A DEATH… OR A LIFE
Who names summons. And someone goes, without prior notice, without explanations, to the place where his name, spoken or thought, is calling.
When that occurs, one has the right to believe that no one is leaving everything while the word that’s summoning, blazing, doesn’t die, brings him.”
Eduardo Galeano. “Window on Memory,” in Walking Words. Ed. Siglo XXI.
To: Luis Villoro Toranzo
From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Health and Greetings!
Before anything else, congratulations on your November 3 birthday. We hope that with these letters you will also receive the affectionate hug that, still from a distance, we give you.
Well, we continue with this exchange of ideas and reflections. Perhaps more solitary now because of the media hype that goes up around the definition of the names of the 3 rascals that will be disputing rule over the blood-soaked soil of Mexico.
With the same frenzy with which they expedite their invoices over “expenses for image promotion,” the communications media is aligning with one side or the other. All of them agree that the weaknesses that the respective aspirants brashly exhibit can only be covered up by making more noise about the opponent.
The Christmas buying furor now coincides with the sale of electoral proposals. They are like the majority of the articles that are purchased at this season of the year; they have no guaranty and no possibility of return.
After the burial of his now ex Interior Minister, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa ran gleefully to the “happy ending” to demonstrate that what’s important is to consume, it’s not important that the Secretaries of State are perishable and with an unforeseen expiration date.
But even in the midst of the noise there are sounds that beat for one who knows how to look for them and have the daring and sufficient patience to do it.
And in these lines that I send you now, Don Luis, beat deaths that are lives.
I. – The power of the Power.
“Freedom of election permits you to elect the sauce with which you will be eaten.”
Eduardo Galeano. “Window on Invisible Dictatorships” Ibid.
“That the whores may govern, judge and take care of us, since their sons have failed.” Taken from the blog laputarealidad.org
I must have read or heard it some place. It was something just like “Power is not having lots of money, but lying and that many, all, or at least all that are important believe you.”
Telling the big lie and doing it with impunity, that is Power.
Giant lies that include acolytes and faithful that give them validity, certainty, status.
Lies made electoral campaigns, government programs, alternative projects for the nation, party platforms, articles in newspapers and magazines, commentaries on radio and television, slogans, credos.
And the lie must be so big that it is not static. That it may change, not to become more effective, but to prove the loyalty of his followers. The bad guys of yesterday will be blessed barely after a few pages on the calendar.
Is Power –or its nearness- the great corruptor?
Do men and women with grand ideals reach it and is it the perverse and perverting operating of Power that which obliges betraying them to come to do the opposite and contradictory?
From full employment to the bloody (and lost) war…
From “the mafia in power” to the “amorous republic”…
From the “six thousand pesos per month stretches for everything” to “not even in the happy ending is there a poll that favors me”…
From “My God, make me a widow” to “Lupita D´Alessio, make me a lion before the lamb”…
From the San Ángel Group to the Yunque totally palace…
From the… from the… from the… forgive me, but I don’t find anything significant that Enrique Peña Nieto has said…
What’s more, I don’t find that he has said anything, as if we’re dealing with a bad secondary actor, one of those that come out in the telenovelas, babbling some parley and of which no one takes note. Moreover, since it is evident, it would do him no harm to enroll in the CEA of Televisa (according to the study plan, they teach verbal “expression” from the first year).
I know well that in the communications media the registration photograph of Peña Nieto as the only pre-candidate of the PRI (where the principal personages of that Party appear) has been “read” as a show of the party support that the man has.
Hmm… at first glance it seemed to me that it was the photo for a journalistic note about a new blow against organized crime; that a gang of thieves had been dismantled and that the bulletproof vest, with which they are accustomed to presenting those “discovered,” had been substituted for the red shirt.
Later I looked at the photo more closely. Hear me well; they are not presenting a show of support. It is a gang of vultures that have realized that Peña Nieto is no more than an orphan puppet and that one must keep him in hand because, upon arriving in the presidency, it’s not him that will be important, but the ventriloquist that manages him.
His designation as a candidate for the presidency will be one more display of the decomposition of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); and the dispute to see who manages him will be a death (and this image among PRI members is not rhetoric).
The situation will be so pathetic that even Héctor Aguilar Camín offers himself for adoption… and for the urgent literacy training of the baby.
Finally, we continue asking:
Is it Power that corrupts or must one be very corrupt in order to accede to Power, to stay in it… or to aspire to it?
