Saturday, February 16, 2013

Constructing a community police in the town of Álvaro Obregón, Oaxaca

Strengthening the Struggle to Defend Territory on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 

Published on February 11, 2013 in Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Juchitán

by Daniel Arellano Chávez, Proyecto Ambulante
translation by El Enemigo Común

March in Álvaro Obregón. February 10, 2013
March in Álvaro Obregón. February 10, 2013
Today, February 10, 2013 is certainly a watershed in the struggle for the defense of the land and territory on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. After the successful resistance against the repression ordered by Oaxaca state governor Gabino Cué to shield Mareña Renovables, the peoples of the Isthmus are at a decisive moment in their struggle to defend their territory. The Assembly held today and the sizeable march in Álvaro Obregón has provided the ideal setting for announcing townspeople’s decisions, expelling false political leaders and their political parties, and beginning the construction of a Community Police.
At the old General Charis military quarters, the scene of the historic resistance of February 2, men and women from San Dionisio del Mar, San Mateo del Mar, Xadani, Emiliano Zapata, San Blas Atempa, Unión Hidalgo, and Juchitán, among other communities, came together in the morning to ratify their total rejection of the wind projects in the region and demand the immediate expulsion of Mareña Renovables from the territories of the Isthmus.

The Assembly and march come on the heels of the desperate, venomous statements made by Gabino Cué Monteagudo last February 6, when he said: “They’re just tiny groups of people who spend their time drinking, attacking the police, and holding up social projects that the company is committed to implementing for the benefit of the community.”

The decisive actions taken by community people are a clear demonstration of the resistance against the advance of transnationals in regional towns.

The Community Assembly of Álvaro Obregón states: “In the full exercise of our right to self-determination and autonomy as Binnizá indigenous people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and in view of the violations of our territorial rights by the state government and corporations, we have resolved that as of tomorrow we will begin to organize the first detachment of our Binni Guia’pa’ Guidxi’ (community police) in defense of the land and territory; it will be made up of people from our communities.” During the march, this decision was underscored with signs, banners and chants demanding the exit of all repressive forces, making it clear that no kind of state or federal police is welcome and that access to the Mexican Army and Navy will be blocked.

Upcoming resistance actions are proposed for February 13 in San Dionisio del Mar, and a call is being sent out for national and international solidarity and for the participation of indigenous peoples of the region and the country to cover the Humanitarian Caravan and Solidarity Cavalcade with Guidxi’ro Resistance that will be held on Sunday February 17, setting out from different points to then converge in Álvaro Obregón. Plans also call for shoring up the collection of provisions and supplies at Radio Totopo in Juchitán, and the Universidad de la Tierra in Colonia Reforma, City of Oaxaca.

Heading up today’s march was a large group of boys and girls, followed by dozens of women, then hundreds of men, women, young people, elders, Zapotecs and Ikjots, chanting with all their might: “Zapata lives! The struggle continues!”, “Mareña Renovables out now!”, and a message that could presage the future of the governor of Oaxaca, “Gabino Cué, out now!”

So this is the way resistance is being strengthened from within. Now it’s time for the peoples of Oaxaca, the country and the world to show their heartfelt support for the righteous people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Source in Spanish: Proyecto Ambulante

Spanish language video:


Subcomandante Marcos Introduces the new Subcomandante Moises in Them and Us VI: The Gazes 5

Them and Us 

VI.   The Gaze 5.

5.- To gaze into the night in which we are.

(From the new moon to the crescent moon)

Subcomandantes Insurgentes Marcos (sitting) and
Moisés (standing).
Many moons ago: under a new moon, brand new, just barely peeking out, barely enough to make shadows below…

We-are-he arrives. Without needing to consult or check notes, his words begin to draw an image of the gazes of those who rule here, and those whom they obey. When he finishes, we look.

The message from the people is clear, short, simple, blunt. As orders should be.

We, male and female soldiers, don’t say anything, we only look, we think: “This is very big. This doesn’t just belong to us anymore, nor just to the Zapatistas. It doesn’t even belong just to this corner of these lands. It belongs to many corners, in all worlds.”

We must care for it,” we-are-all [feminine] say, and we know what it is that we are talking about, but we are also talking about we-are-he.

It will turn out well… but we have to be prepared for it to turn out badly, that is our way in any case,” says we-are-all [masculine].

So then, we have to prepare it,” we-are-all [feminine] say to ourselves, “take care of it, make it grow.”

Yes,” we-are-all [masculine] respond to ourselves.

We must speak with our dead. They will show us the time and the place,” we-are-all [feminine] say to ourselves.

We gaze at our dead, below, we listen to them. We take them this tiny stone. We lay it at the foot of their house. They look at it. We watch them looking at it. They look at us and they take our gaze far, far away, beyond where the calendars and the geographies reach. We see what their gaze shows us. We are silent.

We return, we look at each other, we talk to each other.

We have to prepare far ahead, prepare each step, prepare each eye, prepare each ear… it will take time.”

We will have to do something so that they don’t see us, and later something so that they do.”

In any case they don’t see us, or they see only what they think they see.”

But yes, we will have to do something… It is my turn.”

We-are-he will take care of what corresponds to the peoples. We-are-all will look out for things, gently, quietly, hushed, as is our way.”
 A few moons ago, it was raining…

Already? We thought they would need more time.”

Well yes, but, that’s the way it is.

Okay then, think carefully about what we are going to ask: Do they want others to turn and look at them?”

“They do, they feel strong, they are strong. They say that this belongs to everyone, and to no one. They are ready, they say.”

“But, you realize that not only those who are like us will see those who are like us, but that the Bosses from various places who hate and persecute what we are, will also see?

“Yes, we have taken that into account, we know. It is our turn, your turn.”

“Okay then, then it is only a matter of deciding the place and the time.”

“Here,” a hand gestures to the calendar and the geography.

“The gaze that we provoke will no longer be one of pity, of shame, of compassion, of charity, of hand-outs. There will be happiness for those who are like us, but rage and hate from the Bosses. They will attack us with everything they have.”

“Yes, I told them. But they gazed at each other, and this is what they said: ‘We want to see those who we are, to see ourselves with those who we are, even though neither we nor they know that they are what we are. We want them to see us. We are ready for the Bosses, ready, and waiting.”

“When, where then?” Calendars and maps are spread out on the table.

“At night, when winter awakens.”


“In your heart.”

“Is everything ready?”

“Everything is ready, yes.”


Everyone went about their tasks.  We just shook hands.  Nothing more was necessary.

A few nights ago, the moon sleepless and fading…

They are ready, that which we look at The next part will be for other gazes. It’s your turn, we say to we-are-he.

“I’m ready, willing,” says we-are-he.

We-are-all concurs in silence, as is our way.


“When our dead speak.”


“In their heart.”
February 2013.  Night.  Crescent moon.  The hand that we are writes:

“Compañeroas, compañeras y compañeros of the Sixth:

We want to introduce you to one of the many we-are-he that we are, our compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.  He guards our door and through his word the we that we are speaks. We ask you to listen to him, that is, that you look at him and thus see us. (…)”

(To be continued…)

From whatever corner of whatever world.

Planet Earth.
February 2013.

P.S. THAT GIVES NOTICE AND HINTS: The next text, which will appear on the Enlace Zapatista webpage on February 14, the day the we the Zapatistas honor and greet our dead, is principally for our compañeros, compañeras y compañeroas of the Sixth. The complete text can only be read with a password (for which we have given various hints and should be easy to guess) which has already been sent via email wherever we could send it. If you haven’t received it and you can’t figure out the hint (you can find it by reading closely this text and the previous one, “Gaze and Communicate”), you can send an email to the webpage and you will get a response with the password. As we have explained before, the independent media are free to publish, or not, the complete text according to their own autonomous and libertarian considerations. The same goes for whatever compañera, compañero y compañeroa of the Sixth wherever they are. We have no other aim but to let you know that it is you to whom we are talking, and also, importantly, those to whom you decide to extend our gaze.


