The long journey from despair to hope

A text by Subcomandante Marcos
Supplement for the Anniversary of "La Jornada".

For Mr. Ik, Tzeltal prince,
founder of the CCRI-CC of the EZLN, helped in the battles of Ocosingo,
Chiapas, in January of 1994.
(Wherever he is...)

"When He arrives we are living, and from the depths of the Castle of the poor where we had so many just like us, so many accomplices, so many friends the sail of courage is raised We must raise it without vacillation. Tomorrow we will know why when we triumph. A long chain of passion was unimprisoned. The ration of injustice and the ration of shame are truly too bitter to bear. Everything is not necessary to make a world. Happiness is necessary and nothing more. To be happy it is only necessary to see clearly and fight. We must not wait even an instant: Let us raise our heads. Let us take the land by force."
Paul Eluard
"Mexico: between dreams, nightmares and awakenings"

Chapter 1.-

Which speaks of neoliberal chants of 24 mermaids, of reefs of gold, of grounding on sand bars of depression and of other dangers that threaten the pirates on high seas.




They have treated me like a piece of injured land, full of scars. of wounds that do not heal, from beatings and downfalls.

They have treated me like a never ending curse, like a home left in ruins and bitterness.

How heavy is history!

Full am I with traitors and thieves, each humiliation is added and grows, each tribulation accumulates.

The imperial eagle tears at my insides and powerful men divide among themselves my seas and my mountains, my rivers and deserts my valleys and cliffs.

These are my afflictions, large and never ending: the pain of my mangled ground, the pain of my impoverished land, the pain of my betrayed son, the pain of my lost battle...

To this country one may arrive through the Penthouse or through the basement. To Lower Mexico one arrives on foot and crying... in mud. In 1993 we conversed, close to San Quintin, in the town of Ocosingo, with a Guatemalan who was beginning the long and improbable journey, across Mexican lands, to the American Union. To achieve this he had to risk his money, his health, his life and his dignity. He and his family had to traipse from Chiapas all the way to Northern Baja California, navigating through a nightmare of misery and death. We asked him why he was risking everything to go to the United States, and why he didn't just stay and work in one of the Mexican states that he would be crossing in his journey. He answered, laughing facetiously: "I'd have to be crazy to do that. If Guatemala translates to 'bad toilet', you Mexicans are in a 'Worse toilet' then" and he told us the story that was told by those who had made it clear to the northern border of Mexico and had been deported by the Border Patrol: A Mexico quite distant from tourism promotions murderous police, corrupt government functionaries, panhandlers, prices from North America and salaries from Central America, death squads, population living in poverty, despair. A story we already knew. The nightmare that lives in the basement of this country, the nightmare that brought us to our awakening in January of...


To Penthouse Mexico...

One arrives by plane.
An airport in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara or Acapulco, is the entrance to an elevator which neither rises nor falls, but rides horizontally across the country of the 24 richest men in the country, the scenes of Mexico of modern times: the government offices where neoliberalism is administered, the business clubs where the national flag becomes more diffused every day, the vacation resorts whose true vocation is to be a mirror of a social class that does not want to see what is below their feet: a long stairway, spiral and labyrinthed, which leads all the way down to the Lower Mexico, Mexico on foot, mud Mexico.

Above the blood and clay that live in the basement of this country, the 24 omnipotent are busy counting The $44,10O millions of dollars, a gift from the Presidential term of these modern times. Penthouse Mexico simply has no time to look down, it is too busy with complicated macroeconomic calculations, exchange of promises, praises and indexes of inflation, interest rates and the percentage, of foreign investment, import-export concessions, lists of assets and resources, scales where the country and dignity have no weight: the public debt guaranteed, long range, has gone from 3,196 millions of dollars in 197O, to 76,257 millions of dollars in 1989. The private, non-guaranteed debt was 2,77O millions of U.S. dollars in 197O and was up to 3,999 millions of U.S. dollars in 1989. In 1989 the short term public debt reached 1O,295 millions of dollars.

