ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY
October 26, 2016.
To the invited and attending Scientists of the Gathering “Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity”:
To the compañeras, compañeros, compañeroas of the National and International Sixth:
Brothers and sisters:
We send you greetings. We write to inform you of the following:
First: Per instructions from the National Indigenous Congress, which at the moment is consulting with the original peoples, barrios, tribes, and nations throughout Mexico on the proposal made during the first phase of the Fifth Congress, we inform you that the permanent assembly of the CNI will be reinstated December 29, 2016, at CIDECI-UNITIERRA in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
There the CNI will hold roundtable sessions on December 30 and 31 of this year. During these sessions, or before then if the CNI so chooses, the results of the consultation will be made known. On January 1, 2017, the plenary assembly will take place in Oventik, Chiapas, Mexico, and any agreements necessary will be made there.
The compañeras and compañeros of the original peoples, barrios, tribes, and nations who make up the National Indigenous Congress inform us that they have financial difficulties that impede their travel to this meeting, and so they request solidarity donations from the national and international Sixth, as well as from any honest people who want to support them in this way. To offer this support, the compas of the CNI ask that people communicate directly with them at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org. From there they will explain where and how to send support.
Of course, if you think that by meeting, thinking, and deciding collectively on their path and destiny the compas of the CNI are playing into the hands of the right and endangering the u-n-s-t-o-p-p-a-b-l-e advance of the institutional left, you can make your support conditional on their obeying you, or add a note to your contribution saying something like, “I’m going to give you these 2 pesos, but don’t let yourselves be fooled and manipulated by that sockhead.”
Or you can just make your donation and try, like the rest of us, to learn from them. Second: We also take this opportunity to confirm that the Gathering “Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” will be celebrated at the times and places originally announced:
From December 25, 2016 to January 4, 2017 at the facilities of CIDECI-UNITIERRA in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, with an intermission on December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017. If you are interested in attending as a listener or observer, you can register to attend at this email: conCIENCIAS@ezln.org.mx Thus the presentations about the exact and natural Sciences and the work sessions of the National Indigenous Congress will take place simultaneously.
That’s all for now.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, October 2016.
From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog, section titled “neither stories nor legends”:
What Doctor John H. Watson will not tell.
Mountains of the Mexican southeast. It is raining a lot. You can just barely make out the shouts of those who continue working to make holes in the wall, giving each other instructions. There are some who have poorly protected themselves from the downpour with plastic ponchos, but most are just wearing soaked shirts, blouses, skirts and pants, raining once again over the earth.
The wall extends as far as the eye can reach. Despite its apparent strength, every so often there is a crease along its long curtain. It is said that those who inhabit these lands claim that the wall is capable of regenerating itself, and so they must not cease their efforts to keep a crack open. After consulting histories and legends that circulate among the inhabitants, it is concluded that the purpose of the wall is not just to keep them from seeing or crossing to the other side; it also convinces those who encounter it that there is nothing beyond it, that the world ends there, at the feet of its solid base and in the face of the infinite expanse, in length and height, of its surface. Outside one of the huts near the wall, a little girl watches with her chin resting on one of her hands. Her eyes aren’t focused on the arrogant wall, but rather on the feet of those who strike and scratch at the wall. Or really, she is looking at the ground covered in mud and puddles.
A little behind her, a strange being, similar to a dog, or to a cat, shelters itself in the threshold of the hut. The little girl turns to look at it and says: “Hey you, cat-dog, what, you scared of the rain? Not me. They don’t call me ‘Defensa Zapatista’ for nothing. You think that if we’re in the middle of a game and it starts raining we’re going to say, “oh no, I better get off the field or I’ll get wet?” No way. You can just fix your hair with your hand, and since it’s wet it stays smooth and forget about the rest. But it’s not like I fix it like that so I can go around flirting with fucking men. It’s so I can see when the ball comes and goes. If I don’t fix it, I can’t see. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in the hut, even if you’re a cat or a dog, you’re still going to get wet. Look, I just got an idea.”
The little girl enters the hut and then comes out with some pots, buckets, and empty tin cans. She starts placing them beneath the little streams of water dripping from the edges of the tin roof. It would seem as if she was positioning them randomly, but no. Every little bit she changes their location. The being whom the little girl calls the “cat-dog” barks and meows. The little girl looks at it and says: “Just wait, you’ll see what I’m doing.”
The little girl keeps changing the location of the pots and cans and, with each change, she mutes the sound of the raindrops hitting their surface. The little girl listens for a moment and then goes back to changing the places and sounds of this strange symphony.
She is immersed in this task when a couple of men arrive. One is tall and gangly; the other is shorter in stature, of average build. Both carry fine umbrellas and the taller one wears an elegant coat, some type of cap, and a curved pipe between his lips. They say nothing; they just watch the little girl come and go. At some point, the gangly one with the elegant overcoat coughs and says: “Excuse me miss, will you allow me to shelter you with my umbrella? That way you won’t get wet while you…while you do whatever it is you’re doing.” The little girl stares at him with hostility and responds, “My name isn’t ‘miss,’ it’s ‘Defensa Zapatista’ (the little girl puts on her best “get away from my pots and cans or you die” face). “And what I’m doing is making a song.” The man comments as if to himself: “hmm, a song, how interesting my dear Watson, how interesting.” The other man just affirms with a nod while he shelters himself in the doorframe, eyeing the dog suspiciously…well, the cat…well, whatever it is that’s next to him in the threshold.
The man with the strange cap observes attentively the coming and going of the little girl. All of a sudden his face lights up and he exclaims, “Of course! Elementary. A song. It couldn’t be any other way.”
And, turning to the person who now shares the small space out of the rain with the cat-dog, he says, “Pay attention, Watson, here you have something which could never be found in one of those vulgar popularizations of the detective’s science with which you torment your few readers, that is, if you have any at all. Observe carefully. What the young miss…cough…cough…I meant to say, what ‘Defensa Zapatista’ is doing is combining the principles of mathematics, physics, biology, anatomy and neurology. By changing the positions of these strange metal receptacles and placing them beneath different rivulets of water, she obtains different individual sounds that together produce distinct combinations of notes which, I infer, will become a melody. Then, changing the rhythms, she will have music and from there, elementary my dear Watson, a song. Bravo!” The man has passed his umbrella to the other man under the doorframe and applauds with enthusiasm.
The little girl has left her work for a moment and stopped to listen to the man. After the applause, the little girl asks, “you mean a ton [ii] right?”
“A ton?” repeats the man, and then after thinking about it a bit exclaims: “Of course! Ton, tune. Yes, miss, a tune and not a ton, although it’s true that there are some tunes that are very heavy.” The little girl furrows her brow and clarifies, “I already told you my name is not ‘miss,’ my name is ‘Defensa Zapatista.’ And what’s your name?
The man responds, “You are right, what bad manners that I have not introduced myself,” and, with a brief bow, introduces himself, “My name is Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. And my companion, who is currently shivering from the rain and the cold, is Doctor John H. Watson, a debaser of science.” Extending his hand toward the little girl, he adds “And you are…yes, of course, you told me before, “Defensa Zapatista.” Strange name for a little girl. Well, it seems everything is strange in these lands.”
The little girl ignores the extended hand, but appears interested. “Consulting detective…what’s that?” she asks.
“I combat crime, miss, I investigate by observing, analyzing and applying science,” responds the man with poorly feigned modesty.
