The Star of Morning

Brothers and Sisters of the CONTACT COORDINADORAS Of the Mexican Province:

Welcome to La Realidad.

We want to express our appreciation for your having accepted our invitation to this working meeting. We have the honor of having compañeros and compañeras from many corners of our country with us. I am going to ask all of you to greet our being here as we zapatistas ourselves do, that is, with applause. I therefore ask for greetings for Northern Baja California, Southern Baja California, Chihuahua (especially to our indigenous brothers from the Tarahumara Sierra, the Rarámuri compañeros), Michoacán, State of Mexico, Puebla, Guerrero, from Jalisco, from Oaxaca, from Querétaro, from Guanajuato, from Coahuila, from Hidalgo, from Quintana Roo, from Campeche, from Colima, from Morelos, from Tlaxcala, from Chiapas. We also send greetings to the brothers and sisters from Veracruz and Tabasco, who were not able to attend because they are helping the persons affected by the rains. A similar greeting for Tlanepantla-Atizapán, who is not attending because of a public activity that was impossible to cancel. The rest of the compañeros and compañeras are not present because of financial reasons.

I would like to give everyone a short report on how the coordinadoras are doing at a national level.

A. - Up to this point, there are 47 CONTACT COORDINADORAS registered throughout the country.

B. - There are 17 STATE COORDINADORAS. Aguascalientes (Aguascalientes), Southern Baja California (La Paz), Colima (Colima), Guanajuato (Irapuato), Guerrero (Chilpancingo and Acapulco), Hidalgo, with regional links in Sierra-Central, Sur, Valle de Mezquital, Antiplano and Huasteca (Pachuca, Tulancingo, Tula, Ixmiquilpan, Tizayuca, Huejutla, Ajacuba, Zapotlán), Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán.

C. There are 5 MUNICIPAL COORDINADORAS. Chihuahua-Aladama-Chihuahua, Chihuahua-Justicia and Dignidad-Chihuahua, Chihuahua-Chihuahua, Toluca-State of Mexico and Puebla-Puebla.

D. There are 12 REGIONAL COORDINADORAS. Northern Baja California-Tijuana, Southern Baja California-Marlin, Coahuila-Torreón, Chiapas-Los Altos region, Chiapas-Northern region, Chihuahua-Rarámuri, Northern region-State of Mexico, Izúcar de Matamóros-Puebla, Norte-Sur-Centro-Puebla, Rural region of Puebla, Tamazunchale-SLP, regional Mérida-Yucatan.

E. There are 13 SPECIAL COORDINADORAS. Alvaro Obregón-DF, Azcapotzalco-DF, Coyoacán-DF, Cuauhtémoc-DF, Iztapalapa-DF, Magdalena Contreras-DF, Tlalpan-DF, Venustiano Carranza-DF, Ecatepec-State of Mexico, Naucalpan-State of Mexico, Tlalnepantla-State of Mexico, Nezahualcóyotl-State of Mexico, Southeastern region-State of Mexico.

In addition, the compañeros and compañeras of Zacatecas, Nayarit, Sinaloa (Guamuchil region), Coacalco-State of Mexico, Jalisco and Ciudad Juárez-Chihuahua are also all discussing the possibility of becoming CONTACTO.

Much remains to report on and to discuss. The greatest part of this belongs to you, and we want to listen to you attentively. This is what we have invited you to this meeting for, for you to talk with us, and so that the words that each one of you are bringing can also be a bridge with the others, who have the same determination and the same headaches because of these 7 tasks.

We well know that you all have had to sacrifice something in order to attend this meeting at this time. Many of you have sacrificed your days of rest, others have sacrificed being close to their dead and honoring them, as we speak with and honor our dead in Mexico. Yes, many Mexicans will be turning around over these days to look at our dead, and we send to the earth our memories, the memories they left for us. With our dead we talk, we sing, and by times we laugh, perhaps that is why our dead seem so alive.

We also know that the trip has been long and hard, and that the federales made it even longer and harder. But that is just how it is. They, the ones from the government, do not want to see us accompanied, they want to see us alone and far away from everyone, without anyone giving our word a place, without any voices for our ear. That is what they want, and now they can see that that is not happening, because here you are, then, and here we are. Or, it could be that there is heart for our word, and there is good land for the words that all of your steps bring.

And, imposing on your patience, but taking advantage of the flight they are still bringing, I would like you to allow me to tell you a history, a history that has to do with seven, with sacrifice, with ancestors, with the land, with the word.

The story I am going to tell you comes from very far away. And I am not speaking of distance, nor of time, but of depth. Because the stories that birthed us do not walk through time nor space, no, they are just there, being, and, in being, life is above them and makes the skin more double, because such is life and such is the world, the skin with which history wraps itself up warmly, in order to be. And just like that, histories gather together, one above the other, and the very oldest are quite deep, very far away. That is why, when I say that the history I am going to recount to you comes from very far away, I am not speaking of many kilometers, or of years, or of centuries. When the oldest of the old of our peoples speak of stories that come from far away, they point to the earth in order to teach us that that is where the words that walk truths are. Dark is the earth and dark is the dwelling where the first word, the true, rests. That is why our very first fathers and mothers had dark skin. That is why those who carry history on their shoulders go about with faces the color of night.

The history of the worlds that make this world comes from very far away. It is not to be found hanging from a book or painted on a tree. It is not in the flowing of a river nor in the flight of a cloud. The history of the worlds is not read in our using up of calendars. The history of how we were birthed and how we were made is not concealed behind letters, nor paper, no. This history is very far away, it is very deep then, very much within. But it is not the history of this world in which so many worlds walk that I am going to recount to you. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps all histories are the daughters and mothers of the first history, of the most distant, of the most profound, of the most true.

The oldest of the old who inhabit these mountains recount that there were already many men and women living in this world before there was day. Large was the number of people and everything continued being night and water. The sky was as if asleep. And it was so because the greatest of gods, those who gave birth to the world, the very first, were sleeping. These first gods had worked for a very long time. Making a new world is very tiring. They were sleeping, then, the most great gods, and the sky accompanied them in sleep. The very first gods dreamt on beds of night and water. They had already made the mountains, which was the first earth they had plucked from the water. And some were level and others were rent and thus there were mountains, valleys and breaks. The first earth was mountains. That is why, say our oldest of the old, that it is in the mountain where the very first history lives, the one that is the most far away.

When the men and women tired of so much water and night, they set about much protesting and quarrelling. These men and women who were many made a lot of ruckus, yes, but they were the first who walked the world, and there were already many colors painting their skins and words. With so much noise, the most first gods, the most great, awoke, and they asked the men and women who were living in the world why they were doing so much yelling. All of them began speaking at the same time, and shouting, and grabbing the word and fighting to see who would talk the most and the strongest, and so they carried on.

They did not much understand, the first gods, who were great and had birthed the world, but they could not understand what the men and women wanted, because they were not speaking, but just yelling and fighting. And the first gods were able to sleep less, and then they called to the men and women who had been made of maize, the true ones, and they asked them what was happening.

The men and women of maize had hearts of the word, and they knew well that it is not with shouting or fighting that the word walks in order to embrace men and women. Because, when the flower of the word was born, the most great gods, those who birthed the world, the very first, planted it in the hearts of these men and women of maize, because truth is good earth for bearing and growing the word. But that is another history.

It happens that these men and women of maize went to speak with the first gods. "So here we are," they said. And the gods asked: "Why do those men and women fight so much? Do they not know that such great noise they are making will not allow us to sleep? What do they want then?"

"They want light," said the true men and women to the most great gods.

"Light," said the first gods. "Light," repeated the true men and women. The gods looked at each other and one could clearly see that they were pretending not to know anything, because certainly someone had to know of the light, but they said nothing. "Wait," the most great gods asked the true men and women, and they went to make an assembly and they were some time, perhaps because it simply takes a long time to reach great accords, because light was not a small thing, it was, after all, light.

The gods returned then and they told the true men and women: "The light is just there, but it is not here."

"Where is the light then?" asked the men and women of maize.

"There," said the gods, pointing to the seven points that guide the world. And the 7 points that mark the world are in front and behind, one side and the other, above and below, and the center is the seventh point and the first.

The gods pointed to one of the sides and their word followed: "The light is very heavy, that is why we did not bring it. It remained there. It weighs much. Not even we who are first gods could carry it and bring it, that is why it remained there." The first gods stayed silent and saddened, because even though they were the most great, those who birthed the world, they had not been able to carry the light that the men and women needed in order to walk the worlds that make the world. And the most saddened of all was Hurakán, also named Caculhá Hurakán, which means "bolt with one foot" or "lightening," because, even though he was very great and powerful, he had not been able to carry the light because he had but one foot.

The men and women of maize, the true ones, remained thinking. But, since great was the shouting of the men and women, they went up a mountain, and there they remained silent in order to seek the word, and, in silence, they found it. And the word spoke to them, saying that what was needed was to make something that could carry the light, even though it was very heavy, and for it not just remain on the other side. "That is it then!" said the true men and women, "we just need to make something in order to carry the light and bring it here." "Alright then," the men and women of maize said once more.

And then they set abut thinking how to make that something that could carry the light and bring it from very far away to this side. And they thought about what they could make that something out of, and they saw that the earth was good. But the earth crumbled when they just put a bit together. And then they threw water on it, and then it held a bit, but, when it dried, it crumbled once again. And then they grabbed a bit of earth, and they threw a bit of water on it, and they brought it close to the fire, and it became strong and resistant for a time, but then the fire itself broke it with its heat. And then they got the idea of blowing on it when it was by the fire. And they saw that in that way the earth held enough, helped by the water, fire and wind. It was thus that, ever since then, clay has served for carrying things and for holding things. And the true men and women became very happy, because now they had the something with which to carry the light that was very far away.

And then they set about thinking what form to give the something that would bring the light to this side. And then they thought that, of all the things that walked and were in the world, the human being had the best form, and then they thought to give the something the form of a human being, the something that would carry the light, in order to bring it to the world of everyone. And so they made it a head, its two legs and its two arms. And the men and women of maize became so very happy, because now the cart that would bring the light, carrying it from afar, had substance and form.

But that something was very dark, and it was certain that it would become lost in the road, because everything was just night and water, and the true men and women became very unhappy. But then came Hurakán, the heart of the sky, as they also call the lightening, the thunder, the storm, who walks on but one foot, but who is strong and shines. And the heart of the sky, also called "Hurakán," carved the skin of the dark something in order to give it the brightness of his one foot, and he carved it much, and he scraped the heart of the sky, and finally that something shone, but now his form was not that of one head with two arms and two legs, but with so much scraping it had been sharpened, and now it had 5 points: one where the head was, two where the arms were, and two more where the legs had been. But that something with five points still shone somewhat, and the true men and women became happy, because with that brightness it would surely not become lost in the road while going and carrying back the light that was far away and so heavy.

And now everything seemed to be ready, but that something did not move. It did shine and it was strong and it even looked pretty with its five points, but no walking. And the true men and women pushed it quite a bit, but it just stayed right there. "And now what?" the men and women of maize asked. "We'll see," they responded, and they scratched their heads in order to see if the idea would come out like that, and, because of that, ever since then, men and women - when they do not know - will scratch their heads in order to see if the idea is stuck there, or sleeping. But no matter how much they scratched, they did not find their idea.

And they went to ask the oldest of the old of their community. And this is what the oldest of the old told them: "That something does not walk because it does not have a heart, only things with hearts walk."

And then the true men and women became happy, because now they knew why what they had made was not walking. And then they said: "Let us put a heart in this that we have made, so that it can walk and go and bring the light that is far away and weighs so much." But they did not know how, or what to make the heart out of for that something, and then they ripped out the hearts that each and every one of them carried in their chests, and they put all the hearts together and they made a very large heart, and they put it in the center of the five points of the something they had made. And that something began to move and the men and women of maize were very happy, because even though they had given up their hearts, in that way they had made that something move.

But the something walked from one side to the other, and it came and went and it made turns and leaps, and no matter how much they pushed it and pointed out the side it should be walking on, it would just not head out, or, it would not take hold of the path once and for all. And, after much scratching of their heads, the true men and women despaired a bit, and they went once again to ask the oldest of the old of their village: "It moves now because we gave it heart, but it walks from one side to the other, it does not head out on the good path that we want. So what are we to do?" they asked.

And the oldest of the old responded: "Those things that have hearts move, but only those who have thought can have destiny and path."

And once again the men and women of maize became happy and they said to each other: "Now we know how to give destiny and path to that which we made." "Yes," they said, "let us give it thought from where we gave it feeling," and from their chests they pulled out the good word, the true, and they went, and with it they kissed that something that moved so much, and, yes, that something remained still for a bit, and then it spoke and asked: "Where should I go and what should I do?"

The true men and women applauded, because they had now birthed what would carry the light that weighed so much and was so far away, in order to bring it to illuminate all the men and women of all the worlds. And thus that something was made, which was very great and powerful, and seven were the elements that formed it: the earth, water, fire, air, lightning, heart and word. And ever since then, seven are the elements that give birth to and make new and good worlds. And then the men and women of maize applauded, and then they told the something where it should go and what it should do, and they even gave it a mecapal [note: headband used to help carry things on one's back] to help it, because they well knew that the light was so heavy that not even the most great gods, those who birthed the world, the very first, had been able to carry it.

And the something left, and it was gone for some time. And, sitting in the mountain, the true men and women passed a good bit of time, looking at one and the other side. And night continued and nothing moved. And the men and women of maize did not despair, they were calm, because they knew well that the light would just arrive, because that was why they had given heart and word to the one who would have to carry and bring the light, no matter that it was so far away and was so heavy.

And so it passed that, some time later, that something could be seen, far off, slowly returning. Step by tiny step, it was coming over to this side, walking the sky. And, once it arrived, another time passed, and then the light arrived behind it, and there was sun and there was day and the men and women of the world were joyful and they continued on their path in that way, seeking with the light, seeking who knows what, because certainly everyone is seeking something, but everyone is seeking.

This is the story I wanted to recount to you, the story of how light arrived to this world. Perhaps you think this is just a story or a legend, like those that inhabit the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Perhaps. But if you were to keep vigil over the night that embraces our lands, you could see, at daybreak, to the east, a star. She announces the day. Some call her "the star of daybreak" or "morning star." Scientists and poets have called her "Venus." But our most ancient called her "ICOQUIH," which means "she who carries the world on her shoulders" or "she who carries the sun on her back." We name her "the star of morning," because she announces that night is about to end and that another morning is arriving. This star, made by the men and women of maize, the true ones, walks with feeling and thought, and it arrives by law, that is, at daybreak.

And, if I recount this history to you, it is not to divert you and to take away your time you need to look at all the things that you have to look at in this meeting. No. I am telling it to you because this history that comes from so far away reminds us that it is through thinking and feeling that the light arrives that helps us to seek. With heart and head we must be bridge, so that the men and women of all the worlds may walk from night to day.

Brothers and sisters of the Coordinadoras of the Province of Mexico:

Welcome to the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. The mountains of our very first, the mountains of all of you, our mountains. The place where the guardian of the word, Votán-Zapata, lives, whom they also call the guardian and heart of the people, the dark clay that shines very slightly, barely enough to not lose his way along the path by which he must bring, carrying in the mecapal of history, that light that is expelled from below every night by those of above, and which always returns, to the anger of the powerful and the happiness of the small, from the east and at dawn. Welcome to La Realidad.

Welcome to this meeting which is seeking, with feeling and thought, to make us bridges for the worlds that walk the night of this world, and which, like all of us, are seeking the way to bring the morning, and to give birth to it in the only possible way, that is, collectively.

Welcome to zapatista land, which means "rebel and dignified land." Welcome to this land where poverty is pain and hope, and is a weapon in the struggle for all Mexican men and women to have...




>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
- General Command, of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
La Realidad of Mexico,
October of 1999.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
Translated by irlandesa

October 31, 1999.

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