“One knows that he has died when the
things which surround him have stopped
Occupation: EZLN Investigation Commission.
Marital Status: Deceased.
Age: 521 years and counting.
things which surround him have stopped
Occupation: EZLN Investigation Commission.
Marital Status: Deceased.
Age: 521 years and counting.
It’s before dawn, and if they were to ask me, which they have not, I would say that the problem with the dead is the living.
Because later that dispute for their absence tends to appear, absurd, idle, and outrageous.
The “I knew-them-saw-them they told me” is only an alibi that hides the “I am the administrator of that life because I administrate its death.”
Something like that similar to the “copyright” of death, then converted into a commodity that is possessed, exchanged, circulates, and is consumed. Well, there are even establishments for it: historiography books, biographies, museums, lists of anniversaries, thesis, newspapers, magazines, and conferences.
And there is that trap of editing history itself to polish errors.
The dead are used then to on them raise up a monument.
But, in my humble opinion, the problem with the dead is outliving them.
Or one dies with them, a little or a lot each time.
Or one appropriates for himself the title of spokesperson for them. After all they cannot talk, and it is not their story which is told, but rather one’s own being justified.
Or it is also possible to use them to pontificate with the boring “when I was your age.” When the only honest way of finishing that cheap and unoriginal blackmail (almost always directed at young people and children), would be to conclude with a “I had made more mistakes than you.”
And, behind the hijacking of those dead, there is the worship of historiography, so much from above, so incoherent, so useless. The belief that the history which matters and counts is that which is in a book, a thesis, a museum, a monument, and in the current and future equivalents, which are not but a childish way of domesticating the history from below.
Because there are those who live at the cost of others’ death, and over their absence build thesis, essays, writings, books, movies, ballads, songs, and other more or less stylized forms of justifying their own inaction…or sterile action.
The “you have not died” cannot be more than a slogan, if no one keeps walking. Because in our modest and not academic point of view, what is important is the path not the traveler.
And I, taking advantage of the fact they I am rewinding this tape of days, months, years, decades now, ask, for example:
Of SubPedro, of Mr. Ik, of Comandanta Ramona, do their family trees matter? Their DNA? Their birth certificates with first and last names?
Or is what matters the path that with the nameless and faceless—that is to say, without family lineage and/or crest—they walked?
Of SubPedro, does his real name matter, his face, his way, gathered in a thesis, a biography—that is to say, in a lie documented to convenience?
Or does the memory that of him there is in the peoples that he organized matter? It is certain that religious fanatics would have accused, judged, and condemned him for being atheist, and racial fanatics also, but for being mestizo and not having earthen colored skin, in that inverse racism that pretends to “indigenous.”
But SubPedro’s decision to struggle, Comandante Hugo’s, Comandanta Ramona’s, Insurgente Álvaro’s, Fredy’s, Rafael’s, does it matter because someone gives it a name, calendar, geography? Or because that decision is collective and there is someone who continues?
When someone lives and dies struggling, do they tell us in their absence “remember me,” “honor me,” “carry me”? Or do they demand “continue,” “don’t give up,” “don’t give in,” “don’t sell out”?
I mean to say, I feel (and talking with other compas I know that it is not only my sentiment) that the report that I have to give to our dead is what has been done, what is lacking, and what is being done to complete what motivated that struggle.
Probably I am mistaken, and someone will tell me that the meaning of all struggle is to persist in historiography, written or spoken history, because it is the example of the dead, their administrated biography, which motivates the peoples to struggle, and not the conditions of injustice, of slavery (which is the real name for the lack of freedom), of authoritarianism.
I have spoken with some compañeras, compañeros, Zapatistas of the EZLN. True, not with all of them, but indeed with those I can still see, with those I can be.
There was tobacco, coffee, words, silences, agreements.
It was not the longing to persist, but rather the meaning of owing what puts us here, for better or for worse. The need for something done in the face of the millenary injustice, that indignation which we feel as the most blunt characteristic of “humanity.” We do not strive for any place in museums, thesis, biographies, books.
Therefore, in one’s final breath, does one of us Zapatistas ask ourselves “will they remember me?” Or do we ask ourselves “was a step taken in the path?” “is there someone who continues walking it?”
We, when we go to Pedro’s grave, do we tell him what we have done so that they will remember him or do we tell him what has been done in the struggle, what is lacking (what is lacking always is lacking), the small beings that we still are?
Do we give him good accounts if we take “Power” and if we raise up a statue for him?
Or if we can tell him, “Hey Pedrín, we’re still here, we did not sell out, we did not give in, we did not give up?”
And, well, already being in the theme of questioning…
The thing about taking another name and hiding our face, is it to hide ourselves from the enemy or to defy their mausoleum ranking, their hierarchical nomenclature, their buy-sale offers be it so disguised as bureaucratic positions, awards, praise and commendation, large or small clubs of followers?
/yes my dear, times change, before one courted their teacher—or the equivalent knowledge grunt—carrying books, delighting in their words, looking at him or her with admiration. Now posts are posted on their writings, their web pages are “liked,” the number of followers who warble disorderly are added to…/
I mean to say, do we care who we are? Or do we care what we do?
The evaluation which interests and affects us, is that from outside or that from reality?
Is the measure of our success or failure in what of us appears in the paid media, in the theses, in the commentaries, in the “thumbs up,” in the history books, in the museums?
Or in the achieved, the failed, the correct, the pending?
And rewinding more…
Of Chapis, does it matter that she was a believer and a consistent Christian, or does it matter that she lived and struggled, with and in her being Christian, for those who never knew her? It is certain that the fanatics of atheism would have accused, judged, and condemned her for not following the religion of the isms which intends to monopolize the explanation and leadership of all struggles.
Once, after reading “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” by José Saramago, Chapis looked for the writer and compañero to tell him not only that she did not like his book, also that she was going to write her own version on the topic. Does it matter if she ended up finding Saramago, if she told him that, if she wrote her version? Or does her decision to do it matter?
And of Tata Don Juan, does he matter only for his last names “Chávez Alonso,” his Purépecha blood, the hat which covered him and showed him more, as if he wore a balaclava? Or does he matter also for the paths which were honored with his native step on multiple continents?
The girls and the boys murdered in the ABC Daycare, in Hermosillo, Sonora, who just reached a few letters of biography, do they matter for the lines and minutes that they obtained in the media? Or do they matter for the blood which gave them blood and life, and now insists on a dignified stubbornness which searches for justice? Because those boys and girls matter also now, although absent, for the fathers and mothers to whom with their death they gave birth.
Because justice, friends and enemies, is also avoiding that injustice be repeated, or that it changes its name, its face, its flag, its ideological, political, racial alibi, its gender.
I mean to say, we (and others like us, many, all) struggle to be better, and accept when reality tells us that we have not succeeded, but by no means do we stop struggling.
Because it is not that here we do not honor our dead. We do it, yes. But it is that we do it struggling. Every day, at every hour. And like this until we look at the ground, first at the same level, later from above, covering ourselves with the step of a compañero.
In the end, the pages are lengthened and with them grows also the certainty that nobody cares about any of this, that it is not transcendental, that it is not what the-Nation-the-historic-moment-the-circumstances demand, that it is better to tell a tale…or make a biography, or raise up a monument.
And of the 3 things, I am firmly convinced that the only one which is worth the trouble is the first.
So I will tell you, just as Durito recounted it to me, the story of the Cat-Dog (note: now read “rewind 3”).
Vale. Cheers and, of the dead, look above all at the path that their step walked, which still needs steps that walk it.
El Sup adjusting his balaclava with macabre flirtation.
P.S. WHICH TAKES SIDES IN A DEBATE REALLY OF THE PRESENT.- “Videogames are the continuation of war by other means,” pronounces Durito. And adds: “In the millenary struggle between the fanatics of the PS and the Xbox there can only be one loser: the player.” I did not venture to ask him what he meant by that, but I suppose that more than one will understand.
P.S. TOO LONG TO FIT IN A “TWEET” (it must be due to the bulkiness of the bill).- The self-titled “governor” of Chiapas, Mexico, has solemnly declared that his administration “has tightened its belt” with an austerity program. As an example of his decision, more that 10 million dollars have been spent on a national publicity campaign whose enormity and cost do not make it less ridiculous…and illegal. But since some media outlets carry off their share, the “beardless,” “inexperienced,” and “immature” employee of a business which is not a party, nor green, nor environmentalist, nor from Mexico (well, he is not even governor, so for what does one get held up in details) is now, in the pages and segments of the same press which attacked him for being an “amateur,” a “Statesman” who does not spend on his personal promotion, but “on attracting tourism to Chiapas.” Yes my dear, now the touristic agencies launch the tour package “Get to know the Güero Velasco,” in the “all included” plan which comes with a “kit” with blinders to not see the paramilitary groups, nor the poverty and crime which abound in the principal Chiapanecan cities (Tuxtla Guitérrez, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán, Tapachula, Palenque), in an entity where it is supposed that the indigenous are the poor, not the mestizos. If the great thief, Juan Sabines Guerrero, paid a fortune to the media to simulate government where there only was plunder, the current “junior” of local politics pays more because he has learned, from the current holder of the Federal Executive (I think that he is called Enrique Manlio Emilio…right? do you now see the bad side of not having an account in twitter?), that it is possible to pass from a judicial investigation to a list of presidential candidates for 2018, with only some tens of millions of dollars, a good Photoshop, and a rosy soap opera.
P.S. ON REITERATED CIRCUMSTANCE.- Allow me, sir, madam, boy, girl, other. Allow me to, irrelevant to the end, not allow you to close the door and be left alone, brooding over your frustration and looking for responsibles, which is just like those who have a fixed alter and a changeable idol writhe. And if I do not use my foot to stop you from closing the door and staying safe in your castle of dogmas, and, in exchange, stick my nose in where I don’t belong, blame it on my nose, already intrusive per se in size and form. Go on, allow me to interrupt your hatred, muffled, dry, sterile, useless.
Come, calm yourself, take a seat, breathe deeply. Be strong and behave with studied prudence, like those couples which separate “like mature people” even though they are dying to smash the aforementioned’s face in.
So, when you get something is it from your effort alone? Ah, but when you gather up a defeat, then you democratize responsibility…and you exclude yourselves. “The forums are a farce,” you pronounced. “Masked people are not accepted,” you decreed (and don’t even think about putting up a complaint on CONAPRED for discriminating based on form of dress. “Only we alone will triumph and the Nation will be eternally grateful to us, our names will be in text books, congresses, statues, museums,” you rejoiced in advance.
Later what happened happened and, as before, now you turn to see who to fault for the failure of that struggle above. “A lack of unity,” you say, but think “a lack of them subordinating to our leadership.”
The plunder disguised as a constitutional reform did not begin in this government. It began to be formalized with Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his reform of Article 27. The agrarian plunder was then “covered by the same lies which now wrap up the mis-named reforms: now the Mexican countryside is completely destroyed, as if a package of atomic bombs had devastated it. And it happens now with all of the reforms. Gasoline, electricity, education, justice, everything will be more expensive, of worse quality, more scarce.
Before that and even before the current reforms, the native peoples were and are plundered of their territories, which are also the Nation’s. The modern liquid gold, water and not petroleum, has been stolen without that calling the attention of the great media outlets. The theft of the subsoil, so clearly denounced in the Tata Juan Chávez Alonso seminar by the Indigenous National Congress, just received a few apathetic lines in the paid press which today laments that THE PEOPLE, that pipe dream so much as a political media way, does not do anything to stop the legal and illegitimate theft which is titled “energy reform.” The plunder is every day and everywhere. But it is until now that it is said that the Homeland was betrayed.
And now you, who used to be deaf, become angry because they do not listen to you nor follow you.
And you say that nothing is being done because you do not see anything. You say and it is said: “what matters is what I do or what under my supervision, on my calendar, and in my geography is done. Everything else, does not exist because I do not see it.”
And how can you see something if you use the blinders which Power gives you?
Now you discover that the State not only renounces being a buffer in the gale of plunders which is Neoliberalism, but, in addition, rushes to dispute the crumbs that the true Power throws it?
Look, what happens is that the world is round, it spins, changes. And of little or no use to you is that catalog of dualisms: left and right, reactionary and progressive, old and modern, and synonyms and antonyms so in style in the politics of above.
Look, what occurs is, plain and simple, that your thought is decrepit.
And it began to expire in the very moment in which you decided to embrace the one from above (using the old trick—which is now reverted for you—of right-left-progressive-reactionary, inventing alibis for yourself and dressing them in the same words which today ensnare you), forgetting that those from above do not accept embraces but rather kneeling.
No, it is not that you do not have ideas and flags. It is only that they are rickety. It does not matter how much modernity you dress them in, nor how many high-sounding words are said around them, nor how many tweets repeat them, nor how many “likes” and comments they convoke.
You, who hoped for a proclamation, anonymous blood spilt, the bugle with its warlike tone, the eight columns, the images with blood offered up on the altar of the Homeland which, of course, all of you are to redeem.
/ No my dear, if I tell you that Zapatismo is no longer what it was before, do you remember how almost 20 years ago we were excited by the images of the so anonymous dead who did not achieve neither face nor name, so far away, so indigenous, so Chiapanecan? / By the way, is Ocosingo in the Middle East? / Ah, and your initiatives, so brilliant when there was a stage for us. / On the other hand, who can take seriously someone who declines to sign up for the fashionable mobilization or movement? (note: it is not the same, learn to tell the difference) Or to analyze it, classify it, judge it, archive it? / That said, they are finished, now they do not even invite the press to their celebrations, what can they celebrate if not our absolution or condemnation? / Ah, but what we will never pardon those Zapatones for, is not only that they have not all died—and with it that they have denied us the right to administer their deaths in the long labyrinth of mausoleums, ballads, the “you have not died comrade, your death will be administered”—but also that they have made their dead so…so…so rebellious /.
And nothing, which instead of that…postscripts!
I already know that you do not care, but for the masked women and men here, the struggle which matters is not that which has been won or lost. It is that which continues, and for it calendars and geographies are prepared.
There are no definitive battles, neither for victors nor for vanquished. The struggle will continue, and those who now delight in triumph will see their world collapse.
About the rest, do not worry. You have not lost anything because you have not really struggled for anything. The only thing that you have done is delegate to another obtaining the monopoly of a victory that will never arrive.
The one above will fall, without a doubt. But his fall will not be the product of a struggle that is monopolized, exclusive, and a fanatic of itself.
If you like, keep pulling from above, you will celebrate each small movement of the monolith, but the rope will break time and time again.
Statues and authoritarianisms are knocked over from below, in a way that there is no foundation left for a new bust to replace the old.
In the meantime, and it is my humble opinion, the only thing that is worth doing up above is what the birds do: shitting.
Vale de helado de nuez, even if it’s cold out.
El Sup getting ready for…
Translated from Spanish by Henry Gales.
Originally published on December 22nd, 2013.