We think that in the long run the free, autonomous, alternative media are going to fill—or could fill—this gap that is occurring in the exchange of information at a global level. The internet can’t fill the gap, though you may think it would; on the internet you can find anything you want, if you’re in favor of something you can find arguments in favor, if you’re against you can just as easily find arguments against.
What is needed is for this information to have a space where it becomes legible. And this is what, in broad strokes and at this point still tangentially, we think the alternative, autonomous, free, or whatever-you-call-it press can provide.
That is what we had wanted to tell you when this press conference was going to be in Oventic, that you have no fucking idea of the task that awaits you. It isn’t that we are going to keep you running around: come to La Realidad, now go to such and such place, and the “Odd Ones Out” Press are going to go, or the Even Ones, or whoever. Okay not the even ones, it’s a pun, we chose “Odd Ones Out” Press for a reason… (Note: clearly the speaker is affected by his one-eyed condition, because he should be saying “Odd Ones Out Compas” not “Odd Ones Out Press.” We hereby energetically protest this error and insist that this correction be published in the same space and with the same importance as the original blunder. Note courtesy of “Odd Ones Out Compas.”)
The hopes of many people await you. We ourselves don’t place our hope in you, but rather our trust. Not just in you who are here, but in the tendency that you are part of that can in fact fill that gap.
The problem that we see is the pay, now we do have to talk about pay. The majority of people who work in the free, autonomous, etc. media have another job. So the autonomous, free, alternative media is like the “Odd Ones Out Press” (note: error and protest to error reiterated. Attentively, “Odd Ones Out Compas“), everyone participates as they can because they all have to work, to put in their time in order to make a little money. Or they participate as long as there is money, and when the money runs out the media disappears. It can also happen, and I hope it doesn’t, that the media lasts only until the calendar imposes its logic on the members; that is, when they grow up and mature, as they say above, and leave behind such rebellion and craziness.
We think that you are going to have this problem and that you have to figure out a way to resolve it, I don’t know how. I see that on some [web]pages there are ads with advice about how to lose weight, how not to get old, how not to get wrinkles, something about that what’s it called, lifting, that thing they do to themselves, well stuff like that and other esoteric nonsense. And well, people who are looking at the alternative media aren’t going to pay attention to things like that and the media can make a little money that way. Some handle the income question like that, although in order to be able to do that you’d have to demonstrate that someone other than yourselves goes to your webpages.
We used to joke many years ago with those who were in charge of our page before all of this, who said “look at this, such-and-such communique had this many hits.” And I would say, “That’s a lie, it was us going click, click, click, click, click… not really.”
I don’t know, maybe the same thing that compelled you to work as a collective, in addition to those of you that do urban artisan work or whatever you call it, who make things, maybe you can also collectively find a way to resolve this issue so that your media doesn’t collapse, so that it endures and grows. You don’t have another choice, compañeros, I’m sorry to say: you either grow or disappear. This includes those who only sporadically publish information. This is your only choice, because even among yourselves disparities will start to develop. I hope that any disparity in development occurs because of the depth of your analysis and investigative abilities and not because some manage to resolve the issue of pay and some don’t.
I hope you figure it out, because there are a lot of people who are expecting more of you than you can imagine.
So, just in order to clarify and summarize: The paid media exist, they are real, they have a certain importance, this importance is tangentially diminishing, and what the EZLN has done is radically change its media policy. We do not want to talk with those above, as Subcomandante Moisés will further explain in the question and answer session, which is going to consist of the Zapatista media asking the questions and you providing the answers, rather than the reverse.
What the EZLN has done is to say: now we don’t care about those people we had to address through Durito, or through Old Antonio, those of the paid press that is. Now we are interested in the people who understand the fact of the cat-dog; who recognize difference and recognize that there are things that we don’t understand, but just because we don’t understand them does not mean we are going to judge or condemn them—like a cat-dog that exists; you’re not going to believe me but it’s real.
What we are interested in is talking and listening to you, and by that I mean the people who talk and listen to us through you. If we want to know what is happening in any particular place, we look first to the alternative free media. There isn’t that much information really, but even the little that exists is much better than any paid media source. Plus, you have to subscribe with a credit card to read whatever the Laura Bozzo types publish anywhere.
