Thursday, January 24, 2013

Them and Us Part 3: The Overseers by Subcomandante Marcos


III.- The Overseers

Somewhere in Mexico…

The man hits the table, furious.

-Annihilate them!

-Sir, with all due respect, we've been trying to do that for 500 years.  Each successive empire that has arisen has attempted to do so with all of their era's military might--

-So why are they still there?

-Err…we're still trying to figure that out--the lackey glares reproachfully at the man in a military uniform.

The aforementioned man gets up and, standing at attention, extends his right hand frontward, with his hand out[1], and shouts enthusiastically:

-Heil!… Sorry, I meant to say that I salute you, sir -- After shooting a threatening look that shuts up the snickering from other guests, he continues:

-The problem, sir, is that those heretics don't confront us where we're strong, they turn around and attack us where we're weak.  If it were all just a matter of lead and fire, well, those lands, with their forests, water, minerals, people, would have been conquered a long time ago and you would have been able to offer them up as a tribute to the great Ruler, sir.  Those cowards, instead of confronting us with just their heroic bare chests, or with bows, arrows, and spears, and go down in history as heroes (beaten, yes, but heroes), they prepare, they organize, they reach agreements, they give us the slip, and they hide when they take off their masks.  But we wouldn't be in this situation if you would have listened to me when everything began-- and he glares reproachfully at the guest whose place card says "chupa-cabras version"[2]

The aforementioned guest smiles as he says:

-General, with all due respect, we didn't have an atomic bomb.  And even if we could have acquired one from our allies (the guest who has the ambassador place card expresses his thanks for the mention), we would have been able to wipe out the aboriginals, but we would have also destroyed the forests and the water; moreover, the work of mining exploration and operations would have been impossible for, say, a couple of centuries-.

Another one of the lackeys speaks up:

-We offered them songs and poems praising their sacrifice, ballads, movies, roundtables, essays, books, plays, statues, their name in golden letters when they died.  We told them that if they insisted on resisting and staying alive, we would spread rumors and doubts about why they haven't disappeared, why they haven't died, and we would say they were of our own creation, that we were going to bring forth a smear campaign that would even include the support of some intellectuals, artists, and progressive journalists -- The aforementioned guests make a gesture of approval, although more than one appears displeased by so many "-ists."

The man impatiently interrupts:


-They responded with this gesture -- (the lackey shows them a hand balled into a fist but with the middle finger raised).

The guests squirm indignantly and clamor:

-Proles! Degenerates! Louts! Plebeians! Hood rats! -

The lackey still has his hand up, facing the man.  The man rebukes him:

-I get it! You can put your hand down.

The lackey slowly lowers his hand winks at the rest of the guests.  Then he continues:

-The problem, sir, is that these people don't worship death, but rather life.  We've tried to eliminate their visible leaders, buy them, seduce them.


-Not only have we not succeeded, we haven't even realized that the bigger problem is the invisible leaders.

-Ok, let's find them.

-We already found them, sir.


-They're everyone, sir.

-What do you mean, everyone?

-Yes, everyone.  That was one of the messages they sent on the day the world ended.  We managed to keep the media from talking about it, but I think that we can say it here without fearing that someone else will find out.  They used a code so that we would understand: he who is on the stage is the leader.[3]

-What!? 40,000 leaders?

-Err… sir, excuse me, those are the ones we saw, you'd have to add in the many more that we didn't see.

-Then buy them!  I imagine we have enough money - he adds, addressing the guest with the place card that says "non-Automated Teller Machine."

The so-called ATM begins to stammer:

-Well, sir, we'd have to sell off a State asset, but we don't really have anything anymore.

The lackey interrupts:

-Sir, we've tried.


-They're not for sale.

-Then convince them.

-They don't understand what we say to them.  And to tell you the truth, we don't understand what they say, either.  They talk about dignity, freedom, justice, democracy…

-Ok, then we'll act like they don't exist.  That way they'll die of hunger, curable diseases, a good media blackout, no one will even notice until it's too late.  That's it, let's kill them with oblivion.

The guest who bears a striking resemblance to a chupa-cabras makes a sign of approval.  The man thanks him for the gesture.

-But sir, there's a problem.


-Even if we ignore them, they insist on continuing to exist.  Without our charity, sorry, what I meant is without our help, they built schools, they made the land productive, they built clinics and hospitals, they improved their homes and their diets, they lowered crime rates, they did away with alcoholism.  And not only did they prohibit the production, distribution, and consumption of narcotics, they raised their life expectancy and theirs is almost equal to that of big cities.