“B Side Players” from San Diego, Califas, with the track “Nuestras Demandas (our demands).  “B Side Players” is composed of Karlos “Solrak” Paez – voice, guitar; Damián DeRobbio – bass; Luis “El General” Cuenca – percussion and voice; Victor Tapia – Congas and percussion; Reagan Branch – Sax; Emmanuel Alarcon – guitar, cuatro puertorriqueño, and voice; Aldo Perretta – charango, tres cubano, jarana veracruzana, ronrroco, cuatro venezolano, kena, zampoña; Russ Gonzales – tenor sax; Mike Benge – Trombone; Michael Cannon – drums; Camilo Moreno – congas and percussion; Jamal Siurano – alto sax; Kevin Nolan – trombone and trumpet; Andy Krier – keyboard; Omar Lopez – base.


From Galicia, Spain, the track “EZLN” from the group “Dakidarría,” composed by: Gabri (guitar and lead vocals); Simón: (guitar and vocals); Toñete: (trombone); David: (base and vocals); Juaki: (trumpet and vocals); Anxo: (baritone sax); Charli: (keyboard); Jorge Guerra: (drum set)


A very special version of the Himno Zapatista” (Zapatista Hymn) music and voices from “Flor del Fango.”  The musical group “Flor del Fango” was composed of: Marucha Castillo – vocals: Napo Romero – vocals, guitar, charango and quena; Alejandro Marassi – bass, vocals, choir and guitarrón; Danie Jamer “el peligroso” – flamenco, folk, and electric guitars and cuatro; Sven Pohlhammer – electric, sinte, and electric acoustic guitars, Cavaquinho y Mandolina; Philippe Teboul “Garbancito” – vocals, drum set, percussion, choir; Patrick Lemarchand – drum set and percussion; Martín Longan – conductor.

Translated from the original Spanish by El Kilombo Intergaláctico, edited by Kristin Bricker.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Them and Us VI: The Gazes 4 by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI.- The Gazes 4.

4.- Look and communicate.

I'm going to tell you something very secret, but don't go around telling it… or do, you decide.

During the first days of our uprising, after the ceasefire, there was a lot of commotion regarding the eezee-elen.  It was, of course, all of the media paraphernalia that the right tends to use to impose silence and blood.  Some of the arguments that were used back then are the same ones as now, which demonstrates how outdated the right is and how antiquated its thinking is.  But that is not a topic for now, and neither is the topic of the press.

But well, now I will tell you that at that time people were starting to say that the EZLN was the first 21th century guerrilla organization (yes, us, who still used sticks to sow the land, who had only heard rumors about yokes and oxen--no offense---, and who only knew about tractors from photographs); that supmarcos was a cybernetic guerrilla who, from the Lacandón Jungle, launched into cyberspace the Zapatista proclamations that would turn the world upside down; and that he had satellite communications in order to coordinate subversive actions that would be carried out all over the world.

Yes, that's what they were saying, but… compas, in the days leading up to the uprising, the "Zapatista cybernetic power" that we had was one of those computers that used those big old floppy disks and it had a DOS version -1.0 operating system.  We learned to use it with one of those old tutorials, I don't know if they still exist, that told you what key you should push and there was a voice that said in a Madrid accent, "Very good!"; and if you messed up it told you, "Very bad, idiot, try again!"  In addition to playing Pacman, we also used it for the "First Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle," which we reproduced on one on those old dot matrix printers, which made more noise than a machine gun.  The paper came on a roll and it jammed all the time, but it had carbon paper, and we managed to print off about two copies every couple of hours.  We made a shit-ton of copies, about 100, I think.  They were divided up amongst the five commanding groups that would, hours later, take seven municipal seats in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.  In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, which was the one I was supposed to take, once the plaza had fallen to our forces, we used masking tape to hang up the 15 copies that were ours.  Yes, I know that that doesn't add up, that there should have been five, but who knows where the missing five ended up.

Well, when we pulled out of San Cristóbal, in the pre-dawn hours of January 2, 1994, the wet fog that covered our withdrawal unstuck the proclamations from the cold walls of the magnificent colonial city, and some floated around the streets.

Years later someone told me that anonymous hands had snatched some and that they were kept carefully guarded.

Then came the Cathedral Dialogues.  At that time I had one of those portable lightweight computers (it weighed six kilos without the battery), "Scrap" brand, 128 ram, and I mean 128 kb of ram, 10 mb hard drive, I mean, it could save e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and a really fast processor that, when you turned it on, you could go prepare your coffee, come back, and you could still re-heat your coffee, 7 times 7, before being able to start to write.  A fantastic machine.  In the mountains, to make it work we would use a power inverter connected to a car battery.  Later, our Zapatista Department of Advanced Technology designed a contraption that would make the computer run off of D batteries, but it weighed more than the computer and, I suspect, had something to do with the PC expiring with a sudden flash, yes, very flashy, and a plume of smoke that kept the mosquitos away for the next three days.  The satellite telephone that the Sup used to communicate with "international terrorism?"  A walkie-talkie with a maximum range of 400 meters on flat land (there should be some photos still around of the "cybernetic guerrilla", ha!)  So internet?  In February 1995, when the federal military was pursuing us (and not for an interview), the portable PC was tossed into the first stream that we forded, and the communiques from that era were made on a manual typewriter that the ejidal commissioner from one of the towns that protected us loaned to us.

That was the powerful high technology equipment that we the "21st century cybernetic guerrillas" possessed at that time.

I'm really sorry if, in addition to my battered ego, I am destroying some illusions that some might have had, but that's how it was, exactly as I am telling you now.

Finally, afterwards we learned that…

A young student in Texas, USA, perhaps a "nerd" (as you would call him), made a web page and he called it only "ezln."  That was the EZLN's first web page.  And this compa began to "upload" there all of the communiques and letters that were being published in the written press.  People from other parts of the world, who learned of the uprising from photos, images, and video recordings, or from news articles, looked there for our word.

We never met that compa.  Or maybe we did.

Maybe one time he came down to Zapatista lands, just like any other.  If he did come, he never said: "I'm the one who made the EZLN's page."  Nor: "Thanks to me people all over the world know about you."  And certainly not, "I've come so that you might thank me and pay me homage."

He could have done it, and the thanks would have been few, but he never did.

And maybe you don't know, but sometimes there are people like that.  Good people who do things without asking for anything in return, without payment, "without a commotion," as we say, we the Zapatistas.

And then the world kept on spinning.  Some compas came who did know about computation, and other pages were created and we are how we are now.  That is, with a damn server that doesn't run like it should, not even when we sing and dance "the colored monkey" to a cumbia-corrido-ranchera-norteña-tropical-ska-rap-punk-rock-ballad-popular rhythm.

Also without creating a commotion, we thank that compa; may the firstest gods and/or the higher being in which he believes or doubts or disbelieves bless him.

We don't know what became of that compa.  Perhaps he is an Anonymous.  Perhaps he's still surfing the web, searching for a noble cause to support.  Perhaps he's disregarded due to his appearance, perhaps he's different, perhaps his neighbors, his co-workers or classmates look at him suspiciously.

Or perhaps he's a normal person, one of the millions who walk in the world without anyone recording what they do, without anyone watching them.

And perhaps he manages to read what I'm telling you, and he reads what we write you  now:

"Compa, now there's schools here where before only ignorance grew; there's food, but not very dignified, where at the tables hunger was the only daily guest; there's relief where the only medicine for pain was death.  I don't know if you were expecting it.  Perhaps you knew.  Perhaps you saw something of the future in those words that you relaunched out into cyberspace.  Or perhaps not, perhaps you just did it because you felt that it was your duty.  And duty, we Zapatistas know a lot about it, it is the only slavery that is embraced under our own free will.

We learned.  And I'm not talking about learning the importance of communication or of knowing the ways of the sciences and techniques of information technology.  For example, aside from Durito, none of us has been able to solve the challenge of making a tweet communique.  Faced with 140 characters, I'm not only useless, falling and refalling back on the commas, (the parentheses), the dots… and my life is passing me by and I lack characters.  I think it is improbable that I could one day do it.  Durito, for example, has proposed a communique that stays within the tweet limit and says:

123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 1234567890

But the problem is that the code to decipher the message occupies the equivalent of the 7 volumes of the "The Differences" encyclopedia, which all of humanity has been writing ever since its regretful walk over earth began, and whose editing has been vetted by the Power.

