make a few cents and have something dignified to eat, clothe and take care of your health.

But what those above do is deceive people. That is their job and that is how they survive.

And we see that there are people who believe it, that yes, now the situation is going to get better, that this leader is going to fix their problems, that he is going to behave himself and not steal much, that he’ll only be involved in a couple of dodgy dealings, and so that they really have to give him a try.

So we say that these are pieces of little histories that need to happen. That people have to learn for themselves that no one will solve their problems for them, but that instead we have to solve them ourselves, as organized collectives.

It is the people who create solutions, not leaders or parties.

And we’re not saying this because it sounds pretty. It’s because we see it in reality, because we already do it.

– * –

It could be said that a long time ago, before they became part of the institutional apparatus, some of the partidistas on the left sought to build awareness among the people. That they weren’t seeking power through elections, but rather to move people to organize themselves, struggle and change the system. Not just the government, the whole system.

Why do I say partidistas of the institutional left? Well, because we know that there are parties on the left that aren’t involved in the dealings of above; they have their same form, but they don’t sell out, or give up, or change their belief that we must end the capitalist system. And because we know, and as Zapatistas we do not forget, that the history of struggle from below is also written with their blood.

But money is money, and above is above. And the partidistasof the institutional left changed their thinking and now they seek out paid positions. It’s that simple: the money. Or, in other words, the pay.

Do you really think that it’s possible to create political consciousness by disdaining, humiliating and scolding those below? Telling them that they’re a bunch of “sandwich-gobblers”[iii] who don’t think? That they are ignorant?

Do you think that you create political consciousness by asking people to vote for you while simultaneously telling them that they’re fools who would sell out for a television?

Do you think that you create political consciousness if, when you say to them, “hey you, partidista of the left, this cheat or bully who says that that he’s the hope for the future actually used to work with the other colours and is a rat,” they (the people) respond that you’ve sold out to Peña Nieto?

Do you think that you create political consciousness if you lie to people, telling them that we Zapatistas say not to vote, because you are seeing that you might not have enough people on your voter registry, or in other words, enough for more pay, and you’re simply looking for someone to blame?

Do you think that you create consciousness if you now have the same people working in your party who used to be yellow, or red, or green or blue?

Do you think that you create consciousness by saying people who have no formal education shouldn’t vote and that are poor because they are ignorant fools who only vote for the PRI?

If in Chiapas, Velasco slaps people around with his hand,[iv] those partidistas slap people around with their poorly-hidden racism.

It is clear that the only thing about which those partidistas are creating consciousness is that in addition to being arrogant, they’re also imbeciles.

What do they think?

That after being insulted, lied to, and scolded, that the people from below are going to get down on their knees in front of that colour, vote for them, and beg to be saved?

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What we Zapatistas say is: there you have the proof that in order to be a party politician above one has to be shameless, a fool, or a criminal—or all three.

-*-

We Zapatistas say that we shouldn’t be afraid of having the people rule. It’s the most healthy and just way. Because it is the people themselves who going to make the changes that are truly necessary. And that is the only way that a new system of government is going to exist.

It’s not that we don’t understand what selecting a candidate or elections are. We Zapatistas have a different calendar and geography for how to have elections in rebel territory, in resistance.

We have our own ways in which the people truly choose, and not through spending millions, much less producing tons of plastic rubbish and banners with photos of rats and criminals.

It is true that it’s been just barely 20 years that we’ve been choosing our autonomous authorities, with true democracy. This is how we have been walking together, with the Freedom that we have achieved for ourselves and with an ‘other’ Justice of an organized people – where thousands of women and men are involved in the process of choosing. Where everyone finds agreement and organizes to ensure compliance with the mandates of the people. Where the people organize to determine the work that will be undertaken by the authorities.

In other words, the people command their government.

The people organize in assemblies, where they begin to express their opinions and from there proposals emerge and these proposals are studied for their advantages and disadvantages, to analyze which one is best. And before making a decision, the proposals are taken back to the people and the assembly for approval so that a decision can be made in accordance with the majority of the communities.

This is Zapatista life in the communities. It is already a true culture.

Does that seem very slow to you? That is why we say that it is according to our calendar.

Do you think this is because we are Indigenous peoples? This is why we say that it is according to our geography.

It is true that we have made many mistakes and had many failures. And it is true that we will have more.

But they are our failures.

We make them. We pay for them.

It’s not like in the political parties where the leaders make mistakes, where they even charge for them, and those below pay for them.

That is why the elections coming in the month of June mean nothing to us either way.

We don’t call for people to vote, nor do we call for them not to vote. It doesn’t interest us.

And more, it doesn’t worry us.

For us, Zapatistas, what we’re interested in is knowing how to resist and confront the many heads of the capitalist system that exploits us, represses us, disappears us and steals from us.

Because it not just in one place or in one way that capitalism oppresses. It oppresses you if you’re a woman. It oppresses you if you’re a white-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a blue-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a campesino. It oppresses if you if you’re a young person. It oppresses you if you are a child. It oppresses you if you’re a teacher. It oppresses you if you’re a student. It oppresses you if you’re an artist. It oppresses you if you think. It oppresses you if you are human, or plant, or water, or earth or air or animal.

It doesn’t matter how many times they wash it or perfume it, the capitalist system is “dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (you can figure out who wrote this and where).[v]

So our idea isn’t to promote voting.

Nor is it to promote abstention or casting blank votes.

Nor is it to provide recipes for how to confront capitalism.

Nor is it to impose our thinking on others.

The seminar is to see the different heads of the capitalist system, to try to understand whether it has new ways of attacking us or whether they are the same ones as before.

If we are interested in other ways of thinking, it is in order to see if we are right about what we think is coming, that there will be a tremendous economic crisis that will connect with other bad things and do tremendous damage to everyone everywhere, all over the world.

So if it’s true that this is coming, or that it’s already happening, we need to think about whether it will work to keep doing the same thing that has been done before.

We think that we have the obligation to think, to analyze, to reflect, to critique, to find our own pace, or own way, in our places and in our own times.

Now, I ask those of you who are reading this: whether you vote or not, is it harmful to think about what is going on in this world that we live in, to analyse it, to understand it? Does thinking critically impede voting or abstaining from voting? Does it help us to organize or not?

– * –

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Finishing up on elections:

Just so that it’s very clear and you aren’t misled about what we say and don’t say.

We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to change the system by voting in elections.

We say that’s a difficult spot because it is the same Ruler that organises the elections, who decides who the candidates are, who says how, when, and where to vote, who announces who wins, and who says whether the election was legal or not.

But well, there are people who think that this can work. It’s fine, we don’t say no, but we also don’t say yes.

So, vote for a colour or one of the washed-out colors, or don’t vote, what we say is that we have to organize ourselves and take into our own hands the decision of who governs and make them obey the people.

If you already decided that you won’t go and vote, we don’t say that’s good, nor do we say that it’s bad. We only say that we think that it is not enough, that you have to organize yourselves. And, of course, that you have to prepare yourself because they will blame you for the miseries of the institutional parties of the left.

If you already decided that you are going to vote and you already know who you will vote for, well same thing, our opinion isn’t that it’s good or bad. What we do say clearly is that you should prepare yourself because you’re going to get really angry about the cheating and fraud that will happen. Because those in Power are experts in cheating. Because what’s going to happen has already been decided by those above.

We also know that there are leaders who deceive the people. They say that there are only two paths to change the system: electoral struggle or armed struggle.

They say this because they’re ignorant or shameless, or both.

First of all, they aren’t fighting to change the system, or to take power, but to be government. That’s not the same thing. They say that once they are in government, they will do good things, but they are careful to make it clear that they’re not going to change the system, they’re only going to get rid of the bad stuff.

Perhaps they should to study a little and learn that to be in government isn’t to have Power.

You can see that they don’t realize that that if they get rid of the bad parts of capitalism, then it won’t be capitalism. And I’m going to tell you why: because capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, of the many by the few. Even if they include women, it’s the same. Even if they include otroas, it’s the same. It’s still the system in which unoas enrich themselves with the work of otroas.[vi] And the otroas above are few, andotroas below are few. If those partidistas say that this is fine and they just have to be careful that they don’t push it too far, that’s fine, let them say it.

But there are more than the two ways that they describe (the armed path and the electoral path) to get into government. They forget that the government can also be bought (or they’ve already forgotten how Peña Nieto got there?) And not only that, but perhaps they’ve also forgotten that it’s possible to rule without being in government.

If these people say that it’s only possible with weapons or with elections, the only thing that they’re actually saying is that they don’t know their history, that they haven’t studied well, that they have no imagination, and that they have no shame.

It would be enough for them to see just a little of what happens below. But their necks are already cramped from looking up so much.

That is why we, the Zapatistas, don’t get tired of saying organize yourselves, let’s organize ourselves, each person where they are, let’s struggle to organize ourselves, let’s work to organize ourselves, let’s begin by thinking about how to start to organize and let’s gather together in order to unite our organizations for a world where the people command and the government obeys.

In summary, as we said before, and we say now: whether you vote or not, organize yourself.

And well, we Zapatistas think that we have to have good ideas in order to organize ourselves. Which is to say, we need theory, critical thought.

With critical thought we can analyze the ways of the enemy, of the one who oppresses us, exploits us, represses us, disdains us, and steals from us.

But with critical thought we also examine our own path, our own steps.

For this reason we are calling on all of the Sixth to have meetings of thought, analysis, theory, of how you see the world, your struggle, and your history.

We call for you to have your own seminars and share with us the ideas that you cultivate there.

– * –

As Zapatistas, we are going to continue governing ourselves as we already do, where the people rule and the government obeys.

As our Zapatista compañeros say: Hay lum tujbil vitil ayotik.Which means: how good it is, the way that we are now.

Another: Nunca ya kikitaybajtic bitilon zapatista. Which means: we will never stop being Zapatistas.

One more: Jatoj kalal yax chamon te yax voon sok viil zapatista. Which means: Even after I’m dead, I’ll still be called a Zapatista.

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

In the name of the EZLN, the men, women, children and elders of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico, April-May of 2015.

[i] The text uses “cabrón,” like bully or asshole, and “cabra,” (literally “goat”), playing with the feminine form of gendered nouns in Spanish. We will use “cheats and bullies” throughout the rest of the translation for this phrase.

[ii] The text uses “compañeroas,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iii] A reference to those who accept gifts or handouts—often a sandwich at a rally—from the political parties in return for support.

[iv] A reference to the slap Chiapas governor Manuel Velasco gave to an assistant at a December 9, 2014, public event, which was caught on camera.

[v] From Karl Marx’ Capital Volume 1, Chapter 31.

[vi] The text uses “unoas” (some) and “otroas,” (others) to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN: Luis Villoro, The Zapatista

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ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION.

May 2, 2015.

Good evening, good day, and good night to those who are listening and those who are reading, whatever your calendars or geographies may be.

What we will now read publicly are the words that the late Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos had prepared for the homage to Don Luis Villoro Toranzo in June of 2014.

He had imagined that the relatives of Don Luis would be present, specifically his son, Juan Villoro Ruiz, and his compañera, Fernanda Sylvia Navarro y Solares.

Days before this homage was to take place, our compañero Galeano was murdered. He was a teacher and autonomous authority who was and is part of the generation of indigenous Zapatista women and men forged in the clandestinity of our preparation, in the uprising, in resistance and in rebellion.

The pain and rage that we felt then and now over what happened that May one year ago, added to our sorrow over the death of Don Luis.

A series of events then played out, one of which was the decision to put to death the person who had been the spokesperson and military leader of the EZLN. The death of SupMarcos was finalized in the early morning hours of May 25, 2014.

Among the things left pending, as we the Zapatistas tend to say, which the late Supmarcos left behind, is a book about politics, promised to Don Pablo González Casanova in exchange for a box of pancrema crackers [like Ritz]; a series of unclassifiable texts and drawings (several of them date back to his early days as an insurgent with the EZLN); and the text of the homage to Don Luis Villoro, which I will read in a few moments.

-*-

In the general command of the EZLN, with Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, we talked about what this day would consist of, then and now, and we realized that upon taking stock of a life, we were bringing together pieces that would never form a complete whole.

We realized that were always left with an inconclusive, broken image. And that what we had and have urges us to seek and find what was missing.

“What is missing is merely missing” we the Zapatistas say stubbornly.

Not with resignation, never with conformity.

But to remind ourselves that history is not complete; we are missing pieces, names, dates, places, calendars, geographies, and lives.

That we have many deaths and absences, too many.

And that we must grow our memory and our heart so that none remain missing, yes, but also so that they not be immobilized but rather completed time and again in our collective step.

This is how we came to imagine this day, afternoon, night, and early morning, as an exchange of pieces seeking to complete the life of Dr. Luis Villoro Toranzo, whom you knew and know. He was a professor in the Philosophy and Letters Department of the UNAM, founder of the group Hiperion, disciple of José Gaos, researcher for the Institute of Philosophical Research, member of the Colegio Nacional, President of the Philosophical Association of Mexico, and honorary member of the Mexican Academy of Languages. “Teacher, father, and compañero”, perhaps his epitaph should read.

There are compas, women, men, and otroas that have a special place among us, the Zapatistas of the EZLN. This does not come by gift or donation. This special place was earned with a commitment and dedication that is far from spotlights and stages.

So when they inevitably go, we do not echo the noise and dust that tends to rise with their death. We wait. Our waiting is a silent and voiceless homage. Just as his struggle at our side was silent and mute.

We let the noise fade away, let another way emerge to replace that which simulates consternation and sorrow. We let the dust settle so that silence once again becomes the serene repose for the one who is gone.

Perhaps this is because we respect that life which is now absent, because we respect his time and way of being. And because we imagine that, going forward along the calendar, his silence will be a place from which to hear us.

Apart from this, and I mention this as a fact and not as a reproach, Dr. Luis Villoro Toranzo was a brilliant intellectual, a wise person whom perhaps can only be reproached for the closeness he had in life to the originary peoples of Mexico, specifically those who rose up in arms against oblivion and who maintain their resistance far beyond what’s in vogue or in the news.

For those who did not know Dr. Luis Villoro Toranzo in life, there are and I hope there will be, roundtable discussions, reprinted editions, and analyses in specialized and other journals.

Our word today will not go down those paths. Not because we don’t know his philosophical or historical work, but because we are here to honor a duty, settle a pending task, fulfill a responsibility.

Because you out there know Luis Villoro Toranzo as a brilliant thinker, but we Zapatistas, know him as…

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How?

We know that we only have one of many pieces.

And we have come here to this homage, to give to those who shared and share with him blood and history, a piece that we believe they may not have known and perhaps may not have even imagined.

History from below, from the angle of the Zapatistas, has many blind quarters, watertight compartments in which different lives are lived with apparent indifference, and in which we only see and learn about the life that took place there when death crumbles the walls.

And so that we can make, how do you say it? An exchange? A trading of places?

Upon opening the compartment and toppling the fourth wall, upon finding ourselves inside, we make a swap: this death to the museum, this life to living.

“Watertight compartments,” I’ve said. Our way of struggle implies a quota of anonymity which is only desirable to some of us. But maybe later on there will be a chance to come back to this.

You will hear Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés speak to our compañeras and compañeros from the Zapatista communities about one aspect of what Don Luis Villoro Toranzo was to our struggle.

The great majority of them did not know him, had never meet him. And just like him, we havecompañeras,compañeros and compañeroas whose existence is not known.

The sudden knowledge that we had compañeros and compañeras that we didn’t know existed until they no longer existed is not something new for us Zapatistas. Perhaps in our manner of doing things, naming the life that is missing is a way to bring it into existence in another form.

Just like it was our manner of doing things to bring the indigenous Zapatista Galeano to the collective then, and Don Luis Villoro now.

Our way of hurrying them, pressuring them, yelling to them, “Hey! No time to rest!” to bring them back so that they can stay in the fight, the task, the grind, the work, the path, life.

But it’s not a life I am going to tell you about. Neither is it about a death.

What’s more, I’m not here to tell you anything. I am here to draw you an outline, more or less defined, more or less clear, of a piece of a gigantic puzzle, both terrible and marvellous. And what I’m about to tell you will sound fantastical.

Perhaps my brother under protest (his), Juan Villoro, will later discover in my words a thread from an absurd and complex plot, one closer to literature than to history. Perhaps it will later help him complete that book that he doesn’t yet know that he will be writing.

Perhaps Fernanda will intuit a breakthrough concept that appeared elusive, filling a void which leads to the theoretical overturning of an entire line of thought. Perhaps it will later help her initiate the reflection that she does not yet know that she will undertake.

I don’t know. Perhaps he, she, and those who are not here, will simply archive this in the “H” folder, for “homage,” “hurt,” “human,” for “Hydra,” for…

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“Once upon a time…”

I should, for security reasons, be intentionally imprecise about the geography and the calendar, but I can tell you that it was in the wee hours of the morning, and it was at the EZLN headquarters.

It may be that a brief description of the Zapatistas’ general command center may disappoint more than a few of you.

No, there is no giant map with multicolored lights or colored pins covering one of its walls.

No, there is no modern radio communication equipment with voices speaking in many languages.

There is no red telephone.

There is no modern computer with multiple monitors dedicated to encrypting and decrypting the dizzying static of the cybernetic matrix.

There is just a pair of tables, two or three chairs, a few cups with cold, leftover coffee, crumpled papers, tins of tobacco, and smoke, lots of smoke.

Sometimes there is also a stale bowl of popcorn, but that’s just in case we need to make a trade with some out of the ordinary being who pops in.

Because you may not believe it, but what in other places is called “Trial by Combat,” here we call “Go ahead and get stuck, that’s what all the mud is for.”

I’m not going to elaborate on this particular way of resolving legal disputes among beings who are so far removed from either real or fictional jurisprudence. Let’s just say that the bowl of stale popcorn is there for a reason.

We may, although certainly not always, have a laptop computer and a printer. I won’t mention the brand or the model, but suffice it to say that the computer functions through insults and threats, and the printer has a peculiar sense of agency, because it refuses to print that which it doesn’t see as worthy of moving beyond the screen.

True, on the computer screen there is invariably a word processor open and a piece of writing that never manages to reach his final point…

Viruses? Only the ones that manage to get through the reed that we use to connect to the network. That is to say, spiders, or the bugs fleeing said spiders, while a little light blinks frantically.

But we’ll leave it up to you to imagine what the rest of the furniture looks like.

I could make myself look good and tell you that on that morning I was reading some treatise of Greek Philosophy, or the Fabulae of Hyginus, or the treatise Apollodorus of Athens on the Gods, orTheTwelve [Doze] Labors of Hercules(yes, with a ‘z’), by Enrique de Villena, the Astrologer,[i] but I wasn’t reading any of that. 

Or I could tell you, and make myself seem all modern, that I was there in the deep web taking an online course with an anonymous hacker. I almost said a famous hacker, but if they are anonymous then they can’t be famous. Or can they? Or maybe it is an organized collective: “click the reload button, press the control key, no, don’t touch the letter “z” because it will create a chaotic mess and you will end up chatting with an incomprehensible being in the mountains of southeastern Mexico.” In short, it’s a nickname and an avatar, something like a nom de guerreand a ski mask, that patiently explain the fundamentals of a terrain of struggle. And just like every time you learn a new language, the first thing you need to know are the insults. And that’s how you know that a calling someone “newbie” is insulting.

Or, I could tell you, and repeat the cliché, that I was in a multi-party, inter-oceanic, hard-core game of chess with a collective called “The Baker Street Irregulars,” located in that “speckled blonde” Albion.[ii]

But no.

What I was really doing was trying to finish the final point on a text that has been on hold for 20 years, but…

In the doorway appeared the posta, the guard, the sentinel, the lookout, or whatever you want to call him.

– “Sup, there is someone here who wants to talk to you”-, he said tersely after giving the military salute.

-“Who?” -I asked almost as a formality because I was already assuming that it was insurgentaErika with one of her intricate riddles about love and that type of thing.

-“One Don Luis,” he said. “He is old and wise,”- responded the insurgent.

-“Don Luis? I don’t know any Don Luis,”-I said with annoyance.

-“Subcomandante,”-I heard his voice and saw his figure fill the doorway.

The guard managed to stammer: “He slipped in unannounced, I told him to wait, he didn’t follow instructions.

Ah, he didn’t follow instructions, typical. It’s ok,” I said to the guard and I exchanged a hug with Don Luis Villoro Toranzo, born in Barcelona, Catalonia, in the Spanish State, on November 3, 1922.

I offered him a chair.

Don Luis sat down, took of his beret and rubbed his hands together smiling. I assumed because of the cold.

Did I already say that it was cold that morning?

And it was cold, as it usually is when there is no sun to warm up the shade, like today. What’s more, the cold bit our cheeks like an obsessed lover.

Don Luis didn’t seem to notice.

Does it get cold in Barcelona?” I asked, in part as a welcome greeting, and in part to distract him as I discreetly turned off the computer.

In the end, I put away the computer, requested coffee for three, and re-lit the pipe, already filled with moist and used tobacco.

I can’t remember now whether Don Luis responded to the question about the climate in Barcelona.

He did wait patiently for me to finish failing at what I was attempting to do, waiting for me to stop trying to relight the embers in the pipe.

You don’t have tobacco by any chance?”I asked him, anticipating his answer with disappointment.

I don’t remember,” he said, and continued smiling.

Was he answering about the cold in Barcelona or on whether he had any tobacco?

But these weren’t the main questions that accumulated in the snuffed out bowl of my pipe.

Before asking the doctor of philosophy Luis Villoro Toranzo what the hell he was doing there, well, let me explain…

At that time, the EZLN headquarters was in the “Bed of Clouds,” so named because it was located high up in a mountain and except for the few days of the dry season, it was always under cloud cover. Even though the general command itself is nomadic, sometimes it stays there awhile, although never for as long as the clouds do.

“The Bed of Clouds.”

Getting there isn’t easy. First you have to cross pastures and abandoned fields. It’s bad in the rain and bad in the sun. After two hours of thorns and insults, you arrive at the foot of the mountain. From there, a stretch of the trail rises up, skirting the steep hill such that there is always an abyss on your right. No, it wasn’t political considerations that decided this spiral ascent; it was the capricious shape of this mountainous peak in the middle of the mountain range. Even though you don’t stop climbing until you are almost at the doors of the hut of the general command of theeezeeelen, a few works of military engineering had been built such that the guard at their post would have the time and distance necessary to see people coming from far away.

From there, the kind of walking necessaryto access the hut was intentionally difficult. To the harshness of the mountains, we added pointy stakes, ditches, and thorns, such that it was only possible to pass one at a time. When I was young and beautiful, and carrying an average weight–let’s say some 15-20 kg–, it took me about six hours to get there from the base of the mountain. Now that I am only beautiful, and without carrying anything, it takes me between eight and nine hours.

Our premodern roots and our contempt for electoral campaigns inhibit us from getting helicopters at our camps. So you can only get there by walking.

Given all of this, it is logical that the first question that came up was:

And how did you get here Don Luis?

He responded “By walking,” as calmly as if he had said “by taxi.”

Don Luis appeared to be well put-together, not visibly agitated, his beret intact, his dark bag had just a few strands of roots and twigs hanging off of it, his corduroy pants barely dirty and only in the creases, his moccasins were in one piece. Well put-together. If there was anything worth noting it was his several-days-old beard and the obvious absurdity of his clean shirt, with its starched open collar. For me, this climb takes at least three shirt mendings, four for my pants, a reinforcement of both boots, and a couple of hours trying to catch my breath.

But Don Luis was here, sitting in front of me. Smiling. Apart from a slight flush in his cheeks, you could have said that he had, in fact, just gotten out of a taxi.

But no. Don Luis’ response had been, “by walking,” so there had been no taxi.

I was about to let loose with a long list of reprimands about his health, the calendars having taken a toll on him, the impossibility that, at his advanced age, he should try to do such crazy things, like climb a mountain and present himself in the wee hours of the morning in the general command of the eezeeelen, but something stopped me. No, it wasn’t the incontrovertible fact that he was actually there.

It was that Don Luis’s smile had become nervous, restless, as if fearful not of asking questions but of having the answers.

And so I asked a question that would mark that dawn.

And what is it that you want Don Luis?

I want to become a Zapatista,” he responded.

His voice did not hold a trace of mockery, sarcasm, or irony. Nor did it hold doubt, fear, or insecurity.

I had already seen city people declare their intention in this way (although not with those words, because they usually do so with incendiary slogans and bombastic language, a lot about death and little to nothing about life), although of course, they don’t get past the pasture.

I choked, and the pipe wasn’t even lit so that I could pretend it was because of the smoke. Resigned to the lack of dry tobacco, I had been merely nibbling on the mouthpiece.

I want to become a Zapatista,” he had said. Don Luis had used an expression that was more a part of the daily life in Zapatista communities then it was part of Mexican Academy of Languages.

I followed the protocol for these cases:

I explained in detail the geographical, temporal, physical, ideological, political, economic, social, historical, climatic, mathematic, barometric, biological, geometric and interstellar challenges.

To each difficulty that I detailed, Don Luis’ smile lost some of its nervousness and gained security and composure.

By the time I got to the end of this long list of inconveniences, Don Luis was smiling as if he had gotten a seat in the Colegio Nacional, rather than the diplomatic “NO” that I was dishing out.

I’m prepared,” he said, as I crunched down on the last solid bit of the mouthpiece of my pipe.

Trying to dissuade him, I explained the inconveniences of clandestinity, of hiding oneself, of anonymity.

And,” I added dismissively, “we’re out of ski masks.”

It was clear that I wasn’t doing the best job. As much as I shifted in my chair and nervously moved things around the desk, I couldn’t figure out a logical explanation for the absurdity of the situation.

Don Luis adjusted the beret on his thinning silver hair.

I thought that he was about to say goodbye, but when I got ready to call the guard to accompany him he said:

“This is my ski mask,” pointing to his beret.

When I argued that a ski mask should cover the face so that only the eyes were showing, he disagreed:

You can’t hide your face without covering it?”In that moment, I was grateful for two things:

One was that, in continually moving things around on the desk, I had found a little bag of dry tobacco.

The other was that the question from the doctor of philosophy Luis Villoro Toranzo had bought me time to try to arrange the pieces and understand what this was all about.

So, I hid myself behind some words in order to be able to think things through.

You can, Don Luis, but to be able to do so you have to change, as they say, your surroundings. To make yourself invisible is, then, to not call attention to yourself, to simply be one more among many. For example, you can hide someone who has lost their right eye and wears a patch, by having everyone wear a patch over their right eye, or by having someone who gets a lot of attention put a patch over their right eye. Everyone will look at the person who gets a lot of attention and the rest of the patches will just become secondary. In this way, the one who really only has one eye becomes invisible and can move around easily.”

“I doubt that you could get everyone in the academic and university world to wear a black beret, or get someone very much in the limelight to use one. For example, if you got Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to wear a black beret, well, then sure, but don’t be offended Don Luis because nobody will notice you.”

Anyway, the beret is more a referent for Ché Guevara than for the idealist philosophy of science. You already know, though it may be a jungle, the institute of philosophical research is not exactly a centre of subversion, as we say.

But,” he interrupted, absorbing the shock without much difficulty, “another way to not call attention to oneself, that is to say, to go unnoticed, is to not change the routine, to continue dressing as usual. Seeing me in a black beret won’t seem strange to anyone. But, if I put on a ski mask, well that would be a radical change. People would look at me. It would attract attention. They would say, ‘It is professor Luis Villoro with a ski mask, he’s gone crazy, poor guy, maybe it’s covering up some recent deformity, or the signs of old age, or illness, or an unspeakable crime.” And mutatis mutando, if one stops doing something routine or customary, it attracts attention. For example, Subcomandante, if you stopped smoking a pipe, it would attract attention. If you put a patch on your eye, as another example, they would notice and start to speculate whether you had lost it or had a black eye from a punch.

“Good point,”I said and discreetly took note. Don Luis continued: “If I wear the beret, anyone who looks at me won’t say a thing, they will think that I continue being the same.”

And so, he brought his argument to its logical conclusion: “And my nom de guerre will be ‘Luis Villoro Toranzo.’”

But Don Luis,”I reproached him, “that is actually your name.

Correct,”he said, raising his right index finger. “If I take this nom de guerre, no one will know that I am a Zapatista. They will all think that I am the philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo.

Didn’t you say that the Zapatistas cover their faces in order to be seen?

I sat down, now seeing where this was going.

There you have it, with the beret and the name I show myself, that is to say, I hide myself. 

Is this not the paradox?

I would have said “Touché,” but I was so disconcerted that my French got stuck in the trunk of forgetfulness.

I spent the rest of the night and early morning hours arguing against the idea while he argued in favour of it.

Let me say that, I had to admit that his logical reasoning was impeccable, and with grace and good humour he dodged one false trap after another of the kind with which I can usually trip up the most renowned intellectuals.

And yes, I am being sarcastic, just so nobody takes offence.

The case, or the thing was that Don Luis Villoro Toranzo, aspiring Zapatista whose nom de guerrewould be “Luis Villoro Toranzo” and who better hid himself with a black beret than with a ski mask, was dismantling one after another of the obstacles and objections that, out of a certain necessity, I was putting up.

Your age,” I lobbed at him the last argument that I had, nearly at the point of collapsing.

He knocked that one down with, “If I remember correctly, you, Subcomandante, once said that the last possible moment was one second before one takes their final breath.

The light of dawn was already beginning to outline the edges of the horizon when I decided to assume the best position in cases like these: I pled insanity.

Look Don Luis, if it were up to me, of course, it would be an honour, but it isn’t my decision, of course, to accept or reject a request to join the EZLN, of course. I am, of course, let’s say, the Synod, sure, but someone else has to approve the decision. After that, there is the local authority, and of course the regional one and of course the comité,[iii] and the general command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, of course. Why don’t you go home and I’ll just let you know as soon as I know something? 

But… just as I was saying this, the other indigenous person who completes the trio of me and Moy came into the general command.

Ah,” he said, “I see you already spoke to him.

“Yes,”I said, “but this stubborn man over here wants to be a Zapatista.”

Well,” he said, “I was actually talking to Luis Villoro Toranzo, not to you.

He had already talked to me, and I told him that in any case he should go and talk to you to check out your arguments.

But the deed is done: I have already registered him in the special unit. Now for us he is our colleague Luis Villoro Toranzo. 

I already told him that, as is our manner, we will call him only ‘Don Luis,’ so I think that all that is left to do is welcome him and assign him his work.

And the already Zapatista compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo stood up and, with admirable poise, stood at attention and greeted the officer.

And what work will we assign him?” I managed to ask in the midst of my confusion.

Well, the one that he’s always had: the watchman,”said the other and left.

You could probably venture a guess that Juan, Fernanda, and those others who are listening to me now and who will read this later, have heard these words as just one more of the fantastic stories that populate the mountains of southeast Mexico, told over and over by beetles, irreverent little boys and girls, ghosts, cat-dogs, twinkling lights, and other absurdities.

But no. It is time that you knew that Don Luis Villoro Toranzo became part of the EZLN one early morning in May, many moons ago.

His nom de guerre was “Luis Villoro Toranzo” and in the general command of the EZLN we referred to him as “Don Luis” for brevity and efficiency.

It happened in the general headquarters “Bed of Clouds,” where he left his brown shirt for the many return visits that he made there before he died.

What more can I say?

He fully carried out his mission. As a sentinel in one of the guard posts on the Zapatista periphery, he was attentive to what happened; out of the corner of the eye of critical thought he was attentive to the changes and movements that, for the vast majority of the self-proclaimed progressive intellectuals, go unnoticed.

As a result of his responsibility for sounding the caracol, in the coming days you will hear, and a few more of you will read, the reflections we have made on these changes and movements.

A GIFT, ZAPATISTA STYLE

It was another morning. Don Luis, then-Lieutenant Colonel Moisés (now-Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés), and I had started talking around 1700 hours on the southeast battlefront. Around 2100 hours, SupMoy, as he is called now, excused himself to go check on the surrounding positions.

Don Luis had a particular way of debating: where others gesticulate and raise their voice, he would smile with a wandering absence. Where others argued with slogans, he would say something absurd “Just to give himself time,” I thought to myself.

