Monday, August 29, 2011

Subcomandante Marcos and Javier Sicilia's Letters About the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity

translated by Kristin Bricker

Excerpt of the Third Letter from Subcomandante Marcos to Don Luis Villoro

V. Judge or Try to Understand?

Also, from our geography we have tried to attentively follow the steps of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Javier Sicilia.  

I know very well that to judge and condemn or absolve is the preferred path of those commissioners of thought who appear on both sides of the intellectual spectrum, but here we think that it is necessary to make an effort to try to understand a couple of things:

The first is that this is a new mobilization that, in its project of forming an organized movement, constructs its own paths, with its own success and stumbles.  As with everything new, we think that it deserves respect.  They can say, rightfully so, that the forms and methods can be questioned, but not the causes.

And it also merits attention to try to understand, instead of making summary judgements, so costly for those who do not tolerate anything that is not under their control.

And to respect and understand, one must look above, but also below.

It is certain that above, the cuddling that those directly responsible for so much death and destruction receive draws attention and irritates.[1]

But below, we see that it awakens hope, sympathy, and company amongst victims' family and friends.

We thought that maybe it was possible that a movement would arise that would stop this absurd war.  It doesn't seem as though that's the case (or at least, not for now).

But what can be appreciated is that, as of right now, it made the victims tangible.

It took them out of the nota roja [the newspapers' flashy crime section], out of the statistics, out of the mythical "triumphs" of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's administration, out of the blame, out of oblivion.  

Thanks to that mobilization, the victims begin to have a name and history.  And the tall tale of the "war on organized crime" crumbles.

It is true that we still don't understand why they dedicate so much energy and effort to dialogue with a political class that long ago lost all willingness to govern and is nothing more than a gang of criminals.  Maybe they will discover that for themselves.

We don't judge and, therefore, we do not condemn nor absolve.  We try to understand their steps and the yearning that motivates them.

In sum, the dignified pain that embodies them and moves them deserves and has our respect and admiration.  

We think that it is logical that a dialogue occurs with those who are responsible for the problems.  In this war, it is reasonable to address the person who started and escalated it.  Those who criticize a dialogue with Felipe Calderón Hinojosa are forgetting this elemental point.

Regarding the forms that this dialogue has taken, it has rained all sorts of criticism.

I don't think that Javier Sicilia is kept awake at night by the mean-spirited criticisms of, for example, Paty Chapoy from La Jornada, Jaime Avilés (equally frivolous and hysterical), or the vileness of Doctor ORA (whom no one says is leftist, nor consistent), who have said everything except that Sicilia sent someone to kill his son in order to "propel" Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's image; or the accusations that reproach him for not being radical, made precisely by those who believe that "not having broken even one window" is an achievement. 

In his correspondence (and it seems to me in some public events), Javier Sicilia likes to remember a poem by Kavafis, in particular a verse that says: "The Lestrygonians[2] and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them."  And those hysterical critics don't even come close to that, so those little men's pathetic rancors don't get beyond their few readers.

The truth is that that movement is doing something for the victims.  And that is something that none of its "judges" can allege for themselves.

Moreover, neither Javier Sicilia nor those closest to him spurn the critical observations that they receive from the left, which are not few, and which are serious and respectful.

But we can't forget that they are observations, not orders.

I transcribe the end of one of the private letters that we have sent him:

"On a personal note, if you would allow me, I would say that you continue with poetry, and art in general, by your side.  In it there are firmer grips than those that appear to abound in the willy-nilly of the political "analysts'" hot air.

Therefore, I end these lines with the words of John Berger:

"I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art frequently judges the judges, demands revenge for the innocent, and projects towards the future that which the past has suffered so that it will never be forgotten.

I also know that the powerful fear of art, in any of its forms, when it does this, and this art sometimes runs like a rumor and a legend amongst the people because it gives meaning to that which life's brutality cannot, a meaning that unites us, because in the end it is inseparable from justice.  Art, when it works in that way, becomes a meeting place for that which is invisible, of that which is irreducible, everlasting: bravery and honor."

Perhaps all of this is besides the point (or thing, if you will)...


August 29, 2011

Let everything be light, peace, strength, and pleasure.  I miss you so much.

Dear Subcomandante Marcos:

Many thanks for the lines you dedicate to the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in your third letter to Don Luis Villoro.  We have read them with the care of those who are open to listening.  From that care and listening we want to thank you for your deep humility and solidarity with the Movement and to tell you that your dead, like Dionisio-Chiapas and Mariano, peacemaker, we carry with us with all of the pain in our hearts.  We also want to tell you that even though you don't understand us, even though that which is new--that ability to try to make peace even with our adversaries, because we believe that the mistakes of a human being are not the human being, but rather an alienation from his consciousness that must be transformed through the patience of love--puzzles you, we share the same yearning and hopes, those of "a world in which many wolds fit."