On one of the long Other Campaign tours, passing through the capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, I commented that the Chiapan governmental seat had something that converted moderately intelligent people into stupid finqueros (cattle ranchers) with tyrannical poses. Julio managed; Roger was the copilot; one of the two marked off “or they were already like that and therefore they became governors.”
And afterwards he added, more words, less words, the following anecdote: “Passing in front of the building where the congress was meeting, a woman listened to the shouts: “Ignorant, idiot, whore, thief, criminal, murderer, defrauder,” and other even ruder classifiers. The woman, horrified, went to a man that is reading a book outside the building. “It is a scandal,” she says to him, “we maintain them with our taxes and these deputies do nothing more than fight and insult each other.” The man looked at the woman, then towards the legislative chamber and, returning to his book, says to the woman: “they are not fighting or insulting each other, they are taking roll call.”
II. – The Power and Reflection on Resistance.
The left is the Voice of the Dead
Tomás Segovia. 1994.
Hmm… Power… the unquestionable evidence, the wet dream of the intellectuals up above, the reason for being of the political parties…Now, with the death of the master Tomás Segovia, we name him, we summon him and bring him to sit down with us to, jointly, re-read some of his texts.
Not his poems, but his critical reflections on and in the face of Power.
Few, very few, were and are the intellectuals that have persisted in understanding, and not in judging, this uneven pace that is ours and which we call “Zapatismo” (or “neo-Zapatismo” to some). In the rickety count appear, among others, Don Pablo González Casanova, Adolfo Gilly, Tomás Segovia and you Don Luis.
To all of them, to you, we embrace you as you only embrace the dead, in other words, for life.
And those who now remember Tomás Segovia only as a poet do it now to split that man off from his libertarian being. As Don Tomás cannot do anything to defend himself and to defend his total word, the “cut and paste” homages continue, editing and arming the nice pieces, leaving the uncomfortable ones to be forgotten… until other uncomfortable ones remember them and name them.
And to not interpret his words (that can be understood as a nice form of usurpation) I transcribe parts of some writings.
In 1994, in the right’s full condemnatory euphoria, widely known indeed because Octavio Paz headed it (one of his courtesans was the impresario Enrique Krauze, -oh, don’t confuse him with don Krauze, one cannot reproach the intellectuals that may be on the right or the left, but, as is his case, he who in order to excel, instead of using intellect, resorts to the adulation of gangsters like those who are now the government-), Tomás Segovia wrote the following (the emphasis is mine):
One form or another of fascism always prevails. Truth and justice take the form of Resistance.
But it can also be said that the left is constitutively resistance. Without a doubt the left rushed headlong in our century into an unhealthy historic error, but that error consisted by all means in believing that the left would be able to take power. The left in power is a contradiction. The history of this century has shown it to us enough (…).
Today it is clear, it seems to me, that the left is not the other of the right, both situated in an opposing relationship but symmetrical with respect to power: the left is before all the other of power, the other ambit and the other meaning of social life, which stays buried and forgotten in the constituted power, the return of the repressed, the voice of common life drowned out by community life, the voice of the dispossessed before the voice of the poor (and that of the poor only because they are in the majority, but not exclusively, the dispossessed) – the left is the Voice of the Dead.
One of the ideas that did us the most damage was that of “reactionary,” which let us think to that the right is opposed to progress, which is resistance and talks in the name of the past, about the roots, about what’s “overcome.” So, the left was convinced that resistance is power as the measure in which it would continue being on the right and in which it would be opposed to the progressivism of the left in tentative desperation to conserve its privileges and its dominion, without seeing that power, the same for the right as for the left, is only resistance in a different sense and much simpler: in that of resisting being substituted for another power, the same for the left as for the right; but that before history power is always progressive.
In Mexico, as is the custom, that is seen with particular clarity given the crudity of relations of power in this country: today we know clearly that no government was more decided and actively progressive than that of Porfirio Díaz, and that in our day it is the PRI that monopolizes and exploits all the rhetoric of progress, of change, of modernization, of the overcoming of nostalgia and the “emissaries of the past,” and even of democracy.
(And that makes me think of the past that also the democracy in power or of power is a contradiction: democracy no is not “people-ocracy” –the people in power is a utopia or a metaphor, very dangerous to take literally, because “the people,” supposing that it exists or even if it doesn’t exist but as a perfection of being, is by definition what is not in power, the other of power.)
But when my enchanting colleagues deliver knowledge to the Government that their promises are false, is it that they are seduced? Impossible: seduction is desire in a pure state; it implies the shining vision that your enjoyment is my enjoyment. A vision is not possible in which the enjoyment of Power is the enjoyment of the “people.”