No.  What we learned is that there are people out there, far away or close, whom we don't know, who perhaps doesn't know us, who are compas.  And it's not because they have participated in a support march, have visited a Zapatista community, wear a red bandana around their neck, or have signed a printout, a registration sheet, a membership card, or whatever it's called.

It's because the Zapatistas know that just as there are many worlds that inhabit the world, there are also many forms, ways, times, and places to struggle against the beast, without requesting or expecting anything in return.

We send you a hug, compa, wherever you are.  I am sure that you can answer the question that one asks him or herself when s/he begins to walk: "Will it be worth it?"

Perhaps later you find out that in a community or in a base, a Zapatista computer lab is called "he," just like that, in lowercase.  And perhaps you find out later that if one of the invited people ran into the lab, stopped in front of the sign, and asked who was that "he," we responded: "we don't know, but he does."

Ok then.  Cheers, and yes, it was worth it, I think.

From etc. etc.

We Zapatistas from the eezee-elen dot com dot org dot net or dot whatever it's called."


And all of that is relevant because perhaps you all have realized that we place a lot of trust in the free and/or independent media, or whatever it's called, and in the people, groups, collectives, organizations that have their own ways of communicating.  People, groups, collectives, organizations that have their web pages, their blogs, or whatever they're called, who give a place for our word and now, the music and images that accompany it.  And people or groups who perhaps don't even have a computer, but even if it's just chatting, or with a flier, or a broadsheet, or graffiti or a notebook or public transportation, or in a play, a video, a homework assignment, a song, a dance, a poem, a painting, a book, a letter, they look at the letters that our collective heart sketches.

If they don't belong to us, if they're not an organic part of ourselves, if we don't give them orders, if we don't command them, if they're autonomous, independent, free (which means that they command themselves) or whatever it's called, why do they do it then?

Perhaps because they think that information is everyone's right, and that everyone has the responsibility of what they do or undo with that information.  Perhaps because they are in solidarity and they have the commitment to support in that way whoever also struggles, even if it's with other methods.  Perhaps because they feel the duty to do it. 

Or perhaps because of all of that and more.

They will know.  And surely they have it there written, on their website, their blog, in their declaration of principles, on their flier, in their song, on their wall, in their notebook, in their heart.

That is, I'm talking about those who communicate and with others they communicate that which they feel in our hearts, that is, they listen.  From who looks at us and looks at themselves thinking about us and they turn into a bridge and then they discover that those words that they write, sing, repeat, transform are not the Zapatistas', that they never were, that they're yours, everyone's and no one's, and that they are part of one score that who knows where it's at, and then you discover or confirm that when you look at us looking at ourselves looking at you, you are touching and talking about something bigger for which there still isn't an alphabet, and that isn't in that way belonging to a group, collective, organization, sect, religion, or whatever it's called, but rather that you are understanding that the step towards humanity is now called "rebellion."

Perhaps, before you click on your decision to put our word on your spaces, you'll ask yourselves, "Will it be worth it?"  Perhaps you ask yourselves if you wouldn't be contributing to Marcos being on a European beach, enjoying the wonderful climate of these calendars in those geographies.  Perhaps you ask yourselves if you wouldn't be serving an invention of "the beast" to fool people and simulate rebellion.  Perhaps you respond to yourselves that the answer to that question of "Will it be worth it?" lies with us, the Zapatistas, and that by clicking on the computer, the spray can, the pencil, the guitar, the CD, the camera, you're committing us to respond "yes."  And then you click on "upload" or "publish" or "load" or the first chord or the first step-color-verse, or whatever it's called.

And perhaps you don't know, even though I think it's obvious, but you're really cutting us a "break" as they say around here.  And I'm not saying that because our page "goes down" sometimes, as if it were in a mosh pit and when it dove off the stage there weren't any comradely hand to relieve the fall that, if it is on cement, will keep hurting without its calendar or geography mattering.  I point that out because on the other side of our word there are many people who don't agree and they say so; there's even more who don't agree and don't even bother to say so; there are a few who do agree and who say so; and there's a few more of those few who do agree and don't say so; and there's the great immense majority, who don't even know about it.  It's those last ones who we want to talk to, that is, look at, that is, listen to.


Compas, thank you.  We know.  But we're sure that even if we didn't know, you know.  And that is precisely what we the Zapatistas believe is what all this about changing the world is all about.

(To be continued…)

From any corner of any world.

Planet Earth.
February 2013.

P.S.- Yes, perhaps there is, in the letter to him, a clue to the next password.

P.S. THAT UNNECESSARILY CLARIFIES.- We don't have a Twitter or Facebook account, nor an email, nor a phone number, nor a post office box.  Those that appear on the web site are those of the site, and these compas support us and send us what they receive, just as they send out what we send them.  Moreover, we're against copyright, so anyone can have their Twitter, their Facebook, or whatever it's called, and use our names, although, of course, they are not us nor do they represent us.  But, according to what they've told me, most of them clarify that they are not who they supposedly are.  And the truth is that we have a lot of fun imagining the quantity of derision and insults (which aren't minty*) they've received and will receive, originally directed at the eezee-elen and/or whom it may concern.


Listen to and watch the videos that accompany this text.

From Japan, the song and dance "Ya Basta" [Enough] by Pepe Hasegawa.  It was presumably presented in the prefecture of Nagano, Japan, in 2010.  The truth is that I don't know exactly what the lyrics say, I just hope that they're not insults that aren't minty.*


From Sweden, ska with the group Ska'n'ska, from Stockholm.  The song is called "Ya Basta" and it appears on their album "Gunshot Fanfare."


From Sicily, Italy, the band Skaramanzia with the song "Para no olividar" [To not forget], part of their album "La lucha sigue" [The struggle goes on].


From France.- "Ya Basta - EZLN" with the band Ska Oi.  From the album "Lucha y fiesta" [Struggle and party]. 

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Note:  
* A play on words that only makes sense in Spanish.  "Mentada" is insult, but it also sort of sounds like "menta," which means mint.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Them and Us Part VI: The Gazes Part 3: Some Other Gazes by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI. The Gazes 3.

3.- Some other gazes.

one: A dream in that gaze.

Photo: Moysés Zúñiga,
It's a street, a milpa, a factory, a mine shaft, a forest, a school, a department store, an office, a plaza, a market, a city, a field, a country, a continent, a world.

The Ruler is seriously wounded, the machine broken, the beast exhausted, the savage locked up.

The changes in name and flags didn't work at all, the beatings, the prisons, the cemeteries, the money flowing through corruption's thousand arteries, the "reality shows," the religious celebrations, the paid newspaper articles[1], the cybernetic exorcisms.

The Ruler calls for his last overseer.  He murmurs something into his ear.  The overseer goes out to confront the masses.

He says, asks, demands, requires:

"We want to speak with the man…"

Doubt crosses his face, the majority of those who are confronting him are women.

He corrects himself:

"We want to speak with the woman…"

He doubts himself again, there's more than a few "others" who are confronting him.

He corrects himself again:

"We want to speak with whomever is in charge."

From amongst the silence an elderly person and a child step forward, they stand in front of the overseer and, with an innocent and wise voice, they say:

"Here everyone is in charge."

The overseer shudders, and the Ruler's voice during his last scream shudders.

The gaze wakes up.  "Weird dream," is said.  And, without the geography or the calendar mattering, life, struggle, resistance goes on.

S/he only remembers a few words from the odd dream:

"Here everyone is in charge."

two: Other gaze from another calendar and another geography.

(fragment of a letter received in the eezeelen military headquarters, no date)

"Greetings, Compas.


