Marcos on May day and Tupac Amaru

To the National and International Press.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Here goes a letter for a powerful Priista politician. No, I'm not talking about Zedillo, but about Fidel Velazquez. We are well, some days ago we heard by radio the news of the military assault on the Japanese Embassy in Peru. The great international Power decided upon a new crime in Latin-American lands and ordered the assassination of the rebels of Tupac Amaru (who, let us not forget, was negotiating with the government of Fujimori a solution to the crisis) and one of the personages who had been detained. You will all recall that there was a search for a resolution to the problem without violence. But the military went in accompanied by gunfire. "Clean operation", said the news programs. And they described Fujimori as smiling and happy. And, way above him, the supranational powers, which had given the order for annihilation also, smiled. For months, the Peruvian government pretended to negotiate in order to find a peaceful solution. In reality it only searched for the precise moment to strike. That is how they are, the Power and its neoliberal governments, they pretend to dialogue and negotiate, when in reality they only seek the opportunity to exert their violence.

This new tragic episode for Latin America is an international blow to the path of dialogue and negotiation as a viable means of resolving conflicts.

Fujimori and his bosses hurry to smile. The consent for Zedillo was also hurried. But a lot of history remains to be written.

And to think they have told us we should wait, not for an attack, but for the compliance to the agreements that were signed by the government.

>From the Japanese embassy, oops; from the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

The Sup who is so afraid he got diarrhea.

Mexico, April 25th of 1997.

P.S. WHICH ADDS ITSELF, V-E-E-E-RY TERRIFIED, TO THE CONSENT. Making regalia of the fear which characterizes us (and on account of that "don't get paralyzed", orders have gone out to recuperate all the "beepers" carried by the indigenous people of the zone, we have cancelled all subscriptions to our satellite service, and a mole, which had been making tunnels under the orchard of Don Abel, is at this moment being severely interrogated. At any rate, the denouement was apparent; history, tired of walking, repeats itself.


Happy May First to all Mexican workers! Unhappy one to those who live at their expense!


Mexican Politician

Mister Velazquez:

They say they are saying you will die soon. Before that happens, I want to take the opportunity to write these few lines. They're not a wish that you recover, or that you die (like the death you wished on us repeatedly). I write to remind you, to make memory. You see how much this country and those who live in it lack in history and memory these days.

They say they are saying that you are 97 years old, that you were born with the 20th Century. "And you will die as it does" I say. Almost 100 years. There are probably many things which you have seen and heard: the beginning of the Mexican revolution, the assassinations of the Generals Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa, the Constitution of 1917, the birth of what would later, today, be the organized crime transformed into political party, the Institutional Revolutionary [Party], and the birth of official control of the labor movement. Afterwards there was the long dictatorship which renewed and readjusted itself every political term, the one with the PRI in the government. Maybe you only remember how in 1946, you replaced Lombardo Toledano in the leadership of the Workers Central of Mexico (CTM).

Mister Velazquez, how many attempts at rebellion against that historic absurdity which is the party-state system did your eyes observe? How many repressions and betrayals to those movements did you participate in directly? How many times did you order, in the more than half a century at the head of the CTM, that workers who wanted democracy, liberty and justice be beaten, kidnapped and murdered? How many times did you buy consciences and loyalties? How many times did you sell yourself? Yeah, I agree, there were probably so many during all that time that no one could have kept count. Maybe your conscience. But, do you still have one? No, I'm not referring to the one you pretended to have during your "Monday conferences". I'm talking about that conscience which knows what is right and what is wrong, that conscience which has to do with principles. Are you bored with this diatribe about morality and human ethics? True, I'd better change the subject.

I could use these few lines, for example, for reminding you what the brutal neoliberal war has produced for your principal enemies; the workers. For example, I could talk about the destruction of the historic victories of Mexican workers, the decline of the real wage, the loss of employment, the attacks on collective contracts, the reactionary reforms to the Federal Labor Law, the blows to the IMSS [Mexican Social Security System] and Infonavit [Public services], the elimination of subsidies for items of popular consumption, the criminal liberalization of prices. In sum, all that which is the so-called "technological modernization" which has occurred since Miguel de La Madrid [president in mid 70's], throughout Carlos Salinas de Gortari's term, and up to today, with the stupidity of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon.

I could give you some facts, and point out, as an example, that the daily sustenance requirements, which in 1987 could be purchased with 8 hours and 36 minutes of labor, in January of 1997 now require 25 hours and 13 minutes of labor in order to purchase the same. Perhaps you don't remember, Mr. Velazquez, but the day only has 24 hours (even with daylight savings time). Since the political system which you represent has been capable of everything, except the ability to change the length of the day, this means that workers must, if they still have a job, survive with less that one third of what is minimally necessary to survive.

I could remind you that the political economy which you have supported has increased the lay-offs, has closed sources of employment, has made the company unions even more undemocratic, and has increased the use of intransigence and repression as the labor policy of the Mexican government. In sum, I would say that all this has caused the Mexican worker's movement ("the MOM" we used to call it in the days of urban clandestinity) to pass into a phase of resistance.

But I will not remind you, nor will I remind you that the scheduled review of contracts, instead of being a lever for improving labor conditions, have gone on to be one of the spaces where the bosses attack the accomplishments of the workers.

I won't remind you of the previous, Mr. Velazquez. Not that or the fact that you received many "awards" for sponsoring and permitting all of these blows to the workers you supposedly represents. It's better to talk about the workers.

You see, Mister Velazquez, the statistics don't seem to agree. Some state one amount and others increase or decrease it. So forgive me for the possible inaccuracy but apparently from 7 to 9 million workers are affiliated in some 16,000 unions. Of those workers, almost all (about 93.6%) belong to the Workers Congress, that great machine of control and labor repression which you, better than anyone, know well. This leaves from 16 to 18 million workers without a union and more than 9 million unemployed or employed part-time. Their living and working condition? Bad, very bad, both of them.

However I told you I was writing to make memory. So let's return to remembrances I am sure it is not a present thing for you, but when you and the century were ten years old, on the 3rd of September of 1910, a "transgressor of the law" back then, named Ricardo Flores Magon, wrote this to Mexican workers:

"Take into account, oh workers, that you are the only producers of wealth. Houses, palaces, railroads, ships, factories, cultivated land everything, absolutely your creative hands make everything, and yet, you lack everything. You weave the cloth, and yet you are naked; you harvest the grain, and you barely have a miserable crumb to take to your family; you build houses and palaces, and you live in caves and garrets; the precious metals which you tear from the earth serve only to make your owners more powerful, and subsequently, your chain is heavier and harder. The more which you produce, the poorer and less free you are, for the simple reason that you make your bosses richer and freerer, because only the rich serve themselves of political liberty."

True, right that 87 years later, the same can be said to the workers suffering the end of the century? They have suffered not only that, but our (no longer yours, Mr. Velazquez) workers have suffered under you for more than 50 years. You and the political system which explains you and itself in the mirror which your image and your history offers.

I'd like to ask, not why you have lived so long, but why you have held your position for so long? You still hold that position, yes or no Mr. Velazquez? Do you doubt it? Believe me, you're not the only one.

You should not have been where you are since a long time ago. If the Mexican political system supported you so you would grow and become more powerful (because, there were many times that the army, the police the thugs, the strikebreakers and the scabs stopped the rebel intents of Mexican workers), it was only because it needed you.

It needed you! What a paradox the "modern" base of the Mexican State is! It needs that which is very old and corrupt in order to simulate newness and cleanliness. Some day the chronicles of this long nightmare which you and that which you represent for Mexicans will be made. That day, surely we will ask ourselves why it took us so long to wake up, and surely we will ask that question without the threatening shadow of that which you represent, and without you.

You once said that you had assumed power accompanied by a hail of bullets and you would only go out that way. Maybe, but not just with a hail of bullets. Also and above all by mobilizations. The form (or "the method" as they say these days), is each day less important. Your worker's movement (because it was yours, Mr. Velazquez) is each day more discontent, each day more rebellious.

Certainly, a part of that movement is still afraid. The threat of unemployment, the attacks on those unions which are not corporate ones and on the democratic currents of the movement, and the conservative wave which takes control of many unions, complete the terror sketched by the militarized police, the union Mafiosi, the hired thugs, the myth of macroeconomic growth, and the microeconomic and mortal misery. Above all, the possibility of losing your job in a society, which passes through one of its worst economic crises, is converted into the principal concern of the workers and a significant obstacle to their rebellion.

Nevertheless, it is possible to feel something in the air. A kind of rage, rebellion and desire to say, "Enough is enough!"

In sum, if it were not for history (that stubborn reality which pursues and harasses) it could be said that you and yours have won, Mr. Velazquez. You, the owners of everything, the ones who take this country nowhere.

It must be said to have the certainty, while you're still alive, that when you face death, many people, millions will be happy with that death. Of that you can be sure, Mr. Velazquez. When it finally happens, your death will be saluted by millions of working men and women throughout the country.

Those who now accompany and adulate you will try to drown out that enthusiasm with great and ostentatious sumptuous ceremonies, but before long, they themselves will take charge of bringing to light all the crimes and betrayals which made you powerful, Mr. Velazquez.

I understand that the celebrations and smiles of millions of working men and women, which may arise at the news of your death, do not worry you. But it must be slightly uncomfortable to know that the laughter and parties will also take place in the mansions and palaces, which you and those like you, have erected.

They, the powerful who shared so much wealth and crime with you, they want your death. We don't. We know that it is not individuals who must die, but the system which make their crimes possible; that antidemocratic, unjust, inhumane state-party system.

No one will lament your death, Mister Fidel, no one will cry for you. And the memories of you that will linger will divide themselves between mockery and anger. Then the memory of Ricardo Flores Magon will arise once again and his words which said "And what a death and what a twilight with no glory or brilliance!"

This gray part of our history as a Nation, the one which you have protagonized with crime and injustice, is about to end. It will not be your death, Mister Velazquez, which will put an end to it. It will be a new alternative which will, regardless, be born on top of your ruins.

Your reign is about to come to an end. We will struggle so that what follows is not just a new cast, but that called democracy, liberty and justice. Your part in history is almost over; we can say of it the following, together with Flores Magon,

"No one killed him; he committed suicide! With a merciful kick he will disappear into the Shadows of his own works."

Vale. And in spite of everything, good health. May history put all of you in the places that you deserve, in other words, in shame and oblivion.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos Mexico,
April 25, 1997

Translated by: Cecilia Rodriguez

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