-Oh, so it's still higher in the cities -- content, the man smiles.

-No, sir, when I said "almost" I meant that theirs is higher.  The life expectancy in the cities went down thanks to your predecessor's strategy, sir.

Everyone turns to look with mockery and reproach at the man with the blue tie.

-You're saying that those rebels live better than those who sell out to us?

-Absolutely, sir.  But you don't have to worry about that, we've initiated an ad hoc media campaign to put a lid on it.


-The problem is that neither they nor our people watch television, or read our media, or have Twitter, or Facebook, or even a cell phone signal.  They know that they're better off and our people know they're worse off.

The guest with the place card that says "modern left" rises to her feet:

-Sir, if you'll allow me.  With the new program called Solid…sorry, I meant to say "National Crusade"…[4]

The lackey impatiently interrupts:

-Enough, Chayo[4], don't start with another one of your speeches for the media.  All of us agree that the main enemy is those damn indians and not the other unmentionable.  We have that one good and infiltrated and completely fenced in by people who belong to this man here.

The man with the "chupa cabras" place card nods with satisfaction and gratefully accepts the pats on the back that nearby guests give him.

The lackey continues:

-But you and I and everyone else who is here knows that all of this about social programs is a lie, that it doesn't matter how much money is invested, at the end of the bottleneck there's nothing.  Because everyone takes their cut.  After the señor, with all due respect, you take a big chunk, everyone else here does, too, and then the governors, the heads of the military zones, the local legislatures, the mayors, the commissioners, the leaders, those in charge, the cashiers, so little or nothing is left over for those below.

The man intervenes:

-Well we have to do something fast, because if we don't, the Ruler will look for other overseers and you are all well aware, ladies and gentlemen, of what that means: unemployment, ridicule, and maybe even jail or exile. 

The person marked "chupa cabras" shudders and makes an affirmative gesture.

-And it is urgent, because if those indians with the cracked feet… (the man's daughter makes an expression of disgust, the woman sits there, suddenly indisposed, and turns so green that, well, forget about the Green Lantern).  The woman leaves, saying something about a pregnancy.[6]

The man goes on:

-If those fucking indians unite, we'll have serious problems because…

-Ahem, ahem, sir -- the lackey interrupts.


-I'm afraid there's a bigger problem, that is, worse, sir-.

-Bigger?  Worse?  What could be worse than an indian insurrection?

-Well, if they reached an agreement with the others, sir-.

-The Others?  Who are they?

-Hmm… let me see… ok, well, peasants, workers, the unemployed, youth, students, teachers, employees, women, men, the elderly, professionals, fags and dykes, punks, Rastafarians, skaters, rappers, hip-hop artists, rockers, metal heads, chauffeurs, tenant farmers, NGOs, street vendors, crews, races, hood rats, plebes…-

-Enough!  I get it… I think.

The lackeys look at each other with a knowing smile.

-Where are the leaders we bought?  Where are the ones we've convinced that the solution to everything is to be like us?

-They're believing them less and less, sir.  They have less and less control over their people.

-Look for someone to buy!  Offer them money, trips, television programs, candidacies, seats in congress, governments!  But above all money, a lot of money!

-We're doing that, sir, but… -- the lackey looks doubtful.

-And? -- the man prods him on.

-We find more and more…-

-Magnificent!  More money is needed then?

-Sir, what I mean is that we find more and more who won't sell out.

-Terror, then?

-Sir, there's more and more who aren't afraid of us, or if they are, they have it under control.


-Sir, more and more think for themselves.

-We have to finish off all of them, then!

-Sir, if we make everyone disappear, we would disappear, too.  Who would sow the land, who would run the machines, who would work in the corporate media, who would serve us, who would fight in our wars, who would praise us?

-Then we have to convince them that we are as important as they are.

-Sir, not only are more and more people realizing that we're not necessary, it appears that the Ruler is doubting our usefulness, and by "our" I mean all of us.

The guests sitting at the man's table shift uncomfortable in their seats.

-Well then?

-Sir, while we look for another solution, because the "Pact"[7] didn't work at all, and seeing that we have to avoid the embarrassment of once again hiding out in a bathroom[8], we've acquired something better: a "panic room!"[9]

The guests stand up and applaud.  The all crowd around the machine.  The man gets in and takes the controls.

The lackey nervously warns him:

-Sir, just be careful you don't hit the "eject" button.

-This one?


The make-up artists and puppeteers run to provide first aid.

The lackey addresses one of the cameramen who recorded everything:

-You have to erase that part… And tell the Ruler to get a replacement doll ready.  This one always needs resetting.