My opinion is that everything was really fucking cool.  But I do not deny that all of this is in retrospective.  It would be very easy to say that I perfectly understood the silence and nothing surprised me.  False, I also became impatient with the silence (of course that has nothing to do with what is said about how before the Zapatistas weren't speaking, I did read all of the denouncements).[2]  The issue is that when seen with the advantage of what has already happened, and what is happening, well, of course the conclusion is logical: we are in the middle of a more daring initiative, at least since the Zapatistas' insurrection.  And this has to do with everything, not just with the national situation but also with the international situation, I believe.

Let me tell you what I understood about something which, it seemed to me, was the most significant moment of the [December 21, 2012] action.  Of course there are many things: the organization, the militant strength, the show of force, the presence of young people and women, etc.  But what really impressed me the most was that they were carrying some boards and that when they arrived at the plazas they made some stages.  According to what was said about what went on, many private media outlets, and some of the independent ones, speculated about the arrival of the Zapatista leaders.  They didn't realize that the Zapatista leaders were already there.  They were the people who got up onto the stage and said, without speaking, here we are, this is who we are and this is who we will be.

Those who should have been on the stage were there.  Nobody has noticed, I think, that moment and, nonetheless, I think, there it is, in a nutshell, the profound significance of a new way of doing politics.  That which breaks with all that is old, the only truly new, the only thing that is worth having [illegible in the original] "XXI century."

The plebeian and freedom-loving soul of those timely moments in history, has been built here without theoretical grandstanding.  Rather, with a practical burying.  It has been there for too many years to be just a fancy.  It is already a long and solid historical social process in the terrain of self-organization.

At the end they picked up their stage, turned it once again into boards, and we should all be a little ashamed and be more modest and simple and recognize that something unexpected and new is in front of our eyes and that we should look, shut up, listen, and learn.

Hugs all around.  I hope that you're alright, all things considered.

El Chueco [Crooked]"

three: "Instructions for what to do in the case… that they look at you"

If someone looks at him, looks at her, and you realize that…

He doesn't look at you as if you were transparent.

He doesn't want to convince you yes or no.

He doesn't want to co-opt you.

He doesn't want to recruit you.

He doesn't want to give you orders.

He doesn't want to judge you-condemn you-absolve you.

He doesn't want to use you.

He doesn't want to tell you what you can or can't do.

He doesn't want to give you advice, recommendations, orders.

He doesn't want to reproach you because you don't know, or because you do know.

He doesn't look down on you.

He doesn't want to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.

He doesn't want to buy your old car, your face, your body, your future, your dignity, your free will.

He doesn't want to sell you anything...
(a time share, a 4D LCD television, a super-ultra-hyper-modern machine with an instant crisis button (warning: don't confuse it with the ejection button, because the warranty doesn't include amnesia due to ridiculous media stunts), a political party that changes its ideology as the wind blows, a life insurance policy, an encyclopedia, a VIP entrance to the performance or the revolution or whatever heaven is fashionable right now, furniture in small installments, a cell phone plan, an exclusive membership, a future given as a gift from the generous leader, the excuse to give up, sell out, throw in the towel, a new ideological paradigm, etc.).

First.- Rule out if it was a degenerate man or woman.  You  can be as dirty, ugly, bad, rude, as you want, but, whatever it is, you have this sexy and horny touch that comes from working really hard; and that "that" can awaken anyone's most carnal passions.  Mmm… well, yes, a little hairstyling wouldn't be too much.  If it wasn't a degenerate man or woman, don't lose heart, the world is round and it spins, and see below (this list, understand).

Second.- Are you sure that he is looking at you?  Couldn't it be that deodorant ad that was behind you (you, understand)?  Or could it be that he's thinking (him, the one that's looking at you, understand): "I think that's how I look when I don't comb my hair"?  If you have ruled that out, continue.

Third.- Doesn't he look like a cop looking to complete the payment that he has to report to his superior?  If yes, run, there's still time to not lose the cost of the ticket.  If not, go on to the next point.

Fourth.- Return his gaze, fiercely.  A gaze that's a mix of anger, stomach ache, annoyance, and the "look" of a serial killer will work.  No, that makes you look like a constipated bear cub.  Try again.  Ok, passable, but keep practicing.  Now, he doesn't flee terrified?  He doesn't divert his gaze?  He doesn't get closer to you exclaiming, "uncle juancho!  I didn't recognize you!  But with that gesture…"?  No?  Ok, continue.

Fifth.-Repeat the first, second, third, and fourth steps.  There could be problems with our system (which, of course, is made in China).  If you come back to this point again, go on to the next one:

Sixth.- There's a high probability that you have run into someone from the Sixth.  We don't know if we should congratulate you or send you our sympathies.  In any case, what follows that gaze is your decision and your responsibility.

fourth: A gaze at a Zapatista post.

(calendar and geography not specified)

SupMarcos: "You have to hurry because time is running out."

The female health insurgent: "Hey, Sup, time isn't running out, people are running out.  Time comes from far away and follows its path allll the way over there, where we can't look at it.  And we are like little pieces of time, that is, time can't march on without us.  We are what makes time march on, and when we come to an end along comes another and s/he pushes time along for another bit, until it arrives at where it needs to arrive, but we're not going to look where it arrives but rather others are going to see if gets there alright or if suddenly it couldn't summon up enough strength to arrive and it has to be pushed again, until it arrives."


The female infantry captain: "And why did it take you so long?"

The female health insurgent: "It's that I was chatting about politics with the Sup, I was helping him to explain well that it's important to look far away, to where neither time nor gazes can reach us."

The female infantry captain: "Uh-huh, and then?"

The female health insurgent: He punished me because I didn't hurry the work and he sent me to the clinic.


fifth: Extract of the "Notes to gaze upon winter."


And yes, all of them got up on the stage with their fists held high.  But they didn't look very well.  They didn't look at the gaze of those men and women.  They didn't look at when they were crossing up [on the stage], they turned their gaze down below and they saw their tens of thousands of compañeros.  That is, they looked at themselves.  Up there they didn't look at us looking at us.  Up there they didn't understand, nor will they understand anything.

six: Put your gaze here (or your insults, even if they aren't minty).[3]


(To be continued…)

From any corner of any world.


Planet Earth.

Mexico, February 2013.


Listen to and watch the videos that accompany this text.

Daniel Viglietti and Mario Benedetti to a "duet" interpretation of the song "La Llamarada" and Benedetti's poem "Pregón."  Concert in Montevideo, Uruguay, Latin America, Planet Earth.  At the beginning, Daniel takes a moment to recognize all of those who are not on the stage but who make it possible that Daniel and Mario are.  Almost at the end, you can hear Mario Benedetti singing, singing to himself, singing to us, and without the calendar and geography mattering, and vice versa.


Amparanoia plays "Somos Viento."  At one point, Amparo Sánchez says "Ik´otik," which in tzeltal means "we are the wind ("somos viento)."


Amparo Ochoa, whose voice still reverberates through our mountains, singing "Quien tiene la voz (Who Has the Voice)" by Gabino Palomares.

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
  1. Some Mexican newspapers run articles that someone (often a branch of the government) pays for.  In the case of La Jornada, the only thing that sets the "paid insertions" apart from genuine news articles is that a "paid insertion" headline is in italics.
  2. Referring to the fact that while most media outlets report that the Zapatistas are breaking some sort of silence, they really haven't been silent.  They've been sending out a steady stream of denouncements against the government and antagonistic organizations.
  3. Play on words that only makes sense in Spanish.  "Mentada" is insult, but it also sort of sounds like "menta," which means mint.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Them and Us Part VI: Gazes, Second Part: Gazing and Listening From/Towards Below by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI.-The Gazes 2.

2.-Gaze and listen from/towards below.

Can we still choose towards where and from where to look?

Can we, for example, choose between looking at those who work at the supermarket chain store, ream out the workers for being complicit in the electoral fraud[1], and publicly ridicule the orange uniforms the employees are forced to wear, or look at the employee who, after cashing out…?

Election propaganda and grocery
gift cards.