Peace, dear Subcomandante, is, as Gandhi said, "the way," a way that is only made with everyone.  You, 17 years ago, alongside civil society, taught that to us not only when you visibilized and dignified our indigenous tradition's negative and humiliating past, but also when, through listening and dialogue, you opened the debate to that which, in the midsts of an institutional crisis, could be a new hope of national reconstruction: autonomy.

Unfortunately, power, which is blind; interests, which do not hear history's heartbeats, and selfishness, that ferocious form of "I" that breaks connections with others, did not listen to you--changing power's heart is always long and painful.  The consequence is the frightening national emergency that the country is currently experiencing, whose epicenter, like a irony of deafness, is in Juárez, on the country's northern border.

Today the war has ripped apart the four parts of Mexico (north, south, east, and west), but also, in the visibilization of our pain--which are many and always increasing--of our faces, of our names and our histories, has united us--in the peace of love, which leads us to walk, embracing pain, and to dialogue, seeking to upset the consciousness of the powerful--to find that plural "I", that "we," that has captivated us.  It alone has been able to be born from the heart, from solidarity and hope, that is, from the great moral reserve that still exists in the nation and from which you [the Zapatistas] form one of its most beautiful parts.  Today, more than ever, we believe that only in the national unity of that reserve--which is not only below, but also above and to the sides, everywhere--we can stop the war and find in all of us the path to national refoundation.  

Mexico, dear Subcomandante, is a body ripped to pieces, a broken ground, which must be put back together as a cured body and land in which--as with all bodies and all real land--each one of its parties, when they are harmonized and cultivated in good, are as necessary as they are important.

Walk, dialogue, embrace, and kiss--those four manners that we found in our history made from the indigenous world and the western world--are the forms that we assume not only to accompany one another, but also to find the lost path and make peace.  Walk, is to go to meet others; dialogue is to undress, to tremble, to illuminate the truth--which stings at first, but then comforts--; to hug and kiss is not only to make peace, also to break with the differences that divide us and put us at odds.

A couple of years ago some friends and I founded a magazine--I hope that you have a couple of issues on hand--: "Conspiratio."  The name comes from the first Christian liturgy, where there were two high moments: the "conspiratio" and the "comestio."  The first is expressed through a kiss on the mouth.  It was a co-breath, an exchange of breaths, a sharing of the spirit, which abolished differences and created a common atmosphere, a true democratic atmosphere--perhaps from there came the meaning that the word "conspiracy" has in our era; perhaps the Roman empire, an empire, as all empires are, frighteningly stratified, said, "Those who conspire and endanger power." When we kiss and embrace we create a common atmosphere, an unstable atmosphere--it's true about all atmospheres--that can quickly disappear, but that doesn't make it false.  It is a sign of that which we yearn for and which, suddenly, in love, appears full of gratuity and life.  In that way, to walk, to dialogue, to embrace, and to kiss is to do it, from our pain, for our dead--to whom we forget to give that love--for our young people, our children, our indigenous, our migrants, our journalists, our human rights defenders, our men and women--that is, for everyone.  It is, in a way, avoiding that our soul's indolence, stupidity, and misery condemns us to death, corruption, and oblivion.

You put it well when you referred to the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity--a phrase that I have used for years in relation to the Zapatistas: "You can question the methods, but not the causes."  It is for them, those causes, that stopping the war is everyone's task.

Let's take charge of what is today Mexico, let's take charge of the pain and the forgiveness, let's take the path of peace and leave judgement to history.

See you in the south, dear Subcomandante.  While we arrive with the slowness of walking and the pain we carry on our backs, we send you and the compas a great kiss, that kiss which which our heart does not cease to embrace.

From the Arch somewhere near the Vercors Mountains, 

August 27, 2011, five months after the murder of Juanelo, Luis, Julio and Gabo.[3]

For the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity
Peace, Strength, and Pleasure,

Javier Sicilia

Translator's Notes:
1.  Here, Marcos refers to the infamous kiss that Javier Sicilia gave President Felipe Calderón following a dialogue between Calderón and drug war victims' families.
2.  Mythical gigantic cannibals.
3.  Juanelo is Sicilia's son, whose murder sparked the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity.  Luis, Julio, and Gabo are Juanelo's friends, who were murdered along with him.


Unknown said...

Thanks to an email from a reader, I fixed the BAD typo at the end. It was never supposed to be "dead Marcos," it was "DEAR Marcos."

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