We are in silence - and the silence is not being broken

Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
September of 2002.

For Fernando Ya'nez Munoz, Architect,
>From Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Big Brother:

Please accept the usual greetings, almost as usual as the cold which will soon be clothing the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

As you will remember, it has now been 18 years since I arrived in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, that is, I have reached the age of majority. This is an excellent excuse for writing you, for greeting you and, in passing, for congratulating you, since I have found out that you graduated with honors, which is how zapatistas graduate.

I received the letter where you told me about the project of Professor Sergio Rodri'guez Lascano, the teacher Adriana Lo'pez Monjardi'n and Javier Elorriaga, that of making a magazine whose name, as I understand it, will be Rebeldi'a.

Regarding that, I would like to let you know that we can do nothing less than applaud that intellectual effort and say how good that it is zapatistas who are undertaking that task.

If that magazine, Rebeldi'a, does not follow the path of the publications of the left, it is likely that they will even publish more than one copy and, one fine day, they will launch it publicly, so that the entire world (that is, those who make it and their friends and family) will know of it.

I have never been to a magazine launch, but I imagine that there is a table where those who are presenting the magazine will sit, and they look at each other, asking themselves, not unblushingly, why there are more people at the table than in the audience.

But that is, in fact, assuming that the project doesn't stay shelved.

And, speaking of assumptions, the outlandish idea has occurred to me that you might be present at the improbable launch of Rebeldi'a, and, if so, our voice would be represented in your voice.

After all, it will be a magazine made by zapatistas, and we should be present in some form.

As we are in silence - and the silence is not being broken, but tended - we shall not be able to attend (indeed, I'm taking it as a given here that those who are making the magazine would have the tact to invite us, although I doubt that they'll do so, not out of a lack of courtesy, but because of terror that we would speak of their publication).

If they do not invite us, make yourself the victim and, singing that song of Aute's that says, "passing by here," slam the door and, when they are yawning, ask to speak and come out with one of those lectures that leave wounds. They'll definitely be asleep, but at least they'll have nightmares instead of dreams.

Since I already know that you are asking yourself what you can talk about since we are in silence, I'm sending you some thoughts here that can be used for your presentation.

The problem is that they are written in that sparkling and playful style which is the joy of young and old, and not in the stilted and serious style of the anthropologists, but you can compose them into something very very formal.

Here, then, are the thoughts (bear in mind they I have been very careful to not refer to anything current or to the indigenous law; concerning these topics, the word will come that comes; you also take care not to break the silence).

ONE. The intellectual work of the left should, above all else, be a critical and self-critical exercise.

Since self-criticism is always postponed for the next number, critique, then, becomes the sole motor of thought.

In the case of the left in Mexico, that intellectual work now has, among others, one central objective, the critique of politics and culture, and of history.

TWO. In present-day Mexico, the practice of politics and culture are full of myths.

Ergo, the critique by the left should combat those myths. And there are not a few myths which inhabit the culture.

But there are myths and myths.

There is, for example, the cultural myth which chants: "Enrique Krauze is an intellectual," when we all know that he's nothing but a mediocre businessman.

Or that other one which says: "Mari'a Felix was a diva," when the truth is she was just a professional of herself.

There is the myth that "Viana sells cheaper," when you can get a better price and better quality from any street vendor.

There are also myths in politics:

There is the myth that "The National Action Party is a party of the right."

Actually, it is not a party of the center or the left either.

The PAN is, in reality, nothing more than a placement agency for management positions.

There is also that other myth that "The Democratic Revolutionary Party is a left alternative."

Nor on the other hand, is it an alternative of the center or of the right. The PRD is, simply, not an alternative of anything.

Or you have the myth: "The Institutional Revolutionary Party is a political party." The PRI is, in reality, a cave with 40 thieves who are fruitlessly waiting for their Ali Baba. Or that other myth, so beloved by the stagnant left, that chants: "Going against globalization is like going against the law of gravity."

Opposed to that, throughout the world, are the marginalized of all colors who are defying both of them, and neither physics nor the International Monetary Fund can prevent them.

And there is the myth for which the federal and the Chiapas state governments are paying, and paying dearly, that says: "The zapatistas are finished," when the only thing that the zapatistas are finished with is patience.

I am sure there are other myths I have missed, but I am only mentioning a few.

