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Palabra del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional


SCI Marcos. A DEATH…OR A LIFE (FOURTH LETTER TO Don Luis Villoro in the exchange on Ethics and Politics)


October-November of 2011.

“He who names, calls. And someone responds, without prior notice, without explanation,

to the place where their name, spoken or thought, is calling them,

When this happens one has the right to believe that nobody leaves for good 

as long as the word that calls, flaming, brings them.”
Eduardo Galeano.
“Ventana sobre la Memoria”, in Las Palabras Andantes. Ed. Siglo XXI.

For: Luis Villoro Toranzo.
From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Don Luis:

Health and greetings to you.

First of all, congratulations on your birthday November 3rd. We hope that with these letters you also receive the affectionate hug that, although from a distance, we give you.

So let’s continue this interchange of ideas and reflections. Though it will now be more solitary because of the media din around the definition of the names of the 3 rogues that will compete for rule over the bloody soils of Mexico.

With the same frenzy that they issue receipts for “expenses in image promotion,” the media align themselves with one side or the other. They all concur that the shameless blundering displayed by each of their respective aspirants can only be covered up by making even more noise over those of their competitors. The season of Christmas shopping fury now coincides with the sale of electoral proposals. Of course, like the majority of items sold in this season of the year, there is no warranty and no possibility of return.

After the burial of his now ex-secretary of government, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa ran joyfully to the “happy ending” to demonstrate that what is important is to consume, no matter that the Secretaries of State are perishable and carry an unadvertised expiration date.

But even in the middle of the noise there are sounds that pulse for those who know how to look for them and have the daring and patience to do so.

And in these lines that I send you now, Don Luis, palpitate deaths that are lives.

I.- The power of Power.

“The freedom of election lets you choose the salsa with which you will be eaten.”
Eduardo Galeano.
“Ventana sobre las Dictaduras Invisibles” Ibid.

“Let the whores govern, judge, and take care of us, since their sons have failed to do so. ”
Taken from the blog

I must have read it or heard it somewhere. It was something like, “power is not having a lot of money, but rather lying and having many people believe you, having everybody believe you, or at least those that matter.”

To lie greatly and do so with impunity, that is Power.

Gigantic lies that include acolytes and disciples and that give them validity, certainty, status.

Lies made electoral campaigns, government programs, alternative projects of the nation, party platforms, newspaper and magazine articles, radio or television commentaries, slogans, creeds.

And the lie can be so big that it is not static. It changes, not to make itself more effective, but to test the loyalty of its followers. The bad guys of yesterday will be the blessed with a few page turns of the calendar.

Is Power—or its proximity—the great corruptor?

Do men and women come to power with great ideals and it is the perverse and perverting action of Power that obliges them to betray those ideals to the extent that they act contrary to and in conflict with them?

From full employment to the bloody (and lost) war…

From the “mafia of power” to the “loving republic”…

From the “six thousand pesos monthly will cover everything” to “not even in the happy ending can I find a poll that favors me…”

From “My god make me a widow” to “Lupita D´Alessio, make me a lion in front of the lamb…”

From the San Angel group to the palatial Yunque

From the…from the…the… sorry, but I can’t find anything significant that Enrique Peña Nieto has said…

What’s more, I can’t find anything he has said at all, as if he was a bad B actor, the type that appear on soap operas and blabber some speech that no one even corrects.

What’s more, given the obvious, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to register himself in the CEA of Televisa (according to the curriculum, as of the first year they teach “verbal expression”).

I know very well that the media have “read” Peña Nieto’s photograph of registry as the only precandidate of the PRI (where the principal characters of that party appear) as a sign that this man has party support.

Hmm… at first glance it looks to me like a photo accompanying a newspaper article about a new blow to organized crime. That they had dismantled another band of thieves, but that the bullet-proof vest with which they usually like to display the guilty had been replaced by the red shirt.

Later I looked more carefully at the photo. Look my dear, they are not making a show of support. This is a group of vultures that have realized that Peña Nieto is no more than a puppet orphan and that they need to get a hand in the mix because upon arriving at the presidency, it isn’t him that will matter but rather the ventriloquist that manages him.

His designation as presidential candidate will be one more demonstration of the decomposition of the Institutional Revolutionary, and the dispute over who will manage him will be a fight to the death (and for priistas this is not rhetorical).

How pathetic the situation must be that even Héctor Aguilar Camín offers himself up for adoption… and for the urgent need to make literate the poor man.

Thus, we continue to ask:

Is it Power that corrupts or does one have to be already greatly corrupted to take Power, to maintain oneself in Power, or to aspire to get there in the first place?

In one of the long drives of the Other Campaign, passing through the capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, I commented that the Chiapan governor’s chair must have something that converts averagely intelligent people into stupid bosses with the posture of tyrants. Julio was driving, Roger was the copilot. One of them asserted, “or they were already that way and that’s why they came to be governors.”

And later added the following anecdote, something like this: “A woman was passing by the building where congress was in session and heard yells: “Stupid! Idiot! Whore! Thief! Criminal! Killer! Fraud!” and other even ruder expressions. The woman, horrified, turned to a man outside the office reading a book. “This is a scandal,” she said, “we maintain them with our taxes and these representatives don’t do anything but fight and insult each other.” The man looked at her, then at the legislative chambers, and turning back to his book, said: “they aren’t fighting or insulting each other, they’re calling roll.”


II.- Power and Reflection on Resistance .

The Left is the Voice of the Dead. 
Tomás Segovia. 1994.

Hmm… Power… the evidence is unquestionable, the wet dream of the intellectuals from above, the reason for being of the political parties…

Now, with the death of the master Tomás Segovia, we name him, we call him, and we bring him to sit at our side in order to, together, reread some of his texts.

Not his poems, but rather his critical reflections on and in front of Power.

Few, very few, are those intellectuals who have tried to understand, not judge, this turbulent walk that is ours and that we call “zapatismo” (or “neozapatismo” for some). In this sparse list appear, among others, Don Pablo González Casanova, Adolfo Gilly, Tomás Segovia and you, Don Luis.

We embrace all of them, and you, as only the dead embrace, that is, to life.

And those who remember Tomás Segovia only as a poet do so in order to extract this man from his liberatory being. Since Don Tomás can’t do anything now to defend himself or his word, those homages of the “cut and paste” type circulate, editing and arranging the friendly pieces, leaving the uncomfortable ones to oblivion… until other uncomfortable ones remember them and name them.

And in order not to interpret his words (which could be seen as a friendly form of usurpation) I transcribe here parts of some of his writings.

In 1994, at the height of the punishing euphoria of the right, and this is indeed a cultured right because it was headed by Octavio Paz (with businessman Enrique Krauze as one of his courtiers—oh don’t get worked up don Krauze, one can’t scold intellectuals for being of the right or left; rather, as is your case, only for using, in order to stand out, not intellect but rather adulation of the kind of gangsters that now form the government), Tomás Segovia wrote the following (emphasis mine):

Whenever one or another form of fascism prevails, truth and justice take the shape of Resistance.

But one could also say that the left is constitutively resistance. Without doubt, the left fell in our century into an unsalvageable historical error, but this error consists very obviously in the belief that the left could take power. The left in power is a contradiction, as the history of this century has clearly shown us (…)

Today it is clear, I believe, that the left is not the other of the right, with both situated in a relation of symmetric opposites with respect to power. The left is above all the other of power, the other sphere and the other meaning of social life, what was buried and forgotten in constituted power, the return of the oppressed, the voice of the dispossessed before it became that of the poor (and that of the poor only because they are by majority, but not exclusively, the dispossessed)—the left is the Voice of the Dead.

One of the most damaging ideas was that of the “reactionary” that let us think that the right was opposed to progress, that the right is resistance and that it speaks for the past, for the roots, for that which has been overcome. In that sense, the left became convinced that resistance was power in the sense that it was of the right and that it opposed the progressiveness of the left in its tentative desperation to conserve its privileges and its domination, without seeing that power, the same from the right or from the left, is only resistance in a different and much simpler sense: it is resistance to being substituted by another power, whether from the right or the left; but with regard to history power is always progressive.

In Mexico, as is custom, this is seen with particular acuity given the crudity of the relations of power in this country: today we know for sure that no government was more decided and actively progressive than that of Porfirio Díaz, and that today it is the PRI that monopolizes and exploits the rhetoric of progress, of change, of modernization, of the overcoming of nostalgias and the “emissaries of the past,” and even of democracy. 

(This makes me think also that democracy in power of power is a contradiction: democracy is not “demoarchy”—the people in power is a utopia or metaphor, dangerous to take seriously because “the people,” if we imagine this exists or even that it exists only as entelechy, it is by definition what is not in power, the other of power).

But, my enchanting colleagues, when they give themselves up to government knowing that their promises are false, is that because they are seduced? Impossible: seduction is desire in its pure state, it implies the brilliant vision that your joy is my joy. No vision is possible in which the joy of Power is the joy of the “people.”

And in 1996 he stated:

In parallel, in a country that no longer practices the violent prohibition of direct expressions of primary social life, it is the ideology of power that blackmails us, calling us whores—that is, destructive, negative, resentful, morose—or, they will try to persuade us, as the pundits and intellectuals tried to persuade the Zapatistas, as my colleagues (starting with Octavio Paz) try to persuade me, that the “true” form of self-expression and influence in social life is to enter the institutions, or whatever is instituted in general.


Don Luis, I believe you would agree with me in that, responding to these provocative texts of Tomás Segovia, this reflection on Ethics and Politics should touch on the question of Power.

Perhaps on another occasion, and calling upon others, we could exchange ideas and feelings (that are the deeds that animate these reflections) on this question.

For now, we send this call out to Don Tomás Segovia, who declared that he didn’t have time not to be free and without shame confessed: “almost all of my life I have earned an honest living, that is, not as a writer.”

This is not just to bring to this page his unredeemed word, because it is relevant to the moment or question.

It is also, and above all, because more than a poet of both sides, he is a thinker that opened a third door to the Zapatista indigenous movement. Looking, seeing, hearing, and listening, Don Tomás Segovia walked through that door.

That is to say, he understood.

III.- Power and the Practice of Resistance.

Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion, San Andrés Sacamchen de Los Pobres, Highlands of Chiapas. The morning of September 26, 2011, Comandante Moisés left to work in his coffee field. Like all of the ELZN leaders, he did not receive any salary or stipend. Like all of the EZLN leaders, he had to work to maintain his family. His sons were with him that day.

The vehicle in which they were traveling went off the road. All were injured, but the injuries that Moisés suffered were mortal. By the time they arrived at the clinic at Oventik he had died.

In the afternoon, as it is custom in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to cultivate rumors, the death of Moisés had attracted scavenger journalists who thought that it was Lieutenant Colonel Insurgente Moisés who had died. When they found out that it wasn’t him, but rather the other Moisés (Commander Moisés), they lost interest completely. None of them could be interested someone who hadn’t appeared publicly as a leader, someone who had simply been in the shadows, someone who was apparently one more indigenous Zapatista…

The calendar was at about 1985-1986. Moisés heard about the EZLN and decided to join the organizational effort when in the Chiapas highlands you could count the Zapatista on two hands, and you’d have extra fingers.

With other compañeros (including Ramona), he began to walk the mountains of the Mexican southeast, but now with the idea of organization. His small figure would walk out of the clouds and into the small tzotzil hamlets in the Highlands. And his unhurried words would outline the long history of offenses against those who are the color of the earth.

“We must struggle,” he would conclude.

In the early hours of the first day of January of 1994, as one combatant among many, he came down from the mountains to the haughty city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. He was part of the column that took the municipal presidency, forcing the surrender of the government force that guarded it. Along with other tzotzil members of the CCRI-CG, he leaned over the balcony of the building that looked out on the main plaza. In the back, in the shadows, he heard one of his compañeros reading the “Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle” to a multitude of incredulous and skeptical mestizos and hopeful indigenous. Along with his troop, he retreated to the mountains during the first hours of the January 2, 1994.

After resisting the bombings and incursions waged by governmental forces, he returned to San Cristóbal de las Casas as part of the Zapatista delegation that participated in what were called the Cathedral Dialogues with representatives of the supreme government.

He came back and kept walking among the towns to explain, and above all, to listen.

“The government does not have the answer,” he concluded.

Along with thousands of indigenous, he built the Aguascalientes II, in Oventik, when the EZLN was still suffering persecution under Zedillo.

He was one of the thousands of indigenous Zapatistas that, with bare hands, faced off against the column of federal tanks that wanted to position themselves in Oventik in those fateful days of 1995.

In 1996, in the dialogues of San Andrés he was one of the many who kept vigil over the Zapatista delegation, surrounded as it was by hundreds of soldiers.

On foot, in the icy dawns of the Chiapas Highlands, he bore the rain that made the solders run for cover. He didn’t move.

“Power is a traitor,” he said, as if apologizing.

In 1997, with his compañeros, he organized the tzotzil Zapatista column that participated in the “March of the 1,111,” and collected vital information in clarifying the Acteal Massacre that occurred on December 22 of that year, perpetrated by paramilitaries under the direction of Mario Renán Castillo, general for the federal army, and with Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, Emilio Chuayfett, and Julio César Ruiz Ferro as intellectual authors.

In 1998 he organized and coordinated the support and defense provided in the Chiapas Highlands to the compañeros displaced by the attacks on the autonomous municipalities by “Croquetas” Albores Guillén and Francisco Labastida Ochoa.

In 1999 he participated in the organization and coordination of the tzotzil Zapatista indigenous delegation that participated in the national referendum, when five thousand Zapatistas (2500 women and 2500 men) traversed every state of the Mexican Republic.

In 2001, after the betrayal of the entire Mexican political class of the San Andres Accords (the PRI, PAN, and PRD allied themselves to block constitutional recognition of the rights and culture of the original peoples of Mexico), he continued his work in the tzotzil villages of the Highlands, talking and listening.

But then, after listening, he would say, “we must resist.”

Moisés was born April 2, 1956, in Oventik.

Without intention and, most importantly, without any pay or profit, he became one of the most respected indigenous leaders of the EZLN.

Just a few days before his death, I saw him in a meeting of the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee-General Command of the EZLN, where we analyzed the local, national, and international situation, and debated and decided on the steps to take.

We explained that a new generation of Zapatistas was coming into leadership positions. Young people, men and women, that were born after the uprising and that grew up in resistance, who were educated in the autonomous schools and are now chosen as autonomous authorities and become members of the Good Government Councils.

We discussed and agreed on how to support them in their work, accompany them. How to build the bridge of history between they and the veteran Zapatistas. How we inherit commitments from our dead, and memory, and the duty to go on, to not lose heart, to not sell out, to not give up, to not surrender.

There was no nostalgia in any of my bosses.

No nostalgia for the days and the nights that, in silence, they built the force that would become known worldwide as the “Zapatista Army for National Liberation.”

No nostalgia for the journeys in which our word was heard in many corners of the planet.

There was no laughter either, true. There were serious faces, concerned with finding together a common path.

There was, this yes, what Don Tomás Segovia once called “nostalgia for the future.”

“We have to tell the story,” said Comandante Moisés, as a form of conclusion, at the end of the meeting. And the Comandante left for his hut in Oventik.

That morning September 26 of 2011, he left his house saying, “I’ll be back later,” and went to his field to draw from the earth sustenance and more tomorrows.


Writing about him, my hands hurt, Don Luis.

Not only because we were together at the beginning of the uprising and later in the bright days and cold dawns. Also, and above all, because in making this rapid outline of his history, I realize I am talking about the history of any of my bosses, men and women, of this collective of shadows that marks our way, our path, our step.

Of those who give us identity and inheritance.

Maybe the coleto rumorologists and their kind are not interested in the death of Comandante Moisés because he was just one shadow more among thousands of Zapatistas. But for us, we are left with a great debt, as great as the meaning of the words that he left me with, smiling, as he departed from that meeting: “The struggle doesn’t end,” he said, grabbing his bag.


IV.- A death, a life

One could ponder why my words attempt to stretch this complicated and multiple bridge between

Don Tomás Segovia and Comandante Moisés, between the critical intellectual and one of the highest indigenous Zapatista leaders.

One could think that it is death, that in naming them we bring them back to us, so much the same because they were, and are, different.

But no, it is their lives that are relevant here.

Because their absences do not produce in us frivolous homages or sterile statues.

Because they leave in us something pending, a duty, an inheritance.

Because in the face of the most fashionable temptations (media, electoral, political, intellectual), there are those who affirm that they will not surrender, will not sell out, will not give up.

And they do it with a word that is only pronounced with authenticity when it lives: “Resistance.”

There above, death is exorcized with homages, sometimes monuments, street names, museums, or festivals, awards with which Power celebrates capitulation, a name in gold letters on some wall to be torn down.

Death is thus affirmed. Homage, heartfelt words, and turn the page to what follows.


Eduardo Galeano says that nobody leaves for good as long as someone still names them.

And Old Antonio used to say that life was a long and complicated jigsaw puzzle that one could only put together when the inheritors named the dead.

And Elías Contreras says that death needs to have its size, and that it only has it when it is put alongside a life. And he adds that we must remember, when we lose a piece of the collective heart that we are, that death was and is a life.

Just that.

Naming Moisés and Don Tomás, we bring them here again, making a jigsaw puzzle of their lives of struggle, and we reaffirm that, here below, a death is above all a life.


V.- Until later

Don Luis:

I think that with this missive we should end our participation in this useful (it was for us) interchange of ideas. At least for now.

The pertinence of the windows and doors that were opened with the coming and going of your ideas and ours is something that, like everything here, will go about accommodating itself in geographies and calendars that are still to be defined.

We thank with all our heart the accompaniment of the pens of Marcos Roitman, Carlos Aguirre Rojas, Raúl Zibechi, Arturo Anguiano, Gustavo Esteva and Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano, as well as the magazine Rebeldía, which served as our host.

With these texts, neither they, nor you, nor us, seek votes, followers, or disciples.

We seek (and I think we have found) critical, alert, and open minds.

Above they will continue the din, the schizophrenia, the fanaticism, the intolerance, the capitulations disguised as political tactics.

Later will come the hangover: surrender, cynicism, defeat.

Below, the silence and the resistance continue.

Always the resistance…

Alright Don Luis. Health, and let it be lives that the deaths bestow upon us.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, October-November of 2011.

VI. The P.S. ATTACKS AGAIN. – We weren’t going to say anything. Not because we didn’t have anything to say, but because those who are now rightly indignant about the illiterate slander, also slandered us to the point of burning our bridges to other hearts. Now, small that we are, with our small word, just a few of us, of the persistent kind that tend to be the ones who get the historical wheel rolling, they seek out our opinion, seek us out, name us, call us.

We weren’t going to say anything, but…

One of the three rogues that will fight for the throne to rule over the rubble of Mexico has come to our lands and demanded our silence. He is that same person that never matured and never recognized his errors and faults. The same person that heads a group lusting for power, full of intolerance, which sought, seeks, and will seek to blame their own faults and schizophrenias on others. With a discourse closer to Gaby Vargas and Cuauhtémoc Sánchez then to Alfonