By: Gilberto López y Rivas
Statements from the Mexican Network of those Affected by Mining (Rema, for its initials in Spanish) made to the leader of the Morena Party did not go unnoticed. In an open letter, it rejects Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s proposal to “make commitments in order to achieve greater investment of the Canadian mining companies in Mexico, with fair wages and care of the environment,” which is inscribed in a Decalogue to counteract Donald Trump’s policies.
Rema clarifies that it has no ties to any political party, and that its position obeys the need to express its profound concern before the fact that “the country’s political class continues deaf and dumb to the recurrent denunciations that society, and especially the Rema, have made against the mining companies that work in Mexico and in Latin America. […] Mining is one of the extractive processes that have the largest emission of toxic contaminants into the water, the sediments and the air, and this contamination is practically irreversible. The model is maintained in the spirit of obtaining the greatest possible profit, and is a precursor to the destruction of labor rights, because it was the first to promote-adopt the attack against traditional trade unionism, it raises up and favors the appearance of company unions, to later confront workers in the same mine and, increasingly uses outsourcing more and more as its principal means of contracting workers […] Its interest in promoting Canadian investment leaves much to be desired, not only because the Canadian mining companies concentrate 70% of that industry’s projects in our country, but also because it’s just in Canada where the current predatory extractive mining model was developed […] Canada doesn’t recognize or respect the right of the peoples to prior, free and informed consent, because it’s not a signatory to Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and delayed four years to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples […] there are hundreds of experiences of what we state here. We are not fantasizing; the extractive mining model is predatory and “improving it,” “diminishing it” or “better regulating it” is not enough, since that is impossible. Today, mining extraction is the planet’s most predatory technical and technological system. From our humble contribution to its Decalogue, we tell you that this investment must be banished from the country.” (See the page http://www.remamx.org/).
As has frequently been made evident in La Jornada through opinion articles, editorials and numerous special reports, the mining corporations promise jobs, public services, productive projects and respect for the environment, but it is a fact that historically these companies have left a trail of death, impoverishment, irreversible damage to the environment and health effects, polarization and social division in the communities. Toxic mega-mining is especially injurious and contrary to the spirit and letter of Constitutional Articles 2 and 27, since different secondary laws grant the exploration, exploitation and benefit of minerals the character of “public utility” and “preference” over any other use or of the terrain, and give extraordinary facilities to private parties for accessing the lands that the concessions protect, transforming the ejido owners and comuneros into the unprecedented condition of “surface owners,” outside of every criteria or legal framework. These privileges for corporations, the majority foreign, which already possess concessions for 35% of the national territory, constitute a rupture of the constitutional pact that results from the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917, and one more proof of the governing clique’s national betrayal.
In the global ambit, empirical data shows that mining companies leave a sequel of millions of tons of removed earth and rocks in extensive operation areas, with the consequent destruction of the habitat and deterioration of the social atmosphere: they contaminate rivers, groundwater, dams and drainage with extremely toxic substances; they monopolize the water; exploit their workers and expose them to conditions with extreme risk; they support anti-democratic regimens–like the one in Mexico–, they even contract gunmen (sicarios) and paramilitary groups to confront their opponents and organize powerful “pressure groups” (called lobbies for the Anglican euphemism) that act in the parliaments, bribing and buying consciences, even of congresspersons of the institutionalized left, so that they support their businesses directly or indirectly in the country. All of that in exchange for the very scarce income that residents of the exploited territories receive (1.3 to 2.9 percent, between rent and subsidies, when they actually receive them), when they get pressured to grant the “permits” through deception, because of the commanding need and the corruption of “leaders” or caciques that lend themselves to serve as the corporations’ native clerks.
The only defense in the face of the mining threat is organization, mobilization and the strengthening of the autonomy of the affected indigenous-campesino communities, and of the social movements that defend popular sovereignty from below. The ignorance and disinformation throughout Mexico, with respect to the multiplicity and severity of the damages that toxic mega-mining implies, be it among campesinos in assemblies, among professionals and academics, among legislators, judges, functionaries and political leaders has very serious consequences for our country and its territories. And one must not expect any kind of defense or protection from the Mexican government, which loses more credibility and dignity with each day that passes. Breaking records as for “opening” to foreign investment, Mexico is perhaps the country in the world where it’s easiest to obtain a concession for this kind of mining exploitation, and its government even grants inclusive favorable credits and numerous other protections to the mining companies.
On this theme, as in many others, it is necessary to listen to the peoples.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, February 24, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: José Antonio Román
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that the Mexican State is responsible for violating the right to life of the Tzeltal Gilberto Jiménez Hernández, executed at the hands of members of the Army in Altamirano, Chiapas, on February 20, 1995, inside the so- called Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan, with which it sought to retake the territory in which the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) had operated.
The IACHR points out that after 22 years the Mexican State has not complied with any of the recommendations issued to repair the damage and to guaranty that the acts are not repeated. They also committed offenses and crimes against relatives of the victim and the villagers.
The acts occurred in the La Grandeza ejido in Altamirano municipality, when Army officials extra-judicially executed Jiménez Hernández while he was fleeing with his family and some 70 other residents. There were allegedly investigations in ordinary federal and state agencies, as well as military, but impunity prevailed.
The State’s version is that his death resulted from a confrontation between members of the EZLN, the group to which the victim belonged, and members of the Army.
These acts occurred after February 9, 1995, when then President Ernesto Zedillo launched the Army against the EZLN, betraying his offer of dialogue. That same day, the Attorney General of the Republic announced that members of the Zapatista leadership had been accused of the use of weapons for the Army’s exclusive use and also terrorism.
According to the testimonies of villagers, the soldiers “opened continuous fire” against the people that had taken shelter in an improvised encampment on the hill after being warned that the soldiers were coming. They also said that the Army destroyed the interior of the houses in the empty community.
The villagers fled after the shooting on February 20. Gilberto Jiménez attempted to hide, but he couldn’t because he was carrying his 2-year old daughter “tied to his back with a shawl.” Abner García Torres, a soldier, found him and in Spanish ordered him to stop.
Gilberto obeyed and was extended on the ground, but the soldier, “without any warning or motive, shot him without considering that he was carrying his daughter on his back.” One of the bullets penetrated his right eye and caused his immediate death. His wife and several of his ten children with whom he was fleeing were witnesses to the execution.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY
To the Sixth in the world:
Because we had told you that we were going to see the way of supporting you so that, at the same time, you will support the resistance and rebellion of those who are persecuted and separated by walls, well we now have a small advance.
The first ton of Café Zapatista (Zapatista Coffee) is now ready for the campaign “Facing the walls of Capital: resistance, rebellion, solidarity and support from below and to the left.”
It’s 100 % Zapatista coffee. Cultivated on Zapatista lands by Zapatista hands; harvested by Zapatistas; dried under Zapatista sun; ground in a Zapatista machine; the Zapatista mill was out of order due to the Zapatistas’ fault; the Zapatistas fixed it (it was non-Zapatista part); later packaged by Zapatistas, labeled by Zapatistas and transported by Zapatistas.
This first ton was achieved with participation from the 5 Caracoles, with their Good Government Juntas, their MAREZ and the communities’ collectives, and it is already found in the CIDECI-UniTierra in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, rebel Mexico.
This Zapatista coffee has the best taste if you drink it struggling. We place a small video here that the Tercios Compas made where you can see the process: from the coffee field, to the warehouse.
We are now classifying and packing the works with which the Zapatistas participated in the first CompArte, which we will also send to support your activities.
We hope that we will be able to deliver (the coffee) at the April event so that it can move to the different corners of the world where the Sexta is, in other words, where there is resistance and rebellion.
We hope that with this first support you are able to initiate or continue your work in support of all the persecuted and discriminated of the world.
Perhaps you will ask yourself how the coffee will arrive in your corners. Well in the same way in which it was produced, in other words, being organized.
In other words we’re asking that you organize not only for that, but also and above all for making activities to support all the people that today are persecuted simply because of a skin color, a culture, a belief, an origin, a history, or a life.
And it’s not all for now: always remember that one must resist, one must rebel, one must struggle and one must organize.
Oh, and we ask how you say what we want to say, but in a way that you will understand it:
¡Fuck Trump! (And at the same time also all the others that is Peña Nieto, Macri, Temer, Rajoy, Putin, Merkel, May, Le Pen, Berlusconi, Jinping, Netanyahu, al-Assad, and you can add in there whatever it’s called or will be called the wall that must be brought down in a way that all of the walls receive the message).
(That is to say that it’s the first of several tons and the first of several mentions –that are not minty).
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés | Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, March 2017
A video by the Tercios Compas accompanies this comunicado with the song “Somos sur,” (“We are the South), words and music of Ana Tijoux, accompanied by Shadia Mansour. It can be found, along with photos of the coffee coops, at:
By: Magdalena Gómez
March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the case of Indigenous women, as of today, the complexity is not fully realized that their belonging to a people and the dimension of gender involve. In the last 20 years, indigenous women, immersed in the dynamic of the indigenous peoples’ political movement, have constructed new spaces favorable to the vindication of their own demands as women. Many of them are similar to the generic demands of all women, but others question, from inside of their peoples, certain conceptions and practices endorsed by so-called custom.
A good example of this process is the document that was presented to the National Indigenous Congress for the purpose of its creation, in October 1996. In the first place, they again took up the spaces won during the discussion at the dialogue table between the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) and the federal government, because of that it was noted that the women’s law and the need for parity among men and women were recognized at the negotiating table for the San Andrés Accords; however, the mechanisms for implementing them and for making that law effective were not agreed upon.
It emphasized that there is no doubt that the indigenous woman fulfills a productive and symbolic role equally important as the man’s. Nevertheless, women are generally excluded from public decisions and have fewer rights than men. At the same time, it clarified that indigenous women set forth their demands and vindicate their rights, not to go against their culture or their group, but rather to think about the customs from a perspective that includes them and does not do violence to them. With respect to that, they concluded: “therefore we say together with other organized indigenous sisters that insistently advocate for changing the customs that we want to open a new path for thinking about customs from another view, which does not do violence to our rights as persons and that gives dignity and respect to indigenous women. We always want to change the customs that don’t affect our dignity.” They insisted on denouncing the triple oppression that indigenous women experience, because of being poor, being indigenous and being women.
The perspective of their political rights was already glimpsed when they supported the recognition of autonomy for Indian peoples, with the guaranty of parity to women I all representative bodies. They added themselves to the questioning the counter-reform to Constitutional Article 27 demanding it be modified so that women have the right to land, together with the right of all indigenous peoples. In this 1996 document we are able to appreciate that the demands are formulated directly, even if an image of embroidering is profiled about the inter-relation between their belonging to the indigenous peoples and in some way their vindication of participation in the political process with the situation that they live inside of those collectivities as women.
Today the indigenous women’s movement has expanded and diversified its agendas. In relation to their political rights some, very few, have participated in local and federal deputations or in the municipios through the political parties or in the case of de Oaxaca through election by uses and customs. Those individual trajectories are added to the generic agenda of the political parties and they seek to introduce some similar demand. We find an example of this tendency in the case of a Zapotec woman Eufrosina Cruz, who expressed: “let’s go grabbing more; what I have understood in my experience is that if you don’t grab for something, then you’re not going to get it; sensitivity is needed in public spaces in every rubric of decision-making, backwardness is in all sectors.” (Milenio, 5/3/17)
The National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) with the EZLN’s support set this profile of electoral political participation with the postulation of an indigenous woman as an independent candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, and without a doubt it will mark a significant turn. We’re talking about a radical change that an indigenous woman will head; it is in and of itself an affirmative action, which entails a rupture with the patriarchal hegemony of the political elites. The other element that constitutes an authentic parting of waters is that this indigenous woman will bring with her an anti-capitalist program, which marks a rupture with the profile of the electoral agendas underway.
From this perspective, what the CNI pointed out last January 1 makes sense: “we want to shake the conscience of the nation, which in effect means that we seek that indignation, resistance and rebellion figure on the 2018 electoral ballots, but it’s not our intention to compete in any way with the parties and all the political class that still owes us a lot… Don’t let us confuse you, we don’t seek to compete with them, because we are not the same.”
Such is the challenge.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Isaín Mandujano
The former Chiapas governor, Absalón Castellanos Domínguez, who the Zapatista National Liberation Army put on trial in 1994, died this afternoon at 93.
His grandson with the same name, Absalón Castellanos Rodríguez, announced the death of the general, born in Comitán de Domínguez, in social networks: “May you rest, Grandfather! You are now with God… October 2, 1923 – March 10m 2017 (93 years) A great man in every sense and a proud Mexican, descendent of Belisario Domínguez, Proudly Chiapaneco!”
After graduating from the Heroic Military College in June 1942, the ex governor served as the commander of the body of cadets of the First Mixed Weapons Support Group of the Corps of Presidential Guards.
He was the director of the Military School of “Mariano Escobedo” Classes, commander of the 18th. Military Zone and the 2nd Infantry Zone, as well as of Military Camp No. 1, and also director of the Heroic Military College, inspector general of the Army and commander of the 31st and 13th Military Zones.
He governed the state of Chiapas (1982-1988) with a heavy hand, which was also distinguished by land invasion and the constant repression of the protests of campesino and indigenous groups.
In response, on January 1, 1994, behind he EZLN’s armed uprising, the masked ones surprised him at his Momón ranch in the municipio of Las Margaritas. A group with now Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in command took him prisoner and led him to the heart of the Lacandón Jungle to be tried. 
He was delivered to Bishop Samuel Ruiz García with whom he always had political friction.
After the gestures of peace negotiator Manuel Camacho Solís and then Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, the EZLN’s Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command (CCRI-CG) ordered the retired general’s release.
“For the purpose of favoring the prompt start of the dialogue for peace with dignity that all Mexicans desire and as a signal of our EZLN’s sincere disposition, we communicate to you that on Wednesday, February 16, 1994 division general Absalón Castellanos Domínguez will be set free,” the Zapatistas said at that time.
Division General Absalón Castellanos Domínguez was delivered to Peace and Mediation commissioners Manuel Camacho Solís and Samuel Ruiz García, in Guadalupe Tepeyac, municipio of Las Margaritas. After his liberation, medical personnel from the International Committee of the Red Cross checked his health condition.
The Zapatistas argued that they had decided to set him free “for the purpose of favoring the easing of tension in the conflict zone during the realization of the dialogue for peace with dignity.”Durante that delivery, the EZLN announced the general was a “prisoner of war,” accused of different crimes against the indigenous population of Chiapas and a “popular trial” for what happened.
Castellanos Domínguez was accused of edging the indigenous population of Chiapas towards rising up in arms against injustices because he closed off every legal and peaceful path for their just demands during the time in which he was governor of Chiapas.
“Division General Absalón Castellanos Domínguez was found guilty of, in complicity with the federal government during the time of his state mandate, having obliged indigenous Chiapanecos to rise up in arms by closing off every possibility to them of a peaceful solution to their problems. Patrocinio González Blanco Garrido and Elmar Setzer Marseille, who succeeded him as governors of Chiapas and who continued edging our peoples towards this path, with the complicity of the respective federal governments, are accomplices of division general Absalón Castellanos Domínguez in the commission of this crime,” the Zapatistas pointed out.
Before, during and after the time in which he discharged his duties as governor of Chiapas, he was accused of repressing, kidnapping, incarcerating, torturing, raping and murdering members of the Chiapas indigenous populations that fought legally and peacefully for their just rights.
He was also accused of dispossessing indigenous Chiapas campesinos of their lands, in complicity with the federal government, “and in this way having become one of the most powerful landholders in the state of Chiapas,” the Zapatista Justice Tribunal emphasized at that time.
After deliberating and analyzing all the accusations against the ex governor and his guilt having been demonstrated, his verdict was issued and his sentence decided:
“Division General Absalón Castellanos Domínguez was condemned to life sentence doing manual labor in an indigenous community of Chiapas and in this way earning the bread and means necessary for his subsistence.”
Afterwards it resolved: “As a message to the people of Mexico and to the peoples and governments of the world, the Zapatista Justice Tribunal of the EZLN commutes the life sentence of division general Absalón Castellanos Domínguez, it sets him physically free and, instead, condemns him to living the rest of his days with the sentence and shame of having received forgiveness and kindness from those who he humiliated, kidnapped, dispossessed, robbed and murdered for so long.”
The Zapatista Justice Tribunal turned that resolution over to the EZLN’s Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command, so that they would take the necessary and pertinent measures for the fulfillment of the resolution.
At the same time, it recommended that the federal government should propose the exchange of division general Absalón Castellanos Domínguez for all the Zapatista combatants and civilians that federal troops unjustly took as prisoners during the 12 days that the fighting lasted in 1994.
It was also suggested exchanging the military man for food supplies and other means that would alleviate the grave situation of the civilian population in the territories under control of the EZLN.
After his release, the general lived for 23 years on a ranch near Tuxtla Gutiérrez. He never accepted talking to the media and journalists to give his version of that trial.
 In 2001, when the Zapatistas arrived in Mexico City at the end of the March of the Color of the Earth, journalists noticed Comandante Tacho wearing a Cartier watch, and speculated that it was the watch the former governor said was taken from him while he was held as a prisoner of war. The Zapatistas have never commented about this!
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo
Friday, March 10, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Raúl Zibechi
We are transitioning towards a new, post-capitalist world. In the measure that it is a process we are experiencing, we don’t have sufficient distance to know which period we’re in, but everything indicates that we’re crossing through the initial phases of said transition. Although it has deep similarities to previous ones (transitions from antiquity to feudalism and from feudalism to capitalism), a remarkable fact is the inability to comprehend what’s happening before our very eyes: a true process of the collective construction of new worlds.
In emancipatory thinking and especially in Marxism, the idea that all transition begins with the taking of power at the nation-State level has been converted into common sense. This assertion should have been re-thought after the Soviet and Chinese failures, but above all since the demolition of the states by neoliberalism, in other words by financial capital and the fourth world war underway. It’s certain, however, that power must be taken in order to move towards a non-capitalist world power, but why at the State level, why at an institutional level?
This is one of the essences of the problem and an enormous conceptual difficulty in being able to visualize the transitions that really exist. The second difficulty, tied to the former, is that transitions are not homogenous, and don’t involve all of the social body in the same way. History teaches us that they usually begin on the peripheries of the world-system of each nation, in remote rural areas and in small towns, in the weak links of the system, where they collect force and then expand to the centers of power.
On the other hand, transitions not only are not uniform from the geographic point of view, but also the social, since they are processes guided by human need and not by ideologies. Those who first construct other worlds are usually the peoples that inhabit the basement, Indians, blacks and mestizos; the popular sectors, women and youth are usually the principal protagonists.
I want to give an example of something that is happening right now, since it has a degree of important development and that can hardly be reversed, except with genocide. I refer to the experience of the Unemployed Workers Union (Unión de Trabajadores Desocupados, UTD) in General Mosconi, in northern Argentina. The city has 22,000 inhabitants that worked at the state oil company YPF until its privatization in the 1990s, which left a lot of people unemployed. In those years a strong movement of unemployed workers, known as piqueteros, took off and forced social plans out of successive governments.
During the cycle of piquetero struggles, the UTD was one of the principal referents in the whole country and the other movements enthusiastically followed its memorable roadblocks. The UTD and its leaders enjoyed strong prestige, which carried over to hundreds of cases before the courts because of the roadblocks and other “crimes;” they were the most popular ones in Argentina.
Things changed very quickly. The arrival of Nestor Kirchner to the presidency in 2003, and the retraction of the movements, took the UTD out of the media scenario and away from the attention of the social militants. News about what’s happening in far away northern Argentina is as scarce as nebulous.
Nevertheless, the UTD took advantage of the social plans (now cut by Macri) to construct a new world. At this time 110 agro-ecological vegetable gardens function, of two hectares each, where an average of 30 people work and produce a large variety of vegetables, besides a chicken coop and pigs in each garden. They have a carpentry workshop that is nourished from the zone’s abundant wood, workshops for soldering, classification of seeds and recycling of plastics in the five large structures the movement has, as one can read in the reporting of Claudia Acuña in the magazine MU (July 2016).
They built nurseries that reproduce native flora with which they supply from the town squares to the woods, those threatened by the dizzying expansion of transgenic soy and woodcutters. They dedicate part of their work to sustaining public spaces in the city and in the surrounding forests, a region where drug trafficking is increasing under state-police protection and complicity.
A simple calculation shows that from 4 to 5 thousand people make their living in relation to the collective work the UTD organizes, which is equivalent to 40 percent of Mosconi’s active population. Those families forged food autonomy, they no longer depend on social plans, and they are aiming from the production of food to the construction of housing, in other words they are reproducing life outside the framework of the system, without relating to capital or depending on the State. In sum, they work with dignity.
It will be said that it’s just a local experience. But the gardens and the UTD’s ways of doing things are already expanding to neighboring Tartagal, which has triple the population. Many thousands of undertakings of this kind in Latin America, because the popular sectors comprehended that the system doesn’t need them or protect them, as happened during the brief years of the welfare states. There is an implicit strategy in this group of new worlds that does not pass through nation-states, but rather through strengthening and expanding each initiative, in sharpening the anti-systemic and anti-patriarchal traits, and in strengthening resistances.
A stroke of maturity of a good part of these new worlds consists of maintaining distance from the political party and state institutions, although they can always demand support and glean resources with one eye set on guarantying survival and the other on maintaining independence.
In the long transition underway, impossible to know whether it will be decades or centuries, the new worlds are facing one of the system’s most powerful offensives. What they have achieved up to now permits us to breathe a serene optimism.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, March 3, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Patricia Mayorga
CHIHUAHUA, Chih. (apro). – The Rarámuri, Santiago Cruz Castillo, 26, requested political asylum in El Paso, Texas, after organized crime took away his lands in La Laguna de Aboreachi, municipality of Guachochi, like hundreds of indigenous and mestizos of the Sierra Tarahumara.
Another family from the La Trinidad ejido, in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality arrived before Santiago Cruz to request asylum. After five months, they are still holding David Ríos Laija, one of the members of that family, in custody.
Santiago Cruz arrived alone; he is single and his parents stayed in the Sierra. “I arrived in the United States on November 24 because of the violence that exists in the communities. Many people have gone away because they started to take the land away through criminal activity, through violence; they kill and disappear us and no one gives us protection. We have to leave.”
The young Tarahumara says that they snatched their small parcels of land and their houses to plant poppies and marijuana.
He opted to travel to Juárez, they invited him, they contracted with him and they took him to that border. He worked on a ranch close to Ciudad Juárez, but they were paying him very little and he worked a lot and he became discouraged. “I wasn’t comfortable, I worked long hours, they paid very little and I wasn’t treated well.”
On November 24 he decided to cross into the United States, he was in the detention center and afterwards made contact with the expert immigration lawyer, Carlos Spector, who took his case and is in the process of requesting political asylum.
Santiago Cruz’ wish is to help his people from there, because he is convinced that he can denounce the situation and is confident that the authorities will do something.
“I want to help my people, so that the government will let them work, I want to help from here. The truth is that the violence is strong, I know how it is, don’t tell me,” he insists.
Carlos Spector said that six months ago the Rios family arrived from Guadalupe y Calvo, after an armed group disappeared the father, who was the community’s commissioner.
“The widow Aureliana Leija and her two sons came in September. David Ríos Leija, 22, is a student of Medicine; they are Christians, it is a clean family and they are mestizos. The other son that came is Elías Ríos, 19.
“They fled due to the father’s political situation, they began to seek it and they (the criminals) tell him that they will leave him in peace, that they won’t look for him and they leave seeking asylum. That is part of the press communication, they let the mother go later, Elías 2 months after the credible fear test,” the lawyer detailed.
Nevertheless, David is still detained and Spector denounced that they don’t want to release him despite the fact that he already passed the credible fear test, because the criteria hardened with the Donald Trump government.
“It’s a case of immigration abuse. There exists a bi-national policy of persecution and the incarceration of poor Mexicans, human rights defenders or people that complain and ask for asylum. They incarcerate them or separate them from their family. After being detained for 5 months, there is no possibility of closing the case quickly; that’s the point of prolonged detention. It’s a political kidnapping to discourage strong political asylum cases,” Carlos Spector said.
The lawyer said that in theBarack Obama government and in other administrations, when they ask for political asylum like is done at the international bridge, they would detain them for two months until they passed the credible fear test and then release them if they showed that they didn’t represent threats to the community and if they guarantied that they would attend all the hearings.
Before, he said, the local “Migra” signed the conditional release, the conditional freedom, but now they decided that the national assistant director of immigration in Washington must approve those requesting political asylum to be released.
“It’s a democratic way to not grant asylum to anyone. That is the new policy and a formula for repression and mass deportation, applying the law in an extremely rigid and repressive way. The family wants to leave because the young man wants to leave, but he has to appear in court on March 8. Now they have undertaken a campaign to free him.”
This Monday, Spector announced, they have an appointment with the archbishop for the area, who has spoken out against the criminalization of political asylum.
The lawyer announced that the authorities are going to build more detention centers because soon the people aren’t going to fit in those that exist and he reproached that when people ask for political asylum at the bridge, they are entering legally, in accordance with the laws of the United States and with international laws, therefore he reproached the repressive measures, which he compared to those for the Japanese.
Spector reported that Santiago Cruz is the first Rarámuri to request political asylum, but there are another 300 Tarahumaras that are in prisons in the Southwestern United States, without defense because they don’t have translators.
Saúl Bustamante has finally helped them. He is mestizo and was raised in a cave in the Tarahumara by an indigenous family, because of which he is a firm defender of his people and principally of those who don’t have access to justice. He has organized events to promote Tarahumara culture in El Paso, like (running) races, and hopes to achieve the freedom or the just defense of indigenous Chihuahuans.
Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso.com
Friday, February 24, 2017
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
Remember that: science fiction. You’ll see that, in your coming nightmares, it will help you to not become so distressed, or at least not uselessly distressed.
Perhaps you remember some science fiction movie. Perhaps science fiction set some of you down the path of scientific science.
It didn’t do that for me, perhaps because my favorite science fiction movie is La Nave de los Monstruos i with the unforgettable Eulalio González, known as “el Piporro,” the soundtrack for which has been unjustly excluded from the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the local and renowned “Clay Pozol Bowl.” ii Perhaps you’ve heard talk of the movie: it’s a “cult” film, according to one of those specialized magazines that nobody reads, not even the people who edit it. If you remember the film and/or you see it, you’ll doubtless understand why I ended up lost in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast and not in the suffocating bureaucratic web that, at least in Mexico, chokes scientific investigation.
You’ll also cheer the fact that that movie is my point of reference for science fiction, instead of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick, or Alien by Ridley Scott (with Lieutenant Ripley breaking with Charlton Heston’s blueprint of the macho survivor in “Planet of the Apes”), or Blade Runner, also by Ridley, where the question “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” is the nodal point.
So you should thank Piporro and his “Star of Desire”iii and the robot Tor in love with a jukebox iv for the fact that that I’m not on their side in this encounter.
Anyway, cinephile philias (film buffs?) aside, let’s suppose an average film of the genre: an apocalypse in progress or in the past; all of humanity in danger; first an audacious and intrepid man as the protagonist; then, from the hand of innocuous feminism, a woman, also audacious and intrepid; a group of scientists is convoked to a super secret facility (invariably of course located in the United States); a high-ranking military official explains to them: they must create a plan to save humanity; they do so, but it turns out that in the end, they need an individual hero or heroine who, as the story goes, annuls the collective work and at the last second, with a pair of pliers that appeared inexplicably, cuts the green or blue or white or black or red cable at random, and ta-da, humanity is saved; the group of scientists applauds like crazy; the young man or woman finds true love; the respectable public vacates the theater while the free-loaders check the seats to see if anyone left any half-finished cartons of popcorn, with that delicious and unbeatable taste of sodium benzoate.
The catastrophe has a variety of origins: a meteorite has changed course with the same constancy as a politician making declarations about the gas hikes; or a tornado of sharks; or a planet spinning off its course; or an irritated sun sending one of those igneous tongues out of its orbit; or an illness that comes from outer space, or a spaceship, or a biological weapon that gets out of control and, converted into an odorless gas, transforms whoever has contact with it into a professional politician or maybe into something not quite so horrible.
That, or the apocalypse is already a done deal and a group of survivors wanders without hope, injecting the exterior barbarity into their individual and collective behavior, while humanity struggles between life and death.
The end can vary but the constant is the group of scientists, be they the ones who caused the disaster or the only hope of salvation, if of course a handsome man or woman appears at the opportune moment.
