THEM AND US VI – Gazes 4

 4. – Gazing and Communicating

I am going to tell you something very secret, but you are not going to go around divulging it… or yes, there you see it.

In the first days of our uprising, after the ceasefire, there was a lot of noise about the ezetaelene. [1] It was, of course, all media paraphernalia that the right usually puts out to impose silences and blood.  Some of the arguments that they used then are the same ones they use now, which shows the not-so-modern that is the right and the paralysis of its thinking.  But that is not the theme now; nor is it about the press.

But good, now I tell you that at that time they started to say that the EZLN was the first guerrilla of Century XXI (yes, we who were still using the hoe for sowing the land, the yoke of oxen –without offending- we knew from stories, and we only knew about the tractor in photographs); that Sup Marcos was the cybernetic guerrilla that, from the Lacandón Jungle, launched into cyberspace the Zapatista proclamations that would travel around the world; and that he had satellite communication for coordinating the subversive actions that were being carried out all over the world.

Yes, that was being said, but… compas, even on the eves of the uprising, the “Zapatista cybernetic power ” that we had was a computer that used the large floppy discs and had a DOS operating system version minus one point one.  We learned to use it with one of those old tutorials, I don’t know if they still exist, which were telling you what key you must press and you heard a voice that said, with a Madrid accent, “Very good!“ and if you were wrong it said “Very bad, idiot, try again!“ Besides using it to play Pacman, we used it for the “First Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle,” which we reproduced on one of those old dot matrix printers, which made more noise than a machine gun.  The paper was a roll and it got clogged up every time, but it had carbon paper and we achieved printing 2 every several hours.  We made un chingo (a whole lot) of impressions, I think like 100. They were distributed to the 5 groups of command that, hours later, would take over 7 municipal headquarters of the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.  In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, which was the one that it fell to me to take over, the plaza surrendered to our forces, we were attaching them with masking tape (or however it’s said) the 15 that we had.  Yes, I already know that the numbers don’t come out, that there should have been 20, but we didn’t know where the 5 remaining ones were.

Good, when we withdrew from San Cristóbal, in the early morning of January 2, 1994, the damp fog that covered our withdrawal, detached the proclamations from the cold walls of the haughty colonial city, and some stayed cast in the streets. Years later someone told me that anonymous hands had taken some off and they were jealously guarded.

The Cathedral Dialogues came later.  Then I had one of those portable and lightweight computers (it weighed 6 kilos without the battery), La Migaja (The Crumb) brand, with 128 of ram, I mean 128 kilobytes of ram, hard disc of 10 megabytes, in other words that could store everything, and a speedy processor that, you turned it on, you left to prepare a coffee, you returned and you could even reheat, 7 times 7, the coffee before being able to start writing.  A beautiful machine!  To make it function in the mountain, we used a current inverter connected to a car storage battery.  Later, our Zapatista department of high technology, designed an artifact that made the computer function with “D” batteries, but it weighed more than the computer and, I suspect, had something to do with the fact that the pc would go down in a blaze of fire, indeed very showy, and a cloud of smoke that scared away the mosquitos for the next 3 days.  The satellite telephone with which the Sup was communicating with “international terrorism?” A walkietalkie with a maximum reach of 400 meters on flat land (over there, photos of the “cybernetic guerrilla” were still going around ha!).  Just like the internet?  In February 1995, when the federal army was pursuing us (and not exactly for an interview), the portable pc was cast into the first stream that we waded through, and the communiqués from that era were made on a mechanical typewriter that the ejido commission loaned us in one of the towns that protected us.

That was the powerful high technology equipment that we, the “21st Century Cybernetic Guerrillas,” had then.

I truly lament if, besides my already battered ego, I destroy any illusions that later grew over there, but that’s how it was, that’s how I tell them now.

Finally, a while later we knew that…

A young student in Texas, USA, perhaps a “nerd” (as you would say), made a web page and put just “ezln“ on it.  That was the ezln’s first web page.  And this compa began to “put” there all the comunicados and letters that were made public in the written press.  People from other parts of the world who found out about the uprising through photos, videotaped images, or because of journalistic notes, were looking there for what our word was.

We never met that compa. Or perhaps we did.

Perhaps he arrived sometime in Zapatista lands, as one more.  If he came, he never said: “I am the one that made the ezln page;” nor: “thanks to me they know about you in many parts of the world.”  Much less “I come so that you thank me and pay me homages.

