Of light, flower and dawn


November 1, 1999.

"Canek thought it but he did not say it.
The Indians who were close to him guessed it.
At the moment of the attack,
the Indians in front had to wait for the enemy to fire.
Then the Indians behind would move forward
walking over their dead."
"Canek. History and Legend of a Mayan Hero."
Ermilo Abreu Gómez.

Compañeros and compañeras of the Provincial Coordinadoras:

We want to thank all of you for these days you have been with us. Seeing you, knowing you to be close, our hearts have grown, and we are now better and stronger. We see you and we see people, men and women, who are committed to a struggle, to a cause, which is ours and which is also yours. By coming, you have given us a greater strength that will help us to resist better and longer. That is why we want to thank you. I know that you may perhaps not understand me, but your being here is very, but very, lovely.

Among all of our peoples - our compañeros and compañeras Tojolobales, Tzotziles, Tzeltales, Choles, Mames, Zoques, Mestizos - your coming to us is received with hope, and they not only hope that everything has turned out well, as it certainly has, but they are also waiting for us to inform them about what was spoken of here, discussed and agreed to.

On this day, in all of our villages, in our mountains, the dead are walking, returning to us, and they are once again talking and listening to us. In all the huts, in all the camps, in a small place an ofrenda is greeting our dead and inviting them to eat, to laugh, to smoke, to take coffee, to dance. Yes, to dance, because our dead are indeed dancers. Dancers, and they also love to talk, our dead. They recount histories to us. Because it was through recounting histories that our very first ones taught and learned to walk. And so our dead have the same way, as do we, also, the dead that we are.

Days of flowers are the days of the dead in our mountain. And, if the story I recounted to you yesterday was of light, star and dawn, today's is of light, flower and dawn.

The oldest of the old of our communities recount that our very first ones were already living in rebel struggle, because the powerful had already been subjugating and killing for much time. The powerful is so because he drinks the blood of the weak. And so the weak become weaker and the powerful more powerful. But there are weak ones who say Ya Basta! and who rebel against the powerful and give their blood, not to fattening the great, but to feeding the small. And so it has been for a very long time.

And, if there has been rebellion ever since, there has also been punishment ever since, with which the powerful punishes the rebel. Today there are jails and graves to punish the rebel, before there were houses of punishment.

And 7 were the houses of punishment that existed before in order to punish the rebel, and there are 7 today as well, but they bear different names.

The 7 of our first ones were:

The Dark House had no light at all inside it. Total darkness and emptiness in the Dark House. The one who went there went astray and became lost and he no longer returned nor did he leave, he died lost.

The Cold House had a very icy and strong wind inside it that froze everything that entered there, cold for the heart and cold for the feelings. The human of the humans, then, was killed.

The House of Tigers had nothing but tigers closed up inside it, ravenous and ferocious. These tigers crept into the souls of those who inhabited the house, and they filled the soul with hatred of everything and everyone. With hate and in hate, then, it killed.

The House of Bats had only bats who screeched and cried and chewed, and, in chewing, they would suck the faith out of the one who entered there, and he would no longer believe in anything, and, skeptical, he would die.

The House of Blades had many sharp and keen blades inside it, and the one who entered there would have his head, or his thinking, cut off, and so he would die then without thinking, death of understanding.

The House of Sorrow had nothing but sorrow, and such was the sorrow that the one that inhabited it would go mad, and, in sorrow, would forget that there are other and different, forgetting and forgetting, dying the death without memory.

The House Without Desire had an emptiness inside it that consumed all desire to live, to fight, to love, to feel, to walk, of the one who entered there, and then he was left empty, dead although alive, because to live without desire is to live dead.

And these were the 7 houses for the rebel, for the one who would not accept, passively, that his blood would fatten the powerful and his death would give life to the world of the dead.

And a long time ago there lived two rebels. Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué they were called, and they were also called the hunters of the dawn. Evil lived in a deep hole named Xibalbá, from which one had to climb very far in order to reach the good earth.

Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué were rebels against the evil gentlemen who lived in the great house of evil. And then those evil gentlemen ordered that Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué be brought to them through trickery, so that they could come down into their evil abode.

They came, through trickery, then, the hunters of the dawn, and the evil gentlemen closed them up in the Dark House, and they gave them a torch and two cigarettes. They told them they must past the night inside the Dark House, and on the following day they must deliver the whole torch and the two whole cigarettes. And a guard would have to watch all night to see the light from the torch and from the two lit cigarettes. If there were no whole torch and cigarettes the next day, then Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué would die.

The two hunters of the dawn were not afraid, no. Contentedly, they said that was fine, what the evil gentlemen said, and they settled in to the Dark House. And then they used their thinking and they called to the guacamaya, who was the bird who guarded all the colors, and they asked him to lend them red, and with it they painted the end of the torch, and, from far off, it looked as if it were burning. And Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué called to the fireflies, and they asked two of them for their company, and with them they decorated the ends of the two cigarettes, and, from far off ,it certainly looked as if the two cigarettes were lit. And dawn came and the guard informed the evil gentlemen that the torch had been lit all night long and that the two hunters of the dawn had been smoking their cigarettes a lot. And the evil gentlemen became happy because this would give them a good excuse to kill Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué because they had not fulfilled the delivering of the whole torch and the two cigarettes. And then the two hunters of the dawn left the Dark House and they delivered the whole torch and the two cigarettes. And the evil gentlemen became very angry because they did not have a good excuse to kill Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué and they said to each other: "Very and quite intelligent are these rebels, let us seek, then, a good excuse with which to kill them." "Yes," they said, "let them sleep now in the House of Blades, in that way they will inevitably die, with their understanding cut off." "That is not enough," said the other gentleman of evil," because these rebels have much understanding, so they must be given a much harder work, so that they will not carry it out, and, if the blades do not kill them, then we will have a good excuse to do away with them." "That is good," said the evil gentlemen, and they went to where Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué were, and they said to them:

"Now you are going to rest, and we will talk tomorrow then, but we are telling you quite clearly that tomorrow at dawn we want you to give us flowers." And the evil gentlemen laughed a bit because they had already warned the guardians of the flowers to not let anyone approach during the night to cut flowers, and, if someone were to approach, they should attack them and kill them.

"Fine," said the hunters of the dawn," And what colors do you want the flowers to be that we must give you?"

"Red, white and yellow," responded the evil gentlemen, and they added: "And we are making it quite clear that if you do not give us these red, white and yellow flowers tomorrow, then it will be a great offense to us, and we shall kill you."

"Do not worry," said Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué, "Tomorrow you shall have your red, white and yellow flowers."

And the two hunters of the dawn settled in to the House of Blades. And the knives were going to cut them into many pieces when Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué stopped them and said to them, "let's talk." The blades stopped and listened. And this is what the two hunters of the dawn said; "If you cut us, you will have very little. On the other hand, if you do nothing to us, then we will give you the flesh of all the animals." And the knives were in agreement and they did nothing to Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué. And that is why, ever since, knives have been for cutting the flesh of animals, and if a knife cuts human flesh, then the hunters of the dawn pursue it until they make it pay for its crime.

And then Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué were quiet in the House of Blades, their thoughts whole and alive. And they said to each other: "What shall we do now, in order to get the flowers the evil gentlemen want, since we already know that they have alerted their guardians and they will kill us if we approach in order to cut flowers in their gardens." And the two hunters of the dawn remained thinking, and then they realized they needed the support of other little ones, and they called on the cutter ants, and they spoke to them like this: "Little sister cutter ants. We need you to help us in our rebellion because the evil gentlemen want to kill our struggle." "Alright, then," the cutter ants told them, and they asked; "What do we have to do to help your struggle against the evil gentlemen?"

"We are asking you to please go to the gardens and cut the red, white and yellow flowers and bring them here, since we cannot go because the guardians have orders to attack us, but you, since you are little, they will not even look at you and they will not pay attention." "Alright, then," the ants said, "we are very willing because the little most certainly have their own ways of fighting the evil gentlemen, no matter how great or powerful they may be."

And the cutter ants left and they were many but little, and they went in to the gardens and the guardians did not see them because very little were the ants. And then the ants began their cutting and carrying, and some cut and others carried, and some cut and carried red flowers, and others cut and carried white flowers, and others cut and carried yellow flowers. And they quickly finished and they quickly carried took the flowers to where the two hunters of the dawn were. Upon seeing the flowers, Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué became very happy, and this is how they spoke to the cutter ants: "Thank you very much, little sisters, your power is great although little, and since we are so grateful to you, then you shall always be many, and nothing great will be able to attack you." And that is why they say that ants always resist, and, no matter how big the ones who are attacking them, they cannot be defeated.

The next day the evil gentlemen came and the two hunters of the dawn gave them the flowers they wanted. And the evil gentlemen were now surprised to see that the blades had not cut them, but they were even more surprised when they saw the red, white and yellow flowers that Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué gave them, and then those evil gentlemen became very angry and they set about looking for other excuses to do away with the rebel hunters of the dawn.

Brothers and sisters:

This is the history our dead bring us and how they talk with us. They bring us their word so that we will walk with it. Because only by walking over our dead, only in that way, will we advance.

And I believe that this history that our very first ones recounted to us, and which I am recounting to you on these days of the dead, can be walked in many ways. And all of us who are little find ourselves in this history. And by times we are the hunters of the dawn, thinking up ways of resisting the lies of the powerful, and for that we bring the lights of the other little ones. And by times we are the guacamaya who lend our colors in order to paint resistance. And by times we are fireflies, adorning the loneliness of little brothers. And by times we are good thinkers in order to talk to and set aright those who take us to be rivals, when others are their enemies. And by times we are ants who know how to make, from their little selves, a strong fight and support for the one waiting for death.

And I believe that is what we all are, you and we, color, light, good word that convinces and sets aright, small force which, when added together, becomes great.

During these meetings, we have discovered that we can give and receive support and help, that the contact is not just between the EZLN and civil society, it is also between the EZLN and you as compañera Coordinadoras, and it is also between you as sister Coordinadoras. And, in this relationship which we are learning to have, by times we will give color, by times light, by times word that puts right, and by times we will be a multiplying force, a small rebellion that joins together and becomes a great challenge for those who oppress and deceive.

And now I want to ask you for us to be a multiplying force and compañera light for two goods that are resisting and, in resisting, offending the powerful.

The one is being made by the UNAM students who are holding a strike demanding free public education for all of us. Hounded by the evil gentlemen, these young university students will know how to find the understanding that will make them strong and powerful. We will have to go back to our lands and join together greetings and support which, like flowers, we will have to send them in order to make them know that we little ones are helping them and supporting them.

That is why I am asking all of you, in your respective states, regions and municipalities, to explain the struggle of the UNAM students and to send those men and women, striking students, all the greetings that we join together. Each one knows their own ground and their sky and knows how much and what they can send and when. I am asking you to accompany us, the zapatistas, in this collective greeting that we are raising for those students who are fighting for us for free education.

That is why I am asking if you are in agreement, compañeros and compañeras of the Provincial Coordinadoras.

The other good that is being persecuted and hounded is the one called the "Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez" Human Rights Center (PRODH). The persons who work there have been persecuted, threatened and assaulted by the government. One of them, the lawyer Digna Ochoa y Plácido, has been kidnapped, persecuted and threatened. On October 28, 1999, during the evening hours, she was at the point of being assassinated by persons who were asking her about the rebels of Mexico. The place where she works, "Agustín Pro," was attacked the following day, and death threats were left in the building.

The persons who work in the "Agustín Pro" Center defend the human rights of all the persecuted, assassinated, imprisoned and disappeared by the government. In addition to defending the little, the brothers and sisters of "Agustín Pro" denounce the evil government for their policies of human rights violations. That is why they want to silence them with threats, with attacks and with death.

So it goes in Mexico. Those who assassinate and rob are the government, they are free and unpunished. Those who defend life and rights are persecuted and assassinated.

We cannot remain silent in the face of this attack. Not just because they are attacking people who have never been, nor ever will be, silent if any Mexican man or woman's human rights are attacked. But also because we should never remain silent in the face of any attack against the little, which is all of us.

That is why I am asking you that together, you and we, demand:

An immediate end to the acts of physical and psychological aggression against the members of the "Agustín Pro" Human Rights Center.

That the Mexican State fulfill its obligation of respecting, protecting and defending the professional work of lawyers and human rights defenders.

That the proper authorities take sufficient and effective measures to guarantee the personal security and work of the members of the "Agustín Pro" Human Rights Center.

That the security of the facilities, infrastructure and documents of the "Agustín Pro" Human Rights Center be guaranteed.

That the investigation that has been begun into these attacks present results within the shortest possible period of time.

These five demands are being raised all across the country by non-governmental, social and honest political organizations and by individuals. That is why I am asking you for us to join in these demands, and that the names of each one of the Coordinadoras present at this meeting be added, as well as of the EZLN and of the Coordinadoras who are not present but who are in agreement, to those who are raising them in the face of the governments.

That is why I am asking you if you are in agreement, compañeras and compañeros of the Provincial Coordinadoras attending this encuentro.

Good, compañeros and compañeras. So now we are ending this working meeting. I think it went rather well and that we should repeat it. And I would like to tell you then that we will be inviting you to come and talk with us, sometimes several coordinadoras, sometimes just one. And I would also like to tell you that it would be good if, whenever it is possible due to time and distance, you would also meet among yourselves and talk about your progress, your problems and your doubts.

If there comes a time when you forget what the work is, or where you have to walk, or what must be done, it will be enough to wait for a dawn and to pay attention to the arrival of the "Icoquih," or to see a color, or a small light, or a good word, or an ant. In each one of these things, and in all of them, there will be answers, reasons, paths and challenges, which is all bridges need in order to extend themselves.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Much remains, but now there is less. In all ways, we are now remembering, in the company of our dead, that we are not alone. Not you, not us, nor will any little one now be alone. With everyone, and from the Mexican La Realidad and from all the corners of the country, the flag continues on high, for everyone,


By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee -
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
La Realidad of the Little Ones, México, November of 1999.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
Translated by irlandesa

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