These talks regularly resembled sword fighting encounters. It need not be mentioned that many of these times I was soundly defeated. And this is how it went down this time. Don Luis then laughed and belted: “Struck down but not destroyed!” I recuperated through words, telling him that it would look bad for a neopositivist philosopher to quote, whether intentionally or not, the second letter from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. And he responded, with a sly smile “And it would look even worse that a chief Zapatista could identify the quote.” Then he got to his feet and dramatically recited: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; defeated, but not destroyed” and then he pointed at me:“And I find it strange that you haven’t pointed out that this is from Chapter 4, verses 8 and 9.”

Still sore from the argumentative beating, I responded: “I always thought that text seemed more like a Zapatista communique describing the resistance, than part of the New Testament.”

Ah! Zapatista resistance!” he exclaimed with enthusiasm.

And later: “You know what Subcomandante? You all should open a school.”

Not one, many,” I told him.

It must have been around 2005-2006. Years earlier Don Luis had joined our ranks, and the Good Government Councils were immersed in the health and educational needs of the zones, regions, and communities.

Don Luis then said: “No, I’m not referring to those schools. Of course there must be many of them, without a doubt. I’m talking about a Zapatista school. Not one where Zapatismo is taught but rather one where Zapatismo is shown. Not one where dogmas are imposed, but one where one questions, asks, where one is obligated to think. One whose slogan would be ‘And what about you?’

Really, Don Luis’ idea was not original. Prior to this both Pablo González Casanova and Adolfo Gilly had sketched this out in different words.

But our idea is neither to teach nor to “show.” But rather to provoke. The “And what about you?” did not seek an answer, but rather sought to incite reflection.

Anyway, allow me to continue:

The discussion turned into a conversation in the same way that a flood reaches a flat plane in its meandering, and becomes a calm flow. Calm but unstoppable.

It was already early morning. The night guard informed us that Moy was still busy and he offered us coffee. When I looked to him, Don Luis responded with an affirmative gesture. I don’t really know if Don Luis even drank coffee, as his cup was always left untouched. I chalked it up to the heat of the conversation. Now I realize that I never once asked him if he even drank coffee. One could assume, of course, well, he’s a philosopher, of course, and “coffee” is to a philosopher like an undesirable surname. Or maybe he did drink it. Well, we are in Chiapas. Coming to Chiapas and not drinking the coffee is…. like going to Sinaloa and not eating the chilorio,[iv] like going to Hamburg and not trying a hamburger, like going to La Realidad and not coming across reality.

The point is that without even noticing, we started talking about gifts.

Imagine what would be the perfect gift,” he said.

The most surprising,” I responded without thinking.

No, the one that you couldn’t thank someone for,” he responded.

Or the one that is not a gift,” I counter attacked.

How?” He asked intrigued.

Like for example an enigma or a piece of a puzzle. That is, a gift that has no reason to be so. If there is no reason, the surprise grows,” I said.

True, but for the giver of the gift, it could be a gift to not be able to be thanked for the gift,” he said to himself.

The more turns the logic of this argument took, the more I thought that Don Luis was getting tired. But no, he was animated and his face was bright, as if…

I got up and touched his forehead. I didn’t say anything, I just turned toward the door and instructed the guard: “Get the compa in charge of health.”

Don Luis had a fever. The insurgenta responsible for health matters recommended a fever-reducing medicine, a cold bath, and lots of liquids. Don Luis didn’t argue with any of this. But when the compañera left he said “All I need is a little bit of rest” and he fell asleep. He was like this for two days, only waking up to eat and to go to the bathroom. Once rested, he told me that he should get going and he recommended that I re-read his vigilance reports and he said goodbye.

Before crossing the threshold at the door, and without turning around to look at me, and more to himself, he murmured: “Yes, a gift you can’t be thanked for. This would be very Zapatista.” He put on his beret, said one more thing to me, and left.

Today, after more than 12 moons of his absence now, I can talk about what he said as he was leaving that morning, as the sun was raising light and shadow.

Compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos,” he said squaring himself toward me, with a notable vitality.

Compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo,” I said following my habit of indicating that I was ready to listen.

I want to ask you something.

I noticed that he abandoned his usual informality, but I chalked this up to his new profession.

Don’t go telling anyone about any of this, for the moment,” he demanded.

Of course,” I said. “I understand. The secret; the clandestinity; the family shouldn’t know.”

That’s not it,” he said.

I want you to tell them, but later.

When?” I asked him.

You’ll know when the time comes. To use our manner of talking: the calendar and the geography will come.”

And why?” I asked him curiously

It is a gift that I want to give my children and my compañera.”

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Don Luis, man, don’t mess around, better to give a new green tie with red polka dots to Juan, one red with green polka dots to Miguel, or vice-versa; give your daughter Renata a vase, and Carmen, an ashtray, or vice-versa. Either way, like in all good families, they’ll fight it out amongst themselves. To Fernanda, a notebook, one of those with lines. All of these gifts are useless and horrible, but it’s the thought that counts.

Don Luis laughed readily. Growing serious again, he went on:

Tell them my story. I mean, this part of my story. That way, they will understand that I didn’t hide from them. I just saved it as a gift. Because the reason we like gifts is because they are a surprise… Don’t you think?

Tell them that I am giving them this piece of my life. Tell them that I kept it from them, not as one hides a crime, but as one hides a gift.

Look Sup, many things will be said about my life, some good, some bad. This part I think will change everything, not with sorrow and pain, but with that happy mischief of a fresh wind that we need so desperately when the sorrow of absence and the greys of seriousness, formality and namings turn into rock and epitaph.”

Okay, Don Luis,” I told him, “But don’t give up on the ties, the vase, the ashtray, and the notebook.”

He walked away smiling.

So, Juan, Fernanda and other members of Don Luis Villoro Toranzo’s family, for years I have kept this piece of the extended puzzle that was the life of Don Luis.

Not then, but only later, after the rage and pain arose from the massacred body of the compa and Zapatista teacher Galeano, did I understand why he held back this piece of his life.

It is not that he hid it because he was embarrassed, or because he was scared of being denounced to the enemy of a thousand heads, or in order to avoid having others try to dissuade him.

It was because he wanted to give you this gift.

A piece that provokes, that nourishes, that agitates, like his thought turned into a mischievous wind within us.

One more piece of Don Luis’ life.

The piece that was named Luis Villoro Toranzo, a Zapatista in the EZLN.

He fell, and fell silent, in the line of duty, carrying out his task of sentinel in this absurd, terrible, and marvellous world that we endeavour to create.

I know that he left a legacy of books and a brilliant intellectual trajectory.

But he also left me with these words so that today, I could say them:

Because there are secrets that don’t embarrass, but rather fill us with pride. Because there are secrets that are gifts and not insults.”

Now and only now, as I give you these pages, can you read the title of this text in which my clumsy words wrap around the piece of the puzzle named:

Luis Villoro Toranzo, Zapatista”.

Vale. Cheers and accept this embrace from all of us that compa Zapatista Don Luis left saved with us.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, and now from underground.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, May 2, 2014.

Made public May 2, 2015.

[i] Villena’s work “Los Doze Trabajos de Hércules” was written in Medieval Spanish, thus the “Doze” and not the contemporary Spanish form of “Doce.”

[ii] Both the “The Baker Street Irregulars” and the “Speckled Blonde” are fictional characters that appear in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. “Albion” was frequently use by Doyle as the location of these stories and it is also the oldest known name for England.

[iii] The Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee.

[iv] Slow-cooked carnitas made with ancho chile sauce.

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EZLN: The Crack In The Wall; First Note On Zapatista Method

May 3, 2015.

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Good afternoon, good day, good night to all listening and reading, no matter your calendars and geographies.

My name is Galeano, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. I was born in the small hours of the morning on May 25, 2014, collectively and quite in spite of myself, and well, in spite of others also.[i]Like the rest of my Zapatistacompañeras andcompañeros, I cover my face whenever it is necessary that I show myself, and I take the cover off whenever I need to hide. Although I am not yet one year old, the authorities have assigned me the task of posta, of watchman or sentinel, at one of the observation posts in this rebel territory.

Since I am not used to speaking in public, much less in front of so many fine – (ha—excuse me, it must be hiccups from stage fright), I say, fine people, I thank you for your patience with my babble and repeated stumblings in the difficult and complicated art of the word, of expression.

I took the name Galeano from a Zapatista compañero, an indigenous teacher and organizer who was attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by paramilitaries protected by a supposedly social organization: the CIOAC-Histórica. The nightmare that ended the life of the compañero teacher Galeano began before dawn on May 2, 2014. From that moment on, we Zapatistas began the reconstruction of his life.

During those days, the collective direction of the EZLN decided to put to death the person who called himself SupMarcos, who was at the time the spokesperson for the Zapatista men, women, children, and elderly. Since then, the cargo [assigned duty or responsibility]of Zapatista Army for National Liberation spokesperson corresponds to Subcomandate Insurgente Moises. Through his voice we speak; through his eyes we see; in his steps we walk; we are him.

Months after that May 2, the long night of Mexico “below” became longer and added a new name to its already long experience of terror: “Ayotzinapa.” As has happened time and again in the world, the geography from below was marked and named by a tragedy that had been planned and executed—that is, by a crime.

We have already said, through the voice of Subcomandante Insurgente Moises, what Ayotzinapa means to us Zapatistas. With his permission, and with the permission of the Zapatista compañeros and compañeras who are my bosses, I pick up where he left off.

Ayotzinapa is pain and rage, yes, but it is more than that. It is also, and above all, the stubborn determination of the families and compañeros of the missing.

Some of these family members who have kept memory alive gave us the honor of sharing their time with us, and they are here with us in Zapatista territory.

We heard the words of Doña Hilda and Don Mario, mother and father of César Manuel González Hernández, and we heard from and have here with us Doña Bertha and Don Tomás, mother and father of Julio César Ramírez Nava. With them we make the demand for [the return of] the 46 missing.

We asked Doña Bertha and Don Tomás to make sure these words reach the other family members of the missing of Ayotzinapa. Because it is their struggle that we have kept present in order to launch this semillero [seminar or seedbed].

I think that more than one[ii] person from the Sixth and the EZLN will agree with me that we would have preferred it if they hadn’t had to come here in this way. That is, that they had come here but not as pain and rage, and rather as acompañero embrace. That nothing had happened that September 26; that the calendar, in a friendly gesture, would have skipped that day and that the geography would have taken a wrong turn and not landed on Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

But no, after that night of terror, the geography extended and deepened itself, reaching the most isolated corners of the planet. And if the calendar continues to surrender to that date, it is because of your [the families] determination, the greatness of your simplicity, the unconditionality of your dedication.

We don’t know your children. But we know you. And we have no other intention but to make sure you are certain how much we admire and respect you, even during the loneliest and most painful moments you encounter.

It’s true, we cannot fill the streets and plazas of big cities. Any mobilization, small as it may be, represents for our communities a significant economic loss. And this is an economy already in difficult conditions, as it is for millions of others, and barely sustained by over two decades of rebellion and resistance. I say our communities, because the support we offer is not the sum of the work of individuals, but of collective, reflective, and organized action. It is part of our struggle.

We can’t shine in the social networks, or make your words reach farther than into our own hearts. We also can’t support you economically, although we well know that these months of struggle have taken a toll on your health and living conditions.

It is also the case that we, in rebellion and resistance, are more often than not seen with resentment and suspicion. Movements and mobilizations that rise up in different corners prefer that we not state our sympathy explicitly. Sensitive to what “they might say” in the media, they don’t want their cause associated in any way with “the masked ones in Chiapas.” We understand; we don’t challenge this. Our respect for the rebellions swarming the world over includes respect for their assessments, their steps, their decisions. We respect them, yes, but we don’t ignore them. We have our eye on each and every one of the mobilizations that confront the System. We try to understand them, that is, to get to know them. We know very well that respect grows from knowledge, and that fear and hate, those two faces of contempt, are often born out of ignorance.

Although our struggle is small, we have learned something over the years, decades, centuries. And this is what we want to tell you:

Don’t believe those who say that sensitivity, sympathy, and support are measured by crowded streets, overflowing plazas, big stages, or in the number of cameras, microphones, leading journalists, and social media trends you attract.

The great majority of the world, not just in our country, is like you, brothers and sisters, family members of the Ayotzinapa missing. People who have to fight day and night for a little piece of life. People who have to struggle in order to wrench from reality something with which to sustain themselves.

Anyone from below, man, woman, otroa, who lives this painful history sympathizes with your struggle for truth and justice. They share your demand because in your words they see their own history, because they recognize themselves in your pain, because they identify with your rage.

The majority of them have not marched in the streets, they have not gone out to protest, they have not posted on social networks, they have not broken windows, they have not set cars on fire, they have not chanted slogans, they haven’t appeared on stage, they haven’t told you that you are not alone.

They haven’t done it simply because they haven’t been able to do it.

But they have listened to and respected your movement. Do not be discouraged.

Do not think that because those who were once by your side and have now gone, after getting paid whatever they could get for it or because they discovered they wouldn’t get paid at all, your cause is any less painful, any less noble, any less just.

The path you have taken up to now has been intense, to be sure. But you know that there still remains much more to walk.

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You know something? One of the deceptions from above is how they convince those from below that if you can’t get something quickly and easily, then you can never get it. They convince us that long and difficult struggles do nothing but wear you out and in the end you achieve nothing. They trick the calendar from below by superimposing over it the calendar from above: elections, appearances, meetings, dates with history, commemorations that only hide pain and rage.

The System does not fear social explosions, as massive and illuminating as they may be. If a government were to fall, there’s always another one waiting in the cupboard as a replacement and another imposition. What terrifies the system is the perseverance of rebellion and resistance from below.

Because below, the calendar is different. It has another way of doing things. It has another story. It has another pain and another rage.

And now, as the days pass, the below that we are, so dispersed and multiple, is no longer simply attuned to your pain and rage. We are also paying attention to your persistence, how you continue on, how you don’t give up.

Believe us. Your struggle does not depend on the number of protestors, the number of news articles, the number of posts about you on social media, the number of speaking tours you are invited to make.

Your struggle, our struggle, the struggle of those below in general, depends on resistance; on not giving up, not selling out, not giving in.

Well, of course, that’s according to us Zapatistas. There will be people who will tell you differently. They’ll tell you that the most important thing is to be with them. For example, that it’s more important to vote for such-and-such political party because that’s how you’ll find the missing. That if you don’t vote for such-and-such party you will not only lose out on THE opportunity to recover the missing, but you will also be accomplices to the continuation of terror in our country.

You know how there are political parties that take advantage of the people? You know how they offer handouts, school supplies, phone cards, movie passes, buckets, hats, sandwiches, and Tetra Pak bottled water? Well, there are also those who take advantage of the people’s emotional needs. Hope, friends and enemies, is the necessity most successfully commercialized there above. Hope that everything will change, that finally there will be well-being, democracy, justice, freedom. Hope is what the enlightened from above snatch from the down-and-out below and then sell back to them. Hope that a resolution to their demands comes in one of the colors found in one of the products in the system’s cupboards.

Maybe these people know something that we Zapatistas don’t. They’re wise, and after all, they charge for their expertise. Knowledge is their profession, it’s how they make their living… or how they cheat everyone. You see that they know more and, referring to us, they say that we are “lost out there, in the mountains, who knows where,” and they say that we call for abstention and that we are sectarian (maybe because, unlike them, we do respect our dead).

Ah! It’s so easy to say and repeat sound bites and lies! It’s so inexpensive to defame and slander, and then later preach unity and give lessons on the real enemy, the infallibility of the shepherd, the incapacity of the herd.

Many years ago, we Zapatistas did not march, or chant slogans, or raise banners or even our fists. Until one day, we did march. The date: October 12, 1992, when those above celebrated 500 years of “the meeting of the two worlds.” The place: San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Instead of banners we carried bows and arrows, and a deafening silence was our slogan.

Without a lot of noise, the statue of the conquistador fell. If they put it up again it didn’t matter. Because they will never again be able to put back up the fear of what it represented.

Some months later, we returned to the cities. We again didn’t use slogans or banners, and we didn’t take bows and arrows. That dawn smelled like fire and gunpowder. And that time, it was our heads that were raised.

Months later, some people came from the city. They told us about the great marches, the slogans, the banners, the raised fists. Of course, they always added that if we Indian men and women (they’re always so careful to preserve gender equity) had survived, it was thanks to them, those from the city who had prevented a genocide those first days of 1994. We Zapatistas didn’t ask them if there hadn’t been genocide before 1994, or if it hadn’t already been prevented, or if these folks from the city were there to discuss something that actually took place or to read us their invoice. We Zapatistas understood that there were other ways of struggling.

After that we had our marches, our slogans, our banners, and we raised our fists. From then on our marches have been only a pale reflection of that march that lit the dawn of the year 1994. Our slogans have the disorganized rhyme of songs from guerilla encampments in the mountains. Our banners are tirelessly elaborate, trying to find equivalents to what we in our languages describe in just one word, and what in other languages requires three volumes of Capital. Our raised fists signal less of a challenge than a greeting. As if they were oriented more for the future than for the present.

But something hasn’t changed: our heads are still raised.

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Years later, our self-proclaimed creditors from the city demanded that we participate in the elections. We didn’t understand because we never demanded that they rise up in arms, or that they resist, not even that they rebel against the bad government, or that they honor their dead in struggle. We didn’t demand that they cover their faces, that they deny their names, that they abandon their families, profession, friendships, nothing. But these modern conquistadors, dressed up in progressive leftist garb, threatened us: If we did not follow them, they would abandon us and we would be to blame if the reactionary right were to take over the government. We owed them, they said, and they were leaving us the bill, printed on an election ballot.

We Zapatistas did not understand. We rose up in order to govern ourselves, not so that they could govern us. They became angry.

Sometime afterward, those from the city continue marching, chanting slogans, raising their fists and banners, and now they also have tweets, hashtags, likes, trending topics, followers. Their political parties are made up of the same people who only yesterday were part of that reactionary right. They sit at the same table and converse with the murderers, and the families of the murdered. They laugh and toast together when they get paid, and they grieve and cry together when they lose an election.

Meanwhile, we Zapatistas also march sometimes, we chant impossible slogans, or we remain quiet, raising banners and fists instead, but always raising our gaze. We say that we don’t protest in order to defy the tyrant but to salute those who confront him in other geographies and calendars. To defy him, we construct. To defy him, we create. To defy him, we imagine. To defy him, we grow and multiply. To defy him, we live. To defy him, we die. Instead of tweets, we make schools and clinics; instead of trending topics, we have fiestas to celebrate the life that defeats death.

In the land of the creditors from the city, the master continues to rule with another face, another name, another color.

In the land of the Zapatistas, the people rule and the government obeys.

Maybe that is why we Zapatistas didn’t understand that we had to be the followers, and the leaders from the city had to be the ones to be followed.

And we still don’t understand.

But it could be true, that the truth and justice that you and we and everyone are seeking can be found thanks to the generosity of a leader surrounded by people as intelligent as he is, a savior, a master, a chief, a boss, a shepherd, a governor, and all this with the minimal effort of a ballot and a ballot box, with a tweet, by attending a march, a rally, signing a petition… or by remaining silent in the face of the farce that feigns patriotic interest while what it really longs for is Power.

Yes or No? Maybe that’s what other thoughts will answer for us in this seminar/seedbed.

What we Zapatistas have learned is that the answer is No. That the only thing offered from above is exploitation, theft, repression, disdain. That is to say, all we can expect from above is pain.

And from above, they are demanding, calling on you to follow them. That say that you owe it to them that your pain is now known all over the world. That you owe them for all the occupied plazas, the streets filled with colorful protest and creativity. That you owe them for the hard work of the civilian police that pointed out, followed, and demonized all those “smelly-nasty-anarchist-infiltrators.” That you owe them for all the well-behaved protests, the colorful photographs, the favorable reporting, and the interviews.

We Zapatistas have only this to say:

Don’t be afraid to be abandoned by those who have never really been by your side. They are the ones who do not deserve you. They are the ones who are attracted to your pain as they would be to a spectacle, either because it pleases them or disgusts them, but which they will never be a real part of.

Don’t be afraid of being abandoned by those who don’t want to accompany and support you, but instead to administrate you, tame you, subordinate you, use you, and finally, discard you.

Be afraid yes, but only of forgetting your cause, of allowing your struggle to fall by the wayside.

But while you keep with it, while you resist, you will have the respect and admiration of many people in Mexico and the world.

People like those who are here with us today.

Like Adolfo Gilly.

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What I am about to say wasn’t going to be said. The reason? Because initially, Adolfo Gilly, like Pablo González Casanova, had said that maybe he also wouldn’t be able to attend, both of them because of health problems. But Adolfo is here, and we ask of him to let Don Pablo know about this next part.

The late SubMarcos used to tell the story that somebody once asked him why the EZLN paid so much attention to Don Luis Villoro, Don Pablo González Casanova, and Don Adolfo Gilly. The challenger based his argument on the differences that these three persons had with Zapatismo, and said that intellectuals who were 100% Zapatistas weren’t treated with the same deference. I imagine that the Sup lit his pipe and then explained. “First,” he said, “their differences are not with Zapatismo but with the assessments, analyses, or positions that Zapatismo assumes on various issues. Second,” he continued, “I have personally seen these three persons face to face with thecompañeras and compañeros who are my bosses. Quite prestigious intellectuals have come here as have some not so prestigious ones. They have come to speak their word. Few, very few, have spoken with thecomandantas andcomandantes. And only with these three persons have I seen my bosses, the comandantes and comandantas,speak and listen as equals, with trust and mutual camaraderie. How did they do it? Well, you’d have to ask them. What I do know is that it’s difficult to gain the ear and the word of these compañeras andcompañeros, my bosses,with respect and love—very difficult. And the third thing,” the Sup added, “is that you are mistaken to think that we Zapatistas are looking for mirrors, praise, and applause. We appreciate and value differences in thought, sure, if they are critical and articulate thoughts and not that sloppy nonsense that abounds in today’s enlightened progressivism. We Zapatistas do not value thinking on the basis of how much it coincides with ours or not, but upon whether it makes us think or not, on whether it provokes our thought or not, and above all, whether it provides a true account of reality. These three persons have held, it is true, different positions and even contrary ones to ours across diverse situations.

Never, ever have they been against us. And in spite the moving trends, they have been by our side.

When their arguments have not coincided with ours, and not just a few times, directly contradicted ours, they haven’t convinced us, it’s true. But they have helped us understand that there are various positions and different thoughts, and that it is reality that gets to judge, not any self-established court within academia or from within militant struggle. Provoking thought, discussion, debate is something that we Zapatistas value very much.

That’s why we admire anarchist thought. It’s clear that we are not anarchists, but their approaches are the kind that provoke and nourish; the kind that make you think. And believe me that orthodox critical thought, for lack of a better phrase, has a lot to learn in this respect from anarchist thought, and not only in that regard. To give you an example, the current critique of the State is something that anarchist thought has been developing for some time.”

“But returning to the three accursed, when anyone of you,” the Sup replied to the one demanding a Zapatista rectification, “can sit in front of any of my compañerasand compañeros without them fearing your mockery, your judgment, your condemnation; when you succeed in having them speak to you as equals and with respect; that they see you as a compañero and compañera and not as an unfamiliar judge; when they develop affection for you, as we say around here; or when your thought, whether it agrees with ours or not, helps us discover how the Hydra operates, helps us ask new questions, invites us on new paths, makes us think; or when it can help explain or provoke an analysis of a concrete aspect of reality, then and only then you will see that we hold the same bit of deference for you that we hold for them. In the meantime,” Supmarcos added with that acidic humor that so characterized him, “abandon that hetero-patriarchal, worldly, reptilian, illuminati envy of yours.”

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I’m recounting this anecdote that SupMarcos once said to me because a few months ago, when a delegation from the families fighting for truth and justice for Ayotzinapa came to visit us, one of the fathers told us about a meeting they had with the bad government. I can’t remember now if it was the first one. Don Mario told us that the officials arrived with their paperwork and bureaucracy, as if they thought they’d be tending to a change in license plates and not a case of forced disappearance. The family members were afraid and enraged, and they wanted to speak, but the head bureaucrat claimed that only those already on the list could speak, and he intimated them. Don Mario said that they had been accompanied by a man already of age—“a wise one,” as the Zapatistas might say. That man, to everyone’s surprise, slammed his hand down on the table and raised his voice, demanding that family members who wanted to speak be given the floor. The way Don Mario put it, give or take a word or two, was: “That man had no fear, and this took our fear away too, and we spoke. And ever since then, we haven’t stopped.” That man who, fired up by rage, planted himself in front of that government official could have been a woman or a man or otroa. And I’m sure that anyone one of you would have done the same thing or something similar in those circumstances. But it happened that the one who did it was named Adolfo Gilly.

Family member compas:

That’s what we mean when we tell you that there are people who are with you, who don’t see you as a commodity to buy, sell, exchange, or steal.

And like him, there are others who do not bang on the table because they don’t have it in front of them. If that wasn’t the case, you’d see what would happen.

As Zapatistas, we have also learned that nothing that we deserve and need is achieved easily or quickly.

Because up above, hope is a commodity, yes. But below, it is a struggle for a certain truth: We will get what we need and deserve because we are organizing and we are struggling for it.

Happiness is not our destiny. Our destiny is to struggle, always struggle, at all hours, at every moment, in every place. It doesn’t matter if the winds are not favorable. It doesn’t matter if the wind and everything else is against us. It doesn’t matter if a storm comes.

Because, believe it or not, the originary peoples are specialists in storms. And they’re still there and we’re still here. We call ourselves Zapatistas. And for over 30 years we have paid the price of that name, in life and in death.

All that we have, that is to say, our survival in spite of everything and in spite of everyone above who has come and gone in the calendars and geographies, we do not owe to individuals. We owe it to our collective and organized struggle.

If somebody asks to whom the Zapatistas owe their existence, their resistance, their rebellion, their freedom, whoever responds “TO NOBODY” will be speaking the truth.

Because this is how the collective cancels out that individuality that supplants and imposes, pretending to represent and lead.

This is why we have said to you, families in search for truth and justice, that when everyone leaves your side, we who are NOBODY will remain.

One part of that NOBODY, in fact the smallest of them all, are we Zapatistas. But there are more, many more.

NOBODY is who makes the wheels of history turn. It is NOBODY who works the land, who operates the machinery, who constructs, who works, who struggles.

NOBODY is who survives catastrophe.

But maybe we’re mistaken, and the path that has been offered to you is the one that really matters. If that’s what you believe and if that’s what you decide, don’t expect any judgment from here condemning you, rejecting you, or belittling you. You will continue to have our affection, our respect, our admiration.

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Families of the Absent from Ayotzinapa:

There is so much that we cannot do, that we cannot give you.

Instead, what we have is a memory forged in centuries of silence and abandonment, in solitude, in a place assaulted by distinct colors, different flags, various languages. Always by the system, the fucking system that is above us. The system that exists at our cost.

And maybe stubborn memories don’t fill plazas, or win or buy government posts, or take palaces, or burn vehicles, or break windows, or raise monuments in social media’s ephemeral museums.

All stubborn memories do is not forget, and that is how they struggle.

The plazas and streets empty out, government posts and administrations end, palaces are demolished, cars and windows are replaced, museums get moldy, and social media runs from one place to the other, demonstrating that frivolity, like capitalism, can be massive and simultaneous.

But moments arrive, compas family members of the absent, when memory is the only thing left.

In those moments, know that you all also have us, Zapatistas of the EZLN.

Because we should tell you that the persistent memory of the Zapatistas is quite other. It carries with it a record of pain and rage of days past, sketching in its notebook maps of the calendars and geographies that have been forgotten above, but not only this.

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THE WALL AND THE CRACK.

As Zapatistas, our memory also looks for what is to come. It signals times and places.

If there exists no geographic location for that tomorrow, we start gathering twigs, stones, strips of clothing and meat, bones and clay, and we begin constructing and islet, or better yet, a rowboat planted in the middle of tomorrow, the place where one can still just barely see the storm looming ahead.

And if there is no hour, day, week, month, or year on the calendar that we recognize, well we begin to gather the fractions of seconds, barely minutes, and filter them through the cracks that we open in the wall of history.

And if there’s no crack, well, we’ll make it by scratching, biting, kicking, hitting with our hands and head, with our entire body until we manage to create in history the wound that we are.

And then it turns out that someone walks by and sees us, sees the Zapatistas, hitting ourselves hard against that wall.

Sometimes that passerby is someone who thinks that they know everything. They pause and shake their head in disapproval, judging and declaring that, “You will never bring down the wall that way.” But sometimes, every so often, someone else will walk by, an other.[iii] They pause, look, understand, stare down at their feet, at their hands, their fists, their shoulders, their body. And they decide. “This is a good place right here.” We’d be able to hear if their silence were audible, as they make a mark on the immobile wall. And then they hit it.

That someone, who thinks that they know everything, comes back, since their journey is one of always coming and going, as if checking in on their subjects. They now see that another one has joined in the same stubborn task. They’re happy to see that there are now enough to constitute an audience, to listen, applaud, cheer, vote, to serve as followers. They speak a lot and say very little: “You will never bring down the wall that way. It is indestructible, eternal, endless.” When they decide to finally conclude they say, “What you should do is see how you can administer the wall, change the guard, try to make it more just, friendlier. I promise you that I can soften it up. In any case, we will always be on this side of it. If you continue this way, you’ll only be playing into the hands of the current administration, the government, the State, the whatever-you-wanna-call-it. The difference doesn’t matter because the wall will always be the wall. You hear? It will always be there.”

Perhaps someone else walks by. They observe in silence and conclude, “Instead of confronting the wall, you should understand that change comes from within. All you need to do is think positively. Look, what a coincidence, I happen to have on me this religion, trend, philosophy, alibi that can help you. It doesn’t matter if it’s old or new. Come, follow me.”

For cases like this, those who are out there giving that wall hell are already better organized—they become collectives, teams, they hand off the baton, take shifts. There are fat teams, skinny teams, tall and short teams; there you’ll find dirty ones, ugly ones, mean and ill-mannered ones; some who are stubborn and clumsy footed; some with hands calloused from work. You will find there the ones—women, men, or others—who hit with their shoulders, their bodies, their lives.

Giving ‘em hell however they can.

There are ones with a book, a paintbrush, a guitar, a turntable, a verse, a hoe, a hammer, a magic wand, a pen. Man, there are even ones who can hit that wall with a pas de chat [a ballet step]. And well, things might start to happen then because it turns out that dancing is contagious. And someone has a marimba, a keyboard and a ball, and then the shifts… well, you can imagine.

Naturally, the wall doesn’t even notice. It continues undaunted, powerful, unchanging, deaf, blind.

And the paid media begins to appear: they take pictures, videos, they interview each other, consult specialists. The such-and-such specialist, whose virtue is that they’re from another country, declares with a transcendent gaze that the wall’s molecular composition is such that not even with an atomic bomb… and therefore, what Zapatismo is doing is totally unproductive and only ends up only serving as an accomplice of the wall itself (once the microphone is off, the specialist asks the interviewer to give a mention to their only book, maybe that will finally make it sell).

The parade of specialists goes on. The conclusion is unanimous: it’s a useless effort; they will never take the wall down that way. Suddenly, the media run over to interview the one who promises to “more humanely” administer the wall. The tumult of cameras and microphones produce a curious effect: the one without arguments or followers will appear to have many of each. A great and moving speech. They will run an article about it. The paid media leave because nobody was paying attention to what was being said by the candidate, or the leader, or the wise one because they were paying attention to their phones which are, obviously, smarter at least than the interviewee, and there was just an earthquake near here, and some official was just found to be corrupt, and James Bond has arrived at the Zocalo, and the fight of the century has attracted millions, maybe it’s because they thought it was supposed to be between the exploited and the exploiters.

No one asks the Zapatistas anything. If they did, perhaps they wouldn’t respond. Or maybe they’d say about their absurd effort: “You think we’re trying to take down the whole wall? It’s enough to make a crack.”