And I am certain that Rebeldi'a magazine will unclothe them more radically.

And I am not doing it like that, because it is already known that the zapatistas are famous for being "moderate" and "reformist."

That is what the alleged "ultras" of the CGH called us, who are today undoubtedly lining up at the doors of the PRD closest to their hearts, and their wallets, waiting for the chance to run in the next election.

THREE. The rebel is, if you will permit the image, a human being beating himself against the walls of the labyrinth of history. And, so that there is no misinterpretation, it is not that he is pummeling himself in order to look for the path which will lead him to the way out.

No, the rebel beats at the walls because he knows that the labyrinth is a trap, because he knows that there is no way out other than by breaking down the walls.

If the rebel uses his head as a club, it is not because it is a hard head (which it is, have no doubt), but because breaking down the traps of history, along with their myths, is a job that is done with the head, that is, it is an intellectual work.

And so, as a consequence, the rebel suffers from a headache that is so severe and continuous that it makes him forget about the most severe migraine.

FOUR. Among the traps of history is the one which says "all previous times were better."

When the right says that, it is confessing to its reactionary nature. When it is the parliamentary left which puts it forward, it is demonstrating the capitulations of its present.

When it is the center which is speaking, then someone is delirious, because the center does not exist. When the institutional left looks at itself in the mirror of Power and says: "I am a responsible and mature left," it is in reality saying "I am a left which the right finds agreeable."

When the right looks at itself in the mirror of Power and says "what beautiful clothes I am wearing!", it forgets that it is naked.

When the center looks for itself in the mirror of Power, it does not find anything.

FIVE. Neither the forms of struggle nor the times are for the exclusive use of one social sector. Neither autonomy nor resistance are forms of organization and struggle which concern only the Indian peoples.

And let me tell you something here: It is said that the EZLN is an example of the construction of autonomy and resistance.

And yes. For example, every zapatista insurgent is a kind of autonomous municipality, or he does what he wants to do.

And what better resistance than the one which opposes carrying out orders. And all of that is a defect, but it is also a virtue.

There you have the enemy intercepting our communications and finding out that the command is calling for a meeting at the G-spot (note that my double entendres are now in the sublime).

The enemy does his work and sets up an ambush....but no one arrives.

What happened? Was it sexual incompetence? Did the zapatista counterintelligence services function perfectly?

No, if one thoroughly investigates, it would be found that Pa'nfilo did not arrive because he thought it would be better to meet on the other side. Clotilde thought yes, but another day. And Eufrosino did not think, because he was studying a sex education manual in order to see where the G-spot was (by the way, your compa~era is still waiting for you to find it).

Are these not magnificent examples of zapatista autonomy and resistance used as weapons against the enemy?

And, speaking of the G-spot, allow me another digression, since this letter will not be made public.

The new disc by Joaquin Sabina will have, in addition to the song that is not a song that the Sup wrote, another cut which is called 69 G-spot.

I am told that the record will sell like hotcakes (the 69 and the G-spot being the hot), and not because it's a song by the Sup but, rather - between us here - in spite of that.

Now I'm remembering another myth, the one that says "Sabina and the Sup are in love," when the one they both love is Panchito Varona.

But fine, what I want to tell you, about Sabina, is that the other day I was in a village, cutting a blue carnation for the princess, and a support base compa~era arrived in order to show me her son.

"He is called Sabino," she told me.

I made a face like "Sabino?", but I didn't say anything.

The compa~era understood my gesture and clarified: "Yes, Sabino, like the Sabina you're making the songs for. But since this one is male, he came out Sabino and not Sabina."


About my making the songs for Sabina.

If they find out, they won't give us even one percent of the royalties.

Where was I?

Ah yes! In myths, in politics and in culture, in the continuous headaches of the rebels in their zeal for breaking the traps of history.

SIX. The fundamental myth for why the Power is what it is, is in history.

Not in history as such, but in the one it invents for its convenience.

In that history, in the history of Power, the struggle of those of below, for example, is made up of nothing but defeats, betrayals and capitulations.

You know very well that we are full of scars that do not close. Some of them, the minority, are those bestowed by heartlessness.

The majority are those of our history, that of below, and, in our case, that of the most below, the underground, the clandestine.

It is not that there have been no defeats and betrayals there, but not only those.

The river which carries it has more heroism and generosity than meanness and egoism.

And, speaking of history, I'm now remembering when I met you, 22 years ago, you and Lucha, in the house we called La Mina.

And it was La Mina not because it contained a treasure, but because it was dark and damp as a cave.

At that time Lucha was determined to make me eat, and you were determined to teach me so many things which, you said, would be useful someday.

I believe that I was not a good guest nor a good student, but I well remember the little figure of Che which you gave me on my birthday, and in which you wrote, in your own hand, those words of Jose Marti' that go, more or less: "The true man does not look at which side lives better, but on which side duty lies."

Duty, brother, that kind tyrant which governs us.

During our history, I have had the good fortune of knowing men and women for whom duty is their entire life and, in not a few cases, their entire death.

And that leads me to reflection number....

SEVEN. Given the need to choose between anything at all and duty, the rebel always chooses duty. And so it goes.

I believe, big brother, that you should also regale them, those who are listening to you on the day of the magazine launch, with that very phrase, but made current. And I would say something like....

"Man, woman, homosexual, lesbian, child, youth, old one, that is, the true human being, does not look at which side lives better, but on which side duty lies."

Those words sum up better than anything else what the rebel's vocation is, and they surpass anything I could say to you or to anyone on the subject.

Good, then, brother, now I'll say goodbye. All the compa~eros and compa~eras send you greetings. They hope, as do I, that you are well physically, because we already know that morally you are, as ever, strong and firm.

Vale. Salud and, if they press you, tell them that rebellion is just a headache which is not worth being cured of....ever.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

It is September of 2002 and the rain has not been able to hurt the skin of the sun.

PS: It can be expected that there will be one or another member of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation in the audience.

Give them our greetings.

We already know that they are working hard to give themselves a new face, a new profile.

And how good that the Frente's profile will no longer be that of the pupils, but that it is given face and path by persons such as Don Manuel, tanned former railway worker; such as Mirios, of modest heroism; such as Colonel-Gisella, which is one and the other and not the same, but equal; such as the young students who were in the CGH; such as the ones from UAM; such as the ones from Poli; such as the ones from UPN; such as the ones from ENAH; like the ones from other higher education centers; like those from Veracruz who achieved the miracle that was Orizaba in last year's march; like the ones from Oaxaca; like the ones from Tlaxcala; like the ones from Nuevo Leo'n; like the ones from Morelos; like the ones from the state of Mexico; like the ones from Jalisco; like the ones from Quere'taro; like the ones from Michoaca'n; like the ones from Yucatan; like the ones from Quintana Roo; like the ones from Guanajuato; like the ones from Zacatecas; like the ones f!

rom Durango; like the ones from Chihuahua; like the ones from Coahuila; like the ones from the two Baja Californias; like the ones from Colima; like the ones from Sonora; like the ones from Sinaloa; like the ones from Tamaulipas; like the ones from Guerrero; like the ones from San Luis Potosi', and like the ones from DF.

And, like all the base Frente members who, if we go by their numbers and their work, turn out to be a kind of octopus, and, in addition, all of whom know nothing of surrender.

ANOTHER PS. And now I'm remembering another myth which says that "the EZLN doesn't love the frentistas," when it's clear that it's the frentistas we don't love. No, that's not true.

We do indeed love all of them, what happens is that they also, in their own way, are practicing autonomy and resistance....in front of us.

Because there are organized rebellions, as it is assumed should grow in the FZLN, and disorganized rebellions, like the ones we experience in the EZLN, and so we go.

PS. The last one and we're going. A favor: when you read something of mine during the presentation of the magazine, cough from time to time. That is in order to promote another myth, the one that says that I am very very sick.

I hope they send me nuts.

PS. Yes indeed the last one. (note: this postscript heading voids the previous postscript heading).

It can now be seen that, for being in silence, we are talking quite a bit.

It is probably owing to the fact that we are zapatistas. Because in Mexico, "REBELDIA" is written with a "Z" for "nuez" and for "zapatista."

Vale de nuez de la India.

The very very sick (Ha!) Sup dreaming that Shadow-Light will finally walk and that the horizon can already be seen.

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada *********************************** Translated by irlandesa   La Jornada Monday, November 18, 2002.

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