And in 1996 he pointed out:
Similarly, in a country that does not now practice violent prohibition of direct expressions of primary social life, the ideology of power will blackmail us calling us whores –in other words insolvent, negative, resentful, ill-tempered–, or will try to persuade us, like the political scientists and other intellectuals try to persuade the Zapatistas, as my colleagues (starting with Octavio Paz) try to persuade me, that the “true” way of expressing ourselves and of having influence on social life is to enter into the institutions –or into what’s instituted in general.
Don Luis, I believe you will agree with me in that, responding to those provocative texts by Tomás Segovia, the reflection on Ethics and Politics ought to touch on the issue of Power.
Perhaps on another occasion, and calling on others, we can exchange ideas and sentiments (that not anything else are the facts that animate these reflections), on this issue.
For now, this call goes out to Don Tomás Segovia, who declared that he had no time to not be free and without restraint confessed: “almost all my life I have earned honestly, in other words, not as a writer.”
Not just to bring here his unredeemed word, because it is indeed to the point.
Also, and above all, because he is the thinker that opened a third door to the indigenous Zapatista movement., he is more than a poet with two edges. Looking, seeing, hearing and listening, Don Tomás Segovia crossed through that door.
In other words, I understood.
III. – The Power and Practice of Resistance.
Autonomous Rebel Zapatista Municipality San Andrés Sacamchen de Los Pobres, Highlands of Chiapas
The Morning of September 26, 2011, Comandante Moisés headed out to work his coffee field. Like all of the EZLN leaders, he did not receive a salary or any soft job. Like everyone else, the EZLN’s leaders had to work to maintain their families. His sons accompanied him.
The vehicle in which they were traveling went over the cliff. All were battered, but the injuries that Moisés suffered were mortal. He was already dead when he arrived at the clinic in Oventik.
Already in the afternoon, as it is the custom in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to spread rumors, the death of Moisés attracted tacky journalists that thought it was the death of Teniente Coronel Insurgente (Insurgent Lieutenant Coronel) Moisés. When they knew that it was a different Moisés (Comandante Moisés), they lost all interest. Someone that had not appeared publicly as a leader could not be important to any of them, someone that had always been in the shadows, someone that apparently was just one more indigenous Zapatista…
It must have been in 1985-1986 on the calendar. Moisés knew about the EZLN and decided to join the organizing effort when the Zapatistas in Los Altos (the Highlands) of Chiapas could be counted with the fingers of both hands… and with fingers left over.
Together with other compañeros (Ramona among them), he began to walk through the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, but then with an idea about organization. His small figure went out from the mist to the Tzotzil places in Highlands Zone. And his quiet word was arranging the delayed history against those who are the color of the color of the earth.
“One must struggle,” he concluded.
In the early morning of January 1, 1994, as one more combatant, he went down from the mountains to the Highland city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. He participated in the column that took the municipal presidency, overcoming the governmental force that was guarding it. Together with the other Tzotzil members of the CCRI-CG, he showed up on the balcony of the building that looked out on the principal plaza. Behind, in the shadows, he listened to the reading that one of his compañeros gave of what’s called the “Declaración de La Selva Lacandona” (Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle) to a multitude of incredulous or skeptical mestizos, and hopeful indigenous. He withdrew to the mountains together with his troops in the first hours of January 2, 1994.
After resisting bombings and incursions by the governmental forces, he again went down to San Cristóbal de Las Casas as part of the Zapatista delegation that participated in the Dialogues of the Cathedral with representatives of the supreme government.
He returned and continued walking the places to explain and, above all, to listen.
“The government has no word,” he concluded.
Together with thousands of indigenous, he erected the Aguascalientes II, in Oventik, when the EZLN still suffered the Zedillo persecution.
He was one more of the thousands of indigenous Zapatistas that, with their bare hands, confronted the column of federal tanks that wanted to position themselves in Oventik in the unfortunate days of 1995.
In 1996, in the San Andrés dialogues he was guarded, as one more, by the security of the Zapatista delegation, encircled as it was by hundreds of soldier.
On foot, in the frosty early mornings of the Chiapas Highlands, he resisted the rain that made the soldiers flee to seek roof and shelter. He was not moved.
“The Power is a traitor,” he said as excusing himself.
In 1997, together with his compañeros, he organized the Tzotzil Zapatista column that participated in the “March of the 1,111,” and obtained vital information for clarifying the Acteal Massacre, on December 22 of that year, perpetrated by paramilitaries under the direction of the federal army general, Mario Renán Castillo, and with Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, Emilio Chuayfett and Julio César Ruiz Ferro as intellectual authors.
