The story of the noise and the silence

February 14, 1997

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Health and hellos (believe me that amongst so many airplanes, helicopters and tanks, one and the other is necessary). Here goes a letter attached to mark the betrayal of a year ago (in harmony with the cacophony) and the betrayal of two years ago. In spite of one and the other we are still here. You don't seem to be faring too well. Here the only games are the head games (because of the rocks from Beto's slingshot) and there are no potential candidates who fall ill. I'd like to take the opportunity to salute the people of Ecuador. Too bad someone doesn't teach those who govern Mexico to sing. Then maybe...

Health and remember that the flag celebrated this 24th belongs to us as well.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, February 1997

P.S. WHICH ASKS (SPECIFICALLY IN REGARDS TO THE HYSTERICAL LITTLE SCREAMS OF THE YO-YO IN THE STATE OF HIDALGO) - That about "not validating the political interests of false redeemers" is a ...self-criticism? That about the "fragmentation of the Mexican nation"...does it refer to the orders obeyed at Los Pinos which are issued from Dublin? That about "we cannot accept that demagogic positions be nurtured under the guise of the indigenous cause and illegitimate aspirations for power"...does it mean that the PRI will modify its electoral strategy? And, last of all, were the red bandannas awarded to the "vote carriers" (well, that way we may save...) (Remember Salinas and the "vote carriers" inaugurating the hospital at Guadalupe Tepeyac).

P.S. WHICH ACTUALIZES A STORY WHICH IS 174 YEARS OLD. "Once there was a parrot which knew no other word except "victory." Yes sir, days came and went, and in one of them when our poor parrot was sitting carelessly on its perch, a hawk put its eye on it and carried it away through the airs of God. Looking at the sad green between its claws, it began to complain, but it could not say any other word except the one it knew by memory. Each peck the hawk took out of it would elicit a yell of "victory"; another peck, another "victory"; and in this way it was ripped apart as it said "victory" all the while
(The Victory of the Parrot. The Mexican Thinker. Jose Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi, October 11, 1823).

Today, "victory" is substituted by "democracy", "independence" or justice. The role of the parrot can be played by any bureaucrat of your preference.

Speaking of anniversaries and lies, Mister Ruiz Ferro marks two years since he usurped the Chiapanecan government. In exchange for not being sent to Almoloya (the prison), Ferro dictates editorials and news bulletins while the military govern. In Ecuador, the hypocrites and pretenders are expelled, in Chiapas they are appointed interim governors.

P.S. Which says what should be said. It rained a lot. The sea of rain rocked the tiredness which love had given it and on the little cassette player, Mercedes Sosa unthreaded that song which said "My thanks to life which has given me so much..."

It was dawn and the airplane had already growled death over the dark mountains of the Mexican southeast. I was remembering Neftali Reyes, the self-named "Pablo Neruda" in that poem which says "may the hour arrive at its time in that pure instant, and may the people fill the empty streets with their fresh and firm dimension. Here is my tenderness until then. You are familiar with it. I have no other banner". The clock of the war marked "February 14th 1997. 10 years earlier in 1987 it rained the same. There was no sea of rain, nor tape recorder, nor airplane, only the dawn circled our guerrilla camp. Old Man Antonio came to chat. He arrived with the afternoon and a sack of tostadas. There was no one else in the kitchen of the camp besides he and I. The pipe and the rolled cigarette competed with the smoke which came out of the folds of the fire. We could not speak however, except by yelling. It seemed silent, but the rain shredded every corner of the night and there was not a sane part anywhere. The noise of rain hung on the roof of trees the mountain used to cloak itself, and another noisy rain was on the ground. Double was the noise of the rain below, and the one filtered by the trees above, and the one which already made the ground moan. In the middle, there was another sound, the one from the plastic sheets we used as cover which spoke the rain of February in the jungle. Noise above, below, in the middle. There was no corner for the word. That is why I was surprised when I clearly heard the voice of Old Man Antonio who, without losing the rolled cigarette from his lips, began to tell a story...


"Once there was a moment in time, when time did not measure itself. In that time, the greatest gods, the ones who birthed the world, were walking as gods do, dancing of course. There was much noise at that time, from every direction came voices and yells. There was much noise, and none could be understood. And it was that the noise there was, was not for understanding anything, but for NOT understanding anything. At first, the first gods believed that the noise was music and dance and quickly they chose a partner and began to dance like that"

and Old Man Antonio stood up and tried a dance step which consisted of standing on one foot and then the other.

"But it seems as though the noise was not music or dance it was only noise, and so one could not be dancing and be happy. Then the great gods stopped to listen attentively because they wanted to know what it was the noise was saying, but they couldn't because it was only noise. And since one cannot dance to noise, the first gods, the ones who birthed the world could no longer walk because they could only do so by dancing so they were saddened by having to stop because the first gods were fervent walkers, the first ones. And one of the gods tried to walk or to dance himself with the noise but could not because the step would be lost and on the path one would run into the other, trip and fall with rocks and trees and hurt themselves."

Old Man Antonio stopped to re-light the cigarette the rain and the noise had extinguished. After the fire, the smoke came, after the smoke came the word.

"Then the gods searched for silence in order to re-orient themselves, but they could not find it anywhere, they did not know where it had gone. And the gods became desperate because they could not find the silence which held the path and so in an assembly of gods they came to an agreement which was very difficult because of all the noise. They finally agreed that each should seek a silence in order to find themselves and they began to look to the sides and could find nothing above and there was nothing below and since there was no other place to find the silence, they looked inside themselves and there they sought silence and found it there and found one another and found their path once again, those great gods who birthed the world, the first ones.

Old Man Antonio was silent, the rain was silent as well. The silence was short. Quickly the crickets came to tear apart the past pieces of that night of ten years ago.

The mountain had dawned when Old Man Antonio said good bye with a "I arrived". And I stayed smoking the little pieces of silence which the dawn had forgotten on the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

Vale once again.
Health and may the noise lead you to find the silence once again, may the silence help you to find the path, and may the path help us to find one another...

The Sup sneezing because of the "demagogic positions and illegitimate aspirations for political power" being played out on a wet ceiba tree.

To the Mexico page