/The cashier goes and takes off her orange apron, grumbling with anger over how they reamed her out for being complicit in the fraud that brought ignorance and frivolousness to Power.  She, a woman, young or mature or mother or single or divorced or widow or single mother or expecting or without children or whatever, who goes to work at 7 in the morning and leaves at 4 in the afternoon, of course, if there isn't overtime, and not counting the time between home and work and back again, and after giving school or work the "work-suitable-for-her-sex-that-can-be-completed-with-a-little-bit-of-flirtation," she read in one of the magazines that are next to the register one day when there weren't many customers.  To her, whom those are supposedly going to save, it's nothing more than a question of a vote and done, ta-da, happiness.  "Do you really think the owners wear an orange apron?" she irritatedly murmurs.  She fixes herself up a bit from the purposeful untidiness with which she goes to work so that the manager doesn't bother her.  She leaves.  Outside her partner is waiting.  They embrace, kiss, touch each other with their gazes, they walk.  They enter a cyber cafe or whatever you call it.  10 pesos per hour, 5 pesos for a half-hour.../

"Half hour," they say, mentally calculating the budget-time-from-the-metro-bus-walk.

"Spot me some money, Roco, don't be a jerk," he says.

"Ok, but come by on payday, because if not, the owner will be all over me and you'll be the one who will be spotting me money."

"Ok, but it'll be when you get a cell phone, dude, because I'm working at a car wash."

"Well, wash it, dude," says Roco.

The three of them laugh.

"7," says Roco.

"Ok, look for it," she says.

He goes to enter a number.

"No," she says, "look for when it all began."

They navigate.  They get to where there are just over 131.[2]  They play the video.

"They're bourgeois," he says.

"Settle down, revolutionary vanguard.  You've got something wrong with your head if you judge people by their appearances.  Just because I have light skin they call me güerita and bourgeois, and they don't see that I live paycheck-to-paycheck.  It's important to see each person's history and what they do, dummy," she says, smacking him upside the head.

They keep watching.

They watch, they shut up, they listen.

"So they told Peña Nieto all that to his face… they're brave, yes, it's obvious they've got balls," he says.

"Or ovaries, idiot," and another smack from her for him.

"Watch out, my queen, I'm going to accuse you of inter-familial violence."

"It would be gender violence, idiot," and another smack.

They finish watching the video.

Him: "So that's how things start, with a few people who aren't afraid."

Her: "Or they are afraid, but they get it under control."

"Half an hour!" Roco yells at them.

"Yes, let's watch it."

She goes smiling.

"And now what are you laughing about?"

"Nothing, I was remembering," she gets closer to him, "what you said about 'inter-familial.'  Do you mean that you want us to be a family?"

He doesn't miss a beat:

"That's right, my queen, later is late, we're already getting there, but without so many smacks, kisses instead, and more below and to the left."

"Hey, don't talk dirty to me, dude!" another smack.  "And enough of 'my queen,' aren't we against fucking monarchy?"

Him, before the strong smack: "Well, yes my… plebeian."

She laughs, him too.  After a couple of steps, she says:

"And do you think the Zapatistas will invite us?"

"Of course, Vins is my buddy and he said that he's tight with sockface because he let him win at Mortal Kombat, on the little machines, so all we have to do is say that we're friends with Vins and done," he argues enthusiastically.

"And do you think I'll be able to bring my mom?  She's already pretty old…"

"Of course, speaking of witches, if I'm lucky my future mother-in-law will get stuck in the mud," he ducks his head expecting a smack that doesn't come.

Her, angry now:

"And what the hell are the Zapatistas going to give us if they're so far away?  Do you really think they're going to give me a raise, make people respect me, make it so fucking men don't look at my butt on the street, and that the fucking boss stops looking for excuses to touch me?  Are they going to give me money so I can make rent, so I can buy clothing for my daughter, my son?  Are they going to lower the price of sugar, beans, rice, oil?  Are they going to put food on my table?  Will they stand up to the cop that comes around everyday to bother and demand money from the people in the neighborhood who sell pirated discs saying that it's so they don't report them to Mr. or Mrs. Sony…?"

"It's not 'pirate,' it's 'alternative production,' my quee….my plebeian.  And don't get all huffy with me because we're in the same boat."

But she's already on a roll, so no one can stop her:

"And you, are they going to give you back your job at the plant, where you were qualified as a who-the-hell-knows-what?  Are they going to validate your classes, the training courses, and all that so that the asshole of a boss takes the company to I don't know where, and the union and the strike, everything that you did, to later end up washing cars?  Or like your brother, El Chompis, whose work they took away and they disappeared the company so that he can't defend himself and the government with its same old babble that it's to improve service and world class and blah blah blah and did they really lower the rates, no, they're more expensive, and the fucking lights go out all the time[3] and fucking Calderón goes to shamelessly teach classes to gringos[4], who are the masters of all this shit.  And my Dad, may he rest in peace, who went to work on the other side [of the US-Mexico border], not to do the tourist thing, but to make money, dough, moolah, to take care of us when we were younger and there crossing the line the migra came down on him as if he were a terrorist and not an honorable worker and they didn't even give us his body and that fucking Obama, it seems as though his heart is the color of the dollar."

"Damn, stop your car and pull over, my plebeian."

"It's just that every time I think about it I get mad, working so much so that in the end those above keep everything, the only thing that's left to privatize is laughter, although I doubt they'd privatize that, because there's not much, but tears, yes, there's an abundance of those and they get rich… richer.  And then you come along with your stuff about the Zapatistas here and Zapatistas there, and below and to the left and the eighth…"

"The Sixth, not the eighth," he interrupts.

"Whatever, those dudes are far away and they speak Spanish worse than you."

"Hey, hey, don't be mean."

She wipes away her tears and murmurs: "Fucking rain, it ruined my esteelauder, and I'd fixed myself up all nice for you."

"Boyeeeee, I like you even better with nothing on."

They laugh.

Her, very serious: "Ok now, let's see, tell me, are those Zapatistas going to save us?"

"No, my plebeian, they aren't going to save us.  That and other things we have to do for ourselves."

"Well then?"

"Ah, well, they're going to teach us."

"What are they going to teach us?"

"That we're not alone."

She remains silent for a moment.  Then:

"Nor alone[4], dummy,"another smack.

The collective van looks like it's going to explode with people.  We'll see if the next one has room.

It's cold, it's raining.  They embrace each other more, not so that they don't get wet, but rather so they get wet together.

Far away someone is waiting, there's always someone who is waiting.  And while he waits, with an old pencil case and an old and shabby notebook, he keeps track of the gazes from below that are seen in a window.

(To be continued...)

From any corner of any world.

Planet Earth.
January 2013.

"The Nobodies," based on the text of the same name by Eduardo Galeano.  Played by La Gran Orquesta Republicana, a ska-fusion band, Mallorca, Spanish State.  Members: Javier Vegas, Nacho Vegas: sax.  Nestor Casas: trumpet.  Didac Buscató: trombone.  Juan Antonio Molina: electric guitar.  Xema Bestard: bass.  José Luis García: drums.


Liliana Daunes narrates a very other story called "Always and Never Against Sometimes."  Greetings to the Chiapas Solidarity Network, which struggles and resists right here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Latin America, Planet Earth.


"Minimum Wage," by Oscar Chávez and Los Morales.

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
  1. Enrique Peña Nieto allegedly bought votes with grocery store gift cards with the full knowledge of the supermarket chain in question. 
  2. Refers to the #YoSoy132 movement against Enrique Peña Nieto, sparked when 131 university students organized a protest against his visit to their campus. 
  3. Refers to former President Felipe Calderón busting the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).
  4. Calderón teaches at Harvard now.
  5. Many Spanish speakers have noted the sexism they argue is inherent in the need to feminize and masculinize nouns and adjectives.  The Zapatistas in particular look for ways to use more inclusive language, and this exchanges makes reference to that.  When the boyfriend says that the Zapatistas will teach us "That we're not alone" he says "Que no estamos solos," using the masculine form of alone (solos), which, according to the rules is what one does in mixed company.  So his girlfriend responds, "Ni solas," saying that women are also not alone.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Them and Us Part VI: The Gazes by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI.- The Gazes

1.- Gaze to impose or gaze to listen.

For once I will be able to say
Without anyone saying otherwise
That it is not the same to desire
As it is to covet something
Just as they're not the same words
Said to listen
And said to be obeyed
Nor is it the same to speak to me
To tell me something
As it is to speak to me so that I shut up.

Tomás Segovia.

"Fourth Search" in "Searches and Other Poems" from the publishing house that has the good sense to call itself "No Name."
Thank you and hugs to María Luisa Capella, to Inés and Francisco
(thank goodness for the dignified blood that beats through their hearts)
for the books and the lyrics guide.

To gaze is a form of asking, we say, we the Zapatistas.

Or of searching…

When one gazes at the calendar and at the geography, even though they might be far away from each other, one asks, one interrogates.

And it is in the act of gazing where the other appears.  And it is in the gaze where that other exists, where its profile as strange, as outsider, as enigma, as victim, as judge and executioner, as enemy….or as friend is drawn.

It is in the gaze where fear nests, but also where respect can be born.

If we don't learn to gaze at another's gaze, what is the point of our gaze, our questions?

Who are you?

    What is your history?
            Where do you hurt?

                What are your hopes?

But it doesn't just matter what or who is gazed upon.  Also, and above all, it matters from where one is gazing from.

And to choose where to gaze at is also to choose from where.

Or is it the same to gaze from above at the pain of those who lost those whom they love and need, due to absurd, inexplicable, definitive death, as it is to gaze at it from below?

When someone from above gazes upon those below and asks himself, "How many are there?", in reality he's asking, "How much are they worth?"

If if they aren't worth anything, what does it matter how many there are?  To get that untimely number out of the way there are the corporate media outlets, the militaries, the police, the judges, the prisons, the cemeteries. 

And for our gaze, the answers are never simple.

To gaze upon ourselves gazing at that which we gaze at, we give ourselves an identity that has to do with pains and struggles, with our calendars and our geography.

Our strength, if we do have some, is in this recognition: we are who we are, and there are others who are who they are, and there is other for those of us who don't have a word to name it and, nonetheless, is who he is.  When we say "we" we are not absorbing, and in that way subordinating, identities, but rather highlighting  the bridges that exist between the different pains and distinct rebelliousnesses.  We are the same because we are different.

In the Sixth, the Zapatistas reiterate our rejection of any attempt at hegemony, that is, all vanguardism, be it that we're out in front or that they line us up, as they have throughout these centuries, in the rearguard.  

If with the Sixth we seek out people like us in their pains and struggles, without the calendars and geographies that distance us mattering, it is because we know well that the Ruler[1] isn't beaten with just a thought, just one strength, just one directive (no matter how revolutionary, principled, radical, ingenious, numerous, powerful, etc. that directive might be).

It is the lesson of our dead that diversity and difference are not weaknesses for below, but rather strength to give birth, on the ashes of the old, to the new world we want, that we need, that we deserve.

We know well that that world isn't just imagined by us.  But in our dream, that world isn't one, but rather many, different, diverse.  And its richness lies in its diversity.

The repeated attempts to impose unanimity are responsible for the machine going crazy and getting closer, every minute, to the final minute of civilization as we know it up to now.

In the current phase of neoliberal globalization, homogeneity is just mediocrity imposed like a universal uniform.  And if anything sets it apart from Hitler's craziness, it isn't its goal, but rather in the modernity of the manners in which it is achieved.


And yes, it's not just us that seeks the how, when, where, what.

You all, for example, are not Them.  Well, even though you[2] don't appear to have any problem allying themselves with Them to… deceive them and bring them down from the inside?  To be like Them but not so Them?  To lower the machine's speed, to file down the beast's fangs, to humanize the savage?

Yes, we know.  There's a mountain of arguments to support that.  You could even come up with some examples. 


You tell us that we're equals, that we're in the same situation, that it is the same struggle, the same enemy… Hmm…. no, you don't say "enemy," you say "adversary."  Sure, that also depends on the context.

You tell us that we must all unite because there is no other path: either elections or weapons.  And you, who in that false argument justify your project of invalidating all of that which does not subject itself to the reiterated spectacle of the politics from above, you give us an ultimatum: die or give up.  And you even offer us the alibi, because, you argue, since it's about taking Power, there's only two paths.

Ah!  And we're so disobedient: we didn't die, nor did we give up.  And, as was demonstrated the day the world ended[3]: neither electoral politics nor armed struggle.

And if it's not about taking Power?  Better yet, and if the Power no longer resides in that Nation-State, that Zombie State populated by a parasite political class that pillages the nations' remains?

And if the voters that you obsess over so much (that's why you're captivated by the multitudes) don't do anything but vote for someone who others already elected, as time after time They demonstrate while they have fun with every new trick they play?

Yes, of course, you hide behind your prejudices: those who don't vote?  "It's due to apathy, disinterest, lack of education, they play into the hands of the right"… your ally in so many geographies, in not just a few calendars.  They vote but not for you?  "It's because they're rightwing, ignorant, sellouts, traitors, dying of hunger, they're zombies!"

Note from Marquitos Spoil: Yes, we sympathize with the zombies.  Not just because we look like them (we don't even need makeup and we'd still kick butt in the casting of "The Walking Dead").  Also and above all because we think, like George A. Romero, that in a zombie apocalypse, the craziest brutality would be the work of the surviving civilization, not of the walking dead.  And if some vestige of humanity were to remain, it would shine in those who are already the pariahs, the living dead for whom the apocalypse begins at birth and never ends.  Just as is happening right now in any corner of any of the worlds that exist.  And there is no movie, nor television series that tells its story.

Your gaze is marked by disdain when you look at something (even if it's at the mirror) and of breaths of envy when you look above.

You can't even imagine someone who would be interested in gazing at that "above" for no other reason than to see how to get it off of him.


Gaze.  Towards where and from where.  There is that which separates us.

You think that you are the only ones, we know that we're one more.

You look above, we look below.

You look at how you can make yourselves useful, we look how to make ourselves useful.

You look at how to lead, we look at how to accompany.

You look at how much is won, we look at how much is lost.

You look at what it is, we look at what it can be.

You look at numbers, we look at people.

You calculate statistics, we calculate histories.

You talk, we listen.

You look at how you look, we look at the gaze.

You look at us and you ream us out for where we were when your calendar was marked with your "historical" urgencies.  We look at you and we don't ask where you have been during these past 500 years of history.

You look at how to take advantage of the current situation, we look at how to create it.

You worry about broken windows, we worry about the rage that broke them.

You look at the many, we look at the few.

You look at insurmountable walls, we look at cracks.

You look at possibilities, we look at that which is impossible only until the eve.

You look for mirrors, we look for crystals.

You and we are not the same.


You look at the calendar of above and you use it to condition the spring of the mobilizations, the masses, the party, the multitude's rebelliousness, the streets bursting with songs and colors, chants, challenges, those who are already many more than just one hundred and thirty-something[4], the full plazas, the ballot boxes anxious to be filled with votes, and you run quickly because clearly-they-lack-revolutionary-party-leadership-a-politics-of-ample-and-flexible-alliances-because-electoral-politics-is-their-natural-destiny-but-they're-very-young-they're-bourgeois-petitbugies-kids- / -later-lumpen-hoodrats-crew-prole-number-of-potential-voters-potentials-ignorant-novice-ingenious-naive-clumsy-stubborn, above all, stubborn.  And you see in each massive act the culmination of the times.  And afterwards, when there's no longer crowds anxious for a leader, nor ballot boxes, nor parties, you decide that it's over, no more, to see if there will be another occasion, that we have to wait six years[5], six centuries, that we have to look the other way, but always at the calendar of above: the registration, the alliances, the positions.

And we, always with a crooked gaze, we surmount the calendar, we look for the winter, we swim upriver, we pass through the stream, we arrive at the spring.  There we see who begins, those who are few, the lessors.  We don't speak to them, we don't greet them, we don't tell them what to do, we don't tell them what not to do.  Instead, we listen to them, we look at them with respect, with admiration.  And maybe they never notice that small red flower, which looks just like a star, so small that it is barely a pebble, that our hand leaves below, close to their left foot.  Not because that's how we want to tell them that the flower-rock was ours, the Zapatistas'. Not so that they take that pebble and they throw it at something, at someone, although there isn't a lack of willingness or reasons why.  Rather, maybe because it is our way of telling them, them and all of our compas in the Sixth, that the homes and the worlds begin to be built with small pebbles and later they grow and almost nobody remembers those little pieces of rock that start out so small, so nothing, so useless, so alone, and along comes a Zapatista, and she looks at the pebble and she greets it and she sits down beside it and they don't speak, because little rocks, like Zapatistas, don't speak… until they do speak, and then it becomes a matter of if they shut up.  And no, they never shut up, what happens is that sometimes there's not anyone to listen to them.  Or maybe because we looked beyond the calendar and we knew, before, that this night would come.  Or maybe because that's what we told them, even though they don't know it, but we know it, hat they're not alone.  Because its with the few that things get started and restarted.


You didn't see us before… and you still don't look at us.

And, above all, you didn't see us watching you.

You didn't see us watching you in your arrogance, stupidly destroying the bridges, digging up the roads, allying yourselves with our persecutors, disdaining us.  Convincing yourselves that that which does not exist in the media simply does not exist.

You didn't see us watching you say and say to yourselves that you were standing on solid ground, that what is possible is solid terrain, that you cut the moorings of that absurd boat of absurdities and impossibilities, and that it was those crazies (us) who stayed adrift, isolated, alone, without a destination, paying with our existence the being principled.

You could see the resurgence as part of your victories, and now you ruminate it as one of your losses.

Go, continue on your path.

Don't listen to us, don't look at us.

Because with the Sixth and with the Zapatistas it is not possible to look nor listen with impunity.

And that is our virtue or our curse, depending on where you're looking towards and, above all, from where the gaze is extended.

(to be continued…)

From any corner of any world.


Planet Earth.

February 2013.


Reoffenders.  Sevilla rock group, Spanish State.  Manuel J. Pizarro Fernández: Drums.  Fernando Madina Pepper: Bass and vocals.  Juan M. Rodríguez Barea: Guitar and vocals.  Finito de Badajoz "Candy": Guitar and vocals.  Carlos Domíngez Reinhardt: Sound tech.  Rock version of "I call you freedom" in a video dedicated to the heroic struggle of the Mapuche People.


Eduardo Galeano narrates a story from Old Antonio: "The History of the Gazes."


Joan Manuel Serrat singing "The South Also Exists" by Mario Benedetti, in concert in Argentina, Latin America.  When he stops singing, Serrat goes behind the curtains and brings Mario Benedetti, so beloved to us, out to the stage (minute 3:01 onward).

Translation from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
  1. In previous parts of "Them and Us," the Ruler referred to the United States government.
  2. In the original Spanish it isn't clear if this is supposed to be translated as plural "you" or "they," which in this case is written the same in Spanish.
  3. Refers to December 21, 2012, when the Zapatistas staged their silent march on five cities in Chiapas.
  4. Refers to the #YoSoy132 movement against Enrique Peña Nieto, sparked when 131 university students organized a protest against his visit to their campus.  Following the protest, the media asked, "Who will be number 132?", leading to the "I Am 132" movement.
  5. Mexico's elected term.

Monday, February 4, 2013

"We Will Win One Hundred Times Over": Translating the Zapatista Resurgence

by Joshua Stephens, Toward Freedom

Zapatistas march in Ocosingo,
December 21, 2012.
On December 21st of last year, as many across the world were speculating about the end of the Mayan calendar, 40,000 actual Mayans marched silently into five cities in Chiapas, Mexico, putting the Zapatistas and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) back into the forefront of grassroots political discourse the world over, and mainstream political discourse in Mexico. A stream of provocative communiques from the EZLN's spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, have followed.
For the better part of the last decade, Kristin Bricker has been documenting popular struggle in Mexico, particularly the Zapatista rebellion, and is one of the most prolific English translators of material produced by grassroots social movements across the country. Given the occasion of the seemingly sudden re-emergence of the Zapatistas, and her translations of its almost-daily literary flourishes, it seemed appropriate to catch up with her and solicit her reflections on the moment.
Joshua Stephens: I think a lot of people reading the pieces you've been translating the last month or so are wondering, so I'm just going to ask: Why now? Generally, the Zapatistas have mobilized at this volume in response to discreet events or conditions – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the post-Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) electoral landscape, and so on. Do you have the sense that something in particular has sparked the resurgence?
Kristin Bricker: The current resurgence began with the December 21st mobilization in which 40,000 Zapatistas staged a silent march in five Chiapan cities. In their December 30th communique, they explained why they decided to step back into the limelight:  "After the media-driven coup d'état that exalted a poorly concealed and even more poorly disguised ignorance to the federal executive branch, we made ourselves present so that you would know that if they never left, neither did we." Here they are referring to the election of Enrique Peña Nieto to the country's presidency.
Peña Nieto is Mexico's George W. Bush. He won the 2012 election thanks to massive vote-buying. Everyone acknowledges that he is impressively stupid and not at all ashamed of it, and for the Left he's the devil incarnate. His godfather and puppet master is former president Carlos Salinas, who was in office when the Zapatistas staged their 1994 uprising. In order to pave the way for NAFTA, Salinas reformed Mexico's Constitution, essentially removing the land rights Emiliano Zapata and his peasant army fought and died for in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. As a result, Salinas continues to be even more unpopular than Peña Nieto's predecessor, Felipe Calderón, who launched the drug war that currently has Mexico embroiled in a deadly quagmire.
As governor of Mexico State, Peña Nieto laid a deadly trap for the People's Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), a civilian peasant organization that has strong ties to the Zapatistas. In 2006, his government negotiated a deal with the FPDT that allowed flower vendors to sell flowers in the downtown area of Texocol, near Atenco. When the vendors, accompanied by the FPDT, showed up to sell flowers at the agreed-upon time and place, Peña Nieto's riot police were waiting for them. In the clashes that followed, police killed two protesters (including a fourteen-year-old boy, shot in the chest with live ammo) and gang-raped over twenty female detainees on a bus in front of other arrested demonstrators. No police have been punished for these abuses, but some demonstrators spent years in jail. Peña Nieto proudly claimed responsibility for the police's actions.
When he won the presidential election, it meant that the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for seventy years as a one-party dictatorship, would return to power after just a twelve-year hiatus. The Zapatistas were an important factor in the PRI's ouster following the 2000 elections, so it's fitting that they've chosen to go back on the offensive now.
JS: The initial communique following the late December march pretty openly acknowledged a widespread sense that the Zapatistas had eroded – as a force or presence – rather considerably. I remember conversations we had about the ebbing of The Other Campaign, autonomous communities' land-loss, and journalists' claims about Marcos being "put out to pasture". Was the "they don't need us in order to fail" comment simply an artful way to stage a return to visibility, or do you feel like it was taking aim at something?
KB: I actually have a different interpretation of that communique. I interpreted it as a response to all of the chatter in the Mexican and international media over the past few years that the Zapatistas had run out of steam, were losing ground, had failed to make any gains, and that Marcos was either dead or had been fired. As Marcos says in that communique, "We never left, even though media from all over the spectrum have dedicated themselves to making you believe that, and we are reemerging as the indigenous Zapatistas that we are and will be."
It's important to note that while this new set of communiques hopefully means that the Zapatistas are planning something proactive, they haven't been invisible over the past few years. In 2011, Marcos had some public written exchanges with two prominent men, intellectual Luis Villoro and writer-turned-activist Javier Sicilia. That same year, thousands of Zapatistas mobilized to march against the drug war in support of Javier Sicilia's peace movement. So if the Zapatista's disappeared from anywhere, it was from the corporate media's echo chamber. In reality, the Zapatistas never went away.
"They don't need us in order to fail" is an allusion to Karl Marx's assertion that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. Earlier in that same communique, he argues that the political class is "too incapable and dishonest to see that within themselves they had and have the seeds of their own destruction." Marcos has said that over and over; he even wrote a children's book called "The Story of the Lion and the Mirror" where the lion represents capitalism and the mirror, which kills the lion in the end, represents how capitalism contains the necessary contradictions for its own destruction.
Current and previous presidential administrations have made it very clear that Mexican politicians and their Yankee puppet masters are perfectly capable of failing miserably without the Zapatistas' help. No one can blame the hell that we are living in Mexico on the Zapatistas. The kidnappings, the guns that are held to our heads, the bodies that hang from bridges as we go to work or take our kids to school–the Zapatistas had nothing to do with that. It is a direct result of the United States-backed drug war that former president Felipe Calderón started with guns blazing in order to distract the country from the fact that he'd stolen the election.
JS: Has the resurgence had effects on the ground? There are references in these texts to collaboration with adherents to the Sixth Declaration, but it seemed in recent years as though that network had languished some.
KB: The Other Campaign's success has depended entirely on the people who make up the local collectives and regional networks. Yes, in some areas, collectives have languished somewhat as they wait for the Zapatistas to tell them what to do next. But one thing that you have to keep in mind is that the Other Campaign is comprised of a lot of groups that have been organizing since before the Other Campaign. That's the case in Guerrero, where human rights organizations and autonomist community policing organizations united under the Other Campaign umbrella. They're on the front lines against the dirty war and drug war violence in that state; they don't sit and wait around for the next Zapatista communique to tell them what to do. They're always proactive, because it's a matter of life and death for them.
The Other Campaign also resulted in like-minded individuals coming together under the pro-Zapatista banner to do community organizing that they might have not been doing prior to the Other Campaign. That's the case in Chalco, a poor, crime-ridden area of Mexico State. In 2010, following a foreseeable disaster where a canal burst and covered Chalco with raw sewage (in some areas putting the entire first floor of houses under what the residents politely referred to as "mud"), a collective of Other Campaign adherents in Chalco built relationships with the local church to do the disaster relief the government refused to do. Operating under the Other Campaign mantra of "If they touch one of us, they touch all of us," the Chalco collective called on Other Campaign adherents in the region to help out. The Chalco collective used the church as a base of operations where Other Campaign adherents from Mexico City and surrounding areas could drop off donations and provide free services. A collective of doctors who are adherents to the Other Campaign came out to Chalco to provide medical care to people who were suffering infections due to their exposure to raw sewage. A hairdresser came out to give kids haircuts before they went back to school. Brigades repainted walls to cover up the flood lines that reminded people of the few days they spent living under a few feet of feces. Having the wall of a government-maintained above-ground canal burst and cover your town with poop is just about the most undignified experience a working class community could possibly suffer. The Other Campaign brought dignity back to Chalco, and the collective there is as strong as ever.
The Other Campaign has also strengthened the movement to free political prisoners.  Instead of every jailed Zapatista sympathizer all over the country having to fight for their freedom in isolation, they're essentially guaranteed a support network, not just in Mexico, but all over the world. Just look at how hard the New York-based Movement for Justice in the Barrio has fought for Mexican political prisoners. The release of these political prisoners over the years is a constant tangible win for the Other Campaign. [Interviewer's note: Since the time of this interview, Zapatista political prisonerFrancisco Sántiz has been released, a day after his being mentioned in an EZLN communique.]
That said, so far I haven't seen any tangible effects of this resurgence–just a lot of anticipation. The latest communique from Subcomandante Marcos said "to be continued…" So I think everyone is anxiously waiting to see what the Zapatistas have up their sleeves. I imagine that Other Campaign collectives all over the country are meeting to analyze and discuss the latest communiques.
Personally, I think the new communiques are uplifting. We've suffered so much under the drug war, myself included. It's debilitating to be constantly bombarded with carnage, guns held to your head, kidnappings, extortion… Can you imagine what it is like to be afraid to look out your window to see what that noise was in the street because you're afraid that you'll be seen seeing something you shouldn't have? I think that, for many people outside of Mexico, it's impossible to imagine living under those conditions, much less organizing under them. When 40,000 Zapatistas took the streets and then they began releasing these new communiques, I felt hope and energy for the first time in two years. I think a lot of other people feel the same way. I'm excited to see what they have to say, and I'm excited to be a part of it. If anyone knows how to go through hell and emerge stronger, the Zapatistas do.
JS: I remember seeing middle school-aged kids studying at the Zapatista school in Oventic back in 2008, and realizing that I was looking at 13 and 14 year olds who had effectively always been Zapatistas, inasmuch as they were born after the '94 uprising. By now, those kids have reached adulthood, entirely within those communities and the mode of being cultivated in them. Is what we're seeing reflective of that generation coming into the fold, as it were?
KB: That is something that a lot of people noticed: how many of the Zapatistas who marched on December 21 were young adults. The Zapatista autonomist process officially kicked off in 2003 when the EZLN unilaterally implemented indigenous rights in the territory it controlled. That's when the EZLN, the Zapatista's military apparatus, created the civilian Good Government Councils to govern in the newly created autonomous territory, which was divided into five caracoles, or regional capitals.  Positions on the five Good Government Councils are rotative and decided through the indigenous tradition of choosing leaders based on their prior service to the community.
The Zapatistas who are now reaching adulthood, getting married, and having children of their own were babies during the uprising, and they were about nine when the autonomous governing system was created with its own schools and healthcare. So they still attended government elementary schools and were neglected by government health clinics when they were sick. They grew up with the feeling of being an outsider, different, inferior, or, as the Zapatistas call it, "other."  Part four of Marcos' "Them and Us" communiques talk about that feeling. But these young adults also spent their very important formative years living under an autonomous indigenous governing system where their indigenousness is celebrated, not scorned. That has to be very important for them. And now they're old enough to serve on the Good Government Councils.
JS: Indigenous resistance is increasingly visible, the world over, especially in light of the Idle No More actions coming out of Canada. And that resistance is increasingly networked. Is that part of the conversation on the ground in southern Mexico?
KB: Since their uprising in 1994, the Zapatistas have been at the forefront of globalizing leftist–not just indigenous–struggle in the new information age. Many people have argued that the protests that shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999–an event that radicalized and mobilized my generation–were to some extent inspired by the Zapatista uprising.
Of course, indigenous and anti-colonial struggles have always had a special place in the Zapatistas' hearts. Some of the first people to visit them after the uprising were Irish freedom fighters and leaders from the American Indian Movement. The Zapatistas have organized international meetings of indigenous peoples so that they can share their struggles and strategies. They organized the founding of Mexico's National Indigenous Congress so that the country's indigenous peoples could participate in the indigenous rights negotiations between the Zapatistas and the government. While the Zapatistas haven't specifically mentioned Idle No More (it's still relatively new, and there is a language barrier), Marcos has repeatedly expressed support for Palestinians resisting Israeli colonization. A lot of people in the United States, even leftists, seem to forget that the conflict in Palestine is centered around colonists (although they call themselves settlers) attempting to seize indigenous land and resources by displacing Palestinians and imprisoning them in open-air prisons akin to what the US calls reservations. This fact is not lost on Marcos and the Zapatistas.
The Zapatistas are now closely watching the indigenous Mapuche's struggle for autonomy and indigenous and land rights in Chile. Marcos has mentioned the Mapuches in three of the four "Them and Us" communiques that have been published, at this point. I think we'll see a greater collaboration between those two struggles in the near future.
Video of the Zapatistas' December 21, 2012 march in Chiapas, Mexico:
Kristin's translations of the recent Zapatista communiques can be read (along with her coverage of struggle in Mexico more broadly) at My Word is My Weapon. Follow her on Twitter at @kristinbricker.
Joshua Stephens is a writer, editor, activist, and board member with the Institute for Anarchist Studies, and co-editor at Counter Conduct. He splits his time between Brooklyn, NY and the Mediterranean. Follow him on Twitter at @joshuacstephens.