In 1998 he organized and coordinated the support and defense that, from the Highlands of Chiapas, was given to the compañer@s evicted by the attacks against the autonomous municipalities by “Dog Biscuits” Albores Guillén and Francisco Labastida Ochoa.
In 1999 he participated in the organization and coordination of the indigenous Tzotzil Zapatista delegation that participated in the national consulta, when 5, 000 Zapatistas (2500 women and 2500 men) covered all the states of the Mexican Republic.
In 2001, after the treason by all of the Mexican political class to the “San Andrés Accords,” (the PRI, PAN and PRD were allied then to close the door to the constitutional recognition of the rights and culture of the original peoples of Mexico), he continued walking through the Tzotzil places in the Chiapas Highlands, talking and listening. But then, when he was finished listening, he would say: “One must resist.”
Moisés was born on April 2, 1956, in Oventik.
Without proposing himself and, above all, without having any profit, he became one of the most respected indigenous chiefs in the EZLN.
Just a few days before his death, I saw him at a meeting of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the EZLN (Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del EZLN, CCRI-CG) where the local, national and international situation was analyzed, and the steps to follow were discussed and decided.
We explain that a new generation of Zapatista was arriving in the position of responsibility. Young men and women that were born after the uprising, that were formed in resistance, and that were educated in autonomous schools, are now elected as autonomous authorities and achieve being members of the Good Government Juntas.
It was discussed and agreed how to support them in their tasks, to accompany them; how to construct the bridge of history between the Zapatista veterans and them. Like our dead they inherit commitments from us, memory, the duty of continuing, of not being discouraged, of not selling out, of not giving up, of not surrendering.
There was no nostalgia in any of my bosses (jefes).
Nor nostalgia for the days and nights in which, in silence, they forged the force of what would be known worldwide as the “Zapatista National Liberation Army.”
Nor nostalgia for the days in which our word was listened to in many corners of the planet.
There were no laughs, it is certain. There were serious faces, preoccupied in finding together the common path.
There was, that indeed, what Don Tomás Segovia sometimes called “nostalgia of the future.”
“One must tell the story,” Comandante Moisés said, as a way of conclusion, at the end of the meeting. And the Comandante went off to his little house in Oventik.
That morning of September 26, 2011, he left his house saying “be back later,” and he went off to his work field to get sustenance and tomorrow from the land.
To write about him hurts my hands, Don Luis.
Not only because we were together in the beginning of the uprising and later on shiny days and cold early mornings.
Also and above all, because upon making this rapid trace of his history, I realize that I am talking about the history of any one of my leaders and leaders, of that collective of shadows that frames the direction, the path, the step for us.
About those who give us identity and heritage
Perhaps the death of Comandante Moisés doesn’t interest the coleto rumormongers and the rest of the fauna, because he was only one more shadow among the thousands of Zapatistas.
But to us he leaves a very large debt, as large as the meaning of the words with which, smiling, he said goodbye to me at that meeting:
“The struggle doesn’t end,” he said while he picked up his little shoulder bag.
IV. – A Death, a Life.
One could elaborate about what it is that brings my words to tender this complicated and multiple bridge between Don Tomás Segovia and Comandante Moisés, between the intellectual critic and the high indigenous Zapatista commander.
One could think that it is his death, by which we again name them to bring them among us, as the equals because they were, and are, different.
But no, it is their lives that come to attention.
Because their absences do not produce in us frivolous homages or sterile statues.
Because they leave in us something pending, a debit, an inheritance.
Because in the face of the temptations of fashion (media, electoral, political, intellectual), there is one who asserts not to surrender, nor sell out, nor give in.
And he does it with a word that only is pronounced with authenticity when it is lived: “Resistance.”
There above death is exorcized with homages, at times monuments, street names, museums or festivals, awards with which the Power celebrates giving in, the name in golden letters on some wall to bring down.
That death is affirmed like that. Homage, heartfelt words, a turn of the page and what follows.
Eduardo Galeano says that no one goes away from everything while there is someone that names him.
And Old Antonio said that life was a long and complicated puzzle that could only be armed when the heirs name the deceased.
And Elías Contreras says that death needs to have its size, and that it only has it when it is placed next to a life. And he adds that one must remember, when a piece of the collective heart that we are leaves us, that death was and is a life.
Naming Moisés and Don Tomás, we bring them again, we arm the riddle of their life of struggle, and we reaffirm that, here below, a death is above all a life.
