Zapatista Army of National Liberation: Mexico, December 29, 2002.
To Whom It May Concern:
Greetings. Yes, the cold and rain are encircling us in their embrace, and not even a bonfire made up of all the criticisms they have sent me (us) can manage to even moderately warm one up. It must be because most of them are so mediocre.
Of course, they are varied and sundry. Some are making great efforts to get us to apologize. And not for any purported sympathy towards ETA (which anyone with a modicum of vision and shame knows is nonexistent, either in theory or in practice). No. What they want is for us to apologize for having got off the subject in which THEY have pigeonholed us, to wit: the zapatistas can, and should, speak only about the indigenous question. We are banned from any other subject, national or international. And, since we got off (got off?) the indigenous issue in the last seven letters, we should, ergo, apologize to the neo-commissars of “good manners.” The only thing that remains for them to tell us, in the same arrogant and scolding tone, is to not put our elbows on the table and to not belch in the presence of his majesty.
And, indeed, we should apologize after all. But not to them, not to the little king, not to Aznar or to Felipillo (to GarzÃ³n, but only if he wins the debate). If apologies must be made to anyone it is to the noble people of Navarre, who, through an error when the letter – which has provoked so much enthusiasm among Mexican and Hispanic intellectuals – was being transcribed, were left out of the Basque people. And so, to the people of Navarre, our sincere apologies: Navarre is Basque. Gora Nafarroa! Gora Euzkera! Gora Iparralde! Gora Hegoalde!
Not all of them are like that, nor is that all of them. Because it is only fair to say: not all Mexican intellectuals are busily engaged in patting themselves on the back and congratulating each other (“I even sent a copy of my column to Felipe. I’m sure he’ll be putting me on the list of candidates for the Prince of Asturias prize. Yes? Sure, but my etceteras against the masked one of cotton seemed quite superior to me…”). No, some people do indeed realize what is going on around them, and they know, just like that, by turning that corner, resentment and despair begin to mount. They know that terror (that of above and that of below) feeds on that combination. They know that when that happens, there will be no declaration of war, nor communiquÃ©s, nor twee and/or melodramatic letters, nor anyone to scold for being badly educated or disrespectful.
Ah, the intellectuals of Power! Always striving to understand and absolve those of above and to judge and condemn those of below.
But there are intellectuals in Mexico and the Iberian peninsula who avoid the traps set by Power. Just like the United States intellectuals who courageously denounce Bush’s insane bellicosity, even though they are accused of sympathizing with Bin Laden. Or the Israelis who refuse to support the massacres perpetrated by their country’s army, without that meaning support for the actions of the Palestinians.
Of course, in the troubled waters of the moment (how many comandantes have left me!), the scoldings and calls to behave well (all useless) by intellectuals and columnists, the Mexican government has been injecting itself, and now it’s trying to dislocate several villages which, driven by war and poverty, have found themselves forced to settle in the so-called Montes Azules. And there, also, they are not all them, nor are they all that there are.
For example, there are some 160 zapatistas living in the new town called 12 de Diciembre (a clearly subversive name). Their history has not merited any letters in support of good manners. They are from the village of Salina Cruz. On November 2, 2000, militants from that organization called MOCRI assassinated Manuel MÃ©ndez SÃ¡nchez and Gloria MÃ©ndez SÃ¡nchez. They ambushed them, shot them and, when they were already dead, they hacked them with machetes.
The motive? At that time the MOCRI leaders were engaged in a torrid romance with El Croquetas Albores, and they were a part of that failed Zedillo strategy of buying consciences. Manuel and Gloria were, are, zapatistas and, as such, they were promoting resistance. Using the argument of words, Gloria and Manuel convinced the community to resist and to not accept government charity. That went against the MOCRI leaders’ economic premises, and they gave their support to the assassination. THE MOCRI people also threatened the rest of the zapatistas in the same style which the government used for the recent “peaceful dislocation,” which merited so much coverage in the Mexican press: either you stop being zapatistas or you’ll meet the same fate as Manuel and Gloria did.
The compaÃ±eros and compaÃ±eras preferred being displaced to letting themselves be shot by MOCRI and thus be party to one of so many histories of confrontations between indigenous. The crime will not go unpunished. And it will not be by enforcing Talion’s Law [an eye for an eye], nor by using the “humanitarian” methods of the Chiapas government. Justice will be served, but with wisdom and in calm. Perhaps it will also serve to teach GarzÃ³n that terror is not defeated by that other terror which hides behind laws and judges, which tortures prisoners and which makes ideas illegal.
12 de Diciembre is not the only zapatista village being threatened with dislocation (I am not going to mention the names of those that are zapatista, so as not to uncover those which are not zapatista), but all the zapatistas who are in the same predicament are there, not because they lack land or take morbid pleasure in destroying the Selva, but because they have found themselves forced to leave everything so as not to swell the ranks of the silence with which the Power and the intellectuals bury the misfortune and deaths of the Mexican indigenous.
We have spoken with the representatives of those zapatista villages and with the authorities of the Autonomous Municipalities to which they belong. They have communicated to us their decision to stay there, even at the cost of their own lives, as long as the zapatista demands are not met.
We have replied to them that we completely support them.
And so it is good that everyone know in advance: in the case of the zapatista villages, there will be no “peaceful dislocation.”
Returning to the sudden proliferation of experts on the Basque question, I don’t know why they are getting so upset: the persons in question (except GarzÃ³n) haven’t been affected in the least. As for the king, for example, I just saw a recent photograph, and he still has the same face. Aznar, despite the postscript he got from the Prestige, continues braying with marked enthusiasm. And Felipillo, well, he did get angry, he gagged the Iberian press and mobilized all his homeboys in this Mexican Republic, which would be a monarchy if it were not for a few of this country’s intellectuals.
Even so, I ask forgiveness from all those intellectuals who are enthusiasts of the Spanish crown (and of their literary prizes). I did not wish to be lacking in respect for his majesty or anything like that. What I, in fact, wanted to say, to put it, more than anything, in Spanish terms, is that I don’t give a damn about the monarchy.
Because know that for us there are no worldly kings other than those in a deck of cards (Spanish, to be more precise), nor any queens other than those who, from time to time, rob us of our sleep with barely a glance and then leave us.
But fine, given that they have been allowed to ramble on about the EZLN’s unlikely sympathy for terrorism, here are some other subjects for them (conveniently disguised as questions):
Why does the EZLN want to begin its so-called march through Europe (Ah! So it’s a European march?) in the Spanish state and not, for example, in Italy, where there are many imprisoned and free zapatistas (almost as many of both as there are in Mexico)? Why did the zapatistas choose such a difficult and complicated subject as the Basque one, about which there has been a complicit and widespread silence in order to avoid the accusation of being “terrorists”?
Is the EZLN going to try and refute Fox’s statements in the European Parliament that there is peace in Mexico?
Doesn’t the EZLN know that in Europe, and in the world, the right is the government, and it is more belligerent than ever?
Why is the EZLN trying to exhaust the peaceful path to a resolution of the war, instead of rushing the World Trade Center with a horse (we only have paper airplanes) loaded with explosives and in that way provide the columnists with a topic on the zapatista “sympathies” for Al Qaeda’s methods?
When it visits France, will the EZLN attend one of the presentations of ZorrÃ³, el Zapato, which the children from the poor barrios are presenting under heroic conditions? Will the EZLN speak with Chirac and Le Pen or with those Sans Papiers? Will they revisit the Latin Quarter? Will they go to Place Pigalle?
Will the EZLN be wearing proper clothing for withstanding the inclement weather in the Nordic countries, in Switzerland, in Holland, in Belgium, in Germany? Will they visit rebel Greece? Will they make gestures of elegant contempt at the monarchs of Sweden, thus losing the opportunity for a Nobel Prize?
Does the EZLN assume that their cayucos will be able to satisfactorily cross the English Channel and disembark in Great Britain, thus emulating “D” Day, but in reverse? Will they go to Ireland to pay homage to the San Patricio Battalion?
In sum, they are subjects which still fall in the category of the hypothetical.
There are more, but this letter is already turning out to be quite long, and the postscripts are yet to come.
Right then, last but not least, the purpose of this letter is to wish you a Happy New Year.
And, as everyone knows, one will be happy if one does not stop fighting for what one believes in.
Vale. Salud and, as you can now see, there are globalizations and globalizations.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
December of 2002.
PS WRAPPED UP AS A GIFT: Following its custom of serving its kind clientele, the Recurring Postscript recommends to its readers the following gifts for – joining in the intellectual enthusiasm for the crown – the upcoming King’s Day, January 6: for little king Juan Carlos, a laxative (they exist in various forms); for Pepillo Aznar, a flute; for Felipillo (that dark object of desire who is fought over by (a)Nexos and Letras Vencidas), a protection order (for the unlikely day in which Spanish justice calls him to account for sponsoring the terrorist group GAL).
PSS WITH BERET PULLED DOWN AND CIGARETTE IN LIPS: Viva the Republic! Down with the monarchy! Long live the Workers Committees! Down with returned Francos! Viva republican Spain! Viva the International Brigade! Viva Spain! Gora Euskera! Gora Zapata! Viva life! Death to death! Long live the ghosts that will again walk Europe!
PS FOR BERLUSCONI: Don’t laugh, because you’re next. Remember that “all roads lead to Rome.”
ILLEGAL PS: It would appear that we insist on not respecting the laws of good behavior. The only Law which deserves our respect is the musical group of the same name (I even think it’s Chilean), and that only when they’re accompanied by the Mexican Ely Guerra in the song titled El duelo, and, if not, then not even that law.
PS WHICH INSISTS ON GETTING OFF TOPIC: Argentina is still generous. Previously they gave the world Che, now they’re giving an entire world action plan. Because that “Everyone out!” is not just a slogan. Viva the Argentine rebellion!
LATIN AMERICAN PS: Respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela!
MASOCHISTIC PS: Keep beating us! More journalistic punches! Like that! More! Oh! Yes! More! More! Oh my god! Ahhh! (Mmh, I love it when you get angry).
Translated by irlandesa