What happened then that changed this farewell plan? This plan to tell the paid media “thanks for everything…” (although the majority of them were involuntarily and unwillingly complicit in what you saw here a little bit ago, the diversion tactic or magic act), and to tell you all the curse that awaits you?
The majority of you are young. We think that rebellion has nothing to do with the calendar, that it shouldn’t have anything to do with the calendar, because we see people who are older, not in their right mind because (inaudible), but they continue to be rebellious. And we have the hope that you all continue, even if it isn’t you who are here anymore. Maybe you divide up the work, “you guys figure out how to get money and we dedicate ourselves to this, and we rotate or something like that,” but don’t abandon this work, it is truly important.
So what happened? Take into account the original plan, where the paid media were going to be present too. This was still the plan two weeks before, it was only 15 days before the event that we said no, they’re not coming to the homage for Galeano.
What happened was a death. On this fact I have only read, and I’m not saying there aren’t other things out there, an article by John Gibler, who happens to be here somewhere. He wrote that he was telling someone about the homage to Galeano and that person said, “but all this for one dead man?” And he tried to explain the best he could what one dead man meant. And we want to say how important one death is to us.
If we let one death go, then we let two go, and if we let two go then there will be ten, and later a hundred, later a thousand, later tens of thousands, like in the supposed war on drug trafficking waged by Calderón, who permitted one death and later permitted tens of thousands. Not us. Yes, we will die of natural causes or just causes – in struggle that is – but we are not going to permit anyone, any of our compañeros and compañeras and compañeroas to be murdered in impunity. We will not allow it. And we will move all of the forces in our power even if it is for just one person dead, even if that person is the most ignored, the most disdained, the least known.
The rage we felt with Galeano—this compañero Galeano was the one who was in charge of receiving the paid press, he carried their bags and brought them on horseback to where the interviews or reports were done, he received them in his house and fed them. These people who ignored or disrespected his death, who heroized the paramilitaries as victims of arbitrary judgment, they didn’t even bother to ask him his name all the times they came here—and for 20 years he was in charge of receiving and hosting them. He even made bets with one of them on who would win the World Cup each time it came around.
We were waiting for a reaction from those who had that kind of relationship with him, but they didn’t even know who he was. They came to interview Marcos, to see Marcos; they saw the horse and the gun, they wanted to know what he read, although everyone already knew what books the late Marcos had read. All of these things interested them, but not the man who was receiving and welcoming them here.
Perhaps we can understand that he didn’t matter to them because he was another indigenous person, without a face, who fed them, carried their things, helped them onto the horse, accompanied them, told them where to step, what to watch out for, all of that. We understand that he did not matter to them, but to us he does, Galeano and each and every one of the Zapatistas. We created all this ruckus and we will do so again and again because we will not permit a single death to go by with impunity.
So that’s why we changed everything, and out of our rage Subcomandate Moisés, who now commands those things, said that no press were going to come in, no paid press, even though originally everybody was going to be allowed.
The cadaver of compañero Galeano was here in this room [gesturing behind him]. There is a video where you can see the cadaver, surrounded by compañeros reproaching the CIOAC for Galeano’s death. They didn’t touch them, compañeros. I, who am supposedly a controlled being, with all that had happened I would have least given them a shove. But the compañeros didn’t, they were yelling at them but they didn’t touch them. Anywhere else there would have been a lynching right there on the spot, because they were responsible for the death and the cadaver was right there.
Then we arrived. We had been in Oventic getting ready for the events to be held there, I was practicing with a wheelchair. Today I came in on a horse, but there I was going to enter in a wheelchair in order to feed the rumors about me being really sick and in bad shape. Later I was going to stand up because my knees were hurting me from practicing.
When we found out what happened we came here and we saw what was going on—and look, what didn’t and won’t come out in the press was that that guy that lives there [gesturing outside the caracol] right outside, and there, and there, and there, and there, are those that were involved in the conflict, and they came here to the door of the Caracol to mock the compañeros who were enclosed here to avoid being accosted, just where you are now, that’s where the compañeros were.
They were mocking how the deceased danced with the blows they were dealing him, they made fun of how they shot him, cut him with machetes, all of this that we have edited from the investigation because it is our pain. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés has now finished the investigation, but we will not make it public in order to avoid acts of revenge. We will hand it over to Frayba with all of the names and everything; we already know who did the killing.