He could have done it, and the thanks would always have been not much, but he didn’t do it.

And it’s that perhaps you don’t know it, but there are people like that.  Good people that do things without asking anything without asking for anything in return, without charging for them, “without making noise” as we, the Zapatistas.

Now then the world continued turning.  Compas came that really knew about computers and then they made other pages and we are like we are now. In other words, with the bad little server that doesn’t pull like it should, although we sing and dance “el moño colorado” [2] to the rhythm of the cumbia-corrido-ranchera-norteña-tropical-ska-rap-punk-rock-balada-popular.

Also without making noise, we thank that compa: that the very first gods and/or the supreme one in which he may believe or doubt or disbelieve, bless him.

We don’t know what may have come of that compa.  Perhaps he is an Anonymous.  Perhaps he continues surfing on the Internet, looking for a noble cause to support.  Perhaps he is scorned because of his appearance, perhaps he is different, perhaps his neighbors, his compañeros at work or study, see him badly.

Or perhaps he is a normal person, one more of the millions that walk the world without anyone noticing them, without anyone gazing at them.

And perhaps he manages to read what I tell you, and he may read what we now write to him:

Compa, there are schools here now where before only ignorance grew; there is food, not much but dignified, at the tables where only hunger was the daily invitee; and there is relief where the only medicine for pain was death.  I don’t know if you expected it.  Perhaps you knew it.  Perhaps you saw something about the future in those words that you re-launched into cyberspace.  Or perhaps not, perhaps you only did it because you felt that it was your duty.  And we Zapatistas know duty well; it is the only slavery that is embraced by one’s own will.

 We learn.  And I’m not referring to learning the importance of communication, or knowing the modes of the information sciences and techniques.  For example, outside of Durito, none of us has been able to resolve the challenge of making a tweet communiqué.  Before the 140 characters, not only am I useless, tan dropping and re-dropping in the commas, (the parenthesis), the suspending points… and my life is going away and I lack characters.  I believe that it is improbable that I can do it some day.  Durito, for example, has proposed a comunicado that adjusts itself to the tweet limit and that says:

123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 1234567890

But the problem is that the code for deciphering the message occupies the equivalent of 7 volumes of the encyclopedia “The Differences,” which all humanity has been writing since it began its sorrowful walking on Earth, and whose edition has been vetoed by the Power.

No.  What we learned is that there are people out there, far or near, who we don’t know, who perhaps don’t know us, who are compas.  And it’s not because they have participated in a march of support, have visited a Zapatista community, wear a red paliacate on their neck, or have signed a display, an affiliation paper, a membership card, or however you say it.

It is because we Zapatistas know that just as the worlds are many in the world you inhabit, the forms, manners, times and places are also many for struggling against the beast, without asking for or expecting anything in return.

We send you an embrace, compa, wherever you are.  I am sure that now you can answer the question that one asks himself when he starts to do something: “is it worth the pain?”

Perhaps then you find out that in a community or in a barracks, a Zapatista computer room it is called “him,“ like that, with small letters.  And perhaps you then find out that, if any of the persons invited come upon the room, took note of the sign, and asked who was that “him,“ we answer: “we don’t know, but he does.”

Vale.  Health and, yes, it was worth the pain, I believe.

From etcetera, etcetera.

We Zapatistas of the ezetaelene dot com dot org dot net or dot however you say it.”


 And all that gets to the point, or thing, depending, because you have perhaps realized that we have trust in the free and/or libertarian media, or however you say it, and the persons, groups, collectives, organizations that have their own modes for communicating; persons, groups, collectives, organizations that have their electronic pages, their blogs, or however it’s said, who give a space to our word and, now, to the music and images that accompany it.  And persons or groups that perhaps don’t even have a computer, but nevertheless are talking, or with a flyer, or a newspaper, mural, or graffiti drawing or a notebook or a collective transportation, or in a theater work, a video, a schoolwork, a song, a dance, a poem, a canvas, book, a letter, gaze at the letters that our collective heart draws.

If you don’t belong to us, if you are not our organic part, if we don’t give you orders, if we don’t govern you, if you are autonomous, independent, free (that means that you govern yourselves) or however it’s said, why then do you do it?