The film’s conclusion could be open-ended, or it could be a downright “dark beating” (José Alfredo Jiménez had already warned us that “life isn’t worth anything”).
Sure, let’s take as an example any novel, movie or TV series with an apocalyptic or catastrophic theme. Let’s say one with a popular theme: zombies.
A concrete example: the TV series The Walking Dead. For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s simple: due to some unspecified cause, people who die “turn into” zombies; the protagonist wanders, he encounters a group, they establish a hierarchical organization in continual crisis and they try to survive. The series’ success could be due to the fact that it shows characters that, in normal situations, are mediocre or pariahs, and they become heroines and heroes willing to do whatever it takes. Some of them are:
Michonne, a housewife ignored and belittled by her husband and siblings, who becomes a fearsome warrior with a katana (played by the actress and dramaturge Danai Jekesal Gurira and, not to make you jealous, she’s the only one whose real name I give because, in the trunk left by SupMarcos, I found a picture of her in the character of Michonne, dedicated by her own hand to the deceased. Arrrrroz con leche! v).
Daryl, a manipulated pariah transformed into a “tracker” and a fearsome crossbowman. Up until now the symbol of the refusal to submit, resistance and rebellion.
Glenn, a pizza delivery boy turned star explorer. The handyman and “thousand lives” of the series, until Rickman returned to the comic.
Maggie is a young woman that the zombie apocalypse saves from the monotonous life on a farm and converts her into a leader, despite being pregnant.
Carol, an abused wife transformed into a female version of Rambo, but smart.
Carl, is an adolescent that behind his eye patch hides a serial killer, as Negan well deduced.
Eugene, a nerd who symbolized science and eventually goes from being a pathological liar to becoming useful to the group.
Father Gabriel, the self-serving, opportunistic religious leader who reconverts himself and becomes necessary.
Sara and Aaron, the lesbian woman and the gay man who ensure the political correctness of the plot.
Rosita, my preferred wet dream, is the Latina who combines passion, skill and courage.
Morgan is the survivor in “shaolin monk” mode.
Sasha, the woman who changes from the classic romantic role to that of realistic survivor.
And in the upper part of the hierarchy, the battered symbol of order, Rick, an ex-sheriff’s deputy who barely hides the fascist inclinations of any police officer.
I don’t know what season you’re on. Since the fifth one I stopped watching because the law caught up with the movie guy who used to send me the “alternative” editions and now who knows where he is (which is a shame, because he had promised me up to season 10, though not even Kirkman knows if there will be 10 seasons). But with what I’ve been able to watch, I understand the reason for its success.
It’s not hard to follow the plot, anyway: it’s enough to look at the spoilers that filter through on the respective Twitter hash tags.
A few moons ago, I asked a compañera what would have happened if Rick, or any member of the group, had known ahead of time that what was going to happen would happen. I choose the police officer as my example because it seems that he is the only one whose survival is guaranteed, at least in the comic of the same name.
Would Rick have prepared himself? Would he have constructed a bunker and stockpiled in it food, medicines, fuel, weapons and ammunition, and the complete works of George Romero? vi
Or would he perhaps have tried to stop the disaster?
The compañera, Zapatista to the end, answered me with the same question: what did I think Rick Grimes would have done?
I didn’t hesitate to answer her: nothing. Even knowing what was going to happen, neither Rick nor any of the characters would have done anything.
And there’s a simple reason for that: despite all the evidence, they would have kept thinking, up until the very last minute, that nothing bad was going to happen, that it wasn’t such a big deal, that someone somewhere would have the solution, that order would be re-established, that there would be someone to obey and someone to boss around, that, in any case, the tragedy would happen to other people, somewhere else, geographically distant or distant in terms of their social position.
They would think up until the night before that the tragedy was something destined not for them [ellas, ellos, elloas], but for those who survive below… and to the left.
Zombies aside, in the majority of those apocalyptic narratives, there are one or more moments in which someone, invariably the protagonist, when everyone is surrounded by a horde of zombies or the meteorite is a short distance from their heads, or in a similar situation, says, with all the serenity and aplomb, “Everything is going to be all right”.
And it turns out that for this meeting I got stuck with the role of party pooper. So I should tell you what we see: No, it’s not a science fiction movie, but rather reality; and no, everything is not going to be all right, only a few things will be all right if we prepare ourselves ahead of time.
According to our analysis (and until now, we haven’t seen anyone or anything that refutes it; on the contrary, they confirm it), we are already in the middle of a structural crisis that, in colloquial terms, means the reign of criminal violence, natural disasters, runaway shortages and unemployment, scarcity of basic services, collapse of energy infrastructure, migration, hunger, sickness, destruction, death, desperation, anguish, terror, helplessness.
In sum: dehumanization.
The crime is in progress. The biggest, most brutal and cruel crime in the brief history of humanity.
And the criminal is a system willing to go to any lengths: capitalism.
In apocalyptic terms: it’s a fight between humanity and the system, between life and death.
The second option, death—I wouldn’t recommend it.
Actually, don’t die. It’s not in your best interest. Believe me, I know something about that because I’ve died several times.
It’s very boring. Since the entrances to heaven and hell suffer from an annoying bureaucracy (though it’s not as bad as those in the universities and research centers), the wait is worse than an airport or a bus station during holiday season.
Hell’s the same, you have to organize gatherings of the arts, exact and natural sciences, social sciences, original peoples, and other equally terrible things. They force you to bathe and comb your hair. They inject you and make you to eat squash soup all the time. You have to listen to Peña Nieto and Donald Trump in a never-ending press conference.
Heaven, for its part, is the same, just that there you have to put up with a monotonous chorus of pallid angels, and they all give you the runaround if you want to talk to God to complain about the music.
In sum: say no to death and yes to life.
But don’t fool yourselves.
You’re going to have to fight every day, at all hours and everywhere.
In that fight, sooner or later, you’ll realize that only collectively will you have any possibility of triumph.
And even so, you’ll see that you also need the arts and that you need us, too, and others [otros, otras, otroas] like us.
As Zapatistas we are, we’re not only not asking you to abandon your scientific practice, we’re demanding that you continue it and deepen it.
Continue exploring this and other worlds, don’t stop, don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.
But we’re also asking you to seek out the arts. Even though the contrary might seem to be true, they will “anchor” your scientific task in what you have in common: humanity.
Enjoy dance in any of its forms. Perhaps at the beginning you won’t be able to avoid framing the movements in the laws of physics, but afterwards you’ll feel it, boom.
Go beyond geometry, color theory and neurology and enjoy painting and sculpture.
Resist the temptation to find the scientific logic to that poem, that novel, and let the words discover galaxies for you that only inhabit the arts.
Surrender when faced with the lack of scientific basis to the stories that in theater and film peer into that which is humanly imperfect, unstable, and unpredictable.
And so on with all the arts.
Now imagine that it’s not your own daily life but rather the arts which are in danger of extinction.
Imagine people, not statistics: men, women, children, elders, with a face, a history, a culture, threatened with annihilation.
See yourselves in those mirrors.
Understand that it’s not about fighting for them or in their place, but rather with them.
See yourselves as we Zapatistas see you.
Science is not your limit, your dead weight, your useless burden, the activity you should carry out in clandestinity or hiding in the closet of the academies and institutes.
Understand what we have already understood: that, as scientists, you all fight for humanity, that is to say, for life.
Yesterday Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés was explaining to us that the communities are, and have been for decades, our teachers and tutors. That the interest in science is new in Zapatismo. That it’s been incited by the new generations, by the Zapatista youth who want to know more and better how the world works. That out of the organized communities came this newest push that has us here in front of you.
It’s true. But what’s not new in Zapatismo is the struggle for life.
Even in our willingness and plans when faced with death, we were concerned with life from the start.
Those who are older, or who are interested despite not being older, may know about the uprising: the taking of 7 municipal capitals, the bombardments, the clashes with the military forces, the desperation of the government upon seeing that they couldn’t defeat us, the civil uprising that forced them to stop, what’s followed in these almost 23 years.
What you might not know is what I’m going to tell you next:
We prepared ourselves to kill and to die—Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés already summarized that for you. So then we had two options in front of us: the country as a whole would be ignited, or we would be annihilated. Imagine our bewilderment when neither the one nor the other took place. But that’s another story for which perhaps there will be another occasion.
Two options, but both had the common denominator of death and destruction. Even though you might not believe it, the first thing we did was prepare ourselves to live.
And I don’t mean those of us who fought in combat, those of us for whom knowledge of the resistance of different materials was useful for taking cover and finding shelter in combat and during bombardments; nor the knowledge that allowed the insurgent health workers to save the lives of dozens of Zapatistas.
I’m talking about the Zapatista bases of support, those to whom, as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained last night, we owe the path, the pace, the direction and the destination as Zapatistas we are, just as we owe to them the interest in the arts, the sciences, and the effort to include us with the workers of the countryside and the cities, the world headquarters of struggle, resistance, and rebellion that’s called “the Sixth.”
Starting a few years prior to that apparently now distant January 1, in the Zapatista communities the so-called “reserve battalions” were formed.
The mission that was given to them was the most important one in the gigantic operation that carried thousands into combat: to survive.
For months they were given instruction. Thousands of boys, girls, women, men and elders trained to protect themselves from bullets and bombs; to gather and retreat in orderly fashion in case the army attacked or bombarded the towns; to place and locate deposits of food, water and medicine that would allow them to survive in the mountains for a long time.
“Do not die” was the only order that they were to follow.
The order that those of us who went to combat had was: “Don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.”
When we came back to the mountains and we met back up with our communities, we fused the two orders and made them into one alone: “Struggle to build our freedom.”
And we agreed to do so with everyone [todas, todos, todoas].
And we agreed that, if it wasn’t possible to do so in this world, then we would make another world, a bigger one, a better one, one where all the possible worlds fit, the ones that already exist and the ones we still haven’t imagined but that can already be found in the arts and sciences.
Thank you very much.
Mexico, December 2016.
From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog.
I was in my hut, reviewing and analyzing some videos of plays by Maradona and Messi.
Like a premonition, a ball bounced inside. “Defensa Zapatista” arrived behind it, entering without giving notice or asking permission. Behind the girl came the notorious Cat-Dog.
“Defensa Zapatista” grabbed the ball and approached to look over my shoulder. I was busy trying to keep the Cat-Dog from eating the computer mouse so I didn’t notice that the girl was watching the videos with great interest.
“Hey Sup”, she said to me, “do you think Maradona and Messi are all that?”
I didn’t answer. From experience I know that Defensa Zapatista’s questions are either rhetorical or she’s not interested in hearing my answer.
“But you’re not seeing the issue,” she said, “for as much as they might have of art and science, they both have a serious lack.”
Yes, that’s how she said it: “lack.” There I did interrupt her and I asked, “And just where did you get that word or where did you learn it?”
She responded, indignant: “That very bad Pedrito said it to me. He told me that I couldn’t play football because girls lack technique.”
“I got mad and I gave him a slap upside the head, because I didn’t know what that word meant and what if it’s a bad word. Of course, the very bad Pedrito ran to the education promotora to make a complaint about me and they called me in. I explained to the teacher the national and international situation, as they say, that the situation with the Hydra is really messed up and everything. And since the promotora understood that we have to support each other as the women we are, they didn’t reprimand me, but they sent me to look up what “lack” means. And well, I thought it was a better punishment than if they had sent me to eat squash soup.”
I nodded understandingly as I tried to get the mouse out of the Cat-Dog’s mouth.
“Well anyway, I went to look up what “lack” means on the internet in the office of the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] and I found that it’s a song by the musicians of the struggle, that it’s really happy and that everyone starts dancing and jumping around as if they gotten into an anthill of leafcutter ants. So I went to the education promotora and I told her that “lack” is a song that goes: “I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like going to school.” She laughed and told me, “it’s ‘going to work.’” So then I told her that songs are up to each person’s taste and the problems they have. Which is to say I gave her the political explanation, but I don’t think she understood, because she just laughed. And then she sent me back to find out not about the song, but rather to look up what the word means. So I headed back and when I get there I had to wait for the guy who was on duty at the Junta to send out a denunciation. After that I was able to go in and there I saw that “lack” means you’re missing something. So I headed back to the education promotora and told her, and she said that there, now I’d seen that it wasn’t a bad word and she congratulated me. But since Pedrito was there eavesdropping I gave him another slap upside the head for going around saying that I lack technique. And then the promotora said she was going to tell my moms that I was doing that kind of thing, so I came to hide here because I know that nobody comes to see you.”
I took the jab heroically, as I was finally able to snatch the mouse back from the Cat-Dog.
“Defensa Zapatista” continued her long-winded speech:
“But don’t worry Sup, before coming in, first I peeked in to make sure you weren’t looking at pictures of naked ladies that, errrr, just to get it over with, Sup, it’s really unbelievable, and anyway I’m not going to make a complaint against you with the collective “The Women We Are,” but I’ll tell you plainly that it’s no good what you’re doing, because it just means you have a lack of moms, that is, like SupMoy says when he gets angry, no tienes madre” [you have no mother].
I’d like to clarify here that it’s not true what “Zapatista Defense” says, what happened is that I was taking a correspondence course on anatomy.
Anyway, before the girl could continue airing my secrets, I asked her why she said that Maradona and Messi were seriously lacking in something.
She was almost in the threshold of the door when she answered:
“Because they’re missing the most important thing: being women.”
“An Interstellar Trip”
Among the pile of papers and drawings that the late SupMarcos left, I found what I’m going to read to you below. It’s a sort of draft or notes for a script, or something like that, supposedly for a science fiction film. It’s called:
Toward What Does the Gaze Look?
Planet Earth. Some year in the distant future, let’s say 2024. Among the new tourist destinations, now it’s possible to travel to space and go around the world in a satellite adapted “ad hoc” for that purpose. The spaceship is a scale replica of the lunar satellite, with a big window that looks out, during the whole trip, onto Earth. On the other side, let’s say the back, there’s a sort of skylight, about the size of a house window, which always looks out onto the rest of the galaxy. The tourists, of all colors and nationalities, crowd up against the window that looks onto the planet of origin. They take “:selfies” and live-stream the images of the world, “blue like an orange,” to their friends and family. But not all the travelers are on that side. At least four people are in front of the opposite window. They’re forgotten about their respective cameras and they look out in ecstasy at the jumbled collage of celestial bodies: the snaking line of dusty light that is the Milky Way, the twinkling glimmer of stars that might not exist anymore, the frenetic dance of asteroids and planets.
One of the people is an artist; they’re not immobile, in their brain they imagine rhythms, lines and colors, movements, sequences, words, inert or mobile representations; their hands and fingers move involuntarily, their lips mumble incomprehensible words and sounds, their eyes open and close continuously. The arts see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.
Another one of the people is a scientist; their body doesn’t move at all, they look fixedly not at the closest lights and colors but rather at the most distant ones; in their brain they imagine unthought galaxies, inert and living worlds, stars being born, insatiable black holes, interplanetary vessels without flags. The sciences see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.
The third person is indigenous, of short stature, with dark skin and ancestral features. They look at and touch the window. Their mind and body press upon the solid, transparent material. In their brain they imagine the path and the pace, the speed and the rhythm; they imagine a destination that’s constantly changing. The original peoples see what they see and they see the life that could be created in order to be seen.
The fourth person is Zapatista, of changing color and features. They look through and delicately touch the glass with their hand. They take our their notebook and start writing frenetically. In their brain they begin to make calculations, lists of tasks, jobs to start, they trace maps, they dream. Zapatismo sees what it sees and sees the world that it will be necessary to build so that the arts, sciences, and original peoples can realize and fulfill what they see with their gaze.
At the end of the trip, while the other travelers acquire their last souvenirs in the “duty free” shops, the artist runs to their studio, or whatever it is, so that others [otros, otras, otroas] can see and feel what they see; the scientist immediately convokes other scientists because there are theories and formulas that need to be proposed, demonstrated, and applied; the indigenous person gets together with their fellow peoples and tells them what they saw in order that, collectively, the gaze can define the path, the pace, the company, the rhythm, the speed and the destination.
The Zapatista person goes to their community and in the community assembly explains and details everything that must be done so that the artist, the scientist, and the indigenous person can travel. The first thing the assembly does is critique the story or the tale or the script or whatever it’s called, because it’s missing the workers of the city and the countryside. It is proposed then that a commission write a letter to the deceased SupMarcos so that he puts the fifth element in the story, that is, the Cat Dog, because it already ate the internet cable and two flash drives belonging to the Tercios Compas, and it spends all its time chasing around the computer mouse, so better that they take it with them; and so that he also adds, as the sixth element, the Sixth, because without the Sixth the story isn’t complete. Having approved this, the assembly proposes, discusses, adds and subtracts, plans the timetables, distributes the tasks, votes to determine general agreement and names the commissions for each task.
Before the assembly is adjourned and everyone goes to start the tasks assigned to them, a little girl asks to have the floor. Without coming up to the front, standing almost at the back of the communal house, the girl strains to raise her voice and says: “I propose that on the list of things to take, that they include a soccer ball and a whole lot of pozol.” The rest of the assembly laughs uproariously. SubMoy, who’s sitting on the panel that’s coordinating the meeting, calls for order. Having achieved silence, SubMoy asks the girl what her name is. The girl responds, “My name is Defensa Zapatista,” and she puts on her best “you’ll never get past me, not even if you’re aliens” face. SubMoy then asks Defensa Zapatista why she is proposing this.
The girl climbs up on a wooden bench and argues: “The ball is because if they aren’t going to be able to play, then it’s pointless to go there where they want go. And the whole lot of pozol is to give them strength so they don’t faint along the journey. And also so that way out there, far away, where the other worlds are, they don’t forget where they came from”.
The little girl’s proposal is approved by popular acclaim. SubMoy is about to adjourn the meeting when “Defensa Zapatista” raises her little hand asking again for the floor. It is conceded to her. As the girl speaks, in one arm she holds a soccer ball and in the other hugs a small animal to her. It seems to be a dog… or a cat, or a cat-dog: “I just want to say that we haven’t filled out the team yet, but don’t worry, soon there are going to be more of us, sometimes it takes a while, but soon there are going to be more.”
December 29, 2016
i “La Nave de los Monstruos” (1960) or “The Ship of the Monsters,” a Mexican science fiction comedy film.
ii “Pozol de Barro,” prize to be awarded by the EZLN to the winning team in a 2005 soccer (football) competition between the Zapatista team and the FC Internationale de Milán.
iii Musical number by Piporro that appears in “La Nave de los Monstruos.”
iv Tor the robot and his jukebox lover are characters in the film.
v Literally “rice with milk,” a sweet rice dessert, but in this context an exclamation after a suggestive comment or as a general exclamation of excitement, as in “Yeehaw” or “Woohoo”
vi Director of cult classics Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead among many other horror films.
January 3, 2017
I’ve been listening to you: sometimes when I’m here with you all, sometimes via the CIDECI stream, sometimes via what your Zapatista students mention to me.
I always try to get a grasp on the meaning of your presentations, the path and direction of your words. We have heard brilliant presentations, some didactic, some complex, the majority polemical, but on and about things that can be debated. And we think you should do so, among yourselves. For that discussion, perhaps it would help you to first clarify the confusion that exists between science and technology.
With regard to the rest, we are as surprised as you are. This interest [of the Zapatista students] in science is not something we ordered or imposed, but rather something that was born from inside [of the Zapatista communities].
Twenty-three years ago, when feminism came to demand that we order women’s liberation, we told them that was not something that can be ordered, because it belongs to the compañeras. Freedom is not ordered; it is conquered. Two decades later, what the compañeras have achieved would put to shame those who at that time claimed to be the vanguard of feminism.
It’s the same now. Science is not imposed. It is the product of a process of the peoples, exactly as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained.
I’ve told you that we thought the majority of your presentations were good, but there were some, just a few, that, well I don’t know what to tell you.
One of them said admiring things about me; I listened with attention and waited for the moment when he would say: “everything I have just said is a fraud, I presented it to you so you would see what pseudo-science is and so that you don’t trust the principal of authority; just because someone has a formal education doesn’t mean that what they say is scientific.” But no, that moment never came.
I scrutinized his face to see if he was smiling maliciously, but no. He was sincerely convinced of the barbarities he was presenting, and appreciatively received the applause of his buddies in the crowd and others he had managed to sweet-talk.
When an insurgent compañera heard that thing about not needing to make babies, that it’s better to adopt because there are a lot of people on the planet already, she said to me: “so that’s how they get rid of people, the Hydra isn’t even necessary, that idea is sufficient. That’s the idea of rich people; even if there are only one or two of them, they are already too rich and too many, they are the ones who are in the way and of no use. That idea that was presented tells us there is no need to struggle to make another world, we just need to take contraceptives.”
I’m going to tell you what someone once told me about the time when the world was like an apple, waiting for the bite of original sin.
This man was explaining to me how he made a living. He used the “Boa Constrictor” method, as he called it. He had a helper, and together they would put Vaseline into small jars and make labels that read “Balm for Absolutely Everything.” The small print told you that this balm could cure everything from Alzheimer’s to a broken heart, including along the way polio, typhoid fever, hair loss, evil eye, toothache, foot odor, bad breath, and some other ailments that I don’t remember.
This is what this person would do: stand on a corner and begin to rail against zoos and circuses, about oh the poor little animals, locked up like that. And he would announce: “That is why we are going to show you a boa constrictor, 7 meters long, that we found in the sewer and rescued and now take care of, and right here and now we are going to show it to you, madam, sir, young man, young lady, child, the public in general.”
People would gather around curiously, mostly because the boa constrictor was nowhere in sight, just an old suitcase full of small jars of a balm called “Absolutely Everything.”
When he decided there were enough people around, he would turn to his helper and say loudly, “Secretary! Brrrrrinnnnnngg me the boa!” The accomplice would nod and run off to who knows where.
The man would watch his helper move into the distance. Picking at random, he would comment to someone close: “It seems like a lie, but just a few weeks ago that boy couldn’t move, not even with a cane, only in a wheelchair. And just look at him now. It seems like a miracle, but no, that’s not it. What happened was, luckily, I found the scientific formula for a medicine that cured him. Here, I’ll show you.”
Of course, the “innocent” comment that was supposedly aimed at one person was said in such a way for several to hear. The man would then go to the suitcase and take out a jar and tell the first person to whom he had directed the comment: “Look, this is what I was telling you about.” The person would take the jar and read the label while the man would pretend indifference, rearranging the little jars and looking in the direction the assistant had gone and commenting as if to himself, “why is that boy taking so long? I hope the boa constrictor hasn’t escaped on him, because if it has, we’ll see it in the news tomorrow, poor animal, they might cage it or turn it into bags and shoes.”
In the meantime, the innocent person who received the jar would be showing it to the person beside them, commenting on what had happened to the boy who went to get the boa. In a few minutes the jar had been passed through some 10 people, and the man would say then: “Okay now, give the medicine back to the madam, the gentlemen, the young man, young woman,” accordingly, and then to that person would add, “you keep it, as a gift, try it, you’ll see.”
Others would then come up asking for their free sample too and the man, apologetically, would explain: “No, I’m sorry, I can’t give them to everyone, it’s a special order from the Secretary of Health. But, not that I think about it, it’s better for you all to have a chance to try it instead of those government scoundrels. Just give me 10 pesos each so I can replace the government order.”
It was enough that 5 or so people would come up for others to join in, and soon he would have around him a decent number of people. The people would comment among themselves what the balm was all about and the man, pretending indifference, would merely charge for each jar while lamenting the delay of his “secretary” and the cursed boa.
In a matter of minutes, the helper would come back all agitated and worried and whisper something to the man. The man would answer “My god, really? Are you sure?” Then he would quickly pick up the now empty or almost empty suitcase and, addressing the people gathered there, proclaim: “Run! The boa escaped and the police and patrols are on their way.” He and the helper would take off with alarm and as the word of warning spread the people would scatter also.
I asked him how much the cursed medicine cost. He told me he pulled the little jars out of the trash and the Vaseline, well that came out to about a peso per jar. So this method earned him some 100 pesos a day, at a time when the minimum wage was 8 pesos a day.
Anyway, I just wanted to say to those who tried to apply that method in this gathering that even if you have an academic degree, we’re not buying your little jars. You’ll have to look for another corner from which to hock your quack commodities.
Perhaps somebody out there still has the image in mind of the ignorant and naive indigenous, and thought they could tell us they were going to talk about one thing knowing full well that they were going to talk about something else that had nothing to do with science. Hell, it doesn’t even manage to be pseudoscience. I’ve read better-developed, more original, and equally false things on social media.
Let me tell you: if you complain that the science departments in academia don’t take seriously what is pure existential nonsense, well, here we don’t either.
If in academia they don’t take your political activism in account, well we don’t either. But I can tell you where they do: on the institutional left. There, yes, you can go and say: I’m a doctorate in who knows what and I’ve participated in this many marches, rallies, and classes, and indeed they will give you some leadership position in something, anything, as advisors or coordinators.
Here, if you came because you know mathematics, then we want to hear you talk about mathematics, even if you don’t know what surplus value or class struggle is, even if you don’t know if “The International” is a song of struggle, an opera, or the name of a corner store. As Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés already told you, science is science, whether you are a partidista [associated with a political party] or a Zapatista.
It’s also not worth your time to come here and fawn over or court us, although I think that does work in academic institutions.
Neither are we interested in being manipulated around skin color, sexual preference, or religious belief. You either know what you’re talking about or you don’t; it doesn’t matter if you are dark-skinned, white, red, yellow, black, or mixed; it doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, homosexual, gay, trans, or whatever; it doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Mohammedan, or whatever; if you’re going to do science, then you do science, not religion, philosophy, or the quackery currently trending on social media.
So here we don’t discriminate. Here differences aren’t a demerit, but they aren’t a merit either. With respect to the personal sufferings or dramas you may have, fine, we understand. But you should understand that we are a very poor audience from which to expect pity. With everything you have suffered and continue to suffer, it could not compare with what it has been, and is, to be what we are.
But I understand what’s going on with you; everyone gets off with what they can. However, it doesn’t seem honest to us to come here and lie, saying you came to talk about science and not your existential lashings.
But the compañeros and compañeras are noble and understanding. We invited you to talk to us and we have honored that; we have listened with respect, which isn’t the same as saying that we have swallowed all your tall tales. We honored the agreement. Those people did not.
Imagine that this is an assembly in one of the Zapatista communities, and you go up to present one of your projects. You have said you are going talk about biology, medicine, laboratory work, clinical analysis, agro-ecology, engineering, or pharmaceuticals, and the assembly says, yes, go ahead, these things are urgent. Or you are coming to talk about physics, chemistry, math, volcanology, astronomy, and other sciences, and the assembly says yes, go ahead, these things are important.
But if someone comes who says they are going to tell us that science needs to do postmodern philosophy and take the existential variables of each person into account, well, the assembly is going to listen to you, but they aren’t going to tell you to go ahead. They are going to propose that you infiltrate Skynet and convince Artificial Intelligence to accept your scientific proposal. I’m sure that it would collapse in no time, which would relieve the duality suffered by John Connor, and humanity as a whole would be liberated from the Terminator sequels.
Of course, I recommend that you truly study and realize that you are closer to Aristotle and Ptolemy than to Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.
The Apocalypse According to Defensa Zapatista
The mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Territory in resistance and rebellion. There is an autonomous school. A classroom. There, the education promoter (teacher) is talking to the Zapatista girls and boys:
“Before we leave I’m going to tell you a story. You have to think about it and respond to the question I ask at the end.”
On one of the benches at the back, a little girl stops drawing complicated diagrams in her notebook which, although they appear to be flowcharts, are really diagrams of soccer tactics. At the margin of the lines and arrows one can read “when we fill up the team.” At the little girl’s feet there is a ball, frayed and full of lumps, and on her laps sleeps a kind of cat…or a dog… or something.
It’s not just the little girl, but rather the whole class that’s hanging on the words of the promoter (promotora, in Spanish) who says:
“There is a voice that tells us what it sees. It says to realize that the world is going to end once and for all, and that we can see that there are only two men left. The two are standing face to face; they aren’t talking to each other, but you can tell they are very angry. They are the only men left; everyone else has died already. They are the last men on Earth. These two men don’t talk to each other or look at each other, but they are arguing angrily. And they aren’t talking to or looking at each other because they are sending each other messages on their phones. That is, as they say, they are fighting as if their cellphones were weapons, the only ones left because the world is ending. They are scolding each other harshly, as only the two of them can see. One is saying to the other, that is, he is sending him a text message:
“It is all your fault because with science you created destruction.” (send)
The other looks at the message on his phone, gets angry and answers:
“No, it is your fault because instead of science, you starting saying we should do what the ancient primitives did and not use technologies.” (send)
The first really gets mad now and you can see in his eyes that it’s like he wants to burn up the screen of his phone. He writes:
“No, it’s your fault because with your science and technology you created the weapons that killed off everything, including the poor little animals.” (send)
The other looks at the message and you can see in his eyes he’s thinking “you’ll see, you bastard,” and he responds:
“No, it’s your fault because you said that we shouldn’t learn science because science is bad because it doesn’t respect Mother Earth and does her harm.” (send)
The other looks with hate at the screen and types out:
“No, it’s your fault because you think you know so much with your science and you don’t take the people’s needs into account and you go around with a big head thinking nobody can match you and all that shit you talk.” (send)
The first reads and gets so furious you wouldn’t believe it. He looks at the other and in his eye you can see “you’re going to die, bastard.” So he writes:
“No, it’s your fault because you criticized science out of pure laziness, you don’t want to study or learn because it’s clear that you’re just slothful and trifling.” (send)
The two men go on like this for a while, fighting angrily over their cellphones. They don’t know it, but this is the last day; as soon as night falls, everything is over. But because they were fighting and looking at their cell phones, they didn’t realize when the sun hid itself in the mountains and the land fell dark.”
The education promotora who has used everything she learned in her education preparation courses in order to tell the story, concludes:
“Okay, so this is the story the voice has narrated. So, the question you must answer is: “Which of the men survived the end of the world?
The children stay quiet, thinking.
In the first row of the classroom sits Pedrito. He says it’s so that he can pay close attention, but we all know it’s because he’s totally in love with the promotora, but we’re not going to publish that because it’s his secret.
Pedrito raises his hand, asking to be called on.
The promotora is about to say, “Let’s see, Pedrito, what do you think,” when from the back of the classroom a little girl’s voice says:
“Well that’s easy.”
Everyone, including the promotora, turns to look at the little girl who has stood up and already has her bag over her shoulder with her notebook and pen inside. In her little hands she holds the frayed ball, while the Cat-dog stretches at her feet. The teacher says resignedly:
“Okay Defensa Zapatista, tell us what you think.”
The little girl is already moving toward the door of the classroom as she announces:
“The answer is easy, because it’s clear that it’s the fucking men’s fault that the world is ending because they’re so terrible with that patriarchality of theirs which is just impossible to believe in anymore. And they didn’t study the fucking Hydra which has been consuming and screwing over the whole planet earth. So there they are, all macho, fighting with their cell phones and their songs about horses and love and then about lost love, I mean why can’t they just decide already.
Anyway, teacher, so that you understand as the women that we are, I’m going to explain the word “patriarchality” which is like where the men rule and they want us women to just be waiting on them hand and foot, and then later they tell us how much they love us and how we have very pretty eyes, as if they were looking at our eyes, no, they’re looking at something else. I don’t know what it is that they’re really looking at because I’m not grown up yet, but that’s what my moms told me the fucking men do. When I grow up, they better not even think about it, I’m going to give them their slaps upside the head and a few kicks if they look at me wrong. So, the “patriarchality” means that the fucking men just want us to make them their pozol and then are always pestering us for a kiss. Do you think we’re just going to give them a kiss, just like that? Oh no, I don’t think so, maybe instead of a kiss a knock on the head. And then they think they’re going to convince us with their songs about horses. They’re just so dumb, let’s see if they can find a horse to make them their pozol, what are they going to come up with then, never ever…”
The teacher knows the little girl very well already, so she interrupts:
“Okay, Defensa Zapatista, answer the question.”
The little girl is already at the door. As the Cat-dog wags its tail happily at her feet, she responds:
“Look, it’s easy. Neither of the two men live. They both die because they were stupid. Clearly it’s the fault of the patriarchality that the world is going to end, but it doesn’t, because it turns out there is someone who lives which is the compañera who is telling the story. Because if it’s not a compañera who tells the story then there’s no story. And the compañera who tells the story carries her little baby on her back in her shawl and is giving what you might call political lessons to the baby, so that the baby learns that we have to support each other as the women that we are.”
The little girl didn’t wait to see what the education promotora would say, and accepting as a given that her answer was correct, ran out of the classroom yelling “Let’s play!” as the Cat-dog and the rest of the class followed her out the door.
The education promotora smiles as she puts away her notebooks and books, one of which reads across the cover, “Twentieth Anniversary Anthology. National Indigenous Congress. Never Again a Mexico Without Us.” Ready to leave, the teacher notices that not all the children have left.
On the front bench sits Pedrito, looking all sad and defeated. The promotora goes over and sits down beside him asking,
“What’s wrong Pedrito, why are you sad?”
Pedrito sighs and answers, “Because I didn’t get to answer the question because Defensa Zapatista spoke first.”
“Ah,” the teachers says, “don’t worry Pedrito, what was your answer?”
Pedrito explains with a tone of the obvious:
“Well I was going to answer that the story doesn’t hold up, because if there are only two men left, arguing over their cell phones, then who is working so that there’s a cell signal? This means that there are others who continue working, that is, that there can’t just be two left. So you see what I’m saying teacher, your story lacks logic, coherence in the argument. So the answer is that the very premise is faulty and for that reason, the conclusion, whatever that may be, is false. This would have been understood if critical thinking was applied to the analysis.” (Trust me, that’s how Pedrito talks, if you get to meet him some day you’ll see I’m not making things up).
Pedrito, after finishing talking, returns to his posture of sorrow and sadness.
The education promotora is thinking about what the words “coherence” and “premise” mean, and that this is always the case with Pedrito, that he uses words that challenge even the Comandancia. The promotora isn’t embarrassed to ask Pedrito what those words mean, but she sees that Pedrito is sad so she hugs him and says:
“Don’t worry Pedrito, your answer is good, too.”
Pedrito, upon being hugged, turns all shades of red and puts on his “no one has ever hugged me before” face, just like the deceased SupMarcos taught him. Letting himself be loved on, Pedrito thinks that it turned out well after all that Defensa Zapatista answered first, because this was why the promotora was hugging him and from within the embrace, Pedrito understands that no, the world is not going to end, that as long as the embrace lasts the world will keep giving opportunity to life, because that is what life is, an embrace.
Pedrito is reflecting on this when the little girl appears in the doorway and says to him, “Hurry up Pedrito, we have to fill up the team so we can bring a challenge.”
Pedrito separates himself from the embrace of the promotora as if tearing his heart out, but he goes over to the little girl because he is, in addition to a little boy, a Zapatista, and a Zapatista can’t allow the team to be let down on their account. Before leaving the room Pedrito says to the little girl: “But I’m telling you straight-up right now that I’m not playing goalie anymore, put the one-eyed horse on goalie, I want to play forward.”
Defensa Zapatista is not going to let a boy have the last word in this story, so she says:
“Forward? Puh-leeze. SupGaleano showed me some videos and now I have a new plan. Now we are going to play according to the science of ‘total soccer’ like those Dutch orange ones. Don’t you know you have to study for that? You do. Both things, science and art. Later I’ll explain it to you. Just as soon as we fill up the team you’ll see, don’t worry, there will be more of us, it might take awhile, but there will be more.”
The little boy and the little girl leave. It is only then that we can see that the little girl has on an orange t-shirt that hangs nearly to her heels and taped on the back are crooked letters that spell “Cruyff”  and below them: “Resistance and Rebellion.”
Off to the side of the pasture waits a motley crew including: a old horse leisurely chewing on a empty tobacco bag; a short man with gray hair shivering despite his coat; and a tall, thin man who stands out for his height and the strange hat he is wearing. He is using his magnifying glass to study with great interest a small strange animal that, at a distance seems to be a dog… or a cat.. or a cat-dog.
Nearby, where the community has been working to deepen the scratches in the wall, anonymous hands have written, below and to the left, a graffiti that is bursting in color. It reads:
“We are the National Indigenous Congress and we are going for everything, and it will be for everyone.”
In a bunker far away, alarms are going off and the earth is trembling. Above, brother John Berger, smiling, has drawn a question in the clouds, for whoever looks high: “Y tú qué?” (And you what?”)
The Urgent and the Important
The story I’m going to tell you is a little bit sad.
It’s sad because it includes the tears of a little Zapatista girl. But despite this, or precisely because of it, I’m going to tell the story because after hearing you speak, present, reflect, and try to respond and teach, I’ve been thinking about what’s next. I don’t know if you all have thought about it. If not, I recommend that you do—think about what’s next.
I’ve imagined that we’re in another time, further ahead. Here goes:
This time, without being announced by a soccer ball rolling in, “Defensa Zapatista” has arrived at my hut. It’s clear that she’s been crying, and a few tears still glow on her cheeks. “Defensa Zapatista” maintains that little girls don’t cry, that that’s for men, and that women are stronger. So I understood why the little girl had come to my hut, where there are only ghosts and silences. Here she is safe, here she can cry without anyone, except me, seeing her. Here she can put her strength away in a box and let feelings fill her gaze and sorrow become liquid.
I didn’t say anything. I acted like I didn’t see her and that I was busy sweeping tobacco and crumpled up papers off the floor around the table. Finally, she wiped her tears with a red handkerchief, sighed, and cleared her throat in order to ask me:
“Hey Sup, do you know what it’s like to have a bad dream?” “I sure do,” I responded, “bad dreams are called nightmares [pesadillas].”
She looked intrigued and asked, “And what’s the purpose of those quesadillas, why do they exist and who made them? Because they’re beastly.”
“They’re called “pesadillas,” not “quesadillas.” Quesadillas are good because they have cheese. Pesadillas aren’t good. But why do you ask?”
“I had a really bad dream and I woke up with something like a stomach ache, like something wasn’t okay, something was hurting,” she said.
“Tell me about it,” I encouraged her and lit my pipe.
“Well, I dreamed we were in the community assembly and as it turns out the situation is really rough because of the bad system. And a lot of people are coming here and asking to stay in the community because other places have become unlivable, and so the people come here because we Zapatistas did in fact prepare.
But the people are coming from other countries, as far away as goodness knows where.
So there isn’t enough food and the community has to make the land produce more, because as Zapatistas we have to support other peoples of the world because we’re, as they say, compañerismos. So in the assembly they’re looking at how to organize to be able to give food to those brothers and sisters.
So then someone in the assembly says that we have to find more terrain where we can plant.
And then someone else says what about in the pasture where we play soccer, the Petumax flowers are already blooming, like white, but not, sort of gray but not, I think cream-colored or whatever you call that color.
And they say the saw the Chene’k Caribe flower too, which is true because I play with those flowers and pretend they’re little baby chicks.
And that they also saw the “Sun” flower that seems like a sunflower, but isn’t.
So then that compañero said that means that the soil is good in the pasture, that we can plant corn and beans there. And then I got, as they say, worried because there in the pasture is where the one-eyed horse lives and where we play soccer. Well, we don’t exactly play because we haven’t completed the team yet, but we practice and we train really hard.
So then the authority asks the assembly if there’s agreement that we’ll plant in the pasture and make a milpa [corn field] there, and if there’s anyone who disagrees they should say their piece so we can figure out what to do.
So then the whole assembly is silent and nobody asks to speak. And I want to talk to say that we shouldn’t plant in the pasture because then we won’t be able to play, or train that is. But I don’t know how I’m going to say it, because I can see that we do need food to support those other sisters and brothers.
And I’m really upset because nobody says anything and I don’t have the thinking to convince the assembly, and I can see in the authority’s eye that they’re about to say that if nobody has any other comments, that they’ll approve the proposal to plant in the pasture.
And there I am, looking for a good thought and I can’t find one, and I get mad that I can’t find the right words and with the anger the tears come out, and it’s not that I’m crying, it’s just the anger of not knowing what to say.
And right there I woke up and I came running. And on the way I got even madder because of that stinking bad dream, and who sent it or why they’re doing that.”
As she’s been talking, “Defensa Zapatista’s” face is reproducing her pain and desperation.
I remained quiet, but the little girl kept looking at me as if waiting for what I was going to say.
Even though I realized that “Defensa Zapatista” hadn’t come to sit on the [psychiatrist’s] divan, nor just to vent, I was looking for the right words. I understood that the girl hadn’t come just to hide, she was also looking for answers, and me, well I’m the Subcomandante of stainless steel, the one who, according to “Defensa Zapatista’s” criteria, has the grave defect of being a man. But nobody’s perfect, and besides, I let the Cat-Dog climb up on the keyboard and ruin the texts, and sometimes I have cookies to share (which, for Defensa Zapatista means that she and her little animal gobble up all the ones I like and the ones I don’t, too, and they just leave me the empty package), and I tell stories where she and her gang get into mischief and come out triumphant.
So I’m presenting with you all with the, as they say, context, so you understand that the girl had not really come to tell me a bad dream, but rather to present me with a problem.
When I had been looking through the trunk of memories that the deceased SupMarcos left in my custody, I remembered having seen something that could be useful. I gestured to “Zapatista Defense” that she should wait and I started looking. Under some drawings that John Berger made when he was in Cideci, I found what I was looking for. The papers were shabby, stained with tobacco and humidity, but the clumsy handwriting of the deceased was still legible.
I picked my pipe back up and lit it. I read almost in silence, only making a few gestures and emitting incomprehensible grunts. The girl watched me in suspense, waiting. The Cat-Dog had left the computer mouse in peace and, its ears perked, remained expectant.
After acting all important for a few minutes, I told her:
“There it is, there’s no problem. I’ve found the solution to your nightmare. It turns out that in this writing by the deceased SupMarcos (may baby Jesus keep him in holy glory and may the dear Virgin fill him with blessings) explains that nightmares are problems and that they can be alleviated if you resolve the problem of the nightmare.
Then he says that dreams are the solution to nightmares.
That what you have to do is find the solution and then the good dream comes out.
That way you save a ton of money on psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and antacids. Okay, that’s not related.
And in this other writing, he says that the problem is not just knowing what’s urgent and what’s important.
What’s urgent is what you have to do right now, and what’s important is, for example, what you know you must do.
For example, in the case of the bad dream you’re telling me about, what’s urgent is that the compas have to increase food production; and what’s important is not to lose the space where you play.
In which case it’s a big problem, because if you protect the place to play, well, then they won’t plant there and there will be hunger; and if they plant there, well then there won’t be any more place to play.”
“Defensa Zapatista” nodded, convinced of what I was saying to her. I continued:
“So the deceased says here that that’s called ‘exclusive options,’ which is to say that you do one thing or the other, but you can’t do both. SupMarcos says that this is almost always false, which is to say that it’s not necessarily one or the other, but rather that something different can be imagined. And he gives the example of the original peoples, which is to say the indigenous.
He says: ‘For example, the original peoples, going back centuries, have always done two things at the same time: what’s urgent and what’s necessary. What’s urgent is to survive, which is to say to not die, and what’s important is to live. And they resolve this with resistance and rebellion, which is to say that they resist dying and at the same time they create, with their rebellion, another way of living.’ So he says that whenever possible, it’s necessary to think about creating something else.”
I put down the papers and I turned to “Zapatista Defense”:
“So I believe what you can do with the problem of your bad dream is explain to the assembly what’s urgent and what’s important.
Which is to say that both parts have good thought behind them, but if you pick one, well, you’ve screwed the other.
So explain to the assembly that it doesn’t necessarily have to be one thing or the other, but rather that it’s necessary to think of something else, something different but so that both objectives are met.
And then it’s not that the assembly’s problem is getting resolved nor that your problem is getting resolved, but rather that it’s a different problem altogether.
And it’s the new problem that you both have to think about, that is, you and the assembly.”
The whole time the girl had been sitting quietly with her chin in her little hand, paying attention.
Contrary to his usual habits, the Cat-Dog had also been still.
“Zapatista Defense” stayed silent, looking fixedly at the floor.
I don’t know much about what happens in the head of a little girl. Of a boy, sure, perhaps because I haven’t matured despite the many kilometers I’ve covered. But girls, whatever their age, continue to be a mystery that perhaps science will one day be able to solve.
Suddenly, “Zapatista Defense” turned to look at the Cat-Dog, and he in turn looked at her.
The mutual glance lasted only a few seconds, and the Cat-Dog began to jump, bark and meow. The girl’s little face lit up and she practically shouted: “Yes, the Cat-Dog!” and she began to jump and dance together with the animal.
I didn’t just put on my confused face; in fact, I didn’t understand what all this was about. But, resigned, I waited for “Defensa Zapatista” and the Cat-Dog to calm down, which didn’t happen for several more minutes that seemed eternal to me. Finally the commotion died down and, still excited, the girl explained:
“It’s the Cat-Dog, Sup! I have to bring the Cat-Dog to my bad dream and I have to bring him to the assembly and he’s going to help me and so then it’ll be a good dream.”
The solution to the problem was right here but I hadn’t studied it.
It’s the Cat-Dog, it’s always been the Cat-Dog.”
I think that my “What?!” face must have been very obvious, because “Defensa Zapatista” felt obliged to clarify:
“Look I’ll explain it to you Sup: the Cat-Dog, is he a cat? No. Is he a dog? Not that either. So then he’s neither one thing nor the other, but rather something else, he’s a Cat-Dog. If I show the Cat-Dog to the assembly, obviously they’re going to see that we have to do something else, so both sides can happily be in mutual agreement.”
I couldn’t understand how the assembly was going to make the, as they say, “epistemological leap” from that thing, that is to say the Cat-Dog, to the disjuncture between the pasture for playing soccer or the pasture for planting. But it seems that “Defensa Zapatista” wasn’t worried about that.
The next day, on the way to town, I passed by the pasture. Night was already beginning to fall and the sound of those who were scratching at the wall continued. There was still enough light, because “Zapatista Defense” was on the field, together with a group in which I recognized the old one-eyed horse that accompanies her sometimes, the Cat-Dog, and Pedrito. There were also two men, one short and one tall, who I didn’t recognize and I assumed that they were from the Sixth and that the girl was trying to incorporate them into her perpetually incomplete team.
The girl saw me from afar and greeted me with an energetic wave of her hand. I returned the greeting, realizing that “Zapatista Defense” had resolved the problem because she laughed and ran from one side to the other, showing the group where they should position themselves in some sort of formation that looked to me to have the shape of a snail.
I continued on my path, remembering the ending to that day of tears, when “Defensa Zapatista,” then smiling and with her face lit-up, said goodbye: “I’m leaving now Sup, I’ve got to go.”
“And what are you going to do?” I asked her.
She was already gaining distance when she shouted: “I’m going to dream.”
While I waited for the compañeros and compañeras to whom I had to give a talk, the night arrived with its own steps and sounds.
I thought then that perhaps the deceased SupMarcos would have liked to have been present for “Defensa Zapatista’s” dream to know how she made her argument and what the decision of the assembly was. Or perhaps he was in fact there because, at least in these lands, the dead walk around. They laugh and cry with us, struggle with us and they live with us.
Thank you very much.
From the CIDCI-Unitierra, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico,
Mexico, January 2017.
 Hendrik Johannes “Johan” Cruijff, a Dutch professional soccer player and coach famous for promoting the philosophy known as “Total Football.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Cruyff