That is the situation we found ourselves in, compas, and we couldn’t allow ourselves even the slightest reaction because it was like a dry prairie here, with even a spark everything was going to go up in flames and there would have been a river of blood. We had to withstand the rage and keep bearing it and we still have not released it. We have not yet released this rage.
So the answer, John Gibler, is that for the Zapatistas one unjust death is too many, and that is why we were willing to do anything and everything.
This kind of media management imposes an inhuman, absurd logic, uncalled for in any part of the world. Look, for example at the little girls and little boys in Palestine who have demonstrated a great patience in dying, because one dies and nobody pays any attention, and the cadavers keep piling up until finally the mass media turns to see what’s happening and the children keep dying so that there are images to print. They keep dying so that the image is seen and they have to die in the most scandalous ways, outrageous ways, so that the people above begin to say, “hey wait, what are we doing there,” that is, to do something.
We as Zapatistas are always surprised at how little humanity there is in the humans who exist above. Why is so much spilled blood necessary for them to say something? And even then they qualify their position: “fine, kill them but don’t show it because it implicates us.”
Robert Fisk, who writes in The Independent of Great Britain, put what we are saying now another way: the large mass media outlets are in crisis because the people who read them—which is the upper classes, well-informed and of high consumption capacity—are indignant because that same media treats them like idiots, trying to present the massacre in Gaza as if it were a confrontation between two sides or as if the fault lay with Hamas. If people feel insulted—and just because they have a salary doesn’t mean that they are dumb, well some are—but they have intelligence and they feel insulted. Fisk recognizes this in an article, saying “we are in crisis, people don’t believe us anymore, they don’t take us seriously, and what’s more, they’re openly complaining about us.” In some places this has been going on for years, like here in Mexico.
What is happening in Palestine that nobody talks about—this mortal patience of the Palestinian children—is the responsibility of the Israeli government. We always distinguish governments from the people, we understand the temptation to conflate them, but we’ve said on another occasion that the problem isn’t between Zionism and anti-Semitism, even if the big heads continue spouting such silly things.
We can’t say that because the Israeli government murders, the Israeli people are murderers, because then they will say that the Mexican people are idiots because the Mexican government is idiotic, and we, at least, are not idiots. There are people in Israel, we don’t know how many, who are noble, conscientious, honest, and they don’t have to be leftist because the condemnation of what is happening in Palestine has nothing to do with a political position; it’s a question of human decency. Nobody can see that massacre and say nothing is happening or that it is somebody else’s fault.
What I am explaining about the crisis of the paid media and the emergence of the free, alternative, or autonomous media is a tendency in which, over the long haul, you will run into a lot of problems. I didn’t want to tell you this but it has to be said.
There are people who are going to desmayar [falter or faint] — the compas say desmayar when someone gives up, when they leave their work, the struggle—when they say desmayar they mean someone has left the struggle.
There are people [among you] that the paid media are going to summon, to say come over here—to eat shit, as one newspaper assistant editor said, but they’re going to pay you to eat shit—maybe because they write well, or they have a good analysis, or because they frame the photos nicely or the video or whatever.
And some are going to go. Others are going to betray you, they’re going to say “no, hell no, that text isn’t real, they made it up,” or whatever. And others are going to give up [claudicar]. Claudicar is a word that the compas understand very well, which means that you are on a path and you say, “ah no, I don’t want to do this after all, better that I take this other path.” In these cases it doesn’t usually have anything to do with leaving a job per se—sometimes one has to work a job to live—but rather with leaving a particular position with respect to how information is treated, in this case the position of the free, autonomous, or alternative media.
The problems you are going to have are money-related. That is, you are going to have to survive. And survival will be a problem not just as media but as human beings who still have to eat, right? Though some of you are overcoming this, but…
What we also want you to know, and for other free media to hear through you, is that we recognize this effort and this sacrifice. We know it is a huge pain to get here for people who have a salary, for someone who doesn’t have one it is practically heroic. We recognize this, we know it, we understand it, and we appreciate it. You can be sure that if anyone is going to take into consideration what this requires of you, it’s us.
So where are we going to look for information? In the paid media? No. Through the social networks. No. On the unstable and choppy sea of the Internet? No. There, like I said, anything goes.