“Ah, like Elías Contreras, the Zapatista investigation commission,” interrupts the little girl. The man tries to clarify, but the little girl continues:
“Well, look, I already talked to Elías so he would join our team, but it turns out he’s already dead and tending to the bad and the evil, that is, he’s investigating the fucking capitalist system. I told him he can still join the team, even though he’s deceased, but he says that Supmarcos sends him off on investigations and so he wouldn’t make it to practice. The funny thing is that Supmarcos is dead too. I think that’s why they understand each other. Of course, right now we can’t really practice that much because the field is all muddy and the ball doesn’t roll, it just gets stuck and no matter how much it gets kicked it doesn’t move, or it moves just a little and then gets lazy again. So you get all muddy for nothing and later your moms comes with her ‘you have to wash up’ and then off to the river. Do you like to bathe? I don’t like it. Only if there’s a dance, then I like it, because you can’t be all muddy when they start playing the song “la del moño colorado” [the girl with the colorful bow]. Do you know that one, “la del moño colorado”? That’s a good song because you dance to it like this (the little girl hums while balancing lightly on one foot and then the other). You don’t just jump around like the young people these days who like that music and end up muddier than if they hadn’t bathed at all. But you know mothers, what do they care if there’s no dance? Nothing, you still have to bathe and if you don’t, there’ll be hell to pay. Do you have a mom? Well, look, just think about whether moms know or not. They definitely know. I still don’t know how it is that they know, but they know. You should investigate how it is that they know. I told Elías to investigate it, but he just laughed, the jerk. And SupMoy is even worse, you think he helps? If he’s around and your mom gives the order to bathe, you think he’ll defend you? Forget it, you have to obey your mom, he says. I complained to him one day about why it’s like that, if the struggle says to rule by obeying, it should be that the little girls rule and the moms obey. But he just laughed, the jerk. Well, look, pay attention because I’m going to explain something to you: it turns out we haven’t filled up the team. Why not? Well, because there’s no discipline, that is, they don’t understand the organization of the struggle. One minute they tell you they’re in and the next, they’re out, they took off on another path, for one reason or another. They’re all just excuses. Or if not, they say it’s because of the work of the struggle. As if playing wasn’t part of the work of the struggle? The deceased Supmarcos would say children’s work is to play. Well, he would also say it’s to study, but don’t publish that, eh? So given that, we can’t complete the team, there’s no seriousness, as someone says. But don’t you worry, don’t despair because the team didn’t fill up quickly. We know it takes time, but one day there will be more of us. Since we can’t practice right now and they don’t let me join the work of making holes in the wall because it’s raining and I’ll get wet… can you believe they say that? As if I wasn’t going to get wet bathing anyway. The other day I wanted to give my moms a political lecture and I told her it’s not good for me to bathe because I’ll get wet, and in the autonomous school they say it’s not good for little girls to get wet because what if they get sick with a cough, right?
But my moms just laughed, I think she didn’t understand the political lesson because she was just like, get yourself down to the river and make sure to wash behind your ears and this, that, and the other. Well, don’t you get distracted, whatever your name is. It turns out that, since I can’t practice and I can’t make holes in the wall, I started thinking and thinking. And now I just keep thinking and thinking. Not about silly things though, but rather about the struggle. So I thought that we need music for when we win the game. Because if there’s no music, we won’t be happy that we won, you understand? What are you going to understand, if you’re just standing there staring? Okay, I’ll explain. Look, the moms know, we don’t know how they do it, but they know. If you have a difficult question, you go to your moms and boom, they know the answer. Well, so it turns out that my moms told me something like a story the other day. She said that the deceased one said that the struggle needs science and art. I don’t know what science and art are, so then my moms explained it to me. I think I’ll explain it to you because you definitely don’t know. Look, science and art aren’t just that you do things however you want, half-assed, but rather that first you imagine how what you want to make will turn out, then you study how you’re going to do it, and then you go and do it. But not just any old way; rather you make it happy, with lots of colors and lots of music, you understand? Well, so I thought and imagined what our music should be when we win the game. Yes of course really happy music but not like for dancing, because it’s serious to win a game, even more so since my team is full of lumps, like the cat-dog here who barely obeys, it just runs and runs, and since its paws are a little twisted well, it tends to veer off to the side. So the song has to be cheerful but serious. It should be enjoyable and make your heart happy. Well so I was sitting here thinking about the music, I mean the ton of the song, and then my idea came. I was listening to the sound the rain makes when it falls, and I saw that it sounds different in each little puddle. So I took out my mom’s pots and some cans and buckets from our women’s collective and now I’m here listening to how each one sounds and how they sound in collective. Because it’s not the same as an individual as in a collective, you see. In a collective it’s happier, it sounds good. But each individually, it’s all the same, even if you change the bucket. Now if you put them together, it’s something else. Of course, the issue is how you put them together so that they sound good. You understand? I mean that’s where you bring in science and art and it comes out just right. Not like Pedrito who thinks he knows how to sing, but all he knows are Pedro Infante songs. You think he knows any about love? No, all songs about horses and drunks. And for nothing, because Pedrito twice over doesn’t drink, that is, he doesn’t drink because he’s a little boy, and he doesn’t drink because he’s a Zapatista. You think you’re going to find a wife if you sing to her about horses? No, never, never ever. And even worse if you sing to her about drunkards. If somebody sang to me about horses, it’d be for nothing because I already have one, it’s just that he’s one-eyed, which means that he sees out one eye but not the other. Well, the truth is that the horse isn’t mine, because he doesn’t have an owner. No one knows where he came from, he just appeared all of a sudden in the pasture. I quickly recruited him, as they say, for the team and made him goalie, but since he doesn’t see well I had to put myself on defense. But if somebody sings to me about drunkards, well yeah then, that calls for some smacks and to hell with them. My moms say that alcohol is no good, that it makes men dumb. Well okay, dumber than usual. And then they beat the women. Of course, now it’s different because we defend ourselves as the women that we are. I, as Zapatista defense, also train so that men don’t bother me when I grow up, that is when I grow into a young single woman. But don’t get distracted, write down what I explained to you in your notebook, write that science and art are really important…”
At that, the cat-dog begins to bark and meow. The little girl turns around to look at him and asks, “Now?” The cat-dog purrs and growls. The little girl hurriedly enters the house, just as the rain lifts its wet skirt and the sky clears.
It’s no longer raining when the little girl runs out of the house with a ball in her hands. The cat-dog runs out behind her.
As she gets further away, the little girl manages to shout: “When you finish writing your notes, come. Don’t worry if the team isn’t full yet. It might take a while, but there will be more of us.” The man who is called “Doctor Watson” closes his umbrella and reaches his hand out to make sure that, in fact, it has stopped raining.
The man with the absurd cap keeps watching the little girl as she moves away. Then he takes a magnifying glass from his raincoat and stops to analyze each of the containers, now mute, without rain to make them sing.
“Interesting, my dear Watson, very interesting. I believe it would be worth spending some time in these parts. The atmosphere is clean and the fog keeps reminding me of the London of Baker Street,” says the tall thin man as he stretches out his arms to better breathe in the air of the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
“Spend some time, Holmes? Why?” asks the other man while he shakes off some lingering raindrops. “I don’t think we’d be much help, although this little girl seems to suffer from verbal diarrhea, a tranquilizer would help…whoever has to listen to her.”
“No, Watson, we’re not going to help anyone. I only came to find an old acquaintance. But I think it will be difficult to find him…at least alive,” says the man as he puts away the magnifying glass and begins walking.
The other man rushes to catch up to him, asking, “Then what are we going to do here, Holmes?” “Learn, my dear Watson, learn,” says the man as he takes out the magnifying glass again and stops to look at an insect.
As the two figures fade into the fog, once can hear in the distance barks, meows, and a child’s laughter, a laugh like a song.
Then, although nearly imperceptibly, the wall shudders…
Woof-Meow. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: From Baker Street to the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Music: “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, with Raphael Ravenscroft on saxophone. 1978. Photographs of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson from the British television series “Sherlock” made by the BBC, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (as Doctor Watson). Coproduced by Hartswood Films and WGBH, the series was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Accompanied by embroidery (first outlined and then finished) made by Zapatista insurgents for the CompArte Festival, 2016, with the theme “Defensa Zapatista and the Hydra.” The image of the little doll on the foosball table was taken in 2013 by a 9-year-old boy who attended the Zapatista Little School. He saw the foosball table and put the little doll there just as you see it. The illustrations at the end of the video are by the CVI support team, “Tercios Compas” section. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Embroidery and drawings by EZLN insurgents for the CompArte Festival
Embroidery and drawings made by Zapatista insurgents for the CompArte Festival. Music: “Resistencia,” from the album LDA V The Lunatics, Los de Abajo.