By the beginning of the decade of the 90s Mexico owed 95,642 millions of dollars. Each year this country pays off more debt and, however, each year it owes more. The use of International Monetary Fund credits went from O.OO in 197O to 5,O91 millions of dollars in 1989. The industrial and commercial economic growth takes its toll in the Mexican countryside: in agriculture, in the period of 1965 to 198O, production grew at an average national rate of 3 percent. In the period from 1980 to 1989, only by 1 percent. Meanwhile, in foreign trade, imports speak their complicated language of numbers: grain imports in 1974 were only 2,881 thousand metric tons, and they reached 7,O54 thousand in 1984. Of the total, in 1965, only 5 percent of imports were foodstuffs; in 1989 the percent of food imports reached 16 percent. On the other hand in the same period, the percentage of importation of machinery and transportation equipment was reduced (5O percent in 1965, 34 percent in 1989).

The ratified exports: of the total, the sale of combustibles and minerals increased from 22 percent in 1965 to 41 percent in 1989. Foreign sales of machinery and transportation equipment increased from 1 percent in 1965 to 24 percent in 1989). The export of products of prime necessity were reduced from 62 percent in 1965 to 14 percent in 1989. (Data: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development The World Bank. July 1991).

Mr. Carlos Salinas de Gortari is, in Penthouse Mexico, The President... but of a stockholders board. These modern times in Mexican neopolitics, make public functionaries into something like a species of retail salespeople, and the president of the republic, into the sales manager of a gigantic business: Mexico, Inc. To be a politician in the state party in Mexico, is the best business to be in. A paternal shadow protects the steps of the new generation of Mexican politicians; that of ex-president Miguel Aleman Valdes, "Mr. Amigo". The Neo-elect, Ernesto Zedillo, is repeating the fallacy of the American Dream (poor children who grow up to be rich, that is to say, to be politicians) and the modernistic economic program... which is 48 years old! The smokescreen about the lack of solvency, credit and markets, will again blind the heads of medium to large businesses. The "law of the jungle" from free trade will repeat the dosage: more monopolies, fewer jobs. "To grow", in neoliberal politics means simply "to sell". To practice politics one must practice marketing technology. The "citizen" of Penthouse Mexico will be, sooner or later, named MAN OF THE YEAR by some foreign institution. To achieve this he must follow...

"Instructions to be named Man of the Year"

1. Carefully place a technocratic functionary, a repentant opposer, a businessman for a front, a Union Cowboy a property holder, a builder, an alchemist in computational arts, a "brilliant" intellectual, a television, a radio, and an official party. Set this mixture aside in a jar and label it: "Moderninity".
2. Take an agricultural worker, a peasant with no land, an unemployed person, an industrial worker, a teacher without a school, a dissatisfied housewife, an applicant for housing and services, a touch of honest press, a student, a homosexual, a member of the opposition to the regime. Divide these up as much as possible. Set them aside in a jar and label them: "Anti-Mexico".
3. Take a native Mexican. Separate the crafts and take a picture of her. Put her crafts and the photo in a jar and set aside, labeling it: "Tradition".
4. Put the native Mexican in another jar, set it aside and label it: "Dispensable" One must not forget to disinfect oneself after this last operation.
5. Well, now open a store and hang a huge sign that says:

"Mexico 94-2OOO Huge End of the Century Sale"

6. Smile for the camera. Make sure the makeup covers the bags and dark circles under the eyes caused by the nightmare the process has caused. Note: Always have on hand a policeman, a soldier and an airplane ticket out of the country. These items may be necessary at any time.

Penthouse Mexico has no foreign vocation. In order to have a foreign vocation one must have a nationality and the only country and the only country spoken of, with sincerity, on that narrower and narrower top floor, is the country called money. And that country has no patriots, it has only profit and loss indexes. Historical events happen only within the stock markets and the modern heroes up there, are only Good Salesmen. For some reason in the other history (the real one) that top floor, far from expanding. is quickly contracting. Every time there are fewer able to stay there. Sometimes with delicacy, other times with brutality, the incapable are obligated to descend... by the stairs. The Penthouse elevator of Mexico, whose door opens to the great international airports, neither rises nor falls. To leave the Penthouse one must descend, going further and further down until one gets to...