So there is a gap regarding where to find the information. The medium you are using now is also limited: it gets to more people but also has a limit because people who don’t have internet of at least medium speed—and I challenge you to try to open any of your own pages here, sonofa… we could have another uprising, and win the war and that page still wouldn’t have opened completely. There should be a lighter version or something like that, the smartphone version or whatever. But the majority of your interlocutors, or at least those who should be your interlocutors, don’t have this [fast internet], although that could change.
We think that at this time the principal means of communication has to be to listen; that’s why we were referring to you all as “listeners.” There are people, I was just telling Moi, that have this need to talk, and they don’t care if anyone is listening, they just have to talk, it doesn’t even matter what about. But there are also people who are concerned as to whether they are being listened to, and this matters to them because they want their words to go further out into the world.
The compañeros and compañeras of the CNI came here with the charge to be heard. This is different than during the Other Campaign; I remember those multiple nightmares—the collective divan of “get comfortable, cause here we go”—that was the Other Campaign, where everybody said whatever crossed their mind. They didn’t care if anyone was listening or not, or understanding or not; the point was that they could go on and on about whatever they wanted. And it was free! Imagine what that would cost you to do that with a psychoanalyst or a psychiatrist or whatever you call them these days.
So the point is to remind you that the medium is also the limit and you have to look for ways to get past this. Right now, the direct source currently seems to be the primary one and we have to tell you that the original peoples are the real specialists in listening. My point here is to warn you about what is coming with the World Festival of Rebellion and Resistance, and to exhort you not to let it become the show-off spectacle that the meetings of the Other turned into, and that includes the preparatory meetings and all that. The compañeros and compañeras of the original peoples are specialists in the art of listening, in communication par excellence.
That the person who is the subject of a particular issue, or suffering, or action is the one who tells you how they see things should not be an impediment to providing an analysis. I take what you say at face value but then I see these other things. That is the job of those who dedicate themselves to providing information.
We also see, ever since the tragedy of the death of Galeano, how different types of media handle their work either as charity or support. In the paid communications media, if they pay attention to you then you should be grateful, and this is something for which they cannot forgive the Zapatistas. “We’re still trying to lend you a hand,” they would say “and you bite the hand that feeds you.” Well we aren’t looking for indigestion; we would spit on that hand, because what they are offering with that kind of media attention is a charitable handout.
On the other hand, for the free, alternative, autonomous, etc. media, your reporting is not a handout. It is a duty that you are honoring, despite all of the difficulties you may have in doing so. That is what we call “the compa media,” I know Tacho tore them to pieces and that’s why we published that stuff about the Odd Ones Out Compas (note: the speaker finally said it correctly. Attentively, “Odd Ones Out Compas.”)
That is the difference between the paid media and the compa media. It’s not that one has money, or receives a salary or not. The difference is that for some we are a commodity, whether they are reporting on us or purposely not reporting on us, and for others we are a space of struggle, like they have themselves and like there are in every corner of the earth.
Yesterday’s event was open to the press, and only three journalists came. Well, four, but one was one of the three journalists that have been given noble titles for having lied about the death of Galeano, that one we didn’t let in. Of the other three, one was from Proceso, one does media work on the southern border, and another works with Aristegui. As of now only Proceso has printed something, but no other media came, I don’t know if this is all Paquita La Del Barrio [iii] style, that is, out of spite, but either way.
How many dead—because it wasn’t an EZLN event, it was the CNI’s event—how many dead would the CNI have to have for the media to pay attention to them? “A lot,” the media would say, in order to really become a commodity. Later they would decide if they were going to market the fact that they covered it or market the fact that they didn’t.
The difference for us is that support from a compañero doesn’t come with conditions, because they know they are part of the same struggle.
So what we see in this chaotic panorama that I have described is that with the super-speed saturation of jumbled information out there, paradoxically, the highest or supreme level of communication that exists is the exchange, this direct sharing.
The compas have discovered something that you have also discovered in your work, which is the power of listening. If it isn’t possible for us all to listen at the same time, then it is necessary to have someone who takes these words and spreads them further, to the people, which is what the “escuchas” [listeners, a job or duty assigned for EZLN events, usually to young people in the Zapatista communities] do. And one way or another it is what you all do too.