Perhaps because you think that information is everyone’s right, and that it is everyone’s responsibility what to do or not do with that information.  Perhaps because you are in solidarity and have the commitment to give that kind of support to those who also struggle, although with other modes.  Perhaps it’s because you feel the duty to do it.

Or perhaps it’s because of all that and more.

You will know.  And surely you have it written there, on your page, on your blog, in your declaration of principles, in your flyer, in your song, on your wall, in your notebook, in your heart.

In other words, I speak of those who communicate and communicate with others what you feel in our heart, in other words, you listen.  Of those who gaze at us and gaze at themselves thinking about us and make a bridge and then discover that those words that you write, sing, repeat, transform, are not those of the Zapatistas, that they never were, that they are yours, and everyone’s and no one’s, and that they are part of a musical score that you don’t know where it’s from, and then you discover or confirm that when you gaze at us gazing at ourselves gazing at you, it is touching on and talking about something bigger for which there is still no alphabet, and that thus is not about belonging to a group, collective, organization, sect, religion, or however you say it, but that is understanding that the path to humanity is now called “rebeldía“ (rebelliousness).

Perhaps, before making the “click” to your decision to put our word in your spaces, you ask: “is it worth the pain?“ Perhaps you ask if you will not be contributing to the Marcos that is on a European beach, enjoying the good climate of those calendars in those geographies.  Perhaps you will ask whether you will not be serving an invention of “the beast” for deceiving and simulating rebelliousness.  Perhaps you will answer yes the same as the answer to that question of: “will it be worth the pain?” It falls to us to answer to we Zapatistas, and to make the “click” on the computer, to the spray, to the pencil, to the guitar, to the cidi (CD), to the camera, you are committing to us, to the we that answer “yes.“  And then you make the “click” to “upload” or “post” or “charge” or to the initial chord to the first step-color-verse, or however you say it.

And perhaps you don’t know it, although I believe that it’s evident, but they are presently “on strike” as you say over there.  And I don’t say it because our page is “down” at times, as if it were in the slam and upon casting itself into the void there was no comrade hand that would alleviate the fall that, if it’s on cement, it will continue complaining without importance to calendar and geography.  I point it out because on the other side of our word there are many who are not in agreement and show it; there are so many others that are not in agreement and are not even bothering to say so. There are a few that are indeed in agreement and show it; but there are others much greater than those few that are indeed in agreement and don’t say so. And there is a great big immense majority who are not even aware.  It is to the latter that we want to speak, in other words, to gaze, in other words, listen.


 Compas, thank you.  We know it.  But we are sure that, although we wouldn’t know it, you know it.  And about precisely that, we Zapatistas believe, what we’re talking about is changing the world.

(To be continued…)

From any corner in any world.

SupMarcos. Planet Earth.
February 2013.

P.D. – Yes, perhaps there is, in the letter to “him,” some clue to the next password.

P.S. THAT CLARIFIES UNNECESSARILY. – Nor do we have a twitter or Facebook account, nor electronic mail, nor telephone number, nor a post office box.  Those that appear on the electronic page are for the page, and those compas support us and send us what they receive, just like they send you what we send.  For the rest, we are against the copyright, so that anyone can have their twitter, their Facebook, or whatever, and use our names, although, for sure, they don’t represent us.  But, according to what they have told me, the majority of them make it clear that they are not who one supposes that they are.  And the truth is that we have fun imagining the quantity of insults and insults (that are not minty), that they have received and will receive, originally directed at the ezetaelene and/or the one who writes this.


Translation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Listen and watch the videos that accompany the original text:

From Japan, the song and choreography “Ya Basta” of Pepe Hasegawa.  One supposes that he is present in the prefecture of Nagano, Japan, in 2010.  The truth is I don’t know what the mere letter says. I just hope that they are not offenses without mint.


From Sweden, ska with the group Ska´n´ska, of Stockholm.  The song is called “Ya Basta” and forms part of their disc “Gunshot Fanfare”.


From Sicily, Italy, the group Skaramanzia with the song “To not forget,” part of the disc “La lucha sigue” (The struggle continues).


From France- “Ya basta – EZLN” with the group Ska Oi. From the disc “Lucha y fiesta” (Struggle and Party).

Translator’s Notes:

[1] ezetaelene – the letters EZLN spelled out in Spanish

[2] “el moño colorado” – The literal translation is “the red topknot.” It is an upbeat song that played over and over again during the Intergaláctica (the 1st Intercontinental Gathering for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism).



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