To get to Middle Mexico...

One goes by car.
It is urban and its image is a carbon copy, which repeats itself in various parts of the country, of Mexico City.

An image of concrete which can not deny the contradiction of the co-existence among the extremely rich and the extremely poor, Middle Mexico smells bad. something is rotting there inside at the same time as that the feeling of collectivity is being diluted. Middle Mexico does have a foreign vocation. Something tells it that, to rise to Penthouse Mexico, the road passes through a country that is not this one. In order to 'triumph' in Mexico one must go abroad. It does not necessarily mean to go physically, but to go in history, in goals. This vocation of exile as a synonym to triumph has nothing to do with the physical crossing of a border. There are those who, even in leaving, stay behind. And there are those who, even in staying, leave.

Only 3 states of the federation have indexes of margination which are VERY LOW: the Federal District (Mexico City), Nuevo Leon and North Baja California; 10 more are within the LOW margination index: Coahuila, Baja California South, Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Sonora, Jalis- co, Colima, Tamaulipas, Estado de Mexico and Morelos; another 4 have a MEDIUM index of margination: Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Tlaxcala.

Middle Mexico survives in the worst possible way: thinking that it is alive. It has all of the disadvantages of Penthouse Mexico: historical ignorance, cynicism, opportunism and an emptiness that import products can only fill partially or not at all. It has all the disadvantages of Lower Mexico: economic instability, insecurity, bewilderment, sudden loss of hope and, furthermore, misery knocking, on every corner, upon the window of the automobile. Sooner or later, Middle Mexico must get out of the car and get into, if he still has enough left, a taxi, a collective taxi, a subway, a bus terminal, and start the journey down, all the way to...

Lower Mexico...

Where one may arrive almost immediately.
It coinhabits, in permanent conflict, with Middle Mexico.

The 17 Mexican states which are found in the indexes labeled MIDDLE, LOW and VERY LOW margination, have half of their inhabitants living in cramped conditions (with more than 2 people per room) and 50 percent of Mexicans who live in the 'middle' states earn less than 2 minimum wages daily, that is, in poverty (in Tlaxcala three quarters of the population lives in poverty).

Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Colima, Tamaulipas, Morelos, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, and Tlaxcala have a third of the population over 15 years old, not having completed primary school, in Nayarit the percentage is higher than 40 percent. Tlaxcala has a third of its population without sewers nor plumbing. Quintana Roo and Sinaloa has a fourth of its inhabitants living on dirt floors. The states of Durango, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi have HIGH indexes of margination. Nearly half of their population above the age of 15 have not completed primary school, one third have no plumbing nor sewer, nearly two thirds live in crowded conditions and more than 60 percent earn less than two minimum wages per day.

Lower Mexico does not share, it disputes an urban and rural space, but still, it has its own internal divisionary lines, its borders. Estates, haciendas and grand agricultural firms impose their rural space upon Agrarian Reform parcels and peasant communities. Urban colonies, their names and locations, the services that they have, the manner of speaking of their people, the way they dress, their entertainment, education, everything limits and classifies, trying to put in order, to accommodate the chaos that rules in Mexican cities. It is not necessary to state the level of income, social position and political vocation, it is enough to say in what colony of what city one lives. Within one city there are thousands of cities, fighting, surviving, struggling.

Out in the countryside it is the transportation vehicle, the way one dresses and the attention one receives from the bank manager which indicate one's classification. One's position in the countryside of Mexico can be determined by how long it takes a person to be received in the reception areas of the financial or political world. In Lower Mexico the Big House of the Porfirian Hacienda has been replaced by the inner office of the bank, which is how modern times have penetrated rural Mexico.

Lower Mexico has a fighter's vocation, it is brave, it is solidary, it is a clan, it is the "hood", it is the gang, the race, the friend, it is the strike, the march and the meeting, it is taking back one's land, it is blocking highways, it is the "I don't believe you!", it is "I won't take it anymore!", it is "No more!".

Lower Mexico is the master tradesman, mason, plumber, factory worker, driver, employee, the subway-bus-shared cab student, the street cleaner, truck driver and dialectic, the housewife, small businessman, traveling salesman, farmer, mini and micro entrepreneur, miner, colonizer, peasant, tenant farmer, provincial although living in the Capital, peon, longshoreman in port cities, fisherman and sailor, used clothes dealers, butchers, artisans, it is all the etceteras that one finds on any bus, on any corner, in any given corner of any given place of any Mexico... Lower Mexico, that is.

Lower Mexico is the substance of the imprisoned, of the dispossessed, of garnishments, of liens, of layoffs, of evictions, of kidnappings, of torturing, of disappearance of battle, of death. Lower Mexico has absolutely nothing... but it has not yet realized it. Lower Mexico already has overpopulation problems. Lower Mexico is a millionaire, counting its misery, its despair. Lower Mexico shares both urban and rural space, slips and falls, battles and downfalls.

Lower Mexico is really far down, so far down that it seems that there is no way to go further down, so far down that one can hardly see that little door that leads to...

Basement Mexico...

One arrives on foot, either barefoot, or with rubber soled huaraches.
To arrive one must descend through history and ascend through the indexes of margination.

Basement Mexico was first. When Mexico was not yet Mexico, when it was all just beginning, the now Basement Mexico existed, it lived. Basement Mexico is "Indigenous" because Columbus thought, 502 years ago, that the land where he had arrived was India. "Indians" is what the natives of these lands have been called from that time on.

Basement Mexico is: Mazahuan, Amuzgan, Tlapanecan, Nahuatlan, Coran, Huichol, Yaqui, Mayan, Tarahumaran, Mixtec, Zapotecan, Chontal, Seri, Triquis, Kumiain, Cucapan, Paipain, Cochimian, Kiliwan, Tequistlatecan, Pame, Chichimecan, Otomi, Mazatecan, Matlatzincan, Ocuiltecan, Popolocan, Ixcatecan, Chocho-popolocan, Cuicatec, Chatino, Chinantec, Huave, Papagan, Pima, Repehuan, Guarijian, Huastec, Chuj, Jalaltec, Mixe, Zoquean, Totonacan, Kikapuan, Purepechan, Oodham, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol, Mam. Basement Mexico is indigenous... however, for the rest of the country it does not count, produce, sell or buy, that is, it does not exist...

Review the text of the Free Trade Agreement and you will find that, for this government, the indigenous do not exist. Furthermore, read Addendum 1001.a-1 to the Free Trade Agreement, from the 7th of October, 1992 (yes, just 5 days before the 'festivities' of the 500th Anniversary of the 'Discovery of America'), and you will find that Salinas' government has 'forgotten' to mention, on the list of Federal Government Entities', The National Indigenous Institute.

We have been in the mountains a very long time, perhaps the National Indigenous Institute has been privatized, but it is not surprising that, listed as 'government entities' appear such well known organizations as the 'Patronage for Aid to Social Reintegration' or 'Aid for the Commercialization of the Fishing Industry' and the 'Institute for Human Communication Doctor. Andres Bustamante Gurria".

On the other hand, in Canada there is the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Basement Mexico amasses traditions and misery, it possesses the highest indexes of margination and the lowest in nutrition. Of the 32 states, 6 have VERY HIGH index of margination. The 6 have a HIGH percentage of indigenous population: Puebla Veracruz Hidalgo Guerrero Oaxaca Chiapas

The stratum in The Mexicos is repeated in the municipalities. On a national level there are 2,4O3 municipalities. OF these 1,153 have a level of margination considered HIGH or VERY HIGH. 1,118 have MEDIUM and LOW levels of marginality and only 132 municipalities have VERY LOW levels of margination. In the states with high indigenous population: Chiapas of 111 has 94 municipalities HIGH and VERY HIGH levels. Guerrero of 75 has 59. Oaxaca of 57O has 431. Puebla of 217 has 141. Queretaro of 18 has 10. San Luis Potosi of 56 has 33. Veracruz of 2O7 has 13O. Yucatan of 106 has 7O.

Between mud and blood one lives and dies in Basement Mexico. Hidden but in its foundation, the contempt that Mexico has for this will permit it to organize itself and shake up the entire system. Its charge will be the possibility of freeing itself from it. The line of democracy, liberty and justice for these Mexicans, will be organized and it will explode and shine on...

January of 1994...

When the entire country remembered the existence of the Basement.

Thousands of indigenous armed with truth and fire, with shame and dignity, shook the country awake from its sweet dream of modernity. "That is enough!" their voices scream, enough of dreams, enough of nightmares.

Ever since steel and evangelists dominated these lands, this voice is condemned to resisting a war of extermination that now incorporates all of the intergalactic technological advances. Satellites, communication equipment and infrared rays keep watch on their every move, locate their rebellions, point to, on military maps, places for the seeding of bombs and death. Tens of thousands of olive green masks are preparing a new and prosperous war. With indigenous blood they want to wash their dignity in serving the powerful... to be accomplices in the unjust delivery of poverty and pain.

The indigenous zapatistas paid for their sins with their blood. What sins? The sin of not being satisfied with handouts, the sin of insisting on their demands for democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexico, the sin of their 'everything for everyone, nothing for us'.

Those who deny the indigenous Mexican peasant the possibility of understanding the concept of NATION and who obligate him to look to his past (which separates him from the rest of the country) and prohibit him from looking to the future (which unites the Nation and which is the ONLY possibility for survival of the indigenous people) reiterate the division, not of social classes, but (a disguised form of the aforementioned) the division of categories of citizens: The first (governing class), the second (the political parties of the opposition) and the third (all the rest of the citizens). The indigenous would be in the VERY inferior category of 'citizens in formation', the basement of the Mexican nation, the waste pile where one goes every once in a while to look for something that could still be used on the upper floors, or to fix some imperfection that could endanger the stability or balance in the building.

Basement Mexico is the most dangerous for the Sale Season that is being organized by Penthouse Mexico. Basement Mexico is the one that has nothing to lose, and the one that has everything to win. Basement Mexico does not give up, has no price, resists... From Basement Mexico a voice arose in August of 1994, a voice that does not speak of war, that does not plan to turn back the clock of history by 502 years, that does not demand vanguard, that does not exclude tribulations. 'Everything for everyone,

nothing for us' speaks the language of the millennium. The faceless voice, of the unnameables, became common in the National Democratic Convention. This voice is precisely aimed. It calls Basement Mexico, and it calls Middle Mexico. 'Do not let our blood be wasted. Do not let the death be in vane' say the mountains. Let the word join the separate roads, Let the rebellion also include...

in double dream, double nightmare, double awakening;

If among men the division of The Mexicos to a point is evident, in women it produces new effects which show potentials of submission and rebellion.

While in Penthouse Mexico women reiterate their position of being gold plated, like a trinket on the executive desk of the world, the wise and 'efficient' administrator of familial well being (that is, dolling out dinners at McDonalds), and in Middle Mexico the ancient cycle of daughter-girlfriend-wife and/or lover-mother, in the Lower and Basement Mexicos the nightmare is doubled in the microcosms where the man dominates and determines.

For women in the Lower and Basement Mexicos everything is doubled, (except for respect): referring to women the percentages of illiteracy, of subhuman living conditions, low salaries, of margination, are incremented into a nightmare that the system prefers to ignore or disguise within general indexes that do not show the exploitation of the gender that makes general exploitation possible. But something is beginning not to fit in this double submission, the double nightmare doubles the awakening.

Women from Lower and Basement Mexico awaken fighting against the present and against a past that threatens to be their future. The conscience of humanity passes through female conscience, the knowledge of being human implies they know they're women and fight back. They no longer need anyone to speak for them, their word follows the double route of rebellion with its own motor the double motor of rebel women in this...

Space for paradoxes...

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