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Palabra del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional


Calamidad Zapatista

Calamidad Zapatista

 The story of the encounter between SupGaleano and Calamidad [Calamity], including the History of Popcorn and, in the sports section, the first world soccer match, as well as other unhappy (for the Sup) events

Headnotes (just to annoy the footnotes):

(1) The first version of this story was read aloud in the Second Puy ta Cuxlejaltic Film Festival, celebrated in the Caracol of Tulan Kaw in December 2019. The text was unpublished until now. This version maintains the original text and adds some details that may lead some readers to despair, accustomed as they might be to short readings with few ideas. You may detect some spoilers related to what is now known as the “Journey for Life.” Don’t worry though, it often happens that Zapatismo announces things that have not yet happened. This Zapatista irresponsibility is now legendary, so stop complaining.

(2) Unfortunately, this text doesn’t have the special effects that were used in the aforementioned caracol and that earned SupGaleano seven nominations for the “Cardboard Popcorn Kernel,” the highest prize for whomever consumes the most bowls of popcorn drenched in hot sauce without resorting to antacids, which falls in the award category of “with or without a film.”

(3) Warning: The following accounts may contain images that offend those lacking in imagination, intelligence, and other things equally devalued under modernity. It is not recommended for reading by adults over 21, unless supervised by children under 12. What?! Are you going to read on despite this serious warning? Well there you are, nobody has any principles anymore.

(4) This account is based on real events. Names have been maintained to clarify the responsible parties before the Good Government Council’s Justice Commission… What? Yes, you can doubt the truth of what is recounted here, but…didn’t you also doubt that the zapatones would invade Europe? That’s what I thought. All the beings described herein actually exist. If anyone thinks this isn’t possible, that’s not the fault of reality but rather lack of imagination.

(5) Huh? No, I’m not scolding you. As they say, I’m giving you the context for what is and what follows…



This is the story of a little Zapatista girl who no one loved because she was, and is, different, even among those who are different.

The little girl I’m telling you about was born in a Zapatista indigenous community. The name of the town, region or zone doesn’t matter now.

Having never really been near a mirror, she grew up seeing and hearing the world through the gaze and ear of other boys and girls. She was born big and is now a big girl. And when I say “big,” I refer to her size, her height and weight, not to her chronological age. But, as I said, since she saw through the gaze of the girls and boys her age, she wasn’t conscious of her difference.

In her image of herself, she was as small as the rest of the girls and boys of her generation, currently between three and six years old.

A few days after she was born, she fell. You probably know that it’s the custom of indigenous women to not delay in returning to work after giving birth. They carry the baby in their reboso[i] like a mother kangaroo, and there the little bundle eats, sleeps, and takes care of its so-called basic needs (the 25 and the 50 – that’s urination and defecation, for you novices). With the baby incorporated onto her own body, the woman maneuvers the reboso while doing her work and, not infrequently, slings the shawl around to her back. Ergo, moms are superior to mother kangaroos.

This means the baby has an advantage over she who created it, because it can see what its mother cannot. When the mother brings the baby to the front, the baby sees what the mother sees, and when it’s on her back the baby sees what she cannot see. It holds both perspectives without losing its intimate closeness to its creator.

This dual gaze, which might seem normal to those who are born, grow, live, and die in an indigenous community, allows the baby to avoid censorship. That is, it can see things that the mother might not want it to, or not yet.

I know, I’m speculating from the adult world about the gaze of early childhood, but this is a story or tale, and you’ll never know if it really happened, or if it was invented during one of those frequent lonely mornings full of coffee and tobacco smoke in the mountains of Southeast Mexico.

Getting back to the girl, her first days weren’t that different from those of other children. Sometimes she saw what her mother saw: the stove, the stack of firewood, the pot, the plates, the spoon, the stream and the bucket, the animals, the accomplice in the child’s creation (later she’d call him “papá”) and, possibly, other creatures of various sizes that ran about and worked and that she would later call “brothers” and “sisters” and who would be her first source of conflict. Because, as you well know, siblings who don’t fight aren’t siblings.

When she was on her mother’s back, the girl saw another world. What appeared there might have scared her, causing her to retreat into the reboso, maybe thinking, “Nope, too much information. For now I have to focus on the basics of this world: cry, eat, shit, sleep, repeat.”

Or maybe she didn’t hide. Maybe her eyes opened wider and her hands grasped at a bird in flight, or at that duck who (no disrespect) indeed had a very otherly gait. But who was she to criticize if she didn’t even know that those two things at the inferior terminus of her body were for anything other than trying to stuff into her mouth?

What happened to her could have happened to anyone. Her mother, busy stacking firewood, twisted the shawl to her back and didn’t realize that the motion left the girl’s lower half exposed. Like I said, she was big and heavy, and so she slipped and fell to the floor with a nearly-imperceptible “plop” cushioned by the puddle of mud in which she landed.

Not all accidents are unfortunate. The girl didn’t even have time to cry because, at that moment, a mother pig was passing by with several piglets in tow. The girl joined the procession, crawling along behind like another piglet in the little herd.

Her mom? She didn’t even notice. Only when her husband returned from the milpa and asked about the girl did the mother realize that the reboso on her back weighed less than usual.

They went looking for the girl, and it didn’t take long to find her. She was sitting with the piglets, playing in the mud, and hugging a piglet that was not amused by this show of affection because (did I already mention?) the girl was big and strong.

The man had a good laugh and went for his cellphone to take a picture, but the mother said what all mothers the world over would say in such a situation: “Girl, you are a calamity!”

Since the little girl was now crawling she no longer rode around in the reboso, for which the compañera’s back was deeply grateful. Apart from being large, the girl was curious. Once, she decided to test what would happen if she wrapped a rag around the burning wood that fell from the stove. The problem was that the rag was the compañera’s underskirt. The mother got a whiff of burning nylon and yelled, “Girl, you’re a calamity!”

One day her mother took her to the market in the county seat. While the woman shopped for a new underskirt to replace the burnt one, the girl went over to a pyramid of cans. The cans on the very bottom looked uncomfortable, so she took one out. You could hear the crash in every corner of the market. The stall’s owner picked up the girl and handed her over to her mother saying, “Ma’am, your daughter is a calamity.”

When they returned from a long day’s work, each at their designated tasks, the husband and wife compared notes. When it was her turn the woman always began by saying, “This girl is a calamity,” followed by a long list of mischief.


As all shouldn’t know, the little boys and girls don’t respect the Sup’s hut. It doesn’t matter how many traps and barriers the Sup puts up, they always find a way to appear in the doorway asking for honeybuns, a ball, or just a story.

One afternoon, a girl with a large body appeared. SupGaleano asked her, with his renowned tactfulness, “Who are you? I don’t know you.” Logically, the girl responded, “I’m a Calamity.”

SupGaleano was amused by the girl’s honesty, so he let her stay in the hut until her mom came looking for her. The mother was beside herself with apologies, saying her daughter was a calamity. SupGaleano is sympathetic to children, maybe because he himself hasn’t yet reached puberty, and so only mumbled “We’ll, she’s a chip off the old block.”

Ever since, the girl appears in the hut every once in a while and, as you can guess, causes a calamity. For example, the girl saw SupGaleano scolding the cat-dog because it peed on the floor and walls of the little house. One day Calamidad got the urge to go 25 and climbed onto the Sup’s saggy and burned mattress – because the Sup is irresponsible and smokes his pipe in bed (not really, I mean, I am irresponsible but that’s beside the point, and the mattress was already saggy before and sometimes I sneeze, and, well, you get the picture) – and she went 25. The Sup got angry and asked Calamidad why she’d done that. And, with the breathtaking logic of childhood, she responded: “Well you said not to do 25 on the floor.”

The Sup didn’t know what to say, and just did what he could with a mop to clean the mattress, which had already been in a sad state. Between the family of mice that had taken up residence there and the wisps of tobacco that fell from the pipe, the Sup couldn’t be too persnickety about it.

As if corroborating the girl’s excuse, the cat-dog gave the Sup a look like, “There you have it, I’m a saint compared to Calamidad.” That’s why the cat-dog sympathized with the girl: its own mischief seemed minor compared to that of the frightful Calamidad.

So the girl, the Sup, and the cat-dog got along well, perhaps because all three were dysfunctional. That is, let’s just say they’d never become model citizens, win awards, hold government offices or other such horrible things. Despite all that, when Defensa Zapatista’s gang came around Calamidad made her getaway, because she knew she wasn’t looked upon kindly by the rest of humanity.

But, as the late SupMarcos (may he bask in the everlasting glory of god and may the saintly virgin shower him in blessings) would say, “Just when you think things can’t get any worse, along comes Defensa Zapatista’s gang.”

Or as I say, “Misfortune never comes unaccompanied,” and in no time a series of phenomena began to converge in what would become the precursor to a perfect storm.

Yes, the day came (rather late, I might add) when Calamidad joined Defensa Zapatista’s select group, whose second-in-command, Esperanza Zapatista, did little more than show just how paradoxical her name is…


Calamidad and Defensa Zapatista’s Gang

It was afternoon in the mountains of Southeastern Mexico. In the pasture a group of boys and girls were playing with a ball. Or at least it might seem that way to those who aren’t familiar with this group.

In reality, it was rigorous training for Defensa Zapatista’s youth soccer team. Right now they’re practicing the counter-attack, a maneuver that Defensa Zapatista explains saying, “Just imagine the evil enemies from the other team are coming down the field with the ball, and they’re bigger than us, they play better than us, the fans are on their side, they’re better fed than us, better trained than us, they’ve got spiffy uniforms, and we’re on their field so they’re the home team. What do we do?”

Pedrito shrugs his shoulders. He always finds Defensa Zapatista’s hypotheses to be erroneous from the outset and poorly-formulated. The one-eyed horse stops chewing its plastic bottle and seems to think for a moment, and then goes on chewing all the same. The cat-dog stands behind Defensa, appearing to also be waiting for an answer. Esperanza Zapatista realizes she’s the only one left, so she arms herself with courage like the “women that we are”—no excuses, resistance and rebellion!—and raises her hand. Defensa Zapatista breathes a sigh of relief and says, “Yes, Esperanza, what do we do?” Esperanza Zapatista clears her throat a bit and, following the Zapatista method founded by the late SupMarcos says, “Run away?”

The cat-dog wags its tail in approval. Pedrito is about to say that Esperanza’s answer-question opens up new epistemological terrain. The one-eyed horse keeps chewing the bottle, now more vigorously.

Defensa Zapatista throws up her hands in despair and yells, “No, no running! No excuses, resistance and rebellion. What we do is counter-attack. Like with a clearing kick that sends the ball far away. All right, Pedrito, you kick the ball.”

Pedrito might be good at theory of knowledge and epistemological paradigms, but he always kicks crooked. So instead of going across the field, the ball falls into the little pond next to the pasture… I mean, the high-intensity autonomous training field, licensed by the Good Government Council, number who-knows-which, headquarters in the Tulan Kaw Caracol, address unknown.

The gang crowds around the edge and sees to their dismay that the ball is floating in the very center of a hostile sea. Ok, in the middle of a puddle, since the diameter of the “pond” isn’t more than ten meters and no more than fifty centimeters deep.

With all the optimism her name implies, Esperanza Zapatista says, “There are definitely ferocious sharks in there, the kind that don’t even chew, they just swallow you and you die a horrible death in a shark’s belly, next to little fish and plastic bottles that it gobbled up before.”

The one-eyed horse perks up its ears when it hears “plastic bottles,” but it doesn’t move.

While Esperanza was painting that beautiful impressionist image of a “Sharknado,” Pedrito was consulting his cellphone. He declares:

“Impossible: there are no freshwater sharks. Therefore, we shouldn’t fear those selachians[ii] here.”

They all breathe a sigh of relief. But Pedrito continues, “However, it’s quite probable that there are crocodiles,” signaling something resembling a trunk floating in the pond. They all shudder.

For its part, the cat-dog is a dog but also a cat, so no way is it getting wet.

Defensa Zapatista reflects, “Well, that ball was old anyway. Maybe the Sup has another one stored away, or he can ask for one from the city folk.”

While the gang is trying to pass off their fear as sound judgment, Calamidad, who has been watching all this from her hiding spot, comes out, gets in the water, grabs the ball, comes back with it, and places it before Defensa Zapatista.

After coming out of its stupor, the gang erupts into thunderous applause and tries to carry Calamidad on their shoulders, only to find she weighs a lot, so they opt for some pats on the back.

The ball now retrieved, Defensa Zapatista begins giving new instructions but, when they turn to look, Calamidad has once again thrown the ball into the water.

Defensa asks her, “Why’d you do that?” And Calamidad responds by getting into the water and retrieving the ball once more. They applaud her again. The third time she does it, the gang receives the ball with a grave silence.

After the fifth time, they all have to restrain Calamidad so she doesn’t hurl the ball into the water again. Calamidad is confused: isn’t that what the game was all about?

The team retreats a bit, clutching the ball, backing away from Calamidad’s compulsion. Only Defensa Zapatista remains, an intrigued look on her face as she contemplates the girl. Her complicated mind, full of soccer strategy and tactics, now understands what the late SupMarcos once said: “The beauty of surprise isn’t just doing something unexpected; it’s where you do it, when you do it, with what… and with whom.” Defensa Zapatista’s face lights up. She asks the girl, “What’s your name?” and the girl responds, “I’m a Calamity.”

Defensa hugs Calamidad and says, “You’re going to be on our team. Now your name is Calamidad Zapatista.” She faces the rest of the team and informs them, “We have a new secret weapon.” While Defensa explains a new and complicated strategy of gameplay called “resistance and rebellion,” all watch in horror as Calamidad chucks the ball into the water again and, after laughing, throws herself into the stormy sea (ok, the pond) to retrieve the ball.

Esperanza swears a monstrous whale pushed the ball to Calamidad. Pedrito clarifies that it wasn’t a whale but a Kraken that had taken refuge in Zapatista lands… ok, Zapatista waters.


The point is that Calamidad was happy to have new friends, and not just any friends. This was Defensa Zapatista’s gang, the only gang with restraining orders against them from practically the entire Zapatista organizational structure.

Calamidad Zapatista is around three or four years old, and since she’s the smallest in age (but not in size) she does as she was taught and calls her elders “doña.” She calls Defensa Zapatista “Doña Defensa,” which doesn’t please her or Esperanza, who is now “Doña Esperanza” at eight years old.

Now part of a new group, Calamidad felt compelled to inform her previous kid gang. She bid farewell to the piglets with a heartfelt speech, to which they responded by sniffing and chewing her pants. All those present swear that the mother piggy’s eyes teared up.

The Subs, the CCRI, the zones, the Juntas, the MAREZ, and all existing and as-yet-uncreated autonomous commissions can complain all they want, but you have to admit that the members of Defensa Zapatista’s gang look out for each other. That is why Calamidad could now attend the various public events of the EZLN from which she was previously prohibited for fear that she would cause a calamity.

During these events it was not uncommon to see a girl passing by with a fierce escort of milicianas. We all knew of course that they were not protecting her but rather protecting the attendees from her, because she was, well, a calamity.

Pedrito explains it thus:

“How can I put it? The compañerita Calamidad, well, she’s a calamity. No one loves her, only SupGaleano and Defensa Zapatista. She and the Sup talk and then they both start singing together, Calamidad and SupGaleano. They sing really loud, like their stomachs hurt. But they think they sound good. They put on their plays, but no one watches. Just the crickets. The Sup says the crickets applaud, but what else are they going to do? The crickets just make noise all the time, they’re not applauding. But Calamidad believes it and goes out to take a bow for her loving audience, just like the Sup taught her, and then the Sup tells terrible and marvelous stories while they gobble down popcorn.”

And at this very moment only the Sup, the cat-dog, and Calamidad are in the hut. And right there, all at once, the Sup puts a handful of popcorn with hot sauce in his mouth, followed by a gulp of a well-known soda, and begins his tale…


The History of Popcorn

Long ago, when time began its jerky walk, stumbling along like a drunk old man, the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, met in an assembly and made an agreement to charge the wisest of them all, Ixmucané, with making the men and women of corn.

But the male gods were very foolish, as usual, and they didn’t realize they couldn’t do this because they hadn’t yet created corn. So Ixmucané said to them, “Look, brothers, how do you expect me to create humanity from corn if corn doesn’t yet exist?” “True,” said the male gods, “But well, you’ll have to figure it out, because it was already agreed upon in assembly and you have to follow through.”

Ixmucané grumbled for a while, as women grumble, asking herself how she’s supposed to get this done if there’s no way how, fucking men just don’t think, now what am I going to do, and let’s see if I can figure out how to solve this problem.

While Ixmucané thought, the male gods started bad-mouthing her, saying that Ixmucané is a loafer, that she doesn’t carry out agreements, that she’s acting the fool [like a duck], and another other says, “And we haven’t even created ducks yet!” and so on. And they began to wonder why they had to wait on Ixmucané if they were the wise ones.

So they made the first men and women out of the first thing they found, wood. But the men of wood didn’t move well: they all walked like they had a cramp.

So they made others of gold, but they were very heavy and couldn’t walk at all.

And while the male gods were thinking of what to do, the men of gold forced the men of wood to pick them up and carry them from one place to another and feed and worship them.

The gods didn’t know what to do. Ixmucané saw how things were and became angry. She scolded the male gods, since it was their fault that the golden ones had been able to enslave the wooden ones.

And the male gods said, “Who knows who did it, it wasn’t us, we’re busy with important things.”

Ixmucané replied, “No excuses. Apart from being foolish, you’re cowards who don’t take responsibility for your nonsense and half-baked ideas. We’re going to call this screw-up of yours patriarchy, because you men created this injustice.”

Once she’d given them a good talking to, Ixmucané showed them that she had created corn. The male gods applauded and congratulated each other on their great idea, saying that Ixmucané had just done in practice what they had thought in theory.

Ixmucané didn’t say anything else, but she carried in her hands corn of all colors and used it to create the men and women who populate the world. And she also created loas otroas [the others] because, as she said, it is good that the world know it has many worlds within it and not just those you can see right there. That’s how they made the men, the women, and loas otroas, and the gods went off to dance.

(Illustration in mixed media, Libe, Mexico City, 2021)

Ixmucané looked down at her hands, and saw that she hadn’t used up all the corn she had created, that there was still a little left. Ixmucané thought to herself that another lesson was needed for this world that had just begun to walk. So Ixmucané created some corn that was much smaller and put it into the earth so it could grow.

(Illustration in mixed media, Libe, Mexico City, 2021)

Sometime later, the corn walked from here to there, working so that the men and women and loas otroas that were building the world would have energy. But no one paid attention to the smallest corn; they laughed at it and looked down on it. All the little ears of corn were sad because no one acknowledged them. So a group of small ears of corn got it in their head that this wasn’t ok (why were they looked down upon and not acknowledged?) and began to object. The other corn passed by the group of little dissenting ears of corn and said “There’s that group of dissenting corn, but they’re really small so no one will care.”

So the group of little ears of corn realized that it wasn’t working this way, that everything would stay the same even with their dissent. Then Ixmucané came by as she was making her rounds of the world to see if everything was being done properly. And she ran into the group of little ears of corn and asked what they were doing. The corn told her about their dissent. Ixmucané laughed, but in a caring way, not a mocking one, and said to the little corn, “Look, little brothers, it’s not enough for you to dissent. You have to be in resistance and rebellion. You have to rebel, to be enraged, angry, and to organize yourselves.”

Ixmucané left because the male gods continued with their foolishness, and she had to figure out how to fix their mistakes.

The group of little ears of corn kept thinking about what Ixmucané told them and said, “Alright then, we’re going to get angry.” They started thinking of all the humiliation and insults they had been subject to, and got angrier and hot with rage and so on until they were red with so much anger that they couldn’t stand the heat and Pop! One exploded, jumping up and becoming spongy, and then another and another, and a wind came and swept them up. The rest of the small corn started doing the same, one and another and another popping and jumping. Then there were many and the sky was full of popping corn.


(Illustration in mixed media, Libe, Mexico City, 2021)

A little girl looked to the sky and said “They look like doves.” And a boy said, “Yeah, but small ones.” And the girl said, “That’s it, like little doves.”[iii] As kids tend to do, the boy grabbed a kernel of popcorn and ate it and said, “It tastes great.” And the girl said, “Yes, but something’s missing,” and right beside them they found a jar that Ixmucané had forgotten which they poured on the popcorn, which made it spicy but tasty.

So the girl and boy called out to all the world’s boys and girls and niñoas, and they started snatching up the flying corn and putting it into a bowl with hot sauce and eating until it gave them diarrhea, but continuing the party anyway.

Then the rest of the corn stared with surprise and admiration because the little corn was the only corn that could fly, and so they respected the little corn. And they kept the name “popcorn” [maíz palomero, “dove corn”] which means “corn that flies and throws a party” in a language that I just invented.

The end.

Calamidad applauds with wonder. The cat-dog doesn’t applaud because its paws are covered in popcorn with hot sauce so it’s patiently licking them because here nothing is wasted… when it comes to popcorn.

Calamidad declares she’s going to play popcorn. She goes to the middle of the hut and begins to hold her breath and puff up, until she gets red and then purple (like kids do when they throw a tantrum), and the Sup is just about to give her a thump so that she breathes when Calamidad jumps and yells “POP!” as she exhales. She looks to the Sup, expecting him to do the same, and when he just keeps on eating, Calamidad says “So are you a Zapatista or not?” This hits Sup Galeano in the gut and he tries to hold his breath but since his mouth is full of tobacco smoke and popcorn he ends up hacking and coughing, spraying half-chewed bits of popcorn. Calamidad, her face now smeared with her own popcorn and his, claps excitedly because, as she says, the Sup made the noise of lots of popcorns popping.

The Sup is about to choke, but he recovers quickly when an insurgenta from the Health team comes in and says, “He’ll need an injection.” Everyone runs, led by the cat-dog (who wasn’t about to be confused with the Subcomandante), leaving only Calamidad who also heads off with the medical pack, toward the small pond where a pair of whales frolic and jump, knowing they’re safe from the boats of fucking Chinese-Japanese-Korean big capital that, instead of following traditional ways and customs – meaning Anime, K-Pop (팬덤 군대 일어) and great walls – want to hunt them and convert them into dollars, yuan, yen, euros, with the leftovers in pesos…

(Ilustración técnica mixta, Libe, Ciudad de México, 2021)


On How Defensa Zapatista’s Team Won Their First International Match

One day, the first international soccer match was held in which the intergalactic team of Women Who Struggle faced off against the very other team whose captain was Defensa Zapatista.

The peculiar strategy of the Zapatista team’s technical coach seemed to work:

When the opposing side had possession and went on the offensive, Calamidad came onto the pitch, took the ball, and threw it into the pond.

At that moment Defensa Zapatista’s team began spreading rumors about the ferocious sharks living in the pond. Pedrito pointed out that that wasn’t possible, but there were surely enormous crocodiles. Esperanza spoke of a gigantic whale that, every so often, would surface with a white ski mask.

They ended up stoking panic with a skill that far surpassed even social media.

Obviously Calamidad then went into the water and returned with the ball. The opposing side, following what’s called “fair play,” thanked her and tried to raise her onto their shoulders, but there was no way.

The fourth time they ran this play, the international women’s team requested expulsion of the delinquent player who repeatedly threw the ball into a sea infested with tiger sharks, lizards, alligators, Hydras, Krakens, and even killer whales (so they said). But they ended up divided amongst themselves over an argument about gender solidarity, saying that expelling Calamidad was evidence that heteropatriarchal thought had contaminated women.

They went on debating until they realized that the cat-dog had made a give-and-go pass for the history books against the head of the one-eyed horse (who had fallen asleep on the edge of penalty area) and, with a style surpassing Messi-Ronaldo, scored on the opposing team. The cheers came not just from the fans as they flooded into the pasture, I mean, stadium (actually only SupGaleano and Elías Contreras were there, plus a lone popcorn stand with two supremely bored insurgentas), but also from Defensa Zapatista, because it was the first time the cat-dog didn’t score an own-goal.

The referee sounded the final whistle and the game ended. Defensa Zapatista’s gang had won their first world victory.

Once again, they tried to raise Calamidad up onto their shoulders, and once again they failed. As such, the festivities weren’t able to completely take shape.

But SupGaleano saved the day, mentioning that he’d heard a rumor (in no way verified, possibly fake news) that Vlady had given SubMoy a box doughnuts of every flavor; that SupGaleano regretted they weren’t honeybuns, but as the saying (that he invented just then) goes, “When there are no honeybuns, doughnuts will do”; and that SupMoy had gone to the Film Festival, and that he’d locked the door to the “ee-zee-el-en” General Command, which was a problem, but the solution was that he’d given the key to SupGaleano who, in that very moment, dropped the key right in front of the gang; and that he’d be very sorry to tell SupMoy that he lost the key in the stadium, er, in the pasture, but that Defensa Zapatista’s gang had pitched in and found it; and “Here’s the key SupMoy, how was the film festival?”

And when SupMoy realized that cardboard was all that was left of the box of doughnuts, SupGaleano would inform him that in the small pond in Puy he’d seen a large whale with a piece of rainbow doughnut stuck on its chin, which the Sup inferred meant it wasn’t a whale [una ballena] or a vallenato[iv], but unoa ballenoa, and that our duty as Zapatistas was to give it shelter and support, because difference shouldn’t be punished but celebrated with, for example, a dance, and that – what a coincidence – SupGaleano had recently made a self-critique to the music commission because the musician compañeros only ever played La Yaquecita, and enough already with that tune (the other night they played it 53 times) and with the one that goes “así, así, así” (played 32 times during the previous dance), and the Music Commission said, “We’ll look into it.” Then the musician compañeros started up with the Cumbia del Sapito [Little Toad Cumbia] and, as we all know, the toad is the whale’s first cousin; they announced the dance over the speakers and the people took off running, even the Tercios Compas dropped their equipment and took SupMoy to the dance…

(Watercolor. Fernando Llanos, Chiapas, 2019, excerpt of the book Journey to Reality, Ediciones Necias.)

The last ones left are SupGaleano and the cat-dog, who barks and meows at him. “I knew you’d find it,” SupGaleano says, taking off his hat, uttering the magic word “alakazam,” and pulling out a doughnut, once again a chocolate one, the last doughnut in the mountains of Southeastern Mexico. Since the chocolate was melting and sticking to his head, SupGaleano is wondering how he’s going to clean his ski mask.

While he shares the doughnut with the cat-dog, SupGaleano begins to tell a terrible and marvelous story of a girl named Calamidad Zapatista who, to their dismay, appears in that moment with one of the Tercios’ mixing boards and says, “Wanna play?” while she walks toward the pond to throw the equipment to unoas ballenoas that are frolicking, happy to be taken into account.

So yes, no way around it, the cat-dog and SupGaleano had to share the doughnut with Calamidad, and that stopped her, but just for a moment, because then Calamidad found SupGaleano’s popcorn and, her cheeks stained with sugar, said merrily, “Let’s play popcorn!”

The end.

From the mountains of Southeast Mexico.


Realizing you can’t clean a ski mask with spit, but solving the problem by putting on a cowboy hat. A handsome man, that one…to each his own. ¡Ajúa![Yee haw!]



[i]      The reboso is a shawl traditionally worn by Mexican women, variously used to cover the head, the shoulders or to carry bundles, including children.

[ii]     Selachii is a classification that includes cartilaginous fishes such as modern sharks and rays.

[iii]   The Spanish word for popcorn, palomita, literally means little dove.

[iv]    Colombian musical genre whose name, vallenato, is jokingly posed as a masculinized version of the word for whale, ballena.


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