The guests straighten their ties and skirts, comb their hair, cough, trying to draw attention.  The the cameras' clicks and flashes overshadow everything…

(to be continued…)

From any corner of any world.

Sup Marcos.
Planet Earth.
January 2013.

Information from Report #69 of the Autonomous Intelligence Service (SIA in its Spanish abbreviation) regarding what was heard and seen in an ultra-arch-extremely-hyper secret meeting which took place in Mexico City, in the backyard of the United States, latitude 19° 24´ N, longitude 99° 9´ W.  Date: a few hours ago.  Classification: eyes only.  Recommendation: do not make this document public because they'll burn us alive.  Note: send more pozol because Elías[10] drank it all when someone shouted: "Eat while there's lots of food!" and he's skanking to the Nana Pancha cover of the Tijuana No song "Transgresores de la Ley" [Law Breakers].  Yes, the song is cool, but it's tough to go in the mosh pit because Elías is wearing steel-toed boots.


Listen and watch the video the accompanies this text:

"Luna Negra" [Black Moon].  Lyrics by Arcadio Hidalgo.  Scored and played by Los Cojolites.  The other son jarocho.  ¡A zapatearle en el fandango raza![11]

"En esta tierra que me vio nacer" [On this land where I was born] with MC LOKOTER.  Greetings to the Other Zumpango [town in Mexico State].  Production and photography: Joana López.  Directed and edited by: Ricardo Santillán.  Production: BLASJOY DESIGNER.  Year 2012.
Note: An MC is something like a DJ with noble feelings and cool words, but with a hip-hop rhythm.  Rap!

"Transgresores de la ley" by Tijuana No, covered by Nana Pancha on their album "Flores para los muertos" [Flowers for the dead].  Every time Tijuana No played this song, they dedicated it to the EZLN, even when the Zaps weren't fashionable.  Greetings and a big hug to those who never forgot us.  Skaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Everybody jump!

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
The "Ruler" is the United States government, "the man" (el señor) is current president Enrique Peña Nieto, "chupacabras" is former president Carlos Salinas, and the "man with the blue tie" is former president Felipe Calderón.
  1. The Mexican military salute looks a lot like the Nazi German military salute.
  2. The chupacabras is a mythical Mexican vampire beast that sucks the blood out of goats.  It was allegedly invented by Carlos Salinas to distract people's attention from the fact that he was running the country into the ground.
  3. Referring to the December 21, 2012, mobilization in which 40,000 Zapatistas took to the streets in silence.  The Zapatista communique released that day stated: "Did you listen?  It is the sound of their world crumbling.  It is the sound of our world resurging." 
  4. "Solidaridad" (Solidarity) was a public works program initiated by Carlos Salinas, who is Enrique Peña Nieto's godfather and widely considered to be the latter's puppet master.  So it was no surprise when Peña Nieto recently announced his new campaign, the National Crusade Against Hunger and Poverty, to which the Zapatistas responded with the middle finger.
  5. Chayo is a nickname for a woman named Rosario, in this case referring to Rosario Robles, the head of Sedesol, Mexico's Social Development Agency, which is responsible for implementing the National Crusade.  Here she's referred to as the "modern left" because she defected from the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to join the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which currently rules Mexico.
  6. Mexican indigenous people who live in rural areas often have cracked feet because they walk barefoot.  During the presidential campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto's daughter retweeted a tweet from her boyfriend referring to her father's critics as "a bunch of idiots" and "proles."
  7. When Enrique Peña Nieto took office, he announced a "Pact for Mexico" that would supposedly solve the country's problems.  Not many people were particularly impressed.
  8. During the presidential campaign, Peña Nieto was confronted by student protesters at the private Ibero-American University…so he hid in a bathroom.  The Ibero protest sparked the massive #YoSoy132 student movement.
  9. Panic rooms are being constructed in some Mexican courthouses to protect judges.
  10. Comandante Elías Contreras is the EZLN's head of intelligence.  Pozol is a corn drink popular in Chiapas and Tabasco, the two states with confirmed Zapatista presence.
  11. Son jarocho is a folksy musical genre from Veracruz.  Zapatear is how one dances to son jarocho; it involves stomping on a wooden platform in hard-soled shoes to make noise.  Fandango is a son jarocho dance party.  
This is Part 3 of a series of communiques from Subcomandante Marcos.  The English translation of Part 1: The (Lack of) Reason from Above and Part 2: The Machine in Almost Two Pages are also available.
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