V. – Until Later
I think that with this missive we finish our participation in this advantageous (it was for us) exchange of ideas, at least for now.
The pertinence of the windows and doors that were opened with the coming and going of your ideas and ours, is something that, like everything around here, will go away accommodating in geographies and calendars yet to be defined.
We thank with every heart the accompaniment from the pens of Marcos Roitman, Carlos Aguirre Rojas, Raúl Zibechi, Arturo Anguiano, Gustavo Esteva and Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano, as well as Rebel Magazine, which was the host.
With these texts, neither they, nor you, nor us, look for votes, followers, faithful.
We look for (and I believe we found) critical, alert and open minds.
Now above will follow the commotion, schizophrenia, fanaticism, intolerance, the disguised bending of political tactics.
Later will come the re-draft: the surrender, the cynicism, and the fall.
Silence and resistance continue below.
Always the resistance…
Vale Don Luis. Health and may we inherit lives that are deaths.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, Octubre-November, 2011.
PART VI. The P.S. Attacks Again
We weren’t going to say anything. Not because we didn’t have anything to say, but because those who are now justly indignant against illiterate slander, slandered us until closing our bridges to other hearts. Now, our small word, only a few, some of those stubborn ones that are accustomed to being the ones who start turning the wheel of history, look for our thought, they look for us, they name us, they call to us.
We weren’t going to say anything, but…
One of the 3 rascals that will be disputing for the throne over the rubble of Mexico has come to our lands to demand our silence. He is the same one that has not finished maturing and recognizing his errors and stumbles. The same one that heads a group avid for power, full of intolerance, who sought, seeks and will seek responsibility for his clumsiness and schizophrenia in others. With a discourse closer to Gaby Vargas and Cuauhtémoc Sánchez than Alfonso Reyes, now predicates and lays the foundation for his ambitions on love… to the right.
Will those that criticized Javier Sicilia for his displays of affection for the political class, now criticize the “Amorous Republic?” Will those that added on and preached that Televisa was the evil to conquer now criticize the amorous handshake with the star lackey of the stellar timetable?
Will Octavio Rodríguez Araujo now write an article demanding “congruence, leader, congruence?” Will John Ackerman demand radical action arguing that that is what the people want and hope for? Will the Ciro-Gómez-Leyva of La Jornada, Jaime Avilés, launch his brown shirts of lime and stone to denounce him for negotiating with the Chuchos, the impresarios, his hated López Dóriga? Will the Laura-Bozzo of La Jornada, Guillermo Almeyra, judge and condemn him as a collaborationist intoning the refrain “May the unfortunate happen!”
No, they will look the other way. They will say that it is a tactical question, that he is using that to win votes with the middle class. Well, just like nothing is what it seems: the occupation of Reforma was not to demand the recount of votes that would have made the fraud evident, but so that the people would not be radicalized; the criticisms of Televisa were not to denounce the power of the media monopolies, but so that that corporation’s spaces would open to (and once again be open to their client in the electoral spots). What’s next: the brigades joining resources for the telethon?
But we could understand that he may only be following a tactic (dull and childish, according us, but a tactic). That he does not seriously believe that the impresarios are going to support him, that the Chuchos are not going to betray him, that the PT and the Citizen Movement are parties of the left, that Televisa is changing, that his privileged interlocutor in Chiapas must be the PRI (like he was before Sabinas). Even that he believes that he is more intelligent than all of them and that he is going to dupe them all simulating that he is useful to them, or exchanging uses and customs in the impossible political game of “they all win” and “peace and love.”
Ok, it’s a tactic… or a strategy (they don’t understand one from the other anyway). What is established is that he adds to his right (deserters from the PAN included) and that nothing appears to his left. He follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, who broke bread with the powerful, gambling that the lefts would have no more recourse than to support him “because there is nothing else.” Ok once again, strategy or tactic, now the cartoonists will explain it in their workshops. We only ask: When, in Mexico, has the left running to the right given positive results? When has being servile with the powerful ones gone beyond amusing them? Sure, the “Chuchos” can realize the success of that political tactic (or strategy?), but aren’t we dealing with traveling on the same path… or yes?
Meanwhile, the illustrious group of fans that promotes him will continue juggling to justify the change of direction… or they will gamble on a lack of memory.
Anyway, it will not lack someone to blame for third place, no?
Vale once again.
El Sup smoking and awaiting the avalanche of slander that, in the name of “freedom of expression” and without the right to reply, the opposition prepares from above.
Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista
December 7, 2011
Translated into English by Chiapas Support Committee