But if this kind of exchange is now the supreme level of communication (this is according to us, but as you know, we don’t know anything about communications media), then those who are best at such things are those who need to be listened to. It seems to me that the original peoples are pretty fierce at this—having the necessary patience and all of that—but Subcomandate Moisés is going to talk to you more about that.
That is what I wanted to tell you. Compañeros and compañeras, there won’t be any questions for me, as it seems to me that in the last 20 years you’ve asked me everything you need to ask me, and I think I have in fact received a Certificate of Impunity to not answer anything anymore, but we’ll have to show that to you later.
We were still going to do this in the wee hours of the morning last time, but since they now have me working as an Odd Ones Out Press (note: hmm… the speaker just doesn’t learn. Odd Ones Out Compas!) and I was checking and seeing that they were pirating everything off of you, we decided it was better for you all to be able to get going because it wasn’t fair what the paid media were doing. It wasn’t just theft, it was a dispossession out of disrespect. That is, it was as if they were saying I’m going to take this and not say who it came from because who gives a shit about that tweet or that page that nobody sees anyway.
That was what they were complaining about, according to what we are told; the paid media got to San Cristobal and were saying “that Marcos is crazy, how is he going to pick people that don’t have 10 visitors to their pages” (hey so click on them more (inaudible) so you can at least get to a hundred) “and not pick us who have millions of readers.”
So we owed you this conference, compañeros, and here it is. Galeano is not going to be quiet, sometimes Tacho is going to talk, sometimes Moisés, sometimes Galeano, sometimes somebody else, the cat-dog, whoever. The important thing here is that: one, we have changed interlocutors; and two, we recognize the importance of the tendency that we see in your appearance as free, autonomous, alternative, etc. media.
We have created the Odd Ones Out Press (note: aaaarrrrrrghhhhh! T-h-e O-d-d O-n-e-s O-u-t C-o-m-p-a-s!) so that you don’t have to bust your asses to get here every time; this way we can send you material. It’s not just that we recognize and value your work, above all we recognize and value the sacrifice and incredible effort you put out to turn toward us and see what’s happening here.
For this, to you in particular and to all of the compañeros of the Sixth in general, thank you.
That’s all, Gotham City. (note: the speaker wanted to imitate the voice of the evil villain Mr. Bane, but it didn’t really come out right).
End of SubGaleano’s discourse.
(Transcription from the original audio by “The Odd Ones Out,” under some protest and somewhat pissed off because of all the blunders, but oh well, that’s the way the work goes, let them suffer).
Copyleft: “The Odd Ones Out Compas” August 12, 2014. Reproduction permitted without resorting to auto-eroticism. Underground circulation allowed as well as overconsumption of the “go for it there’s more where that came from” kind.
[i] Before the press conference started, Zapatista authorities moved tables and chairs to the raised stage at one end of the caracol. The independent media rushed over to set up their cameras and equipment there, squeezing into the best positions for filming or photographing. Then activity on stage ceased and the media eventually sought refuge from the fierce sun under the stage. When a familiar tune was heard over the sound system (“La Cigarra“, the song that the late SubMarcos has included in various communiqués in the past and which marked his entrance on horseback to the homage in La Realidad in May of this year), they scrambled back up to the cameras. The doors of the caracol opened and a formation of Zapatistas on horseback ceremoniously entered the caracol, including Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Comandante Tacho. Some of the media clustered around them, obstructing their path, and SubMoisés gestured repeatedly for them to step aside so the entourage could continue to the stage. Between the effect of the music and the masked commanders on horses, almost none of the media noticed what was going on at the other end of the caracol, where Subcomandante Galeano had quietly emerged from one of the rooms of the Junta de Buen Gobierno offices and sat down at a table on the small raised patio in front of the building. He finally summoned the media’s attention by speaking into the microphone with the initial remark of this discourse.
[ii] Huarache comes from the Purépecha word for a traditional sandal made from leather. It is also, as used here, the name a popular Mexican dish consisting of an oblong corn masa base with meat and/or bean and vegetable toppings. Pozol is a highly nutritious drink made from ground corn mixed with water. It is commonly consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midday meal.
[iii] A well-known Mexican singer of rancheras and other styles, known for her songs about being wronged by men.
Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista
August 12, 2014