It doesn’t appear in any written books, but rather in the ones that haven’t yet been written and yet have been read for generations, that the Zapatistas have learned that if you stop scratching at the crack it closes. The wall heals itself. That’s why you have to keep at it without rest. Not only to expand the gap, but above all, so that it doesn’t close.

The Zapatista also knows that the wall’s appearance can be deceiving. Sometimes it’s like a great mirror that reproduces the image of destruction and death, as if no other way were possible. Sometimes the wall dresses itself up nicely, and on its surface a pleasant landscape appears. Other times it is hard and grey, as if trying to convince everyone of its solid impenetrability. Most of the time the wall is a big marquee where “P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S” repeats over and over.

But the Zapatista knows it’s a lie, that the wall was not always there. They know how it was erected, what its function is. They know its deception. And they also know how to destroy it.

They are not fazed by the wall’s supposed omnipotence and eternity. They know that both are false. But right now, the important thing is the crack, that it not close, that it expand.

Because the Zapatista also knows what exists on the other side of the wall.

If you were to ask them, they would respond, “nothing,” but smiling as if to say, “everything.”

During one of the handoffs, the Tercios Compas, who are neither media nor free nor autonomous nor alternative nor whatever-you-call-it, but who are compas, harshly interrogated those who were doing the hitting.

If you say that there’s nothing on the other side, then why do you want to make a crack on the wall?

To look,” the Zapatista responds without taking a break from scratching.

And why do you want to look?” insist the Tercios Compas who from then on are the only ones left, since all the other media have gone. And as a way to ratify this, they have the inscription on their jerseys, “When the media leave, the Terciosremain.” And sure, they’re a little bit uncomfortable because they’re the only ones who are asking instead of joining in and hitting the wall with their camera or recorder or with their I-finally-know-what-the-hell-this-is-good-for-fucking-tripod.

The Tercios repeat the question because, well, it couldn’t be otherwise. Even though it will have to be memorized because the recorder is done, the camera is better not described, and the tripod metamorphosed into a centipede right then and there. So, again, “And why do you want to look?

In order to imagine everything that could be done tomorrow,” the Zapatista responds.

And when the Zapatista said “tomorrow” they could have well been referring to a lost calendar or to a future that is to come. It could be millennia, centuries, decades, half a decade, years, months, weeks, days… or already tomorrow? Tomorrow? Tomorrow-tomorrow? Are you sure? Don’t fuck with me, I haven’t even combed my hair!

But not everyone walked past.

Not everyone walked by and judged, absolved, or condemned.

There were, there are a few, so few that they don’t even take up all the fingers on your hand.

They were there, silent, watching.

They’re still there.

Sometimes, once in a while, they utter an “hmm” that is very similar to the utterances made by the most elderly in our communities.

On the contrary to what is commonly understood, the “hmm” does not mean disinterest or detachment. It also does not mean disapproval or agreement. It’s better understood as an, “I’m here, I hear you, I see you, keep going.”

Those men and women are already of age, “de juicio” [wise]the compas say when referring to the elderly, signaling that the pageless calendars in the struggle provide reason, wisdom, and discretion.

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Among those few there was one, there is one. Sometimes that one joins the soccer league that the anti-wall commando organizes in order to continue hitting, even if sometimes what he hits is a soccer ball and later what he plays is the marimbakeyboard.

As is the custom in those leagues, nobody asks anybody’s name. Nobody is named Juan or Juana or Krishna, no. Your name is the position that you’re playing. “Hey listen, goalie! Pass it, midfielder! Hit ‘em, defense! Shoot it, striker! Over here, forward!” you hear in the ruckus on the pasture with the cows infuriated because the back and forth of all those teams destroys their dinner.

In a corner, a restless little girl starts to put on some rubber boots that, you can tell, are too big for her.

And you? What’s your name?” that one, a man, asks the little girl.

I’m Zapatista defense,” the little girl says and puts on her best “get out of my way if you don’t want to die” face.

The man smiles. He doesn’t laugh out loud. Just smiles.

The little girl, it is clear, is recruiting players to challenge the losing team.

Yes, because over here, the team that wins gets to go hit on the wall. And the team that loses keeps on playing, “until they finally learn,” they say.

The little girl already has a good part of her team, which she shows off to the man.

This is the forward,” she points to a little mutt whose color is uncertain for the crusty mud covering its coat. It wags its tail with enthusiasm. “It runs, barely even stops, and just keeps going and going all the way over there,” the little girl points to the horizon blocked by the wall. “All it needs to do is just remember the ball,” she says seemingly apologetic, “because it’s always taking off in one direction; but the ball’s over here and the puppy forward is over there.

This is the goalie, who they also call the concierge, I think,” she now says, introducing him to an old horse.

My job,” the little girl explains, “is to not allow him to pass the ball because, well look at him, he’s half blind, you see, he’s missing an eye, the right one, so he can only see below and to the left and if the ball comes from the right then forget about it.

And well, right now the entire team isn’t here. We’re missing the cat… well, he’s more like a dog. He’s very different, this whatever-you-call-it, like a dog but he meows, or like a cat that barks. I looked in the book on herbalism to find what a little animal like that is called. I didn’t find him. Pedrito told me that the Sup used to say that he was called a cat-dog.

But you can’t always believe Pedrito because…” the little girl, glancing over her shoulders to make sure nobody else is close enough to hear, reveals a secret to the man, “Pedrito’s team is America.” And then she whispers, “His dad roots for Chivas and so he gets pissed. If they fight, his mom knocks them both on the head and they calm down, but Pedrito argues a lot about freedom according to the zapatillas[house slippers] and who knows that else.

Don’t you mean, Zapatistas?” the man corrects her. The little girl doesn’t notice. Pedrito owes her and he has it coming.

Well, this whatever-you-call-it, this cat-dog—don’t you wonder if he knows how to play?

Oh, he knows,” she answers her own question.

It’s because the enemy can’t really tell if he’s a dog or a cat, so he can go from one side to the other real fast and then POW!—there’s the goal. The other day we almost won, but the ball went into the bushes and then it was time to drink ourpozol and the game was suspended. But anyway, I tell you, that cat-dog whatever-you-call-it, one of his eyes is yellow like this.

The man has been left stunned. The little girl has just described a color using her little hands. The man had seen many worlds and many hardships, but he had never met anyone who could describe a color with a mere gesture. But the little girl didn’t come to give lessons on the phenomenology of color, and so she continues.

But that cat-dog isn’t here right now,” she says with worry. “I think that he’s gone off to become a priest because they say that he went to a seminary against that stubborn-ass capitalism. You know how that stubborn-ass capitalism works? Well look, lemme give you a political lecture. It turns out that the fucking system doesn’t take a bite out of you from just one place, no. It messes with you all over the place. It bites everything, the fucking system. It scarfs everything down and if it sees that it has gotten all big and fat, then it vomits it up so it has room again to keep going some more. I mean, just so you understand me, that damned capitalism is never satisfied. That’s why I told that cat-dog why would he go become a priest over at that seminary. But he rarely follows orders. You think that a cat-dog is really going to become a priest? No, right? Not even with all the goals he’s made, not even for the yellow in his eye. You’d let a cat-dog with a yellow eye perform a wedding ceremony? You wouldn’t, right? That’s why for me, when I marry my husband, I don’t want no priest. Only the autonomous municipality. And then only if there’s dancing, if not, then not even that. Just with permission, so nobody can go around talking bad about us. Just me and my what-do-you-call-him, and if he turns out to be no good, well, let the buzzards take out his eyes. That’s what my grandma says, she’s already really old but she fought in combat on the first of January of 1994. What—you don’t know what happened on the first of January of 1994? Well, later I’ll sing a song for you that will explain everything. Not right now because we have to play in a bit and we have to be ready. But just so you’re not kept in suspense, I’ll tell you that what happened that day was that we told those damned bad governments that we’d had enough, that we’d had it up to here, that we weren’t going to take any more of their shit. And my grandma says that it was all thanks to the women because if it would have been left to their husbands, well, forget about it, we’d be here feeling sorry for ourselves, just like the political party followers. Well, I’m not really sure who I want to get married to just yet because husbands you know because men can be such knuckleheads you see. And right now I’m still a little girl. But I know that soon these damned guys are going to be checking me out but I’m not going to be all like “yes”, “no,” “I don’t know.” That is, I’m going to take my pick and if that damned husband tries to push me around well then, he’ll see why I’m a Zapatista defense when I kick him to the curb. He’s going to need to respect me for the Zapatista woman that I am. Of course, he won’t get it right away so it’s going to take a few smackdowns before he can understand the struggle we women have.

The man has listened to every word of the little girl’s long-winded speech. Not so much the little dog with the crusty mud, who knows where he ended up, or the one-eyed horse slowly chewing a piece of plastic left by the Little School student body. The man never laughed in any moment of it—he has barely managed to blink to the same rhythm of his surprise.

There’s going to be more of us soon,” the little girl says with encouragement. “It might take awhile, but there will be more of us.

It takes a while for the man to understand that the little girl is referring to her soccer team. Or not?

But now the little girl is studying the man with the eyes of a talent scout. After a few “hmms” she finally asks, “And you, what’s your name?

Me?” He answered knowing that the little girl wasn’t asking for his family tree or his family crest, but for a position.

After running the options through his head, he responds, “My name is ball boy.

The little girl keeps quiet while she assesses the usefulness of that position.

After thinking it through for a while, she tells the man, not seeking to console him, but to have him know how important he will be:

Hey, not just anybody could be a ball boy. The way it goes is, if the ball goes even just over there, over to the tall grass, well forget it, nobody will want to go because it’s too wild out there. Lots of thorns, vines, spiders, and even snakes. Or maybe the ball goes over to the stream and it’s not easy to grab it because the water carries it away, so you have to run in order to catch the ball. So yeah, retrieving balls is important. Without a ball boy there is no game. If there’s no game, well then there’s no party, and if there’s no party then there’s no dancing and if there’s no dancing then what’s the point of combing my hair and putting in my colorful barrettes for nothing. Look,” the little girl says, digging in her bag. She takes out a handful of hair clips of various colors, so many colors that some don’t even exist yet.

Not just anybody would be a ball boy,” the little girl repeats to the man and gives him a hug, not to console him but to have him know that everything that is worth doing has to be done in a team, in a collective, each with their task.

I would do it, but no. I’m too scared of spiders and snakes. The other day I even dreamt something fierce because of a damned snake that I ran into in the pasture. Just like that,” and she extends her arms out as much as she can.

The man keeps smiling.

The game is over. The little girl hasn’t completed making the team that will challenge the loser, and has fallen asleep on the ground.

The man gets up and puts on his jacket because the afternoon is getting dim and the breeze soothes the earth. It might even rain.

A miliciano[iv] is now returning with the identification documents that the Good Government Council had requested. The man awaits his turn.

They finally call his name and he walks up to retrieve his passport, which has “Eastern Republic of Uruguay” emblazoned on it. Inside there’s a photograph of a male with a face that says, “What the hell am I doing here?” and next to it, it reads: “Hughes Galeano, Eduardo Germán María”.

Hey,” the miliciano asks him. “Did you take Galeano as your nom de guerre in honor of the compa sergeant Galeano?

Yes, I think I might have,” the man responds, holding onto his passport, unsure.

Ah,” the miliciano says, “I thought so.

Hey, and your land, where exactly is it?

The man looks at the Zapatista miliciano, he looks over at the wall, he looks at the people giving it hell right at the crack, he looks at the children playing and dancing, he looks at the little girl trying to talk to the puppy, to the half-blind horse, and with a little animal that may well be a cat or a dog, and he says, resigned, “also here.”

Ah,” the miliciano says, “And what do you do?

Me?” he tries to respond while picking up his backpack.

And suddenly, as if he finally understood it all, he responds with a smile, “I am the ball boy.”

And the man is by now too far to hear the Zapatista miliciano murmuring in admiration: “Ah, ball boy. Not just anybody.

Now in formation, the miliciano turns to say, “Hey Galeano, today I met a man from the city who named himself after you.

Sergeant Galeano grins and retorts, “Yeah right, man.

For real,” the miliciano says, “Where else is he going to get a name like that?

Ah,” Galeano, militia sergeant and Little School teacher says, “And what does he do?” he asks.

He’s a ball boy,” the miliciano replies, running over to serve himself some pozol.

Galeano, the militia sergeant, picks up his notebook and puts it in his bag, muttering through his teeth, “Ball boy, as if it were easy to do. Not just anybody can be a ball boy. In order to be a ball boy you would have to have a lot of heart, like being a Zapatista, and not just anybody can be a Zapatista, although it is true, sometimes there’s someone who doesn’t know that they’re a Zapatista… until they know.

-*-

Maybe you all won’t believe me, but this story I just told you actually happened just a few days ago, a few months, a few years, a few centuries, when the April sun slapped the earth, not to offend it, but to wake it up.

-*-

Sisters and brothers, family members of the Ayotzinapa missing:

Your struggle is a crack in the wall of the system. Don’t allow Ayotzinapa to close up. Your children breathe through that crack, but so do the thousands of others who have disappeared across the world.

So that the crack does not close up, so that the crack can deepen and expand, you will have in us Zapatistas a common struggle: one that transforms pain into rage, rage into rebellion, and rebellion into tomorrow.

Mexico, May 3, 2015.

[i]This could also be translated as: “I was born in the small hours of the morning on May 25, 2014, collectively and to my own sorrow, as well as that of many others.”

[ii]The text uses “uno, una, unoa” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iii]The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iv]Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

.



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EZLN: Homage To The Zapatista Teacher Galeano

Zapatista Teacher Galeano: Notes on a life

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May 2, 2015

Compañeros and compañeras of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation:

Compañeroas, compañeras, compañeros of the Sixth:

Visitors:

It is my turn to talk about our compañero, the Zapatista teacher Galeano.

To talk about him so that he can live on in our words.

To talk to you about him so that you might understand our rage.

We say “the Zapatista teacher Galeano” because this was the cargo [job or responsibility] that our compañero held when he was assassinated.

For us, Zapatistas, the compañero teacher Galeano epitomizes an entire anonymous generation within Zapatismo. Anonymous to those on the outside, but for us, the fundamental protagonist in the uprising and in these more than 20 years of rebellion and resistance.

It is a generation that, as youth, was part of the so-called social organizations and therefore knew of the corruption and deceitfulness that nurtured their leaders. This generation prepared itself in secrecy, rose up in arms against the supreme government, resisted the betrayals and persecutions alongside us and guided the resistance of the today’s generation that now takes on cargos in the indigenous communities.

A violent, absurd, ruthless, cruel, and unjust death came to him while he held the cargo of teacher.

A bit later and it would have been in the cargo of autonomous authority.

A bit earlier and it would have been as advisor.

Before that, it would have been the death of a miliciano.[i]

Many moons before, it would have been the death of a youth who knew enough, what is necessary, about the system, and sought, as many[ii] others still do, the best way to challenge it.

A year ago, a trio of journalists from the paid media, sponsored by the government of that Aryan Velasco and his rotten court, spread a lie about Galeano’s murder.

The person who took the photos of the supposed, carefully bandaged blows suffered by the murderers, won a prize a trip to New York to show off their other mercenary photos.

Those who unabashedly swallowed the government’s shit and disseminated it on the front page, are now echoed by those who dress up the news and present Galeano’s murder as the result of a confrontation.

Those who were silent accomplices out of financial convenience or political cunning continue to pretend that they do journalism and not badly disguised propaganda.

Just a few days before this event that has brought us here together, we read in the paid press that the “heroic,” “selfless,” “professional,” and “unpolluted” police from the Federal District in Mexico had a “confrontation”—that’s what they called it—with a group of blind people. Those wicked blind people used their “weapons”—their canes—to attack the poor police officers who were only doing their duty and who were forced to respond with their clubs and shields in order to make those without sight see that the law is the law for those below, and not for those above.

Also recently, in those seasonal speculations that tend to sweep across not only the journalistic profession, but also the social networks, when talking about something is a way to hide the fact that one has nothing important to say or report, a journalist—one of these who claims “professionalism” and “objectivity”—writing about the death of a brother in struggle and collector of rains, Eduardo Galeano, assumed a false link between Galeano the writer and Galeano the teacher,miliciano, and Zapatista.

When referring to the Zapatista compañero Galeano, the paid journalist insisted that he had died in a confrontation, and submitted photos taken by her tourist friend in New York.

I mention that this journalist is a woman not out of misogyny, but for the following reason: as is already common in the press—so common that sometimes it isn’t even reported in the news—murders of women are also disguised as “deaths” and not described as “murders.”

Take any given case, in any home or on any street, in any geography, in any calendar: there is a discussion, a fight, or not even that, but just because he reigns, the man attacks the woman, the woman defends herself and manages to scratch the man, the man beats, stabs, or shoots her to death, and with contempt. The man is treated and his scratches cleaned and bandaged.

About this, the “professional and objective” journalist, as she says, would make the following report: “a woman died in a confrontation with her husband, the man sustained injuries resulting from the fight.” They add photos of the poor injured man, after he is treated in the medical clinic. “The family of the female aggressor would not allow her body to be photographed.” End of the report and of coverage.

That is how today’s news reports are: blind people armed with canes confront police armed with batons, shields, and tear gas. Women armed with their fingernails confront men armed with knives, batons, pistols, and penises. These are the “confrontations” that they report on in the paid media, although some of them disguise themselves as free media, as some have done who registered for the seminar as free media, thinking that we didn’t know who they were and that we wouldn’t let them in if they were from the paid media. But we know who they are and here they are “covering” this event.

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The Zapatista compañero teacher Galeano did not die in a confrontation. He was kidnapped, tortured, bloodied, beaten, slashed, murdered and re-murdered. His aggressors had firearms; he did not. His aggressors were many; he was alone.

The “professional and objective” journalist will demand the photos and the autopsy, and won’t receive either. Because if she doesn’t respect herself, and doesn’t respect her work, and that’s why she writes what she writes without anyone questioning her and on top of that gets paid for it, [by contrast] we Zapatistas do respect our dead.

More than 20 years ago, in the battle of Ocosingo which lasted four days, Zapatista combatants were executed by the federal police after being injured in combat. The Zapatistas’ firearms were replaced by wooden sticks. The press was then called to do what they are paid for, under the watch of the government troops. That’s how this lie was woven, repeated incessantly and ad nauseum even today, that the troops of the EZLN went to battle with wooden sticks to face off with the bad government. Sure, there is the small problem that someone took photos when the fallen Zapatistas didn’t have anything by their side. These photos were later compared with those presented by the official press. A lot of money was paid out so that the photos that showed the truth wouldn’t be disseminated.

Today, in the modern times of economic crisis in the paid media, photojournalism—an art—has been transformed into a poorly paid commodity that often only manages to provoke nausea.

I won’t detail each and every one of the injuries suffered by compañero Galeano, nor will I present you with photos of his sullied cadaver. I won’t rehash the narrative cynicism with which his murderers detailed the crime, as someone would recounting a great feat.

Time will pass. The confessions of the executioners will come to light. We will come to know in detail the torture and their celebration at each drop of blood, the drunkenness of cruel death, the subsequent euphoria, the moral and ethical hangover in the days that followed, the guilt that pursues them, the justice catching up to them.

The Zapatista teacher compañero Galeano will be remembered by the Zapatista communities, quietly, without headlines. His life and not his death will be a joy within our struggle for generations. Hundreds of Tojolabal, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Zoque, Mame and mestizo children will carry his name. And there will no doubt be little girls named “Galeana.”

The 3 members of the decadent media nobility who beat the drums of war by spreading a lie, who have been silent in cowardice, and the “professional and objective” journalist will all continue to be mediocre; mediocre they will live, mediocre they will die, and history will run its course without anyone even remembering who they were.

And just to end once and for all that silly idea, Zapatista teacher compañero Galeano did not take the name of that tireless collector of the word of below, Eduardo Galeano. This connection was an invention of the press.

Although it sounds absurd, the compañero takes his nom de guerre from the insurgente Hermenegildo Galeana, indeed originally from Tecpan, in what is now the state of Guerrero, and who would become the lieutenant of the independence leader José María Morelos and Pavón. Hermenegildo Galeana was with the insurgent troops when, on May 2, 1812, they broke the siege that the royal army held over Cuautla, defeating General Félix María Calleja’s troops along the way. The insurgent resistance wrote a brilliant page in military history that day.

It is common in Zapatista communities that men and women apply gender pronouns according to their own very particular understanding. For example, the map [el mapa with the masculine article in Spanish] is “la” mapa [with the feminine pronoun]. What the compañero did was “masculinize” the name Galeana, changing it to Galeano. This was years before we came out publicly.

I won’t say much more about the Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano.

His families and compañero, who honor us with their presence today, will do it far better, as willcompañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moises.

His absence still causes me a lot of pain.

I am still unable to make sense of the cruelty with which they treated him, murdering him with weapons and with journalists’ reports.

I am still unable to understand the complicit silence and indifference from those who were assisted and supported by his generosity, and who then turned their backs on his death once they’d made use of his life.

This is why I think that, since it’s his life that we are raising up, it would be better if compañeroGaleano were the one to speak to you.

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The following fragments that I will read to you come from compañero Galeano’s notes. The notebook, with this and other writings, were handed over to the General Command of the EZLN by the family of that compañero who we are missing here today.

The first notes apparently date back to 2005, and the last ones are from 2012.

He writes:

“Dedicated to all who will read this brilliant history, so that my children and my compañero can never say that it faded away.

I am writing about the actions and steps I have taken in the struggle, but I am also critical, so that they learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. But it does not mean that I am not acompañero.

Well then, I will begin with my earlier life as a youth and a civilian.

When I was about 15 years old, I always participated in the work and the actions of an organization called, “Unión de Ejidos de la Selva.”

I knew that I was exploited because the weight of poverty that fell on my sunburnt shoulders was enough for me to recognize that exploitation still existed, and that one day someone would come to help us rise up and show us the path, someone to guide us.

Well, as I mentioned in the beginning I participated in a tour that (number illegible) we indigenous made in order to exchange ideas about productive work projects. That’s what they called the program our advisors from that so-called Union created and that we were active in.

Well, for me, it helped me learn a lot of things. In the first place, I realized how those damned advisors, Juarez and Jaime Valencia, among others, tried to deceive us. We had gone all the way to Oaxaca, a place where indigenous compañeros like us live, and they also had an organization called X, directed by a priest who was there with them. But they were also in the same situation of oppression that we were.

Well, to make a long story short, we visited many cities throughout the country. It was there where I noticed how many people were begging on the streets, without housing and with nothing to eat. From there an idea took root in me that this should be our objective—to exchange ideas on how to demand a dignified life for everyone who we saw living in such humiliating poverty by fault of the governments.

I also noticed something that disgusted me so that I never again came to depend on those liars and tricksters who pretend to be with those from below. They used to create these movements so that they could get rich off our backs, and we were idiots to believe in their vicious and false ideas.

Why do I say it this way? Well, you will soon see how things were. It turns out that they would promote government programs in order to deceive us, and in turn, have us deceive our own people in our own communities. On that tour, the government gave 7 million pesos of support, which at that time was a ton of money because we were talking about pesos in the thousands, not like now [after the peso conversion in 1993] when we only talk about pesos in the singular. At that time they told us that the government had given 7 billion but that we wouldn’t get it all—just 3 million and that the rest would go to fund the other tours. We never knew what happened to that money.

Of course, they never told us, but that money stayed with the aforementioned advisors, and while we were eating totopo with a little piece of cheese there in Oaxaca, and sleeping in the hallway of the municipal building in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, where do you think they were? Well, they were sleeping in nice hotels and eating in fine restaurants. And that’s how it was until we returned to Chiapas.

When we had arrived in Puerto Arista, they bought themselves cases of beer so that they could get wasted. When it was over, they said that they had to use the 3 million pesos in order to cover expenses. They told us that we would have to eat crackers and drink sodas because there was no more money left. But I knew that it wasn’t true, that the representatives in charge of the accounts tried to make us believe that the money was all gone, but they had already come to an agreement with those idiot advisors. And so I proposed that they count the money again to see if it were in fact true that it had all been spent. But my proposal was not accepted and then they told me that the tour had come to an end in Motozintla. They gave me 40 thousand pesos (of the old currency) so that I could return home because they had budgeted that it was the amount I would spend on transport to Margaritas, but after that, to get to La Realidad, I would have to figure it out myself.

It was damned difficult, 40 thousand of the old pesos that Salinas converted are only equal to 40 pesos today. And that’s how I returned to my village, completely sad and enraged at the same time.

It was in ‘89 when I met a real advisor, a man who used to pretend to be a humble worker, a parrot vendor. He and I were kind of friends, but even though we knew each other, he had never told me who he really was and what he really wanted or what he was really doing. We often encountered each other in the Cerro Quemado and we chatted, and I noticed that he carried a rucksack with his tools wrapped and ready for work. That’s what my friend used to tell me. How many other people like me knew the story of my friend without knowing the real story. It remained to be seen how many lies my friend used to tell back in those days. Lies in order to make truth; lies in order to make Reality. True lies. He was my buddy, and I was so slow that I had no idea what was going on.

Until one day when I bumped into my friend once again, but this time he wasn’t dressed like a humble worker, and he didn’t carry a rucksack, and he didn’t have his parrot cage with him.

So what was he carrying then? Well, there was my friend, my buddy, all in black and brown, with a backpack and shoes, and a weapon over his shoulder. It turned out that my friend was a brave guerrilla and soldier of the people. I was shocked and I went home completely sad and still unable to understand what was going on.

That was my mistake, not understanding quickly enough what that man wanted.

It was then when he knew that I had found him out, and he had me summoned to the safe house along with my parents and siblings. But my dad didn’t want to join and neither did my siblings, but I didn’t give it a second thought. That was how I joined the organization. They called me to train. At that time, almost everyone was already a Zapatista. We went to train. Later they assigned me to the rank of corporal and that’s how it went until all of my family members eventually joined.

The day arrived when I finally learned what my liar true friend’s name was: at that time, he was known as Captain Insurgente Z. This was a man who had to travel all of Chiapas’ indigenous villages, all of its mountains, rivers, and ravines. He walked at night as a guerrilla, during the day as the most humble man in search of work; and all the while sowing, step by step, the seed of freedom until it grew and bore fruit.

How great his suffering had been, but what beautiful fruits he harvested and carried with him. Proudly he received his promotion to Major for his intelligence and brave action and preparation.

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But he wasn’t the only one. There was another great, brave, unforgettable revolutionary in the history of our clandestinity. Our beloved Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro, respectfully nicknamed “the Uncle” by all the compañeros of our struggle. Beloved by all because he was a true exemplary who shared his revolutionary wisdom. He was a true teacher of discipline and compañerismo.

I call him an exemplar because he would say that he would be out on the front lines and if it were necessary to die for our people, he would do so.

On December 28 (of 1993), the compañero Sup I. Pedro told me to head over the Margaritas to buy gasoline and some batteries that we needed. He told me to tell compañero Alfredo to take “el Amigo,” (the community car) but not to let him know that the war was about to begin. And so I went. To throw off the driver, we bought shelled maize because it was an emergency trip and that way he would not suspect what was about to take place. Except he already knew, but only as gossip, that the war was about to begin and so he asked about it, but I never said anything because those were my orders, and I fulfilled them although he was my good friend. I didn’t even inform my parents about what was about to happen, because by then they were living in Margaritas. We walked all night and all day.

On the 29th (of December 1993), we returned at about 4pm to Realidad. I had completed my first mission. I gave my report back and he told me, “Prepare yourself because we are going to fight. In half an hour we’ll have forced the police in Margaritas to surrender.” And that always stayed with me. Just like many others of Sup C. I. Pedro’s feats.

And that trip the 30th (of December 1993) to Margaritas continues to stay with me to this day. But also, there were many accidents along the way. Our troops’ advance was incredible. Without the enemy realizing it, we advanced like ghosts in the middle of the dark night, illuminated only by the headlights of the Zapatista cars and buses.

Before reaching Las Margaritas there is a place, before Zaragoza. Near that place everyone dispersed, with their revolutionary assignment: first group, take the municipal presidency; second group, take the Margaritas-Comitan highway checkpoint; third group, take the San Jose Las Palmas-Altamirano highway checkpoint; fourth group, the Independencia-Margaritas highway; fifth group, take the Margaritas radio station.

That was at dawn, on that glorious January 1, when we ceased being phantoms of the night and became the EZLN before the eyes of the world. Everyone saw us with amazement and respect for our courageous act.

That’s how it was when Sup C. I. Pedro fell in combat against the police. He died courageously, killing various police officers. He confronted them alone. His rage against the murderers of the people was so great that he no longer cared about his own life, and with that he fulfilled his promise: die for the people or live for the homeland.

I was shocked when they informed us that our beloved chief had fallen. I felt such a great pain, but he had fulfilled his mission and had also prepared the next in line very well. Because he knew that he would fight and that this sort of thing could happen in war.

That’s when that brave guerrillero, my friend Major Insurgente Z, took up the command. So our missions, although the fall of our great chief was so painful, were directed by Major I. Z. One group went and took over the plantation of Absalon Castellanos Dominguez, taking him prisoner, and brought him to the mountains in order to put him on trial for all of the crimes he had committed while he was governor, for he was the intellectual author of those crimes. In spite of all the charges against him, of being guilty of murdering so many of the children, women, and elderly of Wololchan, his rights as a prisoner of war were respected. He was never once tortured. On the contrary, whatever the troops ate, he was given to eat as well. That’s how our comrade once again demonstrated the education and military experience he had gotten during the clandestine period. The lives of those who fall prisoner in a war must be respected. And it is a reminder for all who read our history that respect is earned by respecting those below, but also those above if they demonstrate respect to those below. Dying to live. Galeano.”

(continues)

“In Las Margaritas I had the task of creating a checkpoint on the Margarita San José Las Palmas highway. From there, we were transferred to the Margaritas-Comitan highway. That’s where we were on January 1, all night long until we received the order to take the Conasupo warehouse that was over in Espiritu Santo. We went with other compañeros insurgentes to take things from there so that the troops could have something to eat. Then the order was given for us to retreat to the mountains and so we came and positioned ourselves at Guadalupe Tepeyac. After that we ambushed La Realidad at kilometer 90, Cerro Quemado. And then they sent me to recover a 3-ton vehicle that belonged to this bastard named J from Guadalupe Los Altos.

I didn’t know how to drive well. I only knew how to drive a vehicle in theory, and so that’s when I got my practice and the vehicle started to move. I reached La Realidad using only the first gear the entire time. They were already waiting for me, the compañera Captain L and many other insurgentes, and they told me, “Let’s go Galeano,” and I said, “I haven’t even driven and much less given anyone a ride.

Dying to live. Galeano.” (written between 2005 and 2009)

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(continues)

“It doesn’t matter, all’s fair in war,” the compañera replied. And so we went up ahead, past Cerro Quemado, I was gaining confidence and I started going faster, but at a curve I turned the steering wheel too far and I ran off the road about 15 meters into the tall grass beside the highway. But well, I managed to get us out of there and I drove on in order to fulfill my mission.

From that day on, I started driving every day until one day a helicopter spotted us and it began to shower me with bullets. It shot at me for about 10 to 20 minutes, but I had taken cover really well under a rock. Only dust and the smell of rock and gunpowder reached me. And it wasn’t until the gunfire ceased and the helicopter retreated that I left my hiding place and continued on with my mission. The mission was to pick up the milicianos who were near Momón. I headed over there and returned with my friend and military chief, the compañero Major Insurgente Z. We were always together during those days of war, even during the ceasefire.

With the work of the first Aguascalientes in Guadalupe Tepeyac, I participated in receiving the people who came to the National Democratic Convention. They trained me as a bodyguard; I was a bodyguard for our leadership.

Later, the day of Zedillo’s betrayal, on February 9 we went to block the highway at Cerro Quemado. The army was already at Guadalupe Tepeyac. But we still advanced in darkness and worked at building ditches and felling trees in order to prevent the federal troops from making it to La Realidad.

Next, we retreated to the mountains for several days until, once again, the people of Mexico and the world mobilized and prevented the persecution of our EZLN leadership and troops. After many days of encampment in the mountains, we returned to our villages.

I participated in all of the encounters that our organization organized. I escorted our military chiefs. I participated in the march of the 1,111 Zapatistas to Mexico City. In all of the marches, I always traveled proudly as the driver of “El Conejo,” “El Tata,” and “El Chocolate.” I always took our compañeros to the marches in order to make our demands. When all of the sergeants got cold feet, I remained and they promoted me to sergeant. I was a regional organizer for the youth during in times of clandestinity and in times of war. We have made war against the enemy a thousand and one ways, although the bad government has done the same thing too.

We should value the great paths we have traveled no matter the sacrifices and deprivations. They have all made us much stronger and they keep me along the path of struggle, until we find the freedom that our people need. There is still much more to travel because, true, the path is long and difficult. Maybe it is close, maybe it is far, but we will win.

After that, the Good Government Councils were formed and they chose me as the driver for the first truck obtained by the Good Government Council. It was called “the Devil.” Later I was kidnapped together with another compañero, and the CIOAC-Histórica tied us up and took us in that same truck. They had me tied up for several hours before transferring me over to a jail in Saltillo. Then they transferred me to Justo Sierra and left me there without food, tied up, without communication. They wanted me to demand that one of their delinquents be released, but I refused to be exchanged because I was innocent and he was one of those thieves who abound in social organizations.

I was held captive for 9 days until they recognized that they were getting themselves into problems with human rights and with the EZLN. And finally they released the truck after holding it for 3 months. And after that, the truck got a name change: “The Historic Kidnapped.” That was when the work of the Good Government Councils and of autonomy began. Dying to live. Galeano. January 24, 2012).”

This is the last date that appears in his notebook. Next to that brief autobiography, appear a pair of poems, probably his own, and some songs about love and that sort of thing.

For my part, all that’s left for me to do is add that the Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano was just like all the other Zapatista compañeros and compañeras, somebody worth dying for, so that they may be reborn.

Upon finishing these lines, maybe there is a response to a latent question—a question planted in the middle of the kind of history that is not written with words:

Who or what made it possible that a space of struggle could witness the convergence of a Zapatista philosopher and an indigenous Zapatista?

How was it that, without ceasing to be a teacher, the philosopher became a Zapatista, and the indigenous, without ceasing to be a Zapatista, became a teacher?

Something happens in the world that makes this and other absurdities possible.

Why, in order to live, one bequeaths to their loved ones a hidden piece of the puzzle of their story?

Why, in order to not leave, the other leaves us letters in which their gaze is turned on themselves and their history with us Zapatistas?

This is what we try to answer every day, every hour, in ever corner.

Now, as I am about to place the final period on these words, the answer occurs to me, or at least a part of it: it is seated at that table, it is within those who are in front of and behind me, it is in the worlds that lean over to peer at the struggle of those, with secret pride, call themselves Zapatistas, professionals of hope, transgressors of the law of gravity, persons who, without a fuss and in each step say: IN ORDER TO LIVE, WE DIE.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

Mexico, May 2, 2015.

The compañera Selena, Zapatista-escucha [a cargo of listener], now has the floor …

[i] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves

[ii] The text uses “muchos, muchas, muchoas” for “many” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN Homage By Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

MAY 2, 2015

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moises

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Zapatista compañeras and compañeros from the bases of support of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Compañerascompañeroas, and compañeros from the National and International Sixth.

Sisters and brothers from Mexico and the world.

We greet the family of compañero Luis Villoro.

Welcome to the rebel lands that struggle and resist in Zapatista territory.

It is an honour to have you with us, the Zapatista bases of support from the five zones.

Greetings to the family of Zapatista teacher, compañero Galeano.

Receive our embrace, compañeros and compañeras of the family of compañero Galeano, and of the family of compañero Luis Villoro.

We should honour, and know how to honour, those who deserve it for the mission fulfilled by the compañeros Galeano and Luis Villoro.

Compañeroscompañeras, and compañeroas, brothers and sisters, we are here today not to remember how much we miss the physical existence of the compañeros Galeano and Luis Villoro.

We come here to remember and to talk about the struggle they waged in lives and in their work, the resistance struggles they were part of.

We did not come here to remember death, but to remember what they gave life to through their lives of work and struggle, and what we must do to keep those lives of work and struggle alive.

It is we who have to make it so that those who give their lives for a new world, one created by the people, live forever.

We are not here to raise a statue.

A statue will not provide life, a museum will not give life; they do not speak.

We are those ones who speak. We are the ones who have to keep them alive and in this way, create a statue and a museum that will live in our hearts for generations, rather than remaining mere symbols.

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We were very happy that we were able to hear more about the life of the Zapatista compañero Don Luis Villoro, who in other places is known as a theorist and who here we know as a practitioner; who in other places is known as a philosopher, and who here we know as a Zapatista.

To those who were by his side in struggle and in work, to those who worked with him, we give our thanks because they told us more about him, about the other facets of his life.

So we Zapatistas will tell you about another facet of his life.

For example, thanks to the compañero Luis Villoro and others like him, we have clinics and schools for Zapatista education.

That came from his efforts, from his work.

But that in itself is not enough. People were needed to build, people like compa Galeano, and people needed to work as promotoras to launch their dreams there and then organize for what the students would need.

And that was what compañero Galeano constructed, worked on, and got moving.

This is how the Zapatista people are organized.

This is how the compa Galeano came to be a teacher, thanks to the help of compa Luis Villoro and others like him.

He respected us, and we respected him. He treated us as equals. He believed in us and we believed in him. We came to work on the same project without seeing each other physically, that is, one can contribute to constructing something without personally being there.

This is how, for example, the Sixth all over the world worked to construct the school and clinic in the Zapatista community La Realidad, over the blood of our compañero Galeano.

The compas Luis Villoro and Galeano did not know each other, but nonetheless they were together, constructing the same freedom.

We also heard about facets of compa Galeano’s life of struggle.

First he decided to struggle, and later he received support, and then he organized for the actual construction, and then he organized those who would be promotores, and finally he oversaw what the students would need.

This requires organization.

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Because the compa Galeano was and is a miliciano, a corporal, and later a sergeant. He was regional representative of the youth, member of the MAREZ (Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion), teacher of the Zapatista Little School, and member-elect of the Good Government Council.

This requires ORGANIZATION.

From there he practiced and was later able to teach what he had learned, providing classes all over the world through the course, “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.”

Because one needs to organize in order to LIBERATE oneself from the capitalist system.

Because only the people will liberate themselves, no one will give them their freedom; no leader, man or woman, will bring freedom.

Because the capitalists are not going to give up or repent and stop exploiting the people.

Because the capitalist system cannot be humanized.

In order to put an end to the system, it must be destroyed, and to do that, one must organize.

Compa Luis Villoro saw that this is what the Zapatistas were doing and he did not think twice about accompanying us, in struggling and working and supporting the struggle and the organization that the life of compa Galeano represents.

Hopefully there will be more Luises, Luisas, and Luisoas, VillorosVilloras, and Villoroas.

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One never finishes organizing, because you need organization in order to build, and then you must be organized in order to watch over what you have built, and that’s how it goes, that is what it means to be organized.

That is what is necessary so that the same exploitation of people does not come back, like today men and women are exploited, as well as those who are not men or women.

So that the people take on the task of governing themselves.

This requires organization. Organization is made of communities, women, men, and otroas.

Now that we have heard the words that have been spoken to us, we want to say this to you:

Some people think that we are an organization made up of indigenous people or of Mexicans, but we are not.

We are an organization of Zapatistas, indigenous and non-indigenous, just as we have seen here in the act of paying homage to two Zapatista compañeros.

We are in Mexico because this is where we happen to be, it is our geography.

Just like those who struggle for the freedom of the Kurdish people are there because that is where they happen to be.

Just like everyone is where they happen to be, like the Sixth in Mexico and across the world, they are in the places that for whatever reason correspond to them.

That’s why we talk about the geography of each of us, the corner of the world where each of us rises up, rebels, and struggles for freedom.

Here what needs to be made clear is what it means to be a Zapatista.

To be a Zapatista means to be decided and ready.[i]

Because it’s not about showing off but about working, organizing, and struggling in silence until their final consequences, that is, it is about theory and practice.

Putting on a ski mask does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, organizing oneself and destroying the capitalist system does.

Simply saying, “I am a Zapatista” does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, deciding to struggle until death does.

Speaking about Zapatismo does not make one a Zapatista. Rather, working collectively with the organized communities does.

It is not being a Zapatista to take up the struggle when it’s in fashion and put it aside when attacks by the bad system cause suffering.

Putting on a uniform—disguising oneself, as we say—in order to hand oneself over to the bad government does not make one a Zapatista, because a Zapatista never gives in.

Saying that one is an EZLN commander and pretending to dialogue [with the government] in order to get paid in money and material projects by the bad government does not make one a Zapatista, because a Zapatista never sells out.

Searching for and working under those who want a government post, pay, and who only struggle every six years or whenever the market for official posts [elections] rolls around again does not make one a Zapatista.

A Zapatista struggles for total change; they struggle all their life and do not give in. That is, their thoughts do not shift with the trends or with whatever is convenient or according to whatever colour is shining brightest in the marketplace.

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Trying to have it both ways, to be a [political] party-follower and a Zapatista does not make one a Zapatista. Because the party-follower wants to change the colour of the ruler. In contrast, the Zapatista wants to change the entire system, not just one part but all of it, so that the people rule and nobody rules over them.

One is not a Zapatista because they are never scared. One may have fear sometimes but control it and continue to struggle.

One is not a Zapatista if they have a lot of rage but no organization. Rather, one must organize with others and with a lot of dignity.

Who gets to say when you become a Zapatista? The people.

Who gets to say what makes a Zapatista? The people.

Who gets to say when you cease being a Zapatista?

There isn’t anyone who says “you’re done.” Rather, one must continue to struggle until death to fulfil the sacred duty to liberate the exploited, and even after death you continue in struggle.

This is why we are having this homage, in order to remind ourselves and all of you that, even if death comes in an attempt to convert us into the forgotten, we continue to live in the people, in the struggle, for the struggle and for the struggle of the people. That is how life continues on and wins—and death comes to an end and loses.

Thank you.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moises.
Mexico, May 2015.

[i] The text uses “decididos, decididas, decididoas” (decided or decisive) and “puestos, puestas, puestoas” (willing and ready) to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN: Program for the Homage and Seminar May 2-9, 2015

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PROGRAM AND OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE HOMAGE AND THE SEMINAR.

 ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION.

PROGRAM AND OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE HOMAGE AND THE SEMINAR.

April 29, 2015

Compas:

Here is the latest information about the May 2, 2015 celebration in Homage to compañeros Luis Villoro Toranzo and Zapatista Teacher Galeano, and the seminar that will be held from May 3-9, 2015.

First.- A group of graphic artists will also participate in the Seminar: “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” with an exposition called “Signs and Signals” of their own works of art made especially for this exposition. The following people will participate:

Antonio GritónAntonio RamírezBeatriz CanfieldCarolina Kerlow

César Martínez

Cisco Jiménez

Demián Flores

Domi

Eduardo Abaroa

Efraín Herrera

Emiliano Ortega Rousset

Felipe Eherenberg

Gabriel MacotelaGabriela Gutiérrez OvalleGustavo MonroyHéctor QuiñonesJacobo Ramírez

Johannes Lara

Joselyn Nieto

Julián Madero

Marisa Cornejo

Mauricio Gómez Morín

Néstor Quiñones

Oscar Ratto

Vicente Rojo

Vicente Rojo Cama

The opening of the exposition will take place Monday morning, May 4, 2015, in CIDECI.

SECOND. Here is the program of activities and participants for the seminar. There may be some changes (note: all hours listed are “national time”).

HOMAGE:

Saturday, May 2. Caracol of Oventik. 12:30.

Homage to compañeros Luis Villoro Toranzo and Zapatista Teacher Galeano. 

Participants:

Pablo González Casanova (written statement).
Adolfo Gilly.
Fernanda Navarro.
Juan Villoro.
Mother, father, wife and children of the compañero teacher Galeano.
Compañero teacher Galeano’s compañeros and compañeras in struggle
General Command – Sixth commission of the EZLN.

Note: On May 2, the caracol will be open for entry before 12:30. At 12:30, you will be asked to gather outside the caracol in order to begin the welcome ceremony for the families of those to whom we are paying homage and for the guests of honor, and you can then follow them to the specific place where the homage will be held. After the event, you will need to leave the caracol because it will be completely filled by the compañeras and compañeroswho are bases of support. You will not be able to spend the night at the caracol. We estimate that the homage will end between 4 and 5 in the afternoon at the latest, so you will be able to return safely and comfortably to San Cristóbal de las Casas.
SEMINAR “CRITICAL THOUGHT VERSUS THE CAPITALIST HYDRA”

Sunday, May 3. Caracol of Oventik. 1000-1400 hrs. We ask that you arrive a little bit before the start time.

Inauguration by the General Command of the EZLN.
Don Mario González and Doña Hilda Hernández (video participation).
Doña Bertha Nava and Don Tomás Ramírez.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.
Juan Villoro.
Adolfo Gilly.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Relocate to the grounds of CIDECI in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, beginning at 1400 hours.

Sunday, May 3 CIDECI. 1800 – 2100 hrs.

Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano.
Luis Lozano Arredondo.
Rosa Albina Garavito.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Monday, May 4, CIDECI. 1000 – 1400 hrs.

María O’Higgins.

Oscar Chávez (recorded message).
Guillermo Velázquez (recorded message).
Antonio Gritón. Opening of the Graphic Exposition “The Capitalist Hydra”
Efraín Herrera.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Monday, May 4, CIDECI. 1700 – 2100 hrs.

Eduardo Almeida.
Vilma Almendra.
María Eugenia Sánchez.
Alicia Castellanos.
Greg Ruggiero (written message).
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Tuesday, May 5, CIDECI. 1000 – 1400.

Jerónimo Díaz.
Rubén Trejo.
Cati Marielle.
Álvaro Salgado.
Elena Álvarez-Buylla.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Tuesday, May 5, CIDECI. 1700 – 2100.

Pablo Reyna.
Malú Huacuja del Toro (written message).
Javier Hernández Alpízar.
Tamerantong (video participation).
Ana Lidya Flores.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Wednesday, May 6, CIDECI. 1000 – 1400.

Gilberto López y Rivas.
Immanuel Wallerstein (written message).
Michael Lowy (written message).
Salvador Castañeda O´Connor.
Pablo González Casanova (written message).
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Wednesday, May 6, CIDECI. 1700 – 2100.

Karla Quiñonez (written message).
Mariana Favela.
Silvia Federici (written message).
Márgara Millán.
Sylvia Marcos.
Havin Güneser, from the Kurdish Freedom Movement.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Thursday, May 7, CIDECI. 1000 – 1400.

Juan Wahren.
Arturo Anguiano.
Paulina Fernández.
Marcos Roitman (written message).
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Thursday, May 7, CIDECI. 1700 – 2100.

Daniel Inclán.
Manuel Rozental.
Abdullah Öcalan, of the Kurdish Freedom Movement (written message).
John Holloway.
Gustavo Esteva.
Sergio Tischler.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN. 

Friday, May 8. CIDECI. 1000 – 1400.

Philippe Corcuff (video participation).
Donovan Hernández.
Jorge Alonso.
Raúl Zibechi.
Carlos Aguirre Rojas.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Friday, May 8. CIDECI. 1700 – 2100.

Carlos González.
Hugo Blanco (video participation).
Xuno López.
Juan Carlos Mijangos.
Óscar Olivera (video participation).
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Saturday, May 9. CIDECI. 1000 – 1400.

Jean Robert.
Jérôme Baschet.
John Berger (written message).
Fernanda Navarro.
Participation by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

Closing Ceremony.

Third.- As of April 29, 2015, 1,528 people have confirmed their participation. Of them, 764 state they are adherents to the Sixth, 639 state that they are not adherents, 117 state that they are from the free, autonomous, alternative, or whatever you call it press, and 8 work for the Paid Press.

Fourth.- Those people who are not able to register prior to May 2, 2015, can do so directly at CIDECI , in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

That’s all for now.
Have a good trip.
From the office of the concierge.
SupGaleano
April, 2015

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EZLN: Report On Registration For The Seminar “Critical Thought Versus The Capitalist Hydra”

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Report on Registration for the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

April 21, 2015

To the compas of the Sixth:

To the presumed attendees of the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”:

We want to let you know that:

As of April 21, 2015, the number of people who have registered for the seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra” is approximately 1,074 men, women, others,[i] children, and elderly from Mexico and the world. Of this number:

558 people are adherents of the Sixth.

430 people are not adherents of the Sixth

82 people say they are from the free, autonomous, independent, alternative, or whatever-you-call-it media.

4 people are from the paid media (only one person from the paid media has been rejected, it was one of the three who were sponsored by the Chiapas state government to sully the name of the Zapatista compa professor Galeano and present his murderers as victims.)

Now then, we don’t know if among those 1,074 who have registered so far there might be a portion who have gotten confused and think that they have registered for Señorita Anahí’s wedding[ii] (apparently she’s marrying somebody from Chiapas, I’m not sure, but pay me no mind because here the world of politics and entertainment are easily confused… ah! There too? Didn’t I tell you?)

Anyway, I’m sharing the number of attendees because it’s many more than we had expected would attend the seminar/seedbed. Of course now that’s CIDECI’s problem, so… good luck!

What? Can people can still register? I think so, I’m not sure. When questioned by Los Tercios Compas, doctor Raymundo responded “no problem at all, in any case the number of people who will actually pay attention are far fewer.” Okay, okay, okay, he didn’t say that, but given the context he could have. What’s more, not even the docknows how many people are going to come to CIDECI.

In any case, if you are engrossed by the high quality of the electoral campaigns and are reflecting profoundly on the crystal clear proposals of the various candidates, you should not waste your time on this critical thinking stuff.

Okay then, don’t forget your toothbrush, soap, and something to comb your hair.

From the concierge of the seminar/seedbed,

In search of the cat-dog,

SupGaleano

Mexico, April 2015.

The Cat-Dog in the chat “Zapatista attention to the anti-zapatista client”:

(You are currently on hold, one of our advisors will be with you in a moment. If it takes awhile, it’s because we’re on pozol break.[iii] We thank you for your patience.)

huella

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

huella

“Ah yes hello, I would like to register.”

huellahuella

“Listen, are there still seats available?

huella

“Ah okay, but listen, the thing is that I want a seat really close to the front, you understand?

huella

“Hey listen, will there be a chance for a selfie, and autographs, and all that?

huellahuella

“Yes, listen, another question, in the registration process are you giving out some kind bonus, as they say?”

huella

“What! This isn’t the registration for the Juan Gabriel concert?

huella

“Damn! I knew it. I told the gang that if we didn’t hurry up we weren’t going to get a seat.”

huella

“Alright listen, if there aren’t any seats left for Juan Gabriel, then give me one for Jaime Maussan.”

huella

“What, no seats for Maussan either! Alright then, tell me where there are seats.”

huella

“Oh really? So you guys are trying to be really postmodern huh? Very metaFukuyama and all that, right?

huella

“Listen, let me recommend for the subject of postmodernism, José Alfredo Jiménez and his classic aphorism of “life isn’t worth a thing.” That is the real thing, not that nonsense of a nihilism of multi-colored condoms and feminine pads.

huella

Well listen, let me tell you that what is really important is a cultured pragmatism. I mean, appropriately and pleasantly presented. For example, the Araña weaving inconfessable alliances, Meñique [Littlefinger] investing in various “scenarios,” the institutional left doubting whether it should be left or institutional, the Laura Bozzo of the vanguard of the proletariat pontificating, a lot of svelte nudes to remind you of cellulitis and stretch marks, Kirkman proposing fascism as the best option in times of crisis, Rick and Carol exactly like they are, Tyronexchanging Cercei for Khaleesi, the “investigative journalism” searching out who will do their work for them with the slogan “go ahead and denounce, we’ll see if we can get paid for printing it.” Yes, what Alejandría needs is less Latinos and African Americans, and more figures along the line of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. There, you see, even the fucking dragons changed political parties and the Starks are having trouble getting their party registered. And later Mance Rayder wanted to be all freedom-loving and all, and they killed him for not wanting to vote. Ah, but in the game of thrones that matters, what’s really worth something is on the island of Braavos. Seven Reigns be damned! Winter is coming and “The Iron Bank will get what belongs to it.”

huella

“Anyway, I’d give more spoilers, but better not to. I’ll leave you in doubt, suffering…”

huella

Hey listen, are you sure there aren’t any seats left? Not for Neil Diamond either? Sonora Santanera? Not even Arjona?

huella

Hey listen I’m confused. Isn’t this where you register for shows and performances? You know, like the movies, theater, concerts, comic routines, electoral campaigns, Don Francisco, circuses with animals on the ticket [ballot], candidacies, reality shows, green advertising spots on Imax screens, “Stop suffering” propaganda charged to the public treasury, lose weight by jogging to the ballot box?

huella

“I knew it!” Fucking Peñabots! They have to be promoting abstention. Don’t they understand they’re just playing to the right? Don’t they see the great advances of the progressive governments in the world? I’m sure that you are a renter or have a mortgage to pay, right. And here I am, with my own house, trying orient and guide you, and you all over there stuck in sadomasochism. I hope you get sick from that sandwich with salmonella! There you have your unlaic [unlike], your mute, your block, and you runfolou [unfollow]! So let’s see how you survive now eh!

huella

huella

huella

(The user has gone offline. The chat session is over. End of transmission).

(…)

(sound of liquid being poured).

(…)

(voice stage left): Who spilled pozol agrio on the keyboard?! I told you not to let the cat-dog use the computer! Oh just wait until I find him, then he’ll see!
I testify.
SupGaleano

huellagrande

Woof! Meow! (and viceversa).

[i] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] Anahí is a Mexican singer/songwriter and actress engaged to marry Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of Chiapas.

[iii] Pozol is a drink made from ground maize mixed with water and often consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midmorning or midday meal.

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EZLN: Why so Serious?

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(01001101 01110101 01100011 01101000 01100001 01110011 00100000 01000111 01110010 01100001 01100011 01101001 01100001 01110011 00100000 01000011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01100001 01110011 (note: translate binary code)

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April 2015.

We didn’t know anything about this kind of thing. We learned. They explained it to us. We understood even less. But later on, “we grasped the concept holistically,” as they say. That is, not at all. But they were saying something about how we had been victims of a “high level” cyber attack. We of course put on our “no problem” face, the one that says “the proper measures will be taken” and “we will pursue this case to its logical conclusion.” But really, we were asking ourselves if it happened because of all the times we ourselves go to the page in order to increase the number of visitors. “Some over-enthusiastic clicker” we thought. But that part is confidential, so we’d appreciate it if you didn’t make it public.

Later on they told us that calculations show that in the United States alone, the average annual cost of cyberattacks was 12.7 million dollars in 2014. We didn’t understand, I mean about the quantity. When they explained it to us, we panicked and ran to see if our pozol reserves had diminished. Nope. “Stable levels,” the guard said (this means there is enough for the homages and the seminar). At that point, all was still well. The problem was that in order to celebrate the fact that the cyberattack had not penetrated the solid vaults where we store the “gold of the LXIX century,” we had a party and a dance with the community DJs’ electronic music. The result? The strategic reserves were substantially reduced and now we have to replace them.

But, as they say, now it is official: neozapatismo has entered the 21st century. Okay, okay, okay, we’re late, but keep in mind that it’s only 2015.

Did you think the image of modern Mexico lay in Beverly Hills shopping, helicopter travel, or an electoral ad? Wrong! Error 404! ¡Erreur! ¡Fehler! ¡Oшибка!

The webpage of the eezeeelen was cyberattacked!

Okay, okay, okay, we don’t really know what that means (being so premodern, we’re only accustomed to attacks by soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and various ink-shitters), but it sounds so fancy, so classy, so first world.

Oh, I thought this day would never come! Let Sony, Microsoft, and Apple die of jealousy! Let Obama, Putin, and Merkel turn green with envy! Let Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, and Metro swell with rage! Let Samsung, LG, and Motorola buy their antacids! Prostrate yourselves cola drinks, junk food and fast food! Don’t hide your humiliation International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization!

We will take it for what it is: a small homage to our humble and quiet work of clicking on the webpage to raise our “web traffic” and soon, we will be collecting payments for advertising self-help courses, language classes in Elf, Dothraki, High Valerian, Klingon, and Na’vi, and of course, online offers from “The Speedy Huarache.”

Well in reality and in La Realidad, all this is nothing but a pretext to send you all an embrace and say:

Thanks to the gang, the plebes, the crew, the barrio, the homies, the brothers, the compas or whatever you call them, who lent a hand, some support,, backup, and, as they say these days, “replicated” the content of the pages, the tweets, the facebook, and the chats closest to their respective hearts. As this is sure to happen again, we want to reiterate once and for all: Thank you (please use the scientific method of “copy and paste” for this note of appreciation because it won’t be the last time you need it).

From the cyber-concierge, protecting itself with the hyper-modern firewall Pozolware 6.9.

SupGaleano, fighting with the cat-dog over the copyleft rights.

(Nah, really we’re fighting over the popcorn…but I got here first!)

Mexico, April 2015.

From the diary of the Cat-Dog:

Looking for who to blame:

-The trendy hypothesis of “Moderate Hysteria”:

It was without doubt the reptile-millenial-illuminati-narcoglobalist-party follower-electoralists.

-The trendy hypothesis of “Misogynist High Politics”: It was Frank Underwood, but with bad advice from Claire… Okay, okay, okay, Petrov then?

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-Report from Big Brother, received by the Pentagon: (Summary of observations from “The Situation Room” of the “East Wing” of the Zapatista Hexagon. Reporting: Echelon System. April 7, 2015. 2330 hours, zulu time): Opinions were split: someone said it was us (the Pentagon), someone else said it was the Kremlin. Somebody else said Buckingham Palace, el Palacio de Hierro,[i] Liverpool, or Sears. Nobody said the Eiffel Tower (this calmed them down because they were worried about their buddies from Tameratong)?

Some embittered soul said that they already knew that the new season of Game of Thrones was no good at all. Some indescribable character, something like a dog…or a cat…or viceversa, put up a sign that read: “Spoiler Alert.”

It sounded like they were about to come to agreement on something when the sound of a marimba being tuned was heard. The voices in the audio become chaotic, confused, and the only thing that can be made out is a kind of shout: “Pozol Agrio!” It must be some kind of alarm signal because the “Situation Room” and the whole east wing of the complex was quickly deserted.

(end of the report that demonstrates that the budget dedicated to spying is money thrown into cyberspace garbage).

-Section “There is a Trending Topic in your future.” Suggestions for solidarity hashtags:

#wewanttheezeeelenwebpagebackeventhougwealreadyregistered

#theenlacezapatistawebpageisbackonlineandifitgetstakendownthehomieswillhelpus

#don’tlettheenlacezapatistawebpagethatistheblogoftheezlncommissionsextabecyberattackedbytheconspiracyinfashion.

I testify:

(grunts and snorts).

[i] “The Iron Palace,” an upscale chain of department stores in Mexico.

JokerCaricatura1

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EZLN: The Storm, the Sentinel, and Night Watch Syndrome 

Dear friends and enemies: so… err… umm… the thing is… well… remember that at the end of our March 19, 2015 text entitled “About the Homage and the Seminar,” we said that the organization of the seminar was a mess? Well, we have honored that claim: the email address to which we asked you to send your registration information is wrong, erroneous, in other words, that’s not the one. The correct email is: seminario.pensamientocritico15@gmail.com. Okay, okay, okay. It’s on me. Sincerely, yo merengues.

The Storm, the Sentinel, and Night Watch Syndrome

April 2015.

To the compañeroas of the Sixth:

To all those interested:

Although it may not look like it, the following is an invitation… or is it a challenge?

If you are an adherent to the Sixth, if you are from the free, autonomous, alternative, independent media or whatever it’s called, if you are interested in critical thought, then accept this invitation to the seminar, “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.” If in addition to accepting this invitation you would also like to attend the seminar, please follow this link :http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/registro-al-seminario-de-reflexion-y-analisis-el-pensamiento-critico-frente-a-la-hidra-capitalista/

If you are an invited speaker,[i] a similar letter will be sent to you via the same channels through which you have already been contacted. The difference will be that the invitation letter sent to the speakers will contain a “secret clause.”

Ok then, the invitation is really something like the wrapping paper.

Inside, further down below and to the left, you will find…

The Challenge

Oh, I know. The classic beginnings to a Zapatista reflection: disconcerting, anachronistic, silly, absurd. As if not really putting in any effort, as if just sort of putting it out there, a kind of “we’ll leave you to it,” or “see what you can do with it,” or something like “it’s on you.” It’s almost like they toss out a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and expect that people would understand that they are not just describing one part of reality, but have the entire image in mind. As if they saw the completed jigsaw puzzle, with its precise figures and colors in place, but with the border of each piece still visible, as if to point out that the whole exists because of all the parts, and of course, that each part acquires its meaning in relation to all the others.

As if Zapatista thinking demands that we see that what is missing is that which is not, that there is more than what is, that there is more than what is immediately perceptible.

This is something like what Walter Benjamin did with Paul Klee’s “Angelus Novus.” Reflecting on the painting, Benjamin “completes” it: he sees the angel, but he also sees what the angel sees, he sees how it has been thrown back by what it sees, he sees the force that assaults it, the brutal footprint of that force. He sees the jigsaw puzzle as complete:

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“There is a painting by Klee named ‘Angelus Novus.’ It shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something that has him paralyzed. His eyes stare, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one imagines the Angel of History. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees a single catastrophe that piles ruins upon ruins and hurls it at his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and mend that which has been shattered, but a hurricane blows in from Paradise that entangles itself in his wings and is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. The hurricane overpoweringly propels him into the future, to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This hurricane is what we call progress.” (X, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”)

And so, it is as if our reflections were a dare, one of the Riddler’s enigmas, one of Mr. Bane’s challenges, one of the wildcards the Joker pulls while asking, “Why so serious?” 

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It is as if the cat-dog—at once superhero and supervillain, Sherlock and Moriarty—bursts onto the scene harassing everyone with questions: “What do we see? Why? Toward where? From where? For what?”

It is as if we were thinking the world, questioning its clumsy rotation, debating its course, challenging its history, disputing the rationality of its evidence.

It is as if, for even just one moment, we were…

-*-

The Sentinel

You can observe that a military installation will usually have posts set up along its periphery. They’re called “Observation Towers,” “Guard Posts,” or “Watchtowers.” These posts are there for surveillance of the surroundings and access points to the installation in order to know who or what approaches or moves or stays in the surrounding area. Well, these surveillance posts (in the Zapatista camps we call it “la posta”, I’m not sure why; for example, we say, “You take the posta at 0000 hrs,” or “the posta’s shift changes at 1200,” etc.) serve to inform or alert the rest of the installation, and to contain or detain anyone who tries to enter without authorization. Whoever is currently occupying the observation post is the guard, the lookout, the sentinel. In addition to keeping watch and staying alert to whatever happens, the sentinel is the one who sounds the alarm in case of an attack or any other event.

According to us Zapatistas, theoretical reflection and critical thought have the same task as the sentinel. Whoever works on analytic thinking takes a shift as guard at the watchpost. I could go into detail about the location of watch post within the whole, but for now it’s enough simply say that it is also part of the whole, nothing more, but nothing less. I say it for all those[ii] who would claim to:

– Be either above or outside of everything, as if they were something separate, and hide behind “impartiality,” “objectivity,” “neutrality.” They claim to analyze and reflect from a standpoint of indifference in their impossible laboratory that manifests as science, seminar, research study, book, blog, creed, dogma, slogan.

– Or those who confuse their role as night watch and instead designate themselves as the new doctrinaire priests. Although they are only sentinels, they behave as if they were the leading brain which mutates into criminal tribunal whenever convenient. From there, they order everyone around, judging, absolving, or condemning. While we recognize the fact that nobody pays any attention to them—reality always being so markedly rebellious—it does nothing to restrain them from their (not infrequently intoxicated) delirium.

The sentinel is related to the observation post in question. But we will return to this in one of the interventions we make in the seminar.

For now, it’s enough to say that, overwhelmed, overtaken by the task of critical observation in a world that is so deceivingly instantaneous, during his shift as guard, the lookout can fall into…

-*-

Night Watch Syndrome

Well, it turns out that after some time, the sentinel “exhausts” his capacity for vigilance. This “exhaustion” (which we Zapatistas refer to as “Night Watch Syndrome”) consists of, broadly speaking, the development, after some time spent on watch, of a type of “looped perception” or “recorded perception”. That is, the night watch reproduces the same image over and over in their conscious perception, as if nothing ever changed, as if any changes were part of the image’s normal state of being. It has to do partly, I suppose, with visual perception but it also has to do with the desire to not have anything change up the routine. So, for example, the night watch does not want any danger to appear, and that desire actually affects what he sees. “Everything is fine, nothing bad is going to happen,” he repeats to himself over and over, and this translates over into his actual evaluation of reality. His objective is to be able to hand in a brief report about his watch: “nothing new.” All of this that I’m explaining comes from empirical observation, not from a scientific study. Over years and years of keeping watch, it is what we concluded from our own (limited) experience. Having the persistent doubt about whether we should rely on science or on traditions and customs, we asked someone who would know about neuroscience. They told us that the phenomenon does exist, although they don’t know exactly why (before you all pelt me with the different strains and positions within psychology, I’d like to clarify that the only thing that I confirmed is that the phenomenon is real, verifiable). So then, well, why does it happen? Well, you all can figure that out—it would be good if while you’re at it, you come to an agreement on what the object of study is in the “science” of psychology.

So then, that person told us that about something called “selective attention” and sent us a book that was written a long time ago (that is, one that is written clearly and easily understood). In so many words, it is about how we only pay attention to a small part of what we see in a given moment and ignore the rest. So then, this ignoring the rest is our “blindness to change” or “blindness by inattention.” It is as if, by filtering the parts of the image that we see, we become blind to that which we have not selected as important.

For now we won’t develop this idea further, but, in sum, “night watch syndrome” consists of:

a)    Not keeping watch over the whole, but only one part of the whole.

b)    When the guard “tires,” the guard does not perceive the changes that appear in the zone under watch because those changes are imperceptible to him (that is, they don’t merit attention).

In order to counteract this, we use various tactics: One of them is indirect observation, “peripheral vision,” or, in colloquial terms, “looking sideways.” The indirect gaze allows the person to detect changes in the routine. There should be explanations for this in neuroscience also, but I think that in that area we are lacking study.

Other forms of resolving the sentinel’s fatigue are: assign two or more guards to cover the same post; or reduce the time at the post and increase the frequency of shift changes.

Perhaps there are other ways to ensure that the sentinel does his job.

But the important thing is that one must be vigilant for any sign of danger. This does not mean sounding the alarm once the danger is present, but rather to watch for the signs, evaluate them, interpret them—in sum, think about them critically.

For example, those storm clouds on the horizon, do they signal a passing rainshower? How intense will it be? Is it coming closer or moving away? Or, is it something bigger, more terrible, more destructive? If that is the case, one must alert everyone to the imminence of….

The Storm

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Okay, so the thing is that we, the Zapatistas, see and hear a catastrophe coming, and we mean that in every sense of the term, a perfect storm.

But… it’s also true that we Zapatistas see and hear that people with great knowledge say, sometimes with their words and sometimes with their attitude, that everything continues on more or less the same.

They say that the reality that we are confronted with presents only small variations that do not significantly alter its path.

In other words, we see one thing and they see another.

We see the tendency to resort to the same tactics of struggle, to continue with marches, real or virtual, with elections, surveys, and rallies. And at the same time and in related manner, we see the development of new parameters for “success,” a kind of applause-o-meter that functions, in the case of protest marches, inversely: the better behaved the march (that is, less protest), the more successful. New partisan organizations are created, plans are laid out, strategies and tactics developed, creating a veritable juggling act out of actual concepts.

As if state, government, and administration were all the same thing.

As if the state were the same, and had the same functions, as it did 20, 40, 100 years ago.

As if the system were also the same and used the same forms of subordination and destruction. Or, to put it the terms used by the Sixth: the same forms of exploitation, repression, discrimination, and dispossession.

As if up there, above, Power had continued on without varying its mode of operation.

As if the hydra had not regenerated its multiple heads.

So we think that either they or we have “sentinel’s syndrome.”

We Zapatistas look sideways at these shifts in reality. We pay more attention, climb to the top of the ceiba [tree] to try to see further, not to see what has happened but to see what is coming.

And well, what we see is not good at all. We see that what is coming is something terrible, even more destructive than before, if that’s possible.

But we also see that those who think and analyze aren’t saying anything about this. They keep repeating what they were saying 20 years ago, 40 years ago, a century ago.

We see that organizations, groups, collectives and individuals continue doing the same old thing, presenting false and exclusionary options, judging and condemning the other—that which is different.

And what’s more: expressing disdain toward us for what we see.

So, as you know, we are Zapatistas. And that means a lot of things, so many that in the dictionaries in your languages there aren’t even words for it.

But it also means that we always think that we could be mistaken. That perhaps everything continues on pretty much the same, without major changes. That perhaps the Ruler continues to rule the same as decades ago, centuries ago, millennia ago. That what is coming is perhaps not so serious, but just a minor adjustment, a resettling of the sort that isn’t even worth talking about.

So the options presented are either no thinking, no analysis, no theory, or the same as always.

So we Zapatistas think that we have to ask others,[iii] from other calendars, different geographies, what it is that they see.

I think it’s like when a sick person is told that what they have is very serious, or like we say here, “está cabrón”, and so they have to look for a second opinion.

So we say in this case that there is a failing in the thinking, or theory. That could be our failing or that of others, or maybe both.

So despite being generally distrustful, which is indeed our tendency, we do have some faith in the compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas of the Sixth. But we know that the world is very big, and that there are others who also engage in this task of thinking, analyzing, watching.

So we think that we need to think about the world, and also about each of our calendars and geographies.

We think that, even better, we should have an exchange of thought. Not like an exchange of commodities, like in capitalism, but rather as if we make a deal that I’ll tell you what I’m thinking and you tell me what you’re thinking, like a meeting of our thoughts.

But we don’t think that this is any old meeting, but rather a big one, very big, worldwide even.

We Zapatistas, well, we don’t know a lot. Just a little, and even that with struggle, about our compañeroas, compañeras, and compañeros of the Sixth.

And we’ve seen that in some places, these meetings of thought are called “seminarios” [seminar or seedbed], and we think this is because seminario means seedbed, that is, where seeds are started that sometimes grow quickly and sometimes take awhile.

So we think we should make a seedbed of ideas, of analysis, of critical thinking about how the capitalist system currently works.

And that seminar or seedbed is not just one place or time. Rather, it takes awhile and happens in many places.

That’s why we say that it’s a “dislocated” event, that it doesn’t happen in just one place but in many places, all over the place. And we say that it is worldwide because there is critical thinking in all of the worlds that there are, that everywhere people are asking what is going on, why, what to do, how, and all of these things that are thought through theory.

But, we think, this has to start in a place and at a time.

So, this collective seedbed will start in a particular place, and that place is a Zapatista caracol. Why? Because here the Zapatista communities use the caracol to call and convoke the collective.

So for example, if there is a community problem, an issue that has to be resolved, the caracol is sounded and all of the community knows that there is a collective meeting so that thought can be spoken.

Or to see what we will do to resist. So we could say that the caracol is also one of the instruments of the sentinel; it alerts the community to danger.

So the place is, then, a caracol Zapatista: the caracol of Oventik, in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, Chiapas, Mexico.

And the starting date is May 3. Why May 3?

Well, in our communities this is the day of planting, of fertility, of harvest, of seeds. It is the day of Santa Cruz.

Custom in the communities is to plant a cross in the earth at the beginning of the river, or the stream or spring that gives life to the village. This signals that the place is sacred, and it’s sacred because water is what gives life. So May 3 is the day that the communities ask for water for the planting and for a good harvest. The villagers go to the source of the water to make offerings, that is, they talk to the water, give it flowers, a cup of atole, incense, some chicken soup without salt. In other villages they give it a shot of alcohol, but since alcohol is prohibited in the Zapatista communities they give it soda pop. The chicken soup they offer the water doesn’t have salt so that the water doesn’t dry up. While they are carrying out the offering ceremony, they play music and everyone begins to dance, children, young people, old people. When the offering is over the community gathering begins. The food they have brought is distributed: atole agrio, chicken, beans, squash. They eat there together next to the water source, collectively. After that, they go home. And out of pure joy they continue dancing in the village and eat together and share coffee and bread. There are Zapatista compas who are carpenters, and they celebrate this idea too; they say they make a cross out of whatever wood they can find and put it in the ground when they begin construction. They say this is because of the responsibility of the worker—with this act the worker expresses responsibility for the construction and puts effort into it so that it turns out well, because it is on him that it turn out well. So now you know. See what you can do with it. If you accept the challenge or not, it’s on you.

Note: the following is only for those who are going to present. That is, it will only go out in the formal invitations that we send to those who are going to speak. Don’t go around publishing it because it is a….

Secret Clause:

All of this is so that you understand the context, as they say, of the seminar.

What do we expect of you?

We want you to understand that people are coming from very far away, and will have sacrificed pay and time to come listen to what you are going to present. They do not come out of idleness, or because they are going to learn something. They don’t come because it is trendy or because they are ignorant. They come because perhaps they see those storm clouds on the horizon, because the rains and winds are already battering them, because their hunger to understand what is happening is not satisfied, because they sense the storm that is coming.

So just like we Zapatistas respect you, we ask that you respect these people. There will be a gate-crasher here and there, but the majority are our compas. They are people that live and die struggling, without anyone, other than us Zapatistas, noticing. For them there will be no museums, no statues, no songs, no poems, and their names will never appear on subway cars, as street names or neighborhood names. They are no one, of course. And not despite that but precisely because of it, for us Zapatistas they are everything.

So don’t be offended, but do not bring with you slogans, dogmas, condemnations, or fads; don’t repeat what others have said before or elsewhere; don’t nourish lazy thinking; don’t try to impose dogmatic thinking; don’t spread deceptive thinking.

We ask that you bring your word and use it to provoke thought, reflection, critique. We ask you to prepare your message, sharpen it, polish it. We ask that you use your message to honor those who will receive it, and not academia or its equivalents, even if that might come in the form of a shaking, a slap, or a scream.

The seed that we ask of you for this seminar or seedbed is one that questions, provokes, feeds, and compels us to keep thinking and analyzing. It is a seed that allows other seeds to hear that they must grow and they must do it their way, on their calendar and in their geography. Oh yes, we know: your prestige will not swell, nor your bank account, nor your share of fame. Neither will you find new followers, disciples, or flocks.

What’s more, you won’t even see the only sign of success that will come as a result, which is that in other places, on other calendars and in different geographies, others[iv]will challenge it all and discuss, debate, question, critique, imagine, believe.

This is what we ask of you. This and only this.

From the concierge of the Little School, now outfitted as the “Office of Protocol, Design, and Printing for weddings, quinceñeras, divorces, baptisms, frustrated graduations, seminars, and other events.” I am currently hanging signs that say “No credit available today, or tomorrow either,” and “Life vests available upon order,” “Get your pirated telescope very-cheap-everything-legal-my-dear-of-course,” “This establishment does not discriminate on the basis of myopia.”

Mexico, April of 2015.

[i] The text uses “invitadoas,” or invited speakers, to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] The text uses “aquelloas” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iii] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iv] See iii.

Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

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EZLN: About the Homage and the Seminar

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33. la realidad

Sup Galeano.

ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION.

March 2015.

To the compas of the Sixth in Mexico and in the World:

Compas:

I have been asked to let you know that…

Despite the significant increase in military activity in the vicinity of the Zapatista Caracoles (aggressive patrols, intimidating checkpoints, threatening flyovers)—particularly in the caracoles of La Realidad and Oventik (the first has just opened a school-clinic, and the second will host the tribute to Don Luis Villoro Toranzo)…

Despite the growing belligerence of the paramilitary groups sponsored by the Chiapas government…

Despite the tired “new” lies in the paid media /no, there is not and there has not been any proposal for dialogue; no, not since 2001, that is to say that no federal official has approached the EZLN in the last 14 years for any reason other than in an attempt to assasinate the Zapatista leadership; no, the federal and state governments are not looking to improve the living conditions of indigenous people in Chiapas, rather, they are trying to divide communities; no, the only governmental approaches that Jaime Martinez Veloz claim for himself were not to Zapatistas but to the paramilitaries backed (before he took over) by Luis H. Alvarez, Juan Sabines Guerrero, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, and now Manuel Velasco Coello, Rosario Robles Berlanga and Enrique Peña Nieto, one of whose groups (the CIOAC-H) is responsible for the murder of the compañero teacher Galeano; no, and so forth and so on/…

Despite the fact that truth and justice are still missing in Ayotzinapa…

Despite the fact that out there they’re busy with other things (more important things, right?) and that quickly changing trends in “mobilization” only prove that frivolousness is the overall strategy…

In spite of the fact that dignity reveals, time and again, reality / in the far north of Mexico it is discovered that there are still methods of exploitation from the time of President Porfirio Diaz. “In the North we work and have to support the lazy ones in South,” say the powerful; and while the fields are cultivated by men, women, children and elderly indigenous Triqui and Maya, the powerful say nothing and kneel before foreign power. In the Valle de San Quintin, Baja California, in what is known as Oaxacalifornia, the day laborers ask for fair wages and labor rights. They boil it down to few words: “we only want justice.” The government represses them “for going around like rowdy troublemakers”: 200 are detained. The governor, a PANista, meets with the commanders of the 67 infantry battalion of the federal army “to maintain social peace.” The top headline in the paid media is “007 in the Zócalo”. The hashtag #SanQuintinEnLucha isn’t trending /

In spite of it all…

Or precisely because of it all…

the EZLN confirms the celebration of:

– The homage to the compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo and Zapatista teacher Galeano, on May 2, 2015, in the Caracol of Oventic, Chiapas, Mexico. In this homage, in addition to the Zapatista compañeras and compañeros bases of support, the following people have confirmed their participation: Juan Villoro Ruiz, Fernanda Navarro, Adolfo Gilly, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Don Mario Gonzalez Contreras, father of César Manuel Gonzalez Hernandez, one of the 46 missing from Ayotzinapa, and Doña Bertha Nava, mother of Julio Cesar Ramirez Nava, one of the 46 missing from Ayotzinapa; as well as family members of compañero teacher Galeano and Zapatista autonomous authorities of the 5 zones.

– The kick-off of the seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” convoked by CIDECI-Unitierra and the EZLN’s Sixth Commission on May 3-9, 2015, in the mountains of the Mexican southeast. I have been told that the following people have confirmed their participation in the Seminar:

Doña Bertha Nava, Don Mario González Contreras and Doña Hilda Hernández Rivera, (family members of Ayotzinapa’s missing 46). Pablo González Casanova. Adolfo Gilly. Juan Villoro Ruiz. Elena Álvarez-Buylla. Catherine Marielle. Álvaro Salgado. Alicia Castellanos. Óscar Olivera (Bolivia). Margarita Millán. Sylvia Marcos. Mariana Favela. Karla Quiñonez (USA). Xuno López. Jean Robert. Carlos González. María Eugenia Sánchez Díaz de Rivera. Eduardo Almeida Acosta. Vilma Almendra (Colombia). Philippe Corcuff (France). Luis Lozano Arredondo. Juan Wahrem (Argentina). Rosa Albina Garabito. Jerónimo Díaz. Rubén Trejo. Manuel Rosenthal (Colombia). Hugo Blanco (Perú). Juan Carlos Mijangos Noh. Greg Ruggeiro (USA). Ana Lydia Flores Marín. Javier Hernández Alpízar. Pablo Reyna. Christine Pellicane (France). Efraín Herrera. Domi. Antonio Ramírez. John Berger (Great Britain). Donovan Hernández. Sergio Rodríguez. Raúl Zibechi (Uruguay). Sergio Tischler Visquerra (Guatemala). Jorge Alonso. Jerome Baschet (France). Paulina Fernández C. Carlos Aguirre Rojas. Gilberto López y Rivas. Daniel Inclán. Enzo Traverso (Italy). Silvia Federici (Italy). Immanuel Wallerstein (USA). John Holloway (Ireland). Michael Lowy (Brazil-France). Marcos Roitman (Chile-Spanish State).

From the concierge of the Little School, stacking boxes and more boxes marked “FLUNKEES.”

Mexico, March 2015.

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Section entitled “From the Diaries of the Cat-Dog”

On options:

Imagine you are having a nightmare. You find yourself in the midst of a desolated landscape. Not like after a war, but rather as if in the midst of its horror. On the right side of the road dividing the landscape is a modern building complex. At the entrance, a sign gives notice or warning: “Visions of Reality Mall.” Two modern imposing buildings stand out. The marquee for one of them reads, “Course in Ethical Jounralism and Objetive Reporting. Taught by: Ciro Gómez Leyva, Ricardo Alemán, Joaquín López Dóriga, Javier Alatorre and Laura Bozzo.” The building by its side announces: “Course in Ethical Journalism and Objetive Reporting. Taught by: Jacobo Zabludovski and 4 others from the only remaining free and independent spaces.”

You, a discerning person, of course, tolerant, of course, inclusive, of course, civilized, of course, reasonable, of course, with reasoned arguments, of course, educated, of course, with an actual e-d-u-c-a-t-i-o-n, of course. Even in your nightmares you maintain your composure, obviously.

That’s why you understand why there are long lines to get into one place or the other.

You are feeling self-congratulatory due to the fact that there are informational options for every preference when you hear, in a corner to the left, a little girl trying to play the tune of “the long and winding road” by the Beatles on her school flute.

You, unable to hide your irritation at the child’s off-key notes, realize that on the left side of this long and torturous road there is a group of beings (incomprehensible, of course), constructing little huts (miserable little things, of course), and their signs do not offer courses or discounts, of course, but rather manage only to stammer “free, autonomous, alternative, or whatever you call them media.”

You are faced then with a dilemma: either you—generously of course—widen your criteria, your tolerance, your inclusiveness, your civility toward this side of the road; or you feel grateful that there are things that never go out of style (like the bulldozer, the nightstick, the police, the antiriot squads). You are paralyzed in the face of this complex dilemma. Since you don’t know what to do, your smartphone—thanks to a modern application that gives you a zap whenever the hard drive is reconfigured (yours, of course)—activates in order to awaken you. You come to attention, but everything looks the same: the war landscape, the fancy buildings on the right side, the poor ones on the left. Ah, but instead of the out-of-tune flute playing “the long and winding road” you hear a disconcerting rhythm, a mix of ballad-cumbia-corrido-ranchera-tropical-hiphop-ska-heavy-metal that, played on the marimba, launches into “Ya se mira el horizonte…” [the Zapatista anthem].

In that terrible situation you know that you have to take drastic measures. But you can’t decide, should I get a new cell phone, or just update the operating system? That, my friend, is a real dilemma. But vote or not vote, what is that??

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On the paid media:

– They say that those wise men and women, of grand studies and knowledge, realized that what the ignorant, illiterate, and premodern indigenous said was true: “in capitalism, the one who pays rules.”

– On the “five free and independent spaces” and Molotov: uh oh, it seems that Jacobo did make someone stupid.[1]

On postmodernity:

– Note to divers: the pool doesn’t have water, just shit. Proceed with caut…. Splash!

– Break-up conversation of a postmodern couple: It’s not you, it’s the context.”

On the seminar:

– The following message came from Italy: “So-and-so said he would only attend (the seminar) if he could personally talk to subcomandante insurgente marcos.” When the deceased heard that, thinking the message was from Monica Bellucci, he began to stir in his grave. Later they told him who the message was from and, disappointed, the deceased settled back down. SupMoy said to just send a message back that “il supmarcos e morto, se volete, potete cercare in inferno” [italian in original] along with a calendar. Questioned on the subject by Los Tercios Compas S.A. (without) C. (nor) V. of (i)R. (i) L.[2] (note: use of this brand prohibited without the express written consent of those who (can’t) pay for it), SupMoy declared “the thing is that there are people who don’t realize that we are in 2015.

– Pst. Pst. The organization of the seminar is a mess. But pretend you didn’t hear that. Place yourself in harmony with the universe. Now repeat with me “ommmm, the seminar is already organized, ommmm.”

I testify: meow-woof (and vice versa).

[1]“Que no te haga bobo Jacobo” (Don’t Let Jacobo make you stupid) is a song by Molotov referring to media giant Televisa’s ex-anchor Jacobo Zabludovsky.

[2] S.A. de C.V. de R.L. in Spanish stands for Sociedad Anonima de Capital Variable de Responsibilidad Limitada, or Anonymous Society of Variable Capital, Limited Liability. The formulation here, S.A. (sin)C (ni) V de (i)R (i)L, would mean Anonymous Society (without) Capital (nor) variable capital of (un)limited (ir)responsibility.

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EZLN: Thank You Part III

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The Most Expensive Building in the World

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.  Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

February-March, 2015

It is the eve of the big day… in the wee hours of the morning. The cold bites under the cover of shadow. On the solitary table that furnishes this small hut (which has no sign but is known to now be the headquarters of the Zapatista Command), there is a handwritten, wrinkled sheet of paper detailing the accounts for the construction of the clinic-school in the Zapatista community of La Realidad. A voice summarizes the gazes, silences, smoke, rage:

The accounts don’t balance. The life of any Zapatista is worth more than Peña Nieto’s white house and the houses of all of the rich in the whole world combined. The entirety of the funds required to construct the huge buildings where the powerful hide in order to organize their thievery and crimes would not be enough to pay for a even a single drop of Indigenous Zapatista blood. That is why we feel that this is the most expensive building in the world.

So must state clearly that what doesn’t appear in the accounts is the blood of our compañero Galeano. All of the papers in the history of the world would not be enough to balance that account.

And so that is how it should appear in those lists that come out in the press where they name the richest people, and where the poorest live. The rich have first names, last names, lineage, and pedigree. But the poor only have a geography and a calendar. So they should say that the most expensive building on the whole planet is in Zapatista La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. And that the Indigenous Zapatista girls and boys attend the most expensive school in the world. And that the men, women, boys, girls, elderly, indigenous, Zapatistas, Mexicans, when they get sick in La Realidad, will be treated in the most expensive clinic on earth.

But the only way to balance these accounts is to struggle to destroy the capitalist system. Not to change it. Not to improve it. Not to make it more human, less cruel, less murderous. No. To destroy it completely. To annihilate each and every one of the heads of the Hydra.

Even then there would be more to do, as what we want here is to construct something better: another system, one without masters, without patrons, without bosses, without injustice, without exploitation, without disrespect, without repression, without dispossession. One without violence against women, children, anyone who is different. One where work is paid justly. One where ignorance does not rule. One where hunger and violent death are just bad memories. One where no one can be above on the backs of others below. One that is reasonable, one that is better.

Then and only then, the Zapatistas can say that the accounts are even.

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Thank you to the others,[1] men, women, children, elderly, groups, collectives, organizations, and whatever you call them inside and outside the Sixth in Mexico and around the world for the support you have given us. This clinic and school are also yours.

Now you know that there is an Autonomous Health Clinic and Autonomous School in the Zapatista La Realidad available to you.

We know that it’s a little far, but who knows, the world is round and keeps turning, and so maybe, who knows, could be… perhaps one day on some dark early morning you realize that, this thing about entering the struggle to balance the accounts is part of your own balance sheet.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

La Realidad Zapatista, Chiapas, Mexico

March 2015


Section “From the Diaries of the Cat-Dog””

Notes on gender:

-(…) That is why as women of this country we need to organize ourselves, because there are many disappearances. Many of us are mothers, and we are suffering the pain and sadness of having our sons disappeared, our daughters killed. Now in this system, in addition to being humiliated, disrespected, exploited, in addition to all of that, they come to kill and disappear our children. This is what happened in the ABC case and now with the 43 disappeared from Ayotzinapa, the disappeared women in Ciudad Juárez, and the case of Aguas Blancas—all of this is the system’s doing.

This system will not resolve our problems, it will not provide us with any answer. That is why, brothers and sisters, we need to organize ourselves because it is the we who will decide, who will set out the path that we want as peoples. As communities of men and women, not only indigenous communities in the countryside but also you sisters in the city, we must learn to govern ourselves, alongside our men, together between men and women. This is how we will build a new system where we as women are taken into account and perhaps there, compañeras, sisters, we will find relief from the pain inside us and this collective rage that now unites us.

(…) Now, in the 21st century, there are just a few women who enjoy wealth—the wives of the rich, the wives of the presidents and governors, and the women who are congressional representatives and senators. But in our situation as indigenous women we continue to suffer pain, sadness, grief, rape, exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, imprisonment, disrespect, marginalization, torture, and much more, because for us there is no government. This is why the situation for the rest of the women in the country is still the same, they are living just as women lived before in previous eras [the time of the ejidos, the time of the colonies]. Our grandfathers adopted this bad culture from their colonial bosses and drug it along with them into the house, thinking that they were in charge, as if they were the little bosses of the house, insisting that “I rule”—and this from the father in the family. And the person he ruled over was his wife, and that is how the most horrible thing arose, that the women, that is, the daughters, the compañeras, were obligated to marry whoever the fathers chose according to whom the father wanted as a son-in-law. And they chose whoever offered more liquor or more money. That’s how things worked in the time of the ejidos, the woman was never taken into account. When the men organized themselves to work, women were left out.

(…) So many women have been disappeared, killed, raped, exploited, and nobody says anything about them. And a few rich women enjoy the wealth created by other exploited women. Those rich women do not suffer, they do not feel the pain and humiliation of being exploited because one is poor. But that is no reason for us to stop organizing and fighting as women, because for most of us women, this system only means pain, sadness, imprisonment, humiliation, and rape. This is the situation of the mothers of the 43 disappeared students, the ABC Daycare, the mine in Pasta de Conchos. It is the same thing in Acteal. But this does not mean we will stop organizing and fighting in the countryside and the city. This is why we are sharing with you for the first time in history.

(…) In this system, there are men who do work that is usually considered woman’s work, but this is not for the good of a new society like what we Zapatista are trying to create. Here is an example: in some places there are fancy restaurants where very elegantly dressed men do the work that usually women do, but they are exploited. Meanwhile, the women who previously held these jobs are taken elsewhere for other purposes, like commodities, where their photos are taken for magazines, movie covers, and internet publications. So we see that life in this system in which we live is harder than it was 520 years ago, because it is the same bad government: the grandchildren are the same as the sons of the landowners of before, and they are the ones who continue exploiting us today in this country. So we see that there is never any change in the system and it is always the sisters and brothers suffering this same pain that the bad government causes us today. (Notes from the sharing/exchange of the Zapatistas in the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism. Complete version found in “Zapatista Rebellion n.4,” next issue).

In this system, to be born, grow up, live and die as a woman can be like being dragged through a thicket of barbed wire. But this pain is just one of many stains on history. What brings relief is that women, more and more of them, decide to stand up and walk with their heads held high. Not as if the barbs were simply flowers, but as if the scratches, including the lethal ones, made them stronger, urging them to forge new paths. Not paths to change which gender is dominant, but to end domination. Not to have a place in the history from above, but so that history below ceases to be a wound that never heals or scars over. Neither dominator nor dominated. Neither queen nor plebian. Neither Khaleesi nor Jhiqui. Neither boss nor employee. Neither slave nor master. Neither owner nor servant. But the terrible part of this is not that every being born a woman must fight this racket on every page of the calendar in whatever political geography to come. What is terrifying is that those who strive for a better world often weave these injurious traps with their own hands. But every so often reality, which is feminine, lands a blow on the calendar of above from every geography below. I have faith.

[1] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN: Thank You Part II. Capitalism Destroys, The People Build

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March 2015

Capitalism Destroys, the People Build

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

The words of the EZLN’s General Command in the voice of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in the Zapatista community La Realidad at the presentation of the Zapatista Autonomous School, “Compañero Galeano” and the Autonomous Clinic 26 of October, “Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro” to the Zapatista bases of support, March 1, 2015.

Good morning to everyone, compañeros and compañeras of this zone, in this caracol of La Realidad, Selva Fronteriza zone.

We are here with you today, compañeros, compañeras of this zone, to officially turn over these buildings to the compañeros andcompañeras bases of support of this Zapatista community, La Realidad, Nueva Victoria, as it is called in the struggle for us as the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Compañeros and compañeras, what we must make clear and understand is that the pain carried by each Zapatista continues, not only the Zapatistas in Mexico, but across the world, because we do not have with us the compañero whose name this new construction carries: compañero Galeano.

This construction was the fruit and the work, the efforts and the organization of the compañeros and compañeras of the International Sixth and the National Sixth. Here we are demonstrating what we Zapatistas are, in Mexico and in the world.

What we are, what we think, and what we want, is life. We want them not to kill us.

The work of the capitalist system is to destroy what the poor people build. But the poor people will not stop building, because it is their life. The system destroys what the people build because it knows that one day the system itself will be destroyed, because it is based on exploitation and humiliation. Capitalism does not build life, and it leaves us, the poor, with nothing. All we have is what we build ourselves, the men and women who struggle, no one else.

That is why we are stating what we are, here at the construction site, here in the community of compañero Galeano, teacher of the Zapatista Little School, sergeant in the struggle, miliciano[1] in his organization, authority in his own life, an example for all of us.

Capitalism wants to put an end to this example and we will not allow it.

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We want to say clearly here in this community, for those who are not on our side: we are not against them. We want respect; they know that. And we have said: if they respect us, we will respect them; we are not here to kill poor people. But if they let themselves be used by the system, they know that they are on the side of the criminal, the exploiter, the murderer, that is, capitalism.

We want to say clearly here, for the people who do not agree with us: we are not bothered if they are not in agreement with us, because one day this will be for them. Maybe not those who are mothers and fathers now because many of them are already fifty or sixty years old, but their children will see the fruits of what we are building.

We tell you from our hearts and in all truth: we are struggling for the people of Mexico, and maybe we will even be an example for the world. We want to make that clear, because what we want is life. We have said clearly that we are also struggling for the soldiers, for the police officers, because we know that they are also poor and that it is because of their poverty that they sell their bodies, their lives, their souls, their blood, their bones, their flesh; they sell out because capitalism buys them off so that they will defend it. We will never see a rich person, or the children of the rich, among the soldiers that come here to confront us. The children of the rich may be there, but as the generals who exploit their own soldiers.

We know this is how it works, the rich people’s trick they buy us off – the poor people of Mexico – by giving us little gifts so that we believe that the government is good. But the bad government of the capitalist system will never be good, and never ever will the rich be good. Take a simple example: if sometimes we fight among ourselves, as relatives, brothers, sisters, or uncles and aunts, even though we are family, from the same father and mother, how is it possible that we could believe what the rich say? How is it possible for us to believe that they are good when we don’t know even know them? For example, now that election time is coming, which of the candidates do we actually know?

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We want to say clearly and make absolutely clear: we don’t have anything against our brothers, those who want to be brothers to those of us who are in struggle. Whether they want to [struggle] or not, it’s no problem either way. But just like we say there is no problem, we don’t want them to give us any problems. The person that goes looking for problems finds them. And when we say this – that those looking for problems find them – it is also true for we as Zapatistas. It is true for anyone who provokes conflict. That is why we are saying clearly here: we are not going to cause problems, because we don’t have anything against those who don’t want to struggle with us.

It is a shame and it makes us sad to see them fooled, exploited, and humiliated. They don’t have anything to teach their children for the future. For the Zapatistas, our children matter to us, and we want to show them a path to a future where there is no more exploitation or humiliation, where we can govern ourselves.

And so, compañeros, compañeras, this building that we are inaugurating is the fruit, the result of how our compañeros andcompañeras of the Sixth understand us, but also of other brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world who still haven’t become part of the struggle of the Sixth, of the struggle convoked by our Sixth Declaration, but who support us in their hearts.

Perhaps here, on this long journey, they will realize what is happening and join us in struggle. But here we see part of the efforts, struggle, and organization of these brothers and sisters, of Mexico and the world who are not part of the Sixth.

But the greatest part comes from the efforts, the sacrifice, and the organization of the compañeros of the National and International Sixth.

Here we are demonstrating how when poor people organize themselves, the capitalist system is unnecessary. A system that dominates and humiliates is not necessary. Here, in practice, is an example of this fact. Capitalism, the bad government of this country, ordered the destruction of the autonomous school belonging to the Zapatista bases of support. And they did destroy it – as destroying things is easy – just like they destroyed the community’s health clinic, as it is (inaudible).

And here is the result, the result of the strength and the organization of our compañeros and compañeras of the national and international Sixth. What the poor people of Mexico and the world [re]built came out even better than it had been before.

So let this be clear: this is a demonstration that what matters for our compañeros and compañeras of the National and International Sixth is the struggle for life.

What pains us the most is that this construction cost us dearly, because this house is not worth the life of our compañero, teacher of the Little School, compañero Galeano. His life has no price. But unfortunately the bad government, the three levels of bad government and the people who sell out, who don’t consider their own children, did what they did to our compañero Galeano.

What we want to say here, because what we say here goes out to the world, is to tell our compañeras and compañeros of the International and National Sixth what we must realize: let’s not organize or do something just when a compañero or compañera is dead.

The truth is that we need to organize ourselves without waiting for something like this to happen. If we organize, we can demonstrate that the capitalist system and the bad government aren’t worth a thing.

We must build what has to be built even when we aren’t suffering deaths because we don’t want these kinds of things to happen. It is the fucking capitalist system that wants this.

We want to make it very clear once and for all that we do not hate poor people. What we want is an end to exploitation.

We want to make this clear, that we have to support other compañeros and compañeras, not only those who live in the Zapatista zones, but other compañeros who are lacking.

This is how we demonstrate that we aren’t just saying that we are organized; our organization is demonstrated by doing what we say, carrying it out in practice.

There are many things that we want to say compañeros, which is why, for the next few days, we will work here with you. Right now we are here to turn over to the compañero bases of support of the Zapatista Army the building that our compañeros and compañerasof the Sixth have given us.

This building belongs to the people. The people have to think about and plan for how it will be used, because what they do with it will serve as an example for other compañeros and compañeras.

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The hard part, the part that is hardest to wrap my head around, is that our compañero Galeano should be here with us.

But he isn’t here and we know who is responsible, and the question that we put to those responsible (for what was done tocompañero Galeano) is how many millions of pesos did the people who you killed owe to you? What did compañero Galeano steal from you to make you do what you did? The people who did this can’t answer these questions, because the truth is that he didn’t steal anything from them. He never stole anything from them or owed anything to them. In fact, they owe us.

That is why we want to make clear here that we are not against anyone. We ask them to respect us, but we aren’t only asking this of them; we Zapatistas also have to show respect, and so we’ll see who starts the problems.

Because we Zapatistas have to think of the little boys and girls, and so we also want to tell them to at the very least think of their own children. They know what happened in 1994. When the bad government decides to act this way, we know that the army won’t respect anyone; those citizen ID cards they talk about aren’t worth anything. The truth is that nothing will protect them. They [the bad government] will name and blame everyone as Zapatista; the people know this and we want to remind them of it.

That is why we are here asking them to listen, to open their hearts, to use their heads and think about this. There isn’t anywhere to go. Even if they flee this place, they will encounter the same death wherever they go. It makes more sense to be here, to live here and respect each other here as people, as Christians, as they say. This is something that even our animals understand, and they are just animals. We are not animals, we are men and women, boys and girls, with brains.

Everything that the indigenous receive now in Chiapas – those who take that little bit that the bad government gives out – is because the bad government doesn’t want us, the men and women, to organize. They give them these little handouts so that the people never think about organizing and struggling. This is the biggest problem that we have here because by accepting this, the people leave their children exploited, humiliated, and trampled.

This is exactly what we Zapatistas don’t want, and that is why we don’t take anything from the bad government, because we don’t want this system. The capitalist system will not be able to get rid of us. We are talking about capitalism, with its thousands of armies, and even so it won’t be able to destroy us. That is why out there they say that there aren’t very many Zapatistas left, but this is just part of the bad governments’ lies. But instead of talking the talk, as they say, we will demonstrate what we say in practice.

In the days to come, we will continue to think of, to remember, our compañero Galeano.

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And so, compañeros and compañeras of this caracol La Realidad, in the name of the compañeros and compañeras of the national and international Sixth, I turn this building over to you, for the good of our compañeros and compañeras of this community, La Realidad, so that the compañero and compañera health and education promoters can begin to do their work.

We just want to make clear that this building belongs to all of us, and so those above should think about whether they want to try to destroy it again. But we also want to say to the people from this village, let the bad government come destroy it if that’s what they want. Don’t allow yourselves, señores and señoras, to be used; don’t let the bad government use you to destroy this, because you are poor people just like us, you know that.

Don’t let them use you, don’t sell out, because life cannot be bought and sold. Let the bad government come and do it themselves. What about those verses in your church or temple, the ones that tell you to love others? How does that fit in? Think about it señoresand señoras, don’t be like the bad government that says one thing and does another. Don’t be like that, señores and señoras. What’s it worth to preach one thing and do the opposite? We don’t want to do this, to say one thing and do another.

As we say, we have compañeros and compañeras who are with us in struggle, and it is because of that that we are able to turn this building over to the community today, March 1. So with that, I formally turn this building over to the bases of support, today, Sunday March 1, 2015, at 10:34, southeastern time.

Many thanks, compañeros and compañeras.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Zapatista Reality, Mexico, March 2015

Photos courtesy of Los Tercios Compas

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Section “Entries from the Diary of the Cat-Dog”:

It is not the same thing to search for a divine man to save us as it is to organize men, women, others,[2] to collectively save ourselves. To delegate to someone else what is your own responsibility is, to say the least, irresponsible.

-Thoughtful warning: Are you depressed because the candidates from the PRI and the opposition make you nauseous? Does it scare you that, when you watch TV, you can’t tell whether you are watching the channel that shows congressional proceedings or the comedy channel? Are you sad because no one [someone] blocked you, unfollowed you, or sent you looking for your cake? Stop suffering! Tweet something like the following and see how life smiles at you…okay, so it grimaces, but that’s something, isn’t it? Here goes:

Elections are to social transformation as homeopathy is to pandemics: they are expensive and entertaining, but don’t resolve the fundamental problem.

In Mexico, the difference between a vote and a garbage can is that the first is much more expensive…and the second more useful.

In order to lose weight: After eating, read the political party’s proposals. Hydrate after vomiting. Copyright in process at the INE [National Institute of Elections].

Tips for foreign tourists: In Mexico, the quesadillas may be without cheese, the politicians without brains, and logic without weight. That’s it.

(To be continued…)

[1] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

[2] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN: Thank You Part I.

Thank you Part I.

 On Sunday, March 1, 2015, after more than six months of work, the building that houses a health clinic and a school was presented to the Zapatista bases of support of La Realidad. The solidarity of people and collectives throughout the world made this construction possible. Here we present to you the accounts, the words expressed during this event, and some photos from that day.

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Clear accounts and thick pozol:[i]

-Construction began on July 31, 2014. It was finished at the end of February 2015.

-Work days: approximately 2015 compa/work days.

Note from The Tercios Compas[ii] on the compa/work day, abbreviated CWD. CWD is a Zapatista unit of measure that could be thought of as equivalent to Socially Necessary Labor Time (SNLT). However, in addition to the fact that it is not measured in hours, CWD is not a unit of measure of value. CWD is a referent in order to compare the individual and the collective (an individual would have taken almost 7 years to do what a collective did in almost 7 months), and to contrast that which is done below and to the left with that which is done above and to the right (a government from above would have taken 14 years and still wouldn’t have finished the job). For example: with billions in their budget, the Chiapas state government cannot finish building hospitals in Reforma, Yajalón and Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The one in Tuxtla Gutiérrez is just one of the examples that abound of the corruption of the “leftist-PRDista-AMLOista” Juan Sabines Guerrero (who, as his predecessor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía confessed, created and financed the paramilitary group known as CIOAC-H in Chiapas; the Aryan Velasco carries on those same politics). In 2012, to “inaugurate” the hospital in Tuxtla, they moved equipment there from other hospitals. After that psychopath Calderón and the criminal Sabines cut the ribbon, they dismantled everything. Now it is just a shell (information from “Chiapas Paralelo” chiapasparalelo.com and “Diario Contra Poder” diariaocontrapoderenchiapas.com). The Aryan Velasco hides his patron’s enormous fraud and follows in his footsteps. Meanwhile, the money paid out above is spent on media propaganda, binge parties, decor, and makeup and beauty salons. In addition, of course, to being spent on persecuting the small independent paid media that still exists in the state, and buying silence on social networks. It is one thing to use handouts to corral people into praising the Aryan rancher, and a very different thing to organize in order to build what the people need. More information on the concept of SNLT, in Capital, Volume 1, Section 1, Chapter 1. We don’t remember the author, but he was a Jew, so proceed with caution. More information on the concept of CWD later on. End of the note from the Los Tercios Compas, press that is neither free, nor autonomous, nor alternative, nor independent, but it is compa. Copyright still in process because the Junta de Buen Gobierno told us “more information later on” (sonofa….didn’t I tell you?).

-Accounting of money received. Total monetary support received: $1,191,571.26 (one million, one hundred ninety-one thousand, five hundred seventy-one pesos and 26 cents, national currency).

Total spent on construction: $370,403.84. (three hundred seventy thousand, four hundred and three dollars and 84 cents, national currency).

Total spent on materials for equipping the autonomous school and clinic: $102,457.42 (one hundred and two thousand, four hundred fifty-seven thousand pesos and 42 cents, national currency).

Cash remaining: $718,710.00 (seven hundred and eighteen thousand, seven hundred and ten pesos, national currency).

With the remaining cash, the Zapatista people of La Realidad propose to work collectively toward the following:

The purchase and sale of cattle: $200,000.00 (Two hundred thousand pesos, national currency).

The purchase and sale of coffee and corn: $100,000.00 (One hundred thousand pesos, national currency).

The purchase of a three-ton vehicle to serve the community: $200,000.00 (Two hundred thousand pesos, national currency).

Support for a store, cafeteria, and bakery for the compañeras’ collective work: $100,000.00 (One hundred thousand pesos, national currency).

For the Zapatista resistance fund: $118,719.00 (One hundred and eighteen thousand seven hundred and nineteen pesos, national currency).

Total cash remaining plus expenses: $1,191,571.26 (one million, one hundred ninety-one thousand, five hundred seventy-onepesos and 26 cents, national currency).

Thus the accounts balance and are now closed. Now all that is left is to continue struggling.

 

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The words of compañero Jorge, Zapatista base of support for the EZLN. In Zapatista La Realidad, at the inauguration of the Autonomous Zapatista School “Compañero Galeano” and the Autonomous Clinic October 26 Compañero Insurgente Pedro,” on March 1 2015.

Good morning compañeros and compañeras.

I would like to say a few words as the compañero in charge of this community.

The capitalist government wants to destroy our autonomy and put an end to the EZLN, but we know well that they will never be able to do this, because whatever the bad government destroys, our autonomy [re]builds.

We will continue to exercise and increase our autonomy and our resistance as the EZLN because we well know that the ones who don’t resist are those who are fooled by the bad government and paid to destroy things. But they won’t achieve anything with their depraved ideas. It is a shame that there are people who allow this, who let themselves be used by the bad government, and don’t realize how they are manipulated and deceived by the crumbs that the bad government throws them.

All of this that I am describing here is no lie, because what they destroyed is already reconstructed much better than it was before, so that the bad government can see that as Zapatistas, we [re]build what they destroy.

And everything that happened on May 2 is not just about us here, but also shared by the national and international Sixth and the world. That is why we, as the EZLN, are here with the compañeros who are authorities in this zone to receive our new school and clinic, because what happed to our compañero Galeano is unforgettable.

We also thank the compañeros of the national and international Sixth who offered their support for the construction of our new school and clinic in this Zapatista community, La Realidad, with special thanks to the compañeros from France, Italy (inaudible)and the other compañeros who offered their support.

For all of this, for what happened on May 2, the government has not done justice, because we know that it is a corrupt and murderous government.

I also want to let you know that later on we will continue with another homage that will be held elsewhere, on May 2. Our compañeroGaleano will never be forgotten because he struggled for the people and carried out his duty as a Zapatista.

Thank you, compañeros.

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Words of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee of the EZLN, in the voice of Comandante Tacho.

Good morning compañeros. Good morning everyone.

In the name of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee of this zone and of the other zones that accompany us in our homage to our compañero, I will allow myself a few words on behalf of all of the compañero bases of support, milicianos, insurgents, the General Command and the entire EZLN.

With your permission, compañeros.

Compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth in Mexico and the International Sixth across the world:

Brothers and sisters:

Today, March 1, 2015, the bases of support of our Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the Selva Fronteriza zone are witness to the conclusion of the construction of the autonomous school and the health clinic belonging to our compañero bases of support in resistance of the community Nueva Victoria, known as La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. Our school and clinic had been destroyed under the orders of the three levels of bad government, paramilitary boss Manuel Velasco, and supreme criminal boss Peña Nieto, and those who organized the destruction of the autonomous school and the health clinic of our compañeros and compañeras, along with the cruel and cowardly punishment of our unforgettable compañero Galeano, zone-level teacher for the Little School for Freedom According to the Zapatistas, on May 2, 2014.

The bad governments’ plan is to do what it can everyday to destroy the autonomy of our Zapatista people in resistance, of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation. The rotting death of this bad neoliberal capitalist system has organized counterinsurgency methods to provoke confrontations between villages and Zapatista communities, which they then use to justify military intervention. It is clear to us that all of the acts of provocation by paramilitary groups paid and trained by these bad governments are meant to destroy the resistance of our people.

That is why today, March 1, 2015, we thank the compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth in Mexico and the International Sixth across the world, and all noble and good people who expressed solidarity with our struggle. On behalf of our Selva Fronteriza zone,caracol Mother of the Caracoles, Sea of our Dreams, we give you our thanks. Because of your solidarity and economic support, we were able to rebuild the autonomous school and health clinic. We are very grateful that together we have been able to build what the bad governments dedicate themselves to destroying.

All of this is a fact, and provides more proof that when we are coordinated and organized we can change our lives, building from below and to the left new things for the good of the people, for and from the people. That is why today in this Selva Fronteriza zone we accept your great support and solidarity in the construction of the school, called Companero Galeano Autonomous School, and the clinic, called 26 of October Compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro Autonomous Health Clinic.

Thank you, compañeros and compañeras of the Sixth in Mexico.

Thank you compañeros and compañeras of the International Sixth across the world.

Thanks to the solidarity organizations who provided economic support.

Thanks to the noble and good people for your support and solidarity.

Thanks you to everyone.

La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. Caracol I “Mother of the Caracoles. Sea of our Dreams.” March 1, 2015.

Many Thanks.

PHOTOS, GOSSIP, CRAMPS, AND NON-SCIENTIFIC REFERENCES courtesy of Los Tercios Compas.

SECTION “ENTRIES FROM THE DIARIES OF THE CAT-DOG:”

I don’t know, maybe it’s just a supposition, but it could be more profitable to try to convince the millions that are going to vote anyway to vote for you, rather than attacking those who aren’t going to vote or who are going to cancel their votes or whatever. Because responding to skepticism with arguments along the lines of “peñabots”—“go get your sandwich and your juice box”; “not voting is a vote for the PRI,” and their equivalents—in addition to being the same arguments used by the PANistas and their PTistas and PRDistas allies and the rest of them, are, well, how to explain? Hmm…okay, in the nicest way possible: the level of argument is an indicator of the level of intelligence and the command of language. Or maybe it’s that you already see that you’re not going to come out ahead and you are looking for someone to blame? No come on! Get excited! The funding is set up, the [party] registration is filed, the right environment, press, leader, structure, and tribunals have been put in place, and there is a candidate for 2018, 2024, and 2030, and so on! Oh, what, you’re lacking ideas? Imagination? Shame? A politics of smart alliances? Oh well, “Quod natura non dat, INE non præstat(from the Latin “that which nature has not given, the INE [National Electoral Institute] will not provide). But, that’s ok! There is always the option of creating another par…oh oh, there’s citizen Card—– raising his hand!

-Pst, pst. They should have appointed Deepak Chopra to a position or put him in charge of the party’s strategy for science and culture. It would surprise you how many cultured people would put aside their skepticism and vote. Hmm…although it’s true, it may be a vote against you.

-Another reason NOT to rely on Twitter as a source of information: reading about the topic on Twitter you would conclude that: islamophobia = a fear of islands.

(to be continued…)

[i] Pozol is a highly nutritious drink made from ground maize mixed with water. It is commonly consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midday meal.

[ii] Literally this would be something like “Odd Ones Out Compas

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EZLN: On The Bulletin Board

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MARCH 5, 2015

ON THE BULLETIN BOARD

The Concierge.

ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION.

March 2015.

Early morning in reality.

Just here, as usual: watching and listening. The crack in the wall is barely visible from the other side. On our side it expands with persistence.

In the classrooms and in the huts of the thousands of Zapatista families who received, housed, fed, and cared for thousands of others,[1] men, women, and children from the five continents, the evaluations made by the teachers and votanes after you all left still resound.

Some of the evaluations were harsh, it’s true, but that probably won’t matter to those who claimed to had been moved by the experience and then continued on with their lives as if nothing had happened, avoiding looking in the mirror or editing that glance at their whim. Despite this, according to what I’ve heard, there were some, a few, that were evaluated as “pretty good.”

“Pretty good” is how the compas describe something good without making a fuss. “How are you?” “Well, I’m here, pretty good,” is how we greet each other.

Meanwhile time marches on just as we do, without fuss, just moving along, like shadows…

And the compa Galeano, who lit up these classrooms, houses, and schools with his word, now fallen and silent, murdered.

Then came the embrace of our compañeros, collective and sincere, from the Sixth.

The distinct and different colors that helped us paint death another way, the night sparkling, the rain coming down while a cat-dog howled-meowed, calling on the light to relieve the shadow.

And we, mocking death, playing with marked cards, deceiving it with names.

Death is losing here. Just as it has for hundreds of years, same as always.

But no, it’s not the same as always. Now that which is compa[2] is made with the figure 6, uniting against fucking death.

And the 6, overwhelming in its unprecedented stubbornness: you’re not alone, enough, not again, never again.

So then, back to reconstructing what was destroyed.

And then the peoples who are our teachers arrive, the originary peoples, and they nourish us with their words, their pain, their rebellion, their resistance.

In the north, the Yaqui tribe is attacked once again and dignity is taken prisoner, as if the earth could be locked up behind bars.

And the system, the fucking capitalist system, paints history as horror. As it always does.

But we learn quickly that “Ayotzinapa” does not only name terror, and that injustice has many names in many times in all geographies.

“Ayotzinapa” also names the simplest kind of dignity—that is, the most powerful kind. The families of the 46 refuse to swallow a lie, reject bribes, and resist an oblivion that threateningly bears its teeth with each turn of the calendar.

This is the kind of dignity that moves our history forward. The kind that does not deserve biographies, studies, specialties, tributes, or museums. The dignity from below, so anachronistic above. So incomprehensible. So persistent. So threatened.

When we see them, we see ourselves. And when we hear them, we hear ourselves. Our leadership spoke the truth when they embraced them and said, “Your pain is our pain, and your dignified rage is also our dignified rage.”

And when resistance and rebellion are convoked in calendar and geography, we are there just behind them, without making noise, making sure that it is the families who step up on stage, that they fuel other hearts with their pain, that their own hearts grow by listening to other words. We are just behind them, yes, but with a notebook and a pen: watching, listening, knowing, admiring.

And up above the competitions in the “protestadium”: the disputes over who gets the stage, over social networks, over broken glass, over good manners and bad manners, over a protest converted into a society page in the paper; and here below, the silent bridge of gazes.

Up there above they are making calculations over how much can be made off the movement; here below the questions are, “Where is truth? When is justice?”

There above, the so-called radicalism promises to itself that it will drive the new R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N (which in reality is quite old), programming activities that it will not attend (the assault on the Winter Palace can’t conflict with the holidays); and the families all alone, stiff with cold and rage.

And below, an anonymous hand offers something for the cold, the rain, the rage. A cup of hot coffee, a piece of bread to entertain the belly, a piece of plastic to keep out the rain, something for wet feet. And a murmur: “When they all leave, [those who are] no one will be left.”

Over there, outside and above, the well-behaved are still pointing out bad behavior. The captains of discipline installed throughout the media and social networks. Police without uniforms but with a platform and a congregation (they’re called “followers”).

And there above, Power has its habits and customs: its mercenary pens, its slander, its lies, its enslavement through the media and the judiciary. The multiple death: killing life, killing memory, killing truth, killing justice: “The fault lies with the parents for sending them to study instead of sending them off to be braceros.”[3]

There above, the latest fads: the elections, the candidates, the “options.” And the common denominator: a profound disdain for truth, for people, for history, for reality.

There above, they know that they don’t know what they should know: the catastrophe advances. They think if they simply don’t name it, it will disappear. They talk about time, the media machine, the internal adjustments, the electoral season, registration, credit, foreign investment, Spain, Greece. Everything will be fine, nothing to worry about. Because if they were to point out the storm, they would also be pointing to their responsibility… and their utter uselessness.

But no.

In a letter to their reluctant brother,[4] somebody lets it slip: “Over here we think that everything is going to get worse for everybody everywhere.”

_*_

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Meanwhile, here below, in reality, the truth is known. There is no justice. Carefully, so that the memory of it is not broken in the process, the part that was destroyed is moved off to one side. This isn’t to forget about it, but to raise upon it a new building. “Another, more better” building as they say here.

There is the coming and going of people and materials, the rain and the sun, the cold and the heat, the hunger, tiredness, sickness. And then the ruckus that comes when the announcement is made “cover your heads, we’re going to take a picture so that out there they know that here our word means something.”

One guy who didn’t get a handkerchief or a ski mask pulls his T-shirt over his head, leaving just a little slit to see through. Somebody jokes, “sonofa…even here there are infiltrators.”

They laugh. But you can’t see that they are laughing. I can hear them, but the photo isn’t going to have audio so you’ll only see that they have their faces covered, and you’ll see the shovels, the hammers, the saw, the wheelbarrows, the cement mixer, and behind them the skeleton of a house, or maybe of a whale, who knows.

Later the skeleton has eyes, although it isn’t clear yet what they are supposed to be, because someone has to explain, “this hole here is going to be a door, this other one here is going to be a window.”

Where the real suffering and sweat happens is in the accounting. “Because we have to make exact reports, so that nobody thinks the money went to liquor or stupid shit.” The accounts don’t balance, so once again they enter the money that came in, what was spent, and what’s left.

Then there are the “anti’s” from the Murderous CIOAC-Historic who send their spies. Their disappointment is audible: “man, they don’t get tired,” they say; “now they have the walls up already,” they repeat; “man, they’re already building the second floor,” they exclaim, scandalized; and then, “They just don’t stop,” in resignation.

I see that it is no longer the skeleton of a house, nor of a whale. Its eyes and its mouth can be seen clearly—that is, its doors and windows.

They paint murals on it. Someone says, “it would be cool if horses really looked like that.” They laugh. Even Selena laughs, and she’s about to get married.

I come closer to see what all the noise is about. They are setting a date for the inauguration. They get serious because the work won’t be done by the day they had been discussing.

Then there is laughter again.

Later, the rain comes during the dance after the grand opening, as it tends to do. Then there is mud and they keep dancing. They are not celebrating because there is a new school and clinic in La Realidad, but because there arecompas in reality. Thats why all that dancing leaves the ground flat.

Somewhere else there is a meeting.

I hear clearly that the leaders, men and women, say, “we have an agreement.”

They call the concierge, that’s me. They ask me for an account of what I have seen and heard.

I say: “well, sometimes one can’t hear everything or see everything well, it depends…” There is silence. They know this isn’t the answer yet, that this is our way of talking, round and round until we get to the point.

So, after a few rounds, I give the answer. I don’t say a lot, nor a little, just what is necessary. They listen in silence. Then they speak. One says, “that is indeed what we are seeing where I come from.” “Same here,” says another. Others concur. More words are exchanged. In reality they haven’t asked in order to find out, but to confirm.

As I am leaving someone stops me and says: “this is what has been happening for 500 years. But what we really need to learn is algebra.”

The meeting continues.

I’m out in the cold, cursing, but being careful so that no one hears me. Well, maybe just the cat-dog. When I realize it’s there, it’s already too late. But the story it tells me will have to wait because I know that the leadership is putting calendars and geographies to its words.

It is the wee early morning hours when SubMoy comes and gives me a piece of paper.

All at once?” I ask.

Yes,” he says, and adds, “and say there will be more information later. This is so the ones who will come get can get started planning.”

Then he gives me some paintbrushes. I’m about to ask him, anxiously, if I have to sweep the floor with these, when he says: “those are for the crack in the wall.”

I wait a little and then ask, “and the colors?”

Ah,” SupMoy says, already at the doorway of the hut, “our visitors will bring the colors.”

So I went to the bulletin board, and I wrote everything up in one go. Done.

(…)

Oh! You can’t see our bulletin board. Okay, okay, okay, here it is:

ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE SIXTH…, alright, okay okay okay, TO EVERYONE:

Write this on your calendars and plan from your geographies:

–Various words to be shared about critical thinking, starting with a report on the completion and grand opening of the School-Clinic in La Realidad Zapatista. Date: to begin March 5, 2015, anniversary of the death of compañeroLuis Villoro Toranzo. Place: wherever you are.

–The pending homage to compa Luis Villoro Toranzo and homage to compa Galeano on the first anniversary of his death. Date: May 2, 2015. Place: Caracol of Oventik. Special Invitees: family of Don Luis Villoro Toranzo, famiy of those absent from Ayotzinapa, and the Sixth.

–Beginning of the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra.” Date: May 3-9, 2015. Place: to begin in the Caracol of Oventik and continue in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Participants: families of the absent of Ayotzinapa, national and international critical thinkers, and the EZLN. Special invitee: the Sixth.

–From July to December, 2015. Decentralized, diverse, simultaneous, selective, massive, etc. World Seminar: “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra.” Place: Planet Earth. Participants: The Sixth and others.

–Second Grade of the Little School (only for those who passed the first grade).

Date: July 31, August 1-2, 2015. Place: locations to be specified later. Participants: only those who receive an invitation for the second grade and pass the admissions exam. More information later.

Fiesta for the Caracoles: Date: August 8-9, 2015. Place: the 5 Zapatista Caracoles

–Third Grade of the Little School (only for those who pass the second grade). Date:

November-December 2015. Specific dates to be determined. Place: to be determined.

So there you have it. As we say here: “more information, later on.”

From this side of the crack in the wall of the Little School.

SupGaleano

Concierge until further notice.

Mexico, March 2015

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Section “From the Journals of the Cat-Dog”:

–That deputized assassin, Mario Fabio Beltrones Rivera, was right when he said that (the candidacy of) “Carmen Salinas doesn’t impoverish the political class.” It’s true, it actually encapsulates the political class better than any analysis: Carmen Salinas makes a living acting, as does the entire Mexican political class.

–The differences between the proposals of the various political parties are the equivalent of those between Tiger Balm and Aromatherapy. They are equally useless, but one is progressive and provides more intellectual prestige. Even in esotericism there are social classes, my dear.

(to be continued…)

[1] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[2] Compa is short for compañero o compañera, like comrade.

[3] Cheap manual labor to the US.

[4] The author uses an explicitly ambiguous term, “bajo-protesta,” which in Spanish simultaneously means reluctance and/or “under oath.”

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EZLN Letter To Doña Emilia Aurora Sosa Marín

Letter from the EZLN to Doña Emilia Aurora Sosa Marín, compañera of Honorary Major Insurgent Félix Serdán Nájera. 

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Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Mexico

February 2015

To: Doña Emilia Aurora Sosa Marín.

From: Subcomandates Insurgentes Moisés and Galeano

EZLN, Chiapas, Mexico

Compañera Emilia:

We got the news just a few hours ago. We don’t know how long it will take for these lines to reach you, but we know that regardless of the date, you will be able to read in these words the collective embrace that we send you.

That is because here we also feel the pain and sorrow of the death of Don Félix Serdán Nájera, honorary officer in our Zapatista Army for National Liberation, this past February 22 in the early morning hours.

We remember Don Félix’s firm and tender gaze, but we also remember your presence. It is as if between the two of you your journey was complete. That’s why we say that his absence brings us pain, but we also hurt for the pain that you feel in your heart today, Doña Emilia.

That is why with these words we not only want to salute the memory of compañero Felix Serdán, but to embrace you as well.

You and he have given us a living example that commitment and integrity are not something to boast about, that they are not measured on stages, in spotlights, through grand discourses or fateful dates.

Because the struggle is not a conjunctural lightning bolt that illuminates everything and then disappears in an instance. It is a light that, although tiny, is nourished every day at all hours. It does not presume to be unique or omnipotent. Its objective is to join with others, not to light up a monument but to illuminate the path so we don’t get lost.

In other words: the struggle doesn’t sell out, doesn’t give in, and doesn’t give up.

Don Félix, like you, always spoke and speaks to us in the simple, true words of those who share dreams, pain, and determination.

When we listened to him, we heard you both. And it was both of you that we saw and see at our side on the long path of resistance.

Because although there are no words to soothe the pain, we have inherited from both of you the commitment to be Zapatistas until our last breath.

This example that the two of you have given us, which is repeated and reflected in women, men, and others [1] in every corner of the planet, demands and obligates us to pursue the two things that we who struggle for justice, liberty, and democracy insist upon: resistance and rebellion.

Don-Felix

And just as we see you, in your gaze we see ourselves. This is because both of you have been on this side of things regardless of trends or circumstances. You are on this side because you saw that our path here and yours there have the same destiny.

Without wasting time and energy on the words and gazes above, the two of you have always kept your heart open to those who are like us: those who have no faith in a system that oppresses us, deceives us, and attacks us; those who, with the same tender rage that one could see in the gaze of Major Insurgent Félix Serdán and in your own, Doña Emilia, construct a thousand mirrors of freedom, without fuss, without useless ceremonies, and without thunderous declarations.

We saw that a flag, the red and black flag of the EZLN, covered the final resting place of our compañero. With our flag, the women, men, children, and elderly of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation were and are present there. With our flag we are with you, Doña Emilia.

Your example will live on in all those who cover themselves with this flag. The struggle will continue with them. Because it is true that death finds no relief if our gaze stops at the end. But here we think that death is only cured by life, and that life is only worthwhile if it is lived in struggle. And the struggle is only fertile in collective.

So we do not die with Don Félix. With his life we live. With his life and that of many others[2] who died resisting and rebelling. Because even though it might seem like nobody keeps an accounting of those who are now gone, there are some who are no one so that accounting will not be forgotten.

We send you an embrace that, although it will not cure the loss, may bring relief in confirming, to you and to Don Félix, that here your gaze is reflected because we walk the same path.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

In the name of all of the women, men, children, and elderly of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

Mexico, February 2015

P.S. According to what we are told by the Support Team for the EZLN’s Sixth Commission, you have already received a small contribution that we sent as soon as we learned this sad news. With this letter comes a little more. It is not a lot because our possibilities do not allow for much. But support between compas has no measure. We know well that this does not relieve the pain of loss, but we also know that you have suffered economic hardship due to the long illness of our compañero. We are certain that thecompas of the Sixth everywhere in the world, like us, will support you with whatever they can.

[1] The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[2] The text uses “muchos, muchas, muchoas” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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Declaration From The First World Festival Of Resistance And Rebellion Against Capitalism

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To the peoples of the world.

From Chiapas, Mexico, we send out our word to all those women and men from below, in the countryside and the city, in Mexico and throughout the world, all those who sow resistance and rebellion against the neoliberal capitalism that destroys everything.

We met in the Ñahtó community San Francisco Xochicuautla, State of Mexico, on December 21, 22, and 23; in the Nahua community of Amilcingo, Morelos, on December 22 and 23; in the space of the Frente Popular Francisco Villa Independiente in Mexico City on December 24, 25, and 26; in Moncolva, Campeche, on December 28 and 29; in the Zapatista Caracol of Oventik, Chiapas, on December 31 and January 1; and in CIDECI in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, on January 2 and 3. We met to hold “sharings,” which means not only to share, but to learn and build together. These were “sharings” that were grown from the deep pain and rage that belongs to all of us due to the disappearance and murder of the students from the Rural Teacher’s College Raul Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. This was a criminal act that reflects the politics of death that the bad government and the capitalists have pushed into every corner of the country and the world. These missing students are our disappeared, and we, as the National and International Sixth, the National Indigenous Congress, and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation will not cease to struggle until they are found.

The capitalists and their foremen in the bad governments have left destruction in each of our individual hearts and great destruction in the collective heart that we make up as peoples, mothers and fathers of the young people who were taken from us, and solidarity organizations, all determined to reconstruct life where the powerful have sown death and mourning.

In the indigenous communities that we compose, we suffer the attacks by the capitalist system through the blood and pain of our children, who are also the only possible future for this planet we call Earth. Amidst the distances and different colors that make up our being and our existence, we maintain the certainty that Earth is our mother and she is alive. And in order to keep her alive, justice must be a demand that is woven by the actions and convictions of those of us who compose the world of below, who do not aspire to govern that world but rather construct it along our path.

From the oceans, beaches, mountains, cities, and countryside, we build and rebuild alongside the assemblies, organizations, and collectives that in diverse autonomous forms weave spaces and forms of organization and solidarity that are capable of containing the capitalist destruction that does not distinguish between peoples and colors and in its chronic blindness only recognizes what feeds the same production dressed as permanent war, unjust markets, and colossal profits for a few. These are values alien to our peoples and against the ancient agreements made with our Mother Earth that give meaning and sense to life in the world, that give us freedom and dignity, dignified in living and defending life.

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But the capitalists who say they are governing but really are only trying to dominate, administrate, and exploit, have a limit—a very large barrier—when they come up against the dignity of a person, a family, a collective, a society who they have profoundly damaged, from whom they have snatched and killed a part of their heart, detonating an explosion of rebellion like that which has illuminated the World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism which we call “Where those above destroy, we below rebuild.” Because we are below; from below we understand the world, from below we care for it, below we look at one another and from there, together, we rebuild the destiny that we believe is our own until the powerful snatch it from us and only then do we learn, do we know, that what is really ours is that which we can construct or reconstruct where capitalism has destroyed.

The pain that is converted into dignified rage in the families of the murdered and disappeared students of the Rural Teacher’s College Raul Isidro Burgos is the pain that has kidnapped and disappeared us also, and thus we will never stop struggling until they are found, along with all of the murdered, disappeared, tortured, exploited, disrespected, and dispossessed brothers and sisters, wherever they may be in this savage capitalist geography, on whatever border of the world, in whichever prison.

The walk of the peoples of the world in the countryside and the city, each with their path, are led by the footprints of their own ancestors, paths that divide, intersect, and cross with ours until they find one direction, marked by a rebellious dignity that speaks so many languages and has as many colors as nature itself, woven from small embroideries that together construct what we need to be.

So, brothers and sisters of this suffering world that is nonetheless happy because of the rebellion that nourishes us: we invite you to continue walking with a small but firm step, to continue to meet, share, construct, and learn along with us, to weave the organization from below and to the left of the Sixth that we compose.

Only from our rebellion and our resistance will the death of capitalism be born and a new world brought to life, a world for all of us.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, January 3, 2015.

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS

ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SIXTH

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Words Of The EZLN On Its 21st Anniversary

The Words of the EZLN on the 21st Anniversary of the beginning of the War Against Oblivion.

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Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Mexico

December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015

Compañeras and compañeros, families of the students from Ayotzinapa who were murdered and disappeared by the bad government of this capitalist system:

Compañeras and compañeros of the National Indigenous Congress:

Compañeras, compañeros, and compañeroas[i] of the Sixth in Mexico and the world:

Compañeras and compañeros, Bases of Support of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation:

Compañeras and compañeros, comandantes and comandantas, leaders of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command of the EZLN:

Compañeras and compañeros, milicianas and milicianos:[ii]

Compañeras and compañeros, insurgents:

Compas:

Through my voice speaks the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Greetings to everyone, to all[iii] who are present and those who are not, from the Zapatista men, women, children, and elderly.

We warmly welcome the step, the voice, the ear, the gaze, and the collective heart of those below and to the left.

We have here as our guests of honour the families of those students who are missed in Ayotzinapa, in Mexico, and in the world.

We are truly grateful for the honour that that they have done us by being here with our Zapatista communities.

Their silences and words also honour us.

Their pain and rage make us brothers.

We Zapatistas have not closed our eyes or ears to the sorrow and courage that the families of Ayotzinapa show us and tell us: sorrow for the dead and disappeared; courage in the face of the bad governments who hide truth and deny justice.

What we know and are reminded of by the Ayotzinapa struggle is that it is only as organized communities that will we find the truth.

Not only the truth that has been disappeared in Ayotzinapa, but also all of the truths that have been kidnapped, imprisoned, and murdered in every corner of planet Earth.

It is upon this missing truth that we can build justice.

We Zapatistas believe that trust must no longer be placed in the bad governments that exist all over the world.

These bad governments only serve the big capitalists.

These bad governments are merely the employees of capital. They are the managers, foremen, and overseers of the great capitalist plantation.

These bad governments will never do a single good thing for the people.

Anything that they might say to the contrary is irrelevant, because these governments aren’t the ones in charge; the only Boss is neoliberal capitalism.

That is why must not believe anything that these bad governments say.

Everything that we want as peoples we have to build for ourselves.

Just like the families of the murdered and disappeared students from Ayotzinapa are building their own search for truth and justice.

Just like they are building their own struggle.

We want to tell the fathers and mothers of the disappeared compañeros not to tire in their struggle, not to stop struggling for the truth and for justice for the 43.

The struggle of the families of Ayotzinapa is an example that nourishes all of us who seek truth and justice in all lands across the planet.

We want to follow the example of the fathers and mothers who left their homes and their families to work and to meet with other families who have the same pain, rage, and resistances.

Hope is not located in an individual man or woman, as they try to make us believe when they say, “vote for me” or “join this organization because we are going to win the struggle.”

So they say.

But, what struggle are they talking about? We know that what they really want is to get into Power and that once they manage to do that, they forget about everything and everyone else.

That it is why it makes more sense for us to follow the example of the families from Ayotzinapa and organize ourselves.

We have to build and organization and make it grow in every place where we live.

We must imagine how a new society might be.

But in order to do this we have to study how things are for us in the society that we live in now.

We Zapatistas would say that we are living in a society where we have been exploited, repressed, disdained, and displaced by centuries of bosses and leaders, and that this situation continues in society even today, at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

And all that time they have tried to deceive us, telling us that they, those above, are the best and that we aren’t worth anything.

They tell us that we are fools.

They tell us that they are the ones who know how to think, imagine, and create, and that we are just peons carrying out their tasks.

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“To hell with that!” “Enough is Enough!” we Zapatistas said in the year 1994. And ever since we have had to govern ourselves autonomously.

That is how we Zapatistas see things, that the work and struggle of rebellion and resistance carried out with dignity by families of the disappeared student compañeros calls us to organize ourselves so that the same thing doesn’t happen to us.

Or so that we know what to do before the same thing happens to us.

Or what to do so that what happened to them in this system can never happen to anyone else.

Because the families of Ayotzinapa have explained the situation very well. Like good teachers, they have explained that the system itself is responsible for this crime, working through its managers.

And this system also has schools for its managers, foremen, and overseers; these schools are the political parties that only seek office for themselves, job titles and petty posts.

That is where they train the servile managers of the bad governments, where those servants learn to rob, to deceive, to impose, and to command.

That is where they train those who make the laws, that is, the legislators.

That is where they train those who use violence to force us to follow those laws, that is, high-level, mid-level and low-level leaders, with their armies and police forces.

That is where they train those who judge and condemn anyone who doesn’t obey those laws, that is, the judges.

The way we see it, it doesn’t matter whether these managers, foremen, and overseers are men or women, or if they are white, black, yellow, red, green, blue, brown, or any other color.

The work of those above is to stop those of us below from being able to breathe.

And sometimes they have the same color skin as those they order to be killed.

Sometimes the killer and the victim have the same color and the same language.

And here neither calendar nor geography matter.

What the struggle of the families and compañeros from Ayotzinapa has made us realize is that those who kidnap, murder, and lie are all the same.

That those who preach lies will not seek the truth.

That those who impose injustice will not bring justice.

And we think that things cannot continue like this, everywhere and on every level.

That is what the families of Ayotzinapa teach us, that we must seek out and encounter others who suffer this illness called capitalism.

Hand in hand with the families of Ayotzinapa, we look for the disappeared from all of the worlds that we are.

Because what is murdered and disappeared every day, every hour, and everywhere is truth and justice.

Hand in hand with the families of the 43, we understand that Ayotzinapa is not located in the Mexican state of Guerrero, but everywhere below.

Through them we understand that the common enemy of both the countryside and the city is capitalism, not only in one country but everywhere in the world.

But this capitalist world war encounters at every turn and in every corner people who rebel and resist.

In rebellion and resistance these people organize themselves according to their own ways of thinking, their own place of struggle, their own distinctive histories, and their own ways of being.

And in their struggles of resistance and rebellion, they get to know one another and make agreements to achieve what is needed.

They get to know each other, but they do not judge each other.

They don’t compete with each other to see who is better. They don’t ask who has done more, who is ahead, who is the vanguard, or who gives the orders.

What they question among themselves is whether capitalism does anything that is good.

And the answer that they come to is NO, there isn’t a single good thing. On the contrary, capitalism has wronged us a thousand ways, and so it is logical that we have a thousand ways to respond.

So the question becomes, how do we rebel against evil? How do we resist so that this evil of capitalism doesn’t destroy more? How can we reconstruct what has been destroyed and make it even better than it was before? How do we raise those who have fallen? How do we find the disappeared? How do we free the prisoners? How do the dead live? How are democracy, justice, and freedom constructed?

There is no single answer. There is no manual. There is no dogma. There is no creed.

There are many answers, many ways, many forms.

And each of us will see what we are able to do and learn from our own struggle and from other struggles.

While those above enrich themselves with money, those below enrich themselves with the experience of struggle.

And, sisters and brothers, we want to tell you clearly what we Zapatistas have learned from looking and listening to ourselves, and from looking and listening to the world.

It has never been nor will it ever be an individual who will give us the gift of liberty, truth, and justice.

Because it turns out, friends and enemies, that liberty, truth, and justice are not gifts, but rights that we have to attain and defend.

And it is the collectives who manage to do this.

It is us, the communities, women, men and others[iv] from the countryside and the city, who have to create liberty, democracy, and justice in order to make a new society.

This is what the fathers and mothers of the disappeared are telling us.

We will have to struggle in a thousand different ways to achieve this new society. With varying levels of commitment, we will have to participate in creating this new society.

We all must accompany the families of Ayotzinapa in their struggle to find truth and justice, because this, plain and simple, is the duty of anyone below and to the left.

And we say accompany because this is not about directing them, manipulating them, managing them, using them, or degrading them.

We must struggle together with them.

Because no honest human being could celebrate this pain and this rage, this injustice.

Sisters and brothers, families of the missing students from Ayoztinapa:

The Zapatista men and women support you because your struggle is just and true. Because your struggle should be that of all of humanity.

It has been you and no one else who has put the word “Ayotzinapa” into the world’s vocabulary.

It has been you, with your simple word; you, with no boss other than your suffering and enraged heart.

And this has given much strength and encouragement to common people below and to the left.

Because out there they say, they yell, that only the big heads [highly educated] know how to do things, that things can only be done through leaders and bosses, through political parties, through elections.

And because they are yelling, they cannot even hear each other, much less the truth.

And then your pain appeared, and your rage.

And you taught us what was and is our pain, and what was and is our rage.

That is why we asked you to take our place during these days of the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism.

We not only hope that you achieve the noble objective for the missing students to be returned alive; we also will continue to support you with our small strength.

As Zapatistas, we are sure that when your missing ones, who are also ours, are once again present, they will be impressed, but not so much by the fact that their names have been taken up in so many tongues and so many geographies. Not because their faces have been seen all over the world. Nor because the struggle for them to be returned alive was and is global. Nor because their absence has exposed the lie that is called government and denounced the terror that is the system.

Yes, they will marvel, but it will be because of the moral stature of their families, of you, who did not for a single moment allow their names to be forgotten. And who, without giving in, without giving up, without selling out, kept looking until you found them.

And so, when this day or night comes, your missing ones will give you the same embrace that we Zapatistas now give to you.

It is an embrace of caring, respect, and admiration.

And in addition, we give you 46 embraces, one for each of those who are absent from your lives.

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– Abel García Hernández

– Abelardo Vázquez Peniten

– Adán Abraján de la Cruz

– Antonio Santana Maestro

– Benjamín Ascencio Bautista

– Bernardo Flores Alcaraz

– Carlos Iván Ramírez Villarreal

– Carlos Lorenzo Hernández Muñoz

– César Manuel González Hernández

– Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre

– Christian Tomás Colón Garnica

– Cutberto Ortiz Ramos

– Dorian González Parral

– Emiliano Alen Gaspar de la Cruz.

– Everardo Rodríguez Bello

– Felipe Arnulfo Rosas

– Giovanni Galindes Guerrero

– Israel Caballero Sánchez

– Israel Jacinto Lugardo

– Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa

– Jonás Trujillo González

– Jorge Álvarez Nava

– Jorge Aníbal Cruz Mendoza

– Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño

– Jorge Luis González Parral

– José Ángel Campos Cantor

– José Ángel Navarrete González

-José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa

-José Luis Luna Torres

-Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz

-Julio César López Patolzin

-Leonel Castro Abarca

-Luis Ángel Abarca Carrillo

-Luis Ángel Francisco Arzola

-Magdaleno Rubén Lauro Villegas

-Marcial Pablo Baranda

-Marco Antonio Gómez Molina

-Martín Getsemany Sánchez García

-Mauricio Ortega Valerio

-Miguel Ángel Hernández Martínez

-Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías

.-Saúl Bruno García

.- Julio César Mondragón Fontes

.- Daniel Solís Gallardo

.- Julio César Ramírez Nava

.- Alexander Mora Venancio

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Compas, everyone:[v]

Here with us are the brothers and sisters from the native peoples who have come together in that great agreement that is called the National Indigenous Congress.

For more than 500 years, we have searched for each other as originary peoples along the paths of rebellion and resistance.

For more than 500 years, pain and rage have been present along this path, day and night.

For more than 500 years, we have sought liberty, truth, and justice.

For more than 18 years, we have come together as the National Indigenous Congress, thanks to the work of the now deceased Comandanta Ramona.

Since then we have tried to be students of her wisdom, her story, her determination.

Since then, together we have slowly unveiled the gallop of capitalism’s macabre chariot over our bones, our blood, our history.

And we named exploitation, dispossession, repression, and discrimination.

And we named the crime and the criminal: the capitalist system.

But that is not all; with our bones, our blood, and our history we also gave name to the rebellion and resistance of the originary peoples.

With the National Indigenous Congress, we raise up the dignified colour of the earth that we are.

With the National Indigenous Congress, we have learned that we need to learn to respect each other and that each of us will have a place within our demands.

We understand that right now, truth and justice for Ayotzinapa is the most urgent demand.

Today, the most painful and infuriating thing is that the 43 are not with us.

We do not want the same thing to happen to us tomorrow, and so let us reach out beyond our peoples, our nations, our neighborhoods and tribes.

Let us call on our peoples to no longer allow ourselves to be fooled with miserable crumbs meant to keep us quiet while the Rulers continue to enrich themselves on our backs.

Let us unite our rage and organize and struggle for our political prisoners with dignity, without selling out, without giving up, without giving in. We must do this for those who are in prison for struggling against the injustices we face.

As originary peoples we fight for what is our collective right—a fight that we learned from our great-great-grandparents who did not allow themselves to be destroyed as the originary peoples of these lands we are from.

This is why we exist in so many languages —because our ancestors knew how not to be defeated. And now it is our turn to do the same.

All of us must say NO to the transnational corporations.

From our communities, our nations, our neighborhoods, and our tribes, we must all think about what we are going to do, how we are going to do it; we have to think about how we are going to communicate to each other everything that the bad governments do to us.

We will have to organize ourselves and take care of each other.

Because they are going to want to buy us off; they are going to offer us crumbs; they are going to offer us petty job postings.

They are going to try every possible way to divide us and get us to fight each other and kill each other off.

They are going to want to dominate and control us with other ideas.

They are going to spy on us and unleash every type of fear inside of us.

And they are going to set a thousand traps so that we falter and stop fighting for our people.

But are we really going to allow them to treat us like their trash for another 520 years?

We only want to live in peace, without the exploitation of man by man. We want equality between men and women, respect for difference, and the ability to decide our destiny, the kind of world that we want for the countryside and the city.

We are certain that we will know a better way to live than the way that they impose upon us.

We Zapatistas want to ask the originary peoples of the National Indigenous Congress to embrace the families of Ayotzinapa by welcoming them in their territories.

We ask that they invite these families to visit them on their paths and with their hearts.

We ask them to extend to these families the honour of their word and their ear.

The wisdom that lives in the heart of the originary peoples is great, and it will grow even more by sharing their words of pain and rage with these families.

As guardians of the mother earth, we know well that our path is long and that it needs accompaniment.

There is still so far to walk and we cannot afford to stop.

So we will continue moving forward.

As originary peoples, we know mother earth well; we work the earth and live from what she gives us without exploiting her.

Let us care for her, love her, and rest in peace within her.

We are the guardians of the mother earth.

With her, we can do anything; without her, everything dies uselessly.

As originary peoples, our time is now and forever.

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Compañeras, compañeros, and compañeroas of the National and International Sixth:

During these days, together with those who are present and those who are not, a “sharing” [compartición] has taken place that is just one more step that we must take together as the Sixth, each in their own place of struggle, in their own way, within their own distinctive history.

There are times when, as history unfolds, it places us in front of us something that unites us, no matter the geography in which our dreams take place, no matter the calendar of our struggle.

Ayotzinapa has become a point that has united us.

That is not enough.

Let us work, organize, and struggle for our disappeared compañer@s and for our prisoners.

Let us form a whirlwind across the world so that they return our disappeared to us alive.

Let us become one, for as human beings we are indeed one, although there are some beasts among us that disappear us; they are the capitalists.

Let us form one single wave, envelop those beasts and drown the bastards who have done us so much harm all over the world.

Let us value ourselves, as the families of Ayotzinapa are teaching us.

Let us do this without ceasing, as they do, without taking advantage of the situation for other gains or interests.

Compañeros and compañeras, let us forget the negative connotations of the phrase “taking advantage.”

Let us think instead about its positive connotations, and take advantage of our common wealth. We have already suffered the evil of those who take advantage to exploit us.

And they still disappear us, torture us, imprison us.

Liberty, justice, democracy, and peace is our destiny

Now is the time for us, the world’s poor, to begin building another world that is more just, where we leave future generations prepared to prevent the return of the savage neoliberal capitalist.

Let us listen to the cry of the 43 young student compañeros who tell us, “search for us, find us, don’t allow them to stifle our cry; the 43 of us are just like you, they have taken away our freedom, we are watching to see if you will struggle for us or if you won’t; for if you don’t, it will mean that you won’t struggle for the rest who will suffer this next, that you will not struggle for your own.”

The cry of the 43 compañeros is telling us, “help, accompany, struggle, organize, work, come together with our families now that they are being abandoned as the elections approach; this is what those who forget about us are doing.”

Let us join our struggles, the struggle for the disappeared. Let us name those who are absent. Let us clearly point to the crime; let us clearly point to the criminal.

The families of Ayotzinapa have fueled our strength of rebellion and resistance; they have opened our eyes even more and they have grown our dignified rage.

They are pointing out a path and telling us that they are willing to give their lives if necessary for their disappeared loved ones.

And they also show us that all of us, whether or not we have disappeared loved ones, must be organized. Because we will all have disappeared loved ones if we do not organize ourselves, since the narcogovernment continues to exist.

They show us that we must struggle, that it does not matter if they talk about us in the paid media; what matters is life and that the deaths and disappearances cease.

They show us that it is time for us to organize.

That it is time for us to decide for ourselves what our destiny will be.

And it is just that; at once simple and complicated.

Because this requires organization, work, struggle, rebellion, and resistance.

Only with movement and organization can those of us below defend and liberate ourselves.

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Compañeras and compañeros of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation:

It has been a difficult year.

The war against our desire for peace continues.

The Ruler still seeks to extinguish our freedom.

The lies that try to hide our true work persist.

Our blood and our death continue to fertilize our mountains.

And as it has been for a while now, the pain and death once reserved only for us continue extending their reach to others,[vi] both in the countryside and in the city.

Darkness becomes longer and heavier across the world, touching everyone.

We knew it would be like this.

We know it will be like this.

We spent years, decades, centuries preparing ourselves.

Our gaze is not limited to what is close by.

It does not see only today, nor only our own lands.

Our gaze extends far in calendar and geography, and that determines how we think.

Each time something happens, it unites us in pain, but also in rage.

Because now, as for some time already, we see lights being lit in many corners.

They are lights of rebellion and resistance.

Sometimes they are small, like ours.

Sometimes they are big.

Sometimes they take awhile.

Sometimes they are only a spark that quickly goes out.

Sometimes they go on and on without losing their glow in our memory.

And in all of these lights there is a wager that tomorrow will be very other.

We knew this 21 years ago, 31 years ago, 100 years ago, 500 years ago.

We know it now, that we have to struggle every day, every hour, everywhere.

We know that we will not give up, that we will not sell out, that we will not give in.

We know, and we are sure, that what is missing is yet to come.

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Compas, all of you:[vii]

In the upcoming days, weeks, and months, we will share more of our word and our thought on how we see the world that is small and the world that is big.

These words and thoughts will be complicated because they are so simple.

We see clearly that the world today is not the world of 100 years ago; indeed, it is not even the world of 20 years ago.

As Zapatistas, small though we are, we think about the world.

We study it in its calendars and geographies.

Critical thinking is necessary for the struggle.

Critical thinking they refer to as theory.

We say no to lazy thinking that conforms itself to whatever exists.

No to dogmatic thinking that tries to become Rule and impose itself.

No to trickery that argues by using lies.

We say yes to the type of thinking that asks, that questions, that doubts.

Not even in the most difficult conditions should the study and analysis of reality be abandoned.

Study and analysis are also weapons of struggle.

But neither practice by itself, nor theory by itself is enough.

Thinking that does not struggle does nothing but make noise.

A struggle that does not think repeats its mistakes and does not get up after it falls.

Struggle and thinking unite in those who are warriors, in the rebellion and resistance that today shake the world, even if their sound is one of silence.

We Zapatistas think and struggle.

We struggle and think within the collective heart that we are.

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Compañeras, compañeros, compañeroas:

There is not just one path.

There is not one kind of step.

Those who walk and struggle do not all do so the same way.

There is not just one who walks.

The times and the places below and to the left on painful lands are diverse, and there many colors shine.

But the destination is the same: freedom. Freedom. FREEDOM.

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Compañeros, compañeras, compañeroas:

Sisters and brothers:

21 years after the start of our war against oblivion, this is our word:

TRUTH AND JUSTICE FOR AYOTZINAPA!

TRUTH AND JUSTICE FOR MEXICO AND FOR THE WORLD!

DEATH TO THE DEATH IMPOSED BY CAPITALISM!

LONG LIVE THE LIFE CREATED BY RESISTANCE!

FOR HUMANITY AND AGAINST CAPITALISM!

REBELLION AND RESISTANCE!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, January 2015.

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[i] Compañeroas is used to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] The EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

[iii] The text uses “todas, todos, todoas” to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iv] The text uses “otroas” to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[v] See iii.

[vi] See iv.

[vii] See iii.

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EZLN: On The Eve Of The Festival

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Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Mexico

December 19, 2014

To the National Indigenous Congress:

To the National and International Sixth:

Compas:

Greetings to all of you. We are writing to let you know how participant registration is coming along for the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism: “Where those above destroy, we below rebuild.”

1. Originary Peoples of Mexico: Representatives from organizations, traditional authorities, and persons from the following native peoples have confirmed their registration:

Yaqui.

Yoreme-mayo.

Guarijío.

Tohono Odham (pápago).

Wixárika (huichol).

Náyeri (cora).

Nahua.

Coca.

Zoque.

Purhépecha.

Ñahñú (otomí).

Totonaco.

Popoluca.

Migrants in the city (purhépecha, mazahua, mayo, tojolabal, nahua).

Ñahtó (otomí).

Mazahua.

Mephá (tlapaneco).

Na savi (mixteco).

Nancue ñomndaa (amuzgo).

Tojolobal.

Tzeltal.

Tzotzil.

Chol.

Maya peninsular.

Zoque (ampeng).

Binnizá (zapoteco).

Chinanteco.

Ñu savi (mixteco).

Afromestizo.

Triqui.

Cuicateco,

Mazateco,

Chatino.

Mixe.

Ikoot.

2. From the Sixth in Mexico: individuals, collectives, groups, and organzations from all 32 federal entities.

3. From the International Sixth: individuals, collectives, groups, and organizations from the following countries:

Mexico.

Argentina.

Australia.

Basque Country.

Belgium

Brazil.

Canada.

Chile.

Columbia.

Denmark.

Ecuador.

England.

France.

Germany.

Greece.

Guatemala.

Honduras.

Iran.

Italy.

Norway.

Russia.

South Korea.

Spanish State.

Switzerland.

Tunisia.

United States.

4. We remind you that the festival inauguration is Sunday, December 21, 2014, in the community of Ñathó San Francisco Xochicuautla, municipality of Lerma, State of Mexico, Mexico, at 2pm.

The sharings will be in San Francisco Xochicuautla and in Amilcingo, municipality of Temoac, Morelos, December 22 and 23, 2014. On December 24, 25, and 26, a Great Cultural Festival will be celebrated in the Federal District in Lienzo Charro, Cabeza de Juárez, Avenida Guelatao #50, Colonia Álvaro Obregón, Delegación Iztapalapa, México, D.F.

The sharings will continue on December 28 and 29 in Monclova, municipality of Candelaria, Campeche, Mexico.

On December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015, the Fiesta of Anticapitalist Rebellion and Resistance will be in thecaracol of Oventik, Chiapas, were we will be honored to receive everyone.[1]

On January 2 and 3, 2015, the plenary session for conclusions, agreements, and declarations will take place at CIDECI, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

The closing ceremony for the Festival will be on January 3 at CIDECI in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Invited delegates can register by writing to the email address: catedratatajuan@gmail.com.

To participate in the cultural festival, register by writing to: camparticioncultural@gmail.com.

5. The guests of honor—the relatives and compañeros of the students from Ayotzinapa who we all long for in their absence—have let us know that they will be participating. That means all of us will have the opportunity to listen to them.

6. Finally, we want to let you know that our delegates are ready to participate with an attentive and respectful ear. We will attend with our faces uncovered so that we cannot be identified. Or better yet, so that we can be identified as just one among many of ourcompañeros and compañeroas of the Sixth.

That’s everything.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, December 2014.

In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.

[1] The text uses “todas, todos, todoas” to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

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EZLN: On Ayotzinapa, The Festival, And Hysteria As Analysis

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On Ayotzinapa, the Festival, and Hysteria as a Method of Analysis and Guide for Action.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

December 2014

To the compas of the National and International Sixth:

To the National Indigenous Congress:

To the family members and compañeros of those killed and disappeared in Ayotzinapa:

Sisters and brothers:

Compañeros and compañeras:

There are many things we want to tell you. We won’t tell you all of them because we know right now there are more urgent and important issues for all of us.[i] Thus we ask for your patience and your attentive ear.

We Zapatistas are here. And it is from here that we see, hear, and read that the voice of the family members and compañeros of the murdered and disappeared of Ayotzinapa is beginning to be forgotten and that now, for some people out there, the more important things are:

-the words coming from other people that have taken stage;

-the discussions over whether the marches and protests belong to the well-behaved or the badly behaved;

-the discussion about whatever it is that appears most frequently and rapidly in social media;

-the discussion over what tactic and strategy will “move beyond” the movement.

And we think that the 43 from Ayotzinapa are still missing, as are the 49 from the ABC Daycare, the tens of thousands of murdered and disappeared citizens and migrants, the political prisoners and disappeared prisoners.

We think that the truth is still kidnapped, and justice is still disappeared.

And we think that the legitimacy and autonomy of this movement [of the family members and compañeros of Ayotzinapa] must be respected.

We Zapatistas heard their voices in person. Thousands of Zapatista bases of support heard them and their voices were then carried to tens of thousands of indigenous people. Their voice thus also spoke in Tzeltal, Chol, Tojolabal, Tzotzil, Zoque, and Spanish to our collective heart.

Those voices are wise, they know what they are talking about, and their heart is like ours when it becomes pain and rage. They know their path and they are walking it.

They know themselves. We know ourselves in rage and pain. We have nothing to teach them. We have everything to learn from them.

That is why now, as their voice is stifled, silenced, twisted or forgotten, we send them our word as an embrace.

That is why we say that the first, most important and urgent thing is to listen to the family members and compañeros of the disappeared and murdered of Ayotzinapa. These are the voices that have touched the hearts of millions of people in Mexico and around the world.

These are the voices that have marked the pain and the rage, that have denounced the crime and pointed to the criminal.

The importance of these voices is also recognized as much by the government, which tries to delegitimize them, as by the vultures that try to twist them.

We want to help these voices retake their place and their path.

These voices resisted the slander, the blackmail, and the buy-off.

These voices did not sell out, did not surrender, and did not give up.

These voices are in solidarity.

We found out, for example, that when young people were piling up in the jails, and the “well-behaved” advised these voices not to pause for the prisoners, that their freedom wasn’t that important given that the government was of course “infiltrating” the protests, those dignified and firm voices of the family members and compañeros of the 43 said, more or less, that for them the freedom of those detained was part of the struggle for the return of the disappeared. That is, as they say, these voices did not let themselves be blackmailed nor did they buy that cheap bit about the “infiltrators.”

Of course, these voices have had the fortune of encountering a population receptive at the fundamental level of being both fed up and empathetic—fed up with the “classic” forms of Power and empathy among those who suffer its habits and abuses.

But this already existed in diverse calendars and geographies. What puts Ayotzinapa on the world map is the dignity of the family members and compañeros of the murdered and disappeared young people, and their stubborn and uncompromising insistence on the search for justice and truth.

In their voice, many people all over the planet recognized themselves. Their words spoke to other pain and other rage.

And their words made us remember many things. For example:

-that the police do not investigate theft; the police kidnap, torture, disappear, and murder people, whether or not they have political affiliation.

-that the current institutions are not the place to take our rage for indictment; they are the places that provoke our rage.

-that the system has no solutions for the problem because it is the problem.

And that for a long time now, and in many places:

-the governments don’t govern, they pretend;

-the representatives don’t represent, they supplant;

-the judges don’t impart justice, they sell it;

-the politicians don’t do politics, they do business;

-the public security forces are not public and don’t impose order other than that of the terror they carry out at the service of whoever pays best;

-that legality is a disguise for illegitimacy;

-that analysts don’t analyze, they make their phobias and affinities into reality;

-that critics don’t critique, they accept and distribute dogmas;

-that those responsible for informing don’t inform, but produce and distribute slogans;

-that thinkers don’t think, they swallow whatever is in fashion;

-that crime isn’t punished, but rewarded;

-that ignorance is not fought, but extolled;

-that poverty is the wage for those who produce wealth.

Because it turns out, friends and enemies, that capitalism nourishes itself from war and destruction.

The era in which capital needed peace and social stability is over.

And in the new hierarchy within capital, speculation reigns and commands, and its world is made of corruption, impunity, and crime.

As it turns out, the nightmare in Ayotzinapa is not a local, state, or national problem. It’s a global one.

And it turns out that it is not only against young people, nor only against men. It is a war of many wars: a war on the other, a war against indigenous peoples, a war on youth, a war against those who with their labor make the world go round, a war on women.

Because it seems that femicide is such old news, so everyday and ubiquitous in all ideologies, that it now goes down as “natural death” in the records.

Because it is a war that every few minutes takes on a name in whatever calendar and geography: Erika Kassandra Bravo Caro: young woman, worker, Mexican, 19 years old, tortured, killed, and flayed in the “pacified” (according to civil, military, and media authorities) Mexican state of Michoacán. “A crime of passion,” they will say, just like those who say “collateral victims,” or “a local problem in the municipality of the provincial Mexican state of… (enter the name of any state in the federation),” or “it’s an isolated event, we must move on.”

It turns out that Aytozinapa and Erika are not the exception, but rather the reaffirmation of the rule of capitalist war: destroy the enemy.

Because in this war the enemy is all of us and everything.

And this is a war against everything, every thing everywhere.

Because as it turns out, this is what it’s about, what it has always been about: a war, which is now a war against humanity.

In this war, those below found in the family members and compañeros of those taken from Ayotzinapa an amplified echo of their own history.

And now not only in their pain and rage, but also and above all in their stubborn effort to find justice.

And with their voice the lies of conformity, of “we can put up with it,” of “nothing is wrong,” of “changes is made within oneself.”

But, in the midst of pain and rage, there above, once again, the vultures circle over the great stain of death and disappearances that carry names.

Because where some count unjust absences, others count votes, windows, job opportunities, memberships, leaderships, marches, signatures, likes, and follows.

But that doesn’t mean that the count that counts and means something is forgotten.

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We, Zapatistas of the EZLN, believe that it is so important that the voices of the family members and compañeros of the murdered and disappeared of Ayotzinapa retake their place that we have decided the following:

1. To cede our place at the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism to the family members andcompañeros of the Ayotzinapa students who were murdered and disappeared. We think that in their voices and ears there will be generous echoes for all of those who, present or not, participate in the festival.

2. That is why we are asking the compañeras and compañeros of the National Indigenous Congress in the distinct locales, the Joint Commission of the CNI-Sixth for the Cultural Festival, and those who would have been offering transportation, lodging, food, security, and health support to our delegation, to dedicate and orient their efforts toward the families and compañeros of the Ayotzinapa students who we all miss today. We ask that you attend to them, listen to them, and talk to them as if they were whichever of the 20 Zapatistas, 10 women and 10 men, who would have formed our delegation.

3. This is why we respectfully ask the family members and compañeros of those absent from Ayotzinapa to accept our invitation and name, from among yourselves, a delegation of 20 people, 10 women and 10 men, and participate as honored invitees in the World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism to be celebrated from December 21, 2014, through January 3, 2015. It was very important for us, as Zapatistas, to listen to you directly. We think it will be very good for all of those who attend the festival to have this same honor. And we also believe that all of you will gain much from meeting other sister resistances and rebellions from Mexico and around the world. You will see then how great and extensive this “you are not alone” really is.

4. The EZLN will participate in the Festival. Our attentive and respectful ear will be there as one more among all of our compas of the Sixth. Not on stage or in special places. We will be like shadows, alongside everyone else, among everyone else, behind everyone else.

5. Our word for the exchange is already on video. We have indicated to “The Odd Ones Out Compas” [Los Tercios Compas] that they should get it to the various Festival locales and to the free, alternative, and independent, autonomous, or whatever you call them media who belong to the Sixth so that they can air it, if they see fit, according to their own times and methods.

6. On December 31, 2014 and the first day of the year 2015, it will be an honor for us to receive as honored guests, in the Oventiccaracol, the women and men who, with their pain and rage, have raised across the planet the flag of dignity that we below and to the left are.

7. And not only that, we also want to use this space to invite everyone from the National and International Sixth, masked or not, to participate in this great exchange, to share their stories and listen to Others.[ii]

_*_

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On hysteria as a method of analysis and guide to action.

We as Zapatistas, are here. And from here we see, listen, and read.

In the recent mobilizations for truth and justice for the Ayotzinapa students, the dispute over who sets the tone of such mobilizations has been repeated, to the extent now of criminalizing those who coincide with a particular overplayed stereotype: young people, with their faces covered, dressed in black, that are or appear to be anarchists. In sum, who are badly behaved. And as such, as the debate goes, they should be pointed out, expelled, detained, tied up, and handed over to the police or just to the ire of the progressive sectors.

This issue has been met with reactions close to hysteria in some cases, and schizophrenia in others, impeding a reasoned argument and necessary debate.

Although we have witnessed this before (in the UNAM strike of 1999-2000, in 2005-2006, and in 2010-2012), the relaunch of this method of analysis and guide for action by the well-behaved left requires some reflection:

The family members and compañeros of the murdered and disappeared of Ayotzinapa, like the tens of thousands of murdered and disappeared, do not ask for charity or pity; they demand truth and justice.

Who is anyone to say that these demands, that could be those of whatever human in whatever part of the world, should be expressed in this or that particular manner? Who gets to write the “manual of good and bad methods” that expresses pain, rage, and nonconformity?

In any case, one can and should debate how compañerismo is best expressed: whether from a haughty voice onstage or with a broken window; if with a “trending topic” or a police car in flames; if on a blog or with graffiti. Or maybe through all or none of those, and each person creates and constructs their form of support with whatever they have.

But not even those with the moral authority and human stature to say “yes, that way” or “no, not like that,” that is, the family members and compañeros of those absent from Ayotzinapa, have done so.

So, in that case, who assigned the jobs of commissioners of good behavior for support and solidarity? Where does this joyous pointing out of “government agents,” “infiltrators,” and, horror of horrors, “anarchists” come from?

The argument “those aren’t students, they are anarchists,” is ridiculous. Any anarchist has more cultural baggage and scientific and technical knowledge than the average person who, working as the thought police, point them out wanting them burned at the stake. And that’s not even mentioning those who are filled with praise and pride over the stupidity and illegality used as a form of policing (please who it may) by the government of Mexico City.

But of course, they can create a straw man that represents current trends (some version of region IV[iii] insurrectional anarchist) and build a caricatured theoretical body around it that makes it look ridiculous, so that it can then be dispatched without delay to the nearest government department, whether juridical or media-based (of course, if their arrest is caught on video; if not, well, who is going to miss them?). After all, “journalistic” information comes from reliable sources: betrayal and political policing.

It isn’t the same thing to single someone out (one who points out, accuses, judges, condemns, and demands that the police execute the sentence) as it is to debate. Because in order to single someone out, it is only necessary to be caught up with the latest trends (what is comfortable, easy, and well, increases “likes” and “follows”). Singling someone out does not require investigation or argumentation; it is enough to “post” a few photos. And that is where the great romances between the “leaders of opinion” and the masses of “followers” are born: blind faith synthesized in 140 characters.

From the “I follow you and you follow me” to the “and they lived happily ever after,” to the “You don’t love me because you don’t retweet me or make me a favorite or give me a “like.” “I’m going to go with a different hero.”[iv]

In order to debate one has to investigate (yeah that’s right, turns out there are different anarchisms: right on again: turns out that “direct action” isn’t necessarily violent), think, argue, and argghh, the most dangerous and difficult: reason.

Debating is difficult and uncomfortable. And there are consequences for those who debate (I mean, more than thumbs down, middle finger up, and “a cascade of “unsubscribes”).

But oh well, there are in fact people who don’t walk through life trying to please people, conform, fit, and attract.

Behind every critical being there is a long list of “followers” deserting them, moving somewhere one doesn’t have to think and retweeting doesn’t involve self-critique.

And when progressive journalism replaces the functions of the government office and accuses, interrogates, concludes, and condemns, is that singling out or debating?

Or is that a form of debate? With the anarchists in the jails or pursued or exiled, and the “well-behaved” in the presses, the microphones, and the little blue bird?

Okay okay okay. But we are in agreement that we must support the family members and compañeros of the murdered and disappeared from Aytozinapa, or is that no longer important?

Not the children of the ABC Daycare either? The disappeared of Coahuila, the ignored migrants, the women assaulted and murdered every day at every hour everywhere in all ideologies? Or the only thing that’s important is changing the name of the person that sits in the chair or promotes employment in glass, window, and shelving companies?

No one has accused those who insist on the electoral path as the only and exclusive option of being “infiltrators,” “police,” “provocateurs,” or “soldiers dressed in street clothes.” They may be accused of being fools, naïve, dumb, stupid, opportunists, careerists, intolerant, ambitious, vultures, tyrants, and despots. And well, of being fascists. But not “infiltrators,” even though certainly more than a few fit quite well the profile of government agent and political police.

We know that some are great strategists (its enough to look at their achievements); they think, propose, and impose the idea that “we must move beyond the mobilization.” So there are some with their well-dressed and well-behaved marches trying to contain and control; and others with the direct action of an exclusive and violent rage.

Some with a vanguardist enthusiasm for being an exclusive elite ready to direct, create hegemony and homogenize the diversity of manners, times, and places.

From “if you break a window you’re an infiltrator” to “and if you don’t break it… still an infiltrator.”

For some, what is important is the geographic center and what converges there: political, economic, and media power.

If it doesn’t happen in Mexico City, it doesn’t happen, it is not valid, it doesn’t count. Being “historic” is their exclusive patrimony.

For them, the mobilizations in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Jalisco, Veracruz, Sonora, and in other corners of Mexico and the world do not exist.

But because analytical laziness reigns among them, they do not realize that the center of Power is not located there.

There above, things have changed, and they have changed a lot.

As long as they continue to abandon serious and profound analysis of the new character of Power, following their noses to the calendars above (electoral and institutional) and being led from one date to another, or with the urgent claim that “we must do something, anything,” even if its useless and sterile, they will continue repeating the same methods of struggle, the same regurgitations, the same defeats.

Toward a serious debate:

Regarding the direct actions in Mexico City that took place with the marches of November 8 and 20 and December 1, 2014, it is worth remembering the words of Miguel Amorós:

“In such events, the mere presence of citizenists and their allies is enough to create confusion and transform the best radical intentions into pure activism, seamlessly integrated into the spectacle and thus easily manipulated, either by those who govern to justify the excesses of public force, or by the citizenists to justify the failure of the action to live up to their own expectations. Activism—whether violent or simply ideological—is the greatest testament to the obsolescence of revolt; it reflects the theoretical poverty and strategic weakness of the enemies of capital and the State. Activists, spurred by the need to do “something,” sign up for everything and thus fall into the trap of a media that seeks to depict them as hooligans and provocateurs. The result is only useful for the governments, the parties, or the pseudo-movements—that garbage that if it exists it is only in order to prevent even the most remote possibility of any autonomous struggle or revolutionary thought.” Amorós, Miguel. “The Decline of Revolt,” October 2001, inPunches and Counter-Punches, Pepitas de calabaza, ed. & Oxígeno dis. Spain, 2005.

What comes next: The requirements for protest

Ellos [men]: A credential from the National Electoral Institute or an identity card, proof of residence (if you don’t own a house, a copy of your lease; if you have a mortgage, what exactly are you doing here?), a pants suit and tie (no, not a tuxedo, there’s no need to overdo it—that’s for when we cross triumphant, on the shoulders of the crowd, through that sacred door that those thoughtless people had sought to destroy), clean face and hands, no visible tattoos, no piercings, and no outlandish hairstyles (outlandish: anything that does not appear in the fashion magazines), dress shoes (no sneakers or boots), your signature on a memo of understanding where you promise to respect all signs of authority and/or power in all of its forms and to call attention to any attitude or intention that deviates from said rules.

Ellas [women]: All of the above except with a skirt suit rather than a pants suit. Oh, and sorry, yes, you have to do your hair.

Elloas[v]: Not eligible to participate. Please proceed to the nearest closet.

On the vanguard of the proletariat, the well behaved, and the badly behaved:

We would like to let you know, in case you haven’t heard, that the Mexican Electrical Union (SME) refused to let us, the CNI and the EZLN, borrow one of their facilities for the celebration of cultural events in Mexico City during the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism: “Where Those Above Destroy, We Below Rebuild.”

Before the campaign “Behave Yourself and Just Say NO to the Masks,” the SME had granted, generously, one of its facilities for the cultural festival. As the campaign progressed into “Don’t Fear the State; Fear what is Different,” the excuses began to roll in: “Well, since it’s the holiday season; we don’t have anyone to take care of the space; we’re not going to spend Christmas like that.”

Later they were more clear and told us, “there is a sector within the SME that is against supporting other struggles, and in the assembly they proposed that we needed to put a stop to this issue of involvement with the people from Ayotzinapa, because it is not possible to negotiate with the government on the one hand, and on the other be involved with a movement of masked, pissed-off youth responsible for actions like the one at the Palace. They had to stop these youth from coming to the deportivo (that’s what the SME calls the facility that they were going to let us borrow), where the caravans were going to come and where later you (the Sixth and the CNI) and your mask- wearers (in the role of the mask wearers: the EZLN) wanted to put on your festival. It will no longer be possible to have the festival there; that you will need to find another location. We hope you understand.”

They said other things, but those things have more to do with internal goings-on in the SME and it’s not our place to repeat or spread them.

So how about that? The compas from the National Indigenous Congress had proposed an SME facility as a show of recognition and as a salute to the SME’s struggle and resistance, and we supported their proposal. Yet there are still some people out there who think that the expulsions will be necessary until the improbable moment when the proletariat vanguard takes Power.

And well, the Zapatistas, we get it. But we don’t understand. We don’t understand how a movement that has suffered a campaign against them of every possible type of slander, lies, and harassment (even more than what today’s youth, anarchists/non-anarchists, mask wearers/non-mask wearers, students/studied go through) has given into the trend of criminalizing that which is different. We don’t understand how they can subscribe to this current fad and decide to enter the “circle” of the well-behaved and separate themselves from those who not only respect(ed) them but also admire(d) them. Is that separation part of the principles upheld by the new political party that they’re building? Is it part of its 100-year celebration?

It would have been much easier for them to do like they do nowadays in Mexico City and put up a sign at the door that says, “No masks allowed,” and that would have been it. It is true that we wouldn’t have come in, but your struggle would have been seen, enlivened by all the colors that make up the color of the earth in the National Indigenous Congress, as well as the diversity of resistances and rebellions that, although they don’t have facilities to hold cultural festivals, bloom in various corners of Mexico and the world.

In any case, in accordance with our limited means, we will continue supporting their just struggle. And, of course, we sent them an invitation to the Festival.

Select the correct response:

“Vile mask wearers” (or their equivalents in the new synonyms: “anarchists,” “infiltrators,” “provocateurs,” “students,” “youth”), was said, tweeted, declared, signed, sung, painted, drawn, or thought by…

a). – a columnist, intellectual, caricaturist, journalist, commentator from a conservative paid media outlet.

b). – a columnist, intellectual, caricaturist, journalist, commentator from a progressive paid media outlet.

c). – a conservative artist.

d). – a progressive artist.

e). – a military general.

f). – a person from the managerial class.

g). – a union leader from the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat.

h). – a leader from a political party aligned with the right-wing.

i). – a leader from a political party aligned with the far right-wing.

j). – a leader from a political party aligned… Ok, in short: a leader of any political party.

k). – epi[vi]

l). – Enrique Krauze.

m). – All of the above.

Answer: Any letter selected is correct. If you selected the last option, you are not only right, you have also conducted an exhaustive monitoring of social media, paid media, and free media. We don’t know whether to congratulate you or send you condolences. Read: in today’s times, if you’re not really confused, then you’re not really informed.

On the stage of social media:

A typical tweet from the well-behaved after the November 20, 2014 march in Mexico City: “Why did the police arbitrarily detain civilians instead of detaining the anarchists?” Take note: Not only is it okay to arbitrarily detain the anarchists, they are also not considered “civilians.”

A commentary from the well-behaved in seeing a photo of Mexico City police beating up, in the “whetheryoulikeitnot” kind of way, a family on the outskirts of the city’s main square on November 20, 2014: “I know them and they are not anarchists.” Take note: If nobody knows you or if you are an anarchist, you deserve to get beaten up.

An argument from the well-behaved at the beginning of the movement, or maybe after, it doesn’t really matter: “For sure thoseaytozinacos[vii] were asking for it. Who told them to go around looking like anarchists? Note: no comment.

The impossible dialogue:

“What do you mean you don’t understand this whole thing about how mask-wearers = anarchists = infiltrators? Look, those people are not interested in politics, they only want to create disorder. That’s what “anarchism” means: disorder. This whole covering your face thing is just cowardice. And the thing about the infiltrators is that they’re working for the government. What? Yes, the Zapatistas are also masked, and so are the ones who confronted Ulises Ruiz in Oaxaca, and so are some of the people who are now mobilizing in Guerrero and Oaxaca. Yeah, but they aren’t here in our city (stress on the “our” with a look of alarm). The Zapatistas, the Oaxaquistas, and the people from Guerrero, well, they’re good-hearted little Indians. Of course, without clear political leadership. Plus, they’re far away. We can send them humanitarian assistance—by which we mean getting rid of those things that we no longer want, that are no longer useful, or worse yet, that have gone out of style. But these fucking anarchists are here and they have taken our streets (look of alarmonce again on that “our”) and well, how can I say it? They ruin the scenery. We’re here trying our best to make this place cool, like real retro, like the sixties. You get me? Very peace and love, Age of Aquarius, flowers, songs, soft drugs, smartdrinks, good vibes, you know? Check it out, I have an app on my phone that makes the lights blink to the tune of whatever ringtone I choose. Huh? No, I don’t march with a group, I walk along the sides and I climb on top of a… No, it’s not to get a better view of the march, it’s so that the masses can get a better look at me. Look dude, dudette, whatever you are: protesting should be like going to a club, you get me? It’s not about protesting but about seeing everyone, saying what’s up, and the next day confirming that we are what we are, and not in the media’s social section but in the national section. Besides, this thing in Ayotzi… No, nobody says Ayotzinapa, its way cooler to say “Ayotzi.” Well, as I was saying, Ayotzi has international repercussions, I mean, like it gives us a certain cosmopolitan air. Whatever, with all the attention given to the socialites; that’s for the right. We modern leftists let ourselves be known through these types of events. Next time, if those nacos[viii] don’t step back, we’re thinking about inviting Mijares. That’s right, so that he can sing “Soldier of Love” to us. And to keep with the vibe, Arjona should also come so we can have him belt out “Private Soldier.” Yes, everyone will look amazing marching to the beat, holding hands with the presidential guards and the police. Maybe it would be better at night and we’ll break out our lighters while we sway our arms to the rhythm of “soldier of love / in this war between you and me…” and with Arjona, “I am marking the passage / while I survive / I don’t have anger / oblivion has won out.” Yes, we can see it already, next time Eugenio Derbez will be the keynote speaker. It will be brilliant! We will infiltrate Televisa and get them to switch over to our side! Huh? No, we’re not going to demand the resignation of Peña… Well, because the deadline has passed and now we have to prepare for 2018. Huh? Who cares about those people’s original demands. Sure, poor things, but that’s exactly why they have to accept the direction given by those who know, and by those who know I mean us. Look, what this country needs is not a revolution but a massive “feat,” with us in the lead and only role and the common people in the chorus or backstage. Yes, the story that matters is a “selfie” of us in the front and the masses in the background and below, enchanted by us, hailing us, and… yes, I already know what I’ll say when they beg me to go up on stage… “Hey! Wait! Why do you refuse to engage in dialogue? Fucking anarchist! Yeah, you better put on a mask because you can see the naco on you from a mile away! Ugh, this is exactly why this country doesn’t advance. No worries, I already took his picture and I’ll put it on my Facebook so you all can get a good look at another guy who’s an infiltrator. Or was it a girl?. Well, I didn’t get a good look; they dressed real sloppy, very typical. Oh Mexico, you pain me…”

Other lines of investigation:

1. – The few words that most helped Abarca, under protection in the Altiplano penitentiary, and the house arrest on his Region VI[ix] iron lady—both of them out of the media’s reach—were the words: “it was the feds.” After that, they asked them nothing else. Not because they didn’t want to know, but because they already knew.

2. – Now that those above are seriously considering the possibility of a replacement in Los Pinos (which explains the sudden eloquence from national defense officials and the dizzying strategy of the media to distant itself [from Peña Nieto] are those who before December 1 demanded Peña Nieto’s resignation going to now produce a document called “The Defense of the Institutions and the Rejection of a Presidential Resignation, version June 1996, updated for 2014-2015”?

What singling out and denouncing really looks like

1. – Any analysis that blames the repression on the violent direct actions of “anarchist” groups should be consistent and, in the case of Mexico, also hold responsible the one who broke the so-called “white house” scandal that provoked the ire of the presidential couple (although that person later made up for this by playing prosecutor [to protestors]). But no, distributing blame is also a classed activity, and it is up to the well-behaved to foist the criminalization campaign onto the poor youth (according to the chain of equivalence: infiltrator = masked = anarchist = young = poor), which is exactly what set off the long nightmare that we know today as “Ayotzinapa.”

2. – According to the latest that we’ve seen, read, and heard, actual infiltrators do not hide their faces. Infiltrators working on behalf of the Mexico City government (“the institutional left as an alternative”) and their employees have been filmed attacking protesters, arbitrarily detaining them, and “planting” masks on their victims.

Now then, following a method of analysis guided by hysteria and the impeccable logic of the thought and fashion police, we understand that all the protesters who do not wear masks are potential “infiltrators” and need to be pointed out, detained, and handed over to the authorities “in order to allow the masked protesters to march for their demands.” So now, whenever anyone without a mask is spotted at a march, they should be pointed out and expelled to the sound of the refrain: “No to violence; No to violence.”

3. – Let’s do a bit of remembering: Aren’t the ones who today critique “violent” actions against the “historic,” commercial, and financial patrimony that take place in demonstrations for Ayotzinapa in Mexico City the same people who blocked banks, shopping centers, had that “historic” sit-in on Reforma in 2006, and harassed the employees in the orange uniforms for being “accomplices” of the 2012 electoral fraud? Oh yes, it’s because electoral fraud is more serious than 43 disappeared indigenous people and tens of thousands of persons in the same situation.

4. – The clamor of this hysterical campaign has resonated and now achieved its first victories: a few smooth operators are detained in a toll booth, far from the march, while they collected money for their own benefit; they are tied up and triumphantly displayed in the “taking of Mexico City” on December 6, 2014. Later, through the magic of the media, they become “infiltrators” of the march, and it is claimed that at least one of them was police and one of them military. About the supposed police, nothing more was said. About the supposed military type: he’s 17 years old and “confessed” that he was joining the army in a month. Nobody bothered to recall that all Mexican youth, the moment they turn 18, are obligated to fulfill their National Military Service. Nevertheless, the action was applauded. One hopes that hysteria as a method of analysis and a handbook for action will reach its pinnacle when a lynching takes place. At that point, everyone will look the other way.

The dreaded outcome of a resignation, in six acts (Complete the following names):

1. – A party in terminal crisis. Card_ resigns from the party, declaring: “I will live out my life as an ordinary citizen.”

2. – In the face of the crisis of the political party system, the “citizen option” begins to be put forward. The press and progressivecircles begin talking about the rise of “Social Card_ísmo.”

3. – The movement grows and calls for unconditional unity in support of “citizen” Card_.

4. – Lop_ refuses.

5. – Another electoral fraud. A massive gathering in the capital’s town square. Among the protesters one notices cardboard signs reproducing the latest cartoons by the progressive cartoonists: “The students from Ayotzinapa were an invention of Salinas” being the common denominator. On stage, Ele_ mentions Lop_. The masses hiss and boo on cue. The next day, Ele_ clarifies that the mention of Lop_ was not intended maliciously and that he personally has a lot of appreciation for him.

6. – After the sit-in de rigueur, Card_ announces that the struggle must go on… creating a new party in order to run in the upcoming elections. No, if victorious, Epi will not be assigned to director of social communications and that idiot from desfiladero[x] will not serve as the presidential spokesperson. Or maybe they will? Gulp.

The story that doesn’t count for the world of progressive happenings:

Yes, there are some who remember that December 6 of this year marked the entry of Villa and Zapata’s armies into Mexico City 100 years ago. We, on the other hand, remember the Zapatistas’ negative gesture and rejection of the presidential throne. It is said that the leader of the Liberation Army of the South had this to say about it: “When a good person sits there, they become evil; when an evil person sits there, they become worse.” And if he didn’t say it, without a doubt he was thinking it.

Unsolicited advice which, of course, nobody will follow:

1. – Enough searching for the Mockingjay. Abandon that train of disillusion. Its next stop is “Apathy and Cynicism,” and its final destination: “Defeat.”

2. – Don’t get caught up in the trending topic or whatever it’s called. Same thing with the tweets coming from the “famous” people, the “opinion shapers,” or the allegedly “intelligent” people. Look for the common people’s tweets. You will find there real literary gems in miniature, the thoughts of those who really matter—that is, those who force us to think. There is no small tweet there.

The trending topics (the “latest happenings”) only function as a deformed mirror and are as ridiculous as an enormous masturbation salon: everyone comes out beaten and unsatisfied. Soon we will be seeing tweets that look like a porn script: “Oh! Yes, yes, just like that, don’t stop!” Or maybe it’s a real victory to beat out the hashtags #WeLoveYourNewHairJustin or #Sammy?

3. – Valuing somebody for the number of followers they have and not for their thoughts and their actions is pointless and useless.

If shit had a Facebook account, it would have “likes” (and “licks”) from hundreds of thousands of flies.

4. – In defense of social media, or rather, in defense of using social media, we think that it also counts as a sharing if one chooses where to shift their gaze and their ear.

There are great writers, thinkers, analysts, critics, and social justice fighters who do not appear and will not appear in the paid mass media. And for many of them, it’s not because they haven’t been “discovered,” but because they have chosen a different mode of expressing themselves. This should not only be saluted but also nurtured.

5. – But if the possibilities of social media are great, so are its limits. Besides the obvious, that silences and gazes cannot be tweeted, as gigantic as the social media universe is, a far greater universe remains excluded.

Social media cannot replace basic communication (seeing, speaking, listening, touching, smelling, enjoying), it can only augment it.

“If you aren’t in twitter you don’t exist,” mimics that expired old maxim, “if you aren’t in the media you don’t exist.”

Whether you believe it or not, there exist many worlds outside of cyberspace. And it’s worth lifting one’s head up to take a look.

We’ll be (and have been) seeing you

Yes, we already know that we make some people uncomfortable. For some, we are radicals; for others, we are reformists.

Everyone, above and below, is going to need to accept this:

Here below, there are more of us each day

who insist on engaging in struggle

without asking forgiveness for being who we are

or asking permission to be it.

 

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, December 12, 2014. In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.

Note: The monitoring of the paid media, the free, autonomous, independent, alternative or whatever they’re called media, the social media, as well as all the selfless contributions of sarcasm, free psychoanalytic therapy, investigative tips, useless advice, the 140-character long straight jacket in some places and other special effects are courtesy of the “LosTercios Compas” [Odd Ones OutCompas] who, as their name indicates, are neither media, nor free, nor autonomous, nor alternative, but they are compas. Copyright annulled for using a mask. This text may be cited, recited, and recycled by pointing to the source as an “infiltrator.” Reproduction is authorized in full or in part in front of the police, uniformed or not, whether behind a gun, a shield, a camera, a microphone, a smartphone, a tablet, or in cyberspace.

We have faith:“Winter is coming, so don’t forget your blankets” (that’s something one of the Starks say in the upcoming season ofGame of Thrones. Spoiler courtesy of the “Tercios Compas.” Nah, don’t mention it.)

[i] The text uses “todas, todos, todoas” to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] The text uses “otra, otro, otroa” to give a range of possible gendered “others” including male, female, transgender and others.

[iii] Region IV refers to Latin America on DVD coding. Referring to someone as “región IV” is a putdown, something like saying “oh, you’re so third world.”

[iv] The text uses “sinsajo,” which is the Spanish translation for mockingjay in the context of The Hunger Games. Could be read to mean switching to a different favorite or hero to root for.

[v] The text uses “ellos, ellas, elloas” again to give a range of possible gendered “others” including male, female, transgender and others.

[vi] Likely refers to Epigmenio Ibarra, producer and journalist, twitter activist, and frequent contributor to Mexico’s “progressive” press. Ibarra carried out the first videotaped interview with then EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos in 1994.

[vii] A play on Ayotzinapa and “naco” which is a derogatory term like “hick,” implying poorly educated, ill-mannered, and with poor taste.

[viii] See footnote iv.

[ix] See footnote iii.

[x] Desfiladero is a column in the Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada.

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Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

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Schedule For The First World Festival Of Resistance And Rebellion Against Capitalism

NOVEMBER 28, 2014

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First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism

 General Program

Inauguration: San Francisco Xochicuautla, Municipality of Lerma, Mexico State

Saturday December 20, 2014:

  • 4pm: Registration beings; arrival of delegates

Sunday December 21, 2014:

  • 8am: Breakfast, registration continues
  • 1-2pm: Lunch
  • 2-4pm: Inaugural Event for the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism
  • 4-9pm: Cultural Event.

Note:

  • 6pm: Delegates depart for Amilcingo
  • 9pm: Arrival to Amilcingo and delegate registration begins at this Sharing site.

FIRST SHARINGS IN SAN FRANCISCO XOCHICUAUTLA AND AMICINGO.

San Francisco Xochicuautla, Municipality of Lerma, Mexico State.

Monday December 22, 2014:

  • 8am: Breakfast.
  • 9pm: the Sharing work begins.
  • 2-3pm: Lunch.
  • 3pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 7pm: Dinner.

Tuesday December 23, 2014:

  • 8am: Breakfast.
  • 9am: the Sharing work begins.
  • 2-3pm: Lunch.
  • 3pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 7pm: the Sharing work ends.
  • 7:30pm: Dinner.

Amilcingo, Muncipality of Temoac, Morelos.

Monday December 22, 2014

  • 8am: Breakfast.
  • 9am: Welcome by compañeros from Amilcingo.
  • 9:30am: the Sharing work begins.
  • 2-3pm: Lunch.
  • 3pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 7pm: Dinner.

Tuesday December 23, 2014

  • 8am: Breakfast.
  • 9am: the Sharing work begins
  • 2-3pm: Lunch.
  • 3pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 7pm: the Sharing work ends.
  • 7:30pm: Dinner

Great Cultural Festival in the Federal District, December 24, 25, 26, 2014. Lienzo Charro, Cabeza de Juárez. Av. Guelatao, No. 50, Colonia Álvaro Obregón. Delegación Iztapalapa.

Note:

  • December 27, 2014. Delegates of the CNI and the Sixth depart for the next Sharing in Candelaria, Campeche.

Third Sharing. Monclova, Municipality of Candelaria, Campeche.

Saturday December 27, 2014

  • 4pm: Registration begins for all of the delegates in Monclova.

Sunday December 28, 2014

  • 7am: Breakfast.
  • 9am: Welcome by the compañeros from the Peninsula.
  • 9:30 am: The Sharing work begins.
  • 12 pm: Recess and pozol.
  • 12:30 pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 4-5 pm: Lunch.
  • 5 pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 8 pm: Closing

Monday, December 29, 2014

  • 7 am: Breakfast.
  • 9 am: the Sharing work begins.
  • 12 pm: Recess and pozol.
  • 12:30 pm: The Sharing work continues.
  • 4-5 pm: Lunch.
  • 5 pm: the Sharing work continues.
  • 8 pm: Closing

Note:

  • Tuesday December 30, 2014. Delegates of the CNI and the Sixth depart for the celebration in Oventic

Celebration of Anti-capitalist Rebellion and Resistance in the Caracol of Oventic, Chiapas.

   December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015.

PLENARY SESSION FOR CONCLUSIONS, AGREEMENTS, AND DECLARATIONS. CIDECI, SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS.

January 2, 2015:

  • Summary reports from each Sharing.
  • Proposals arising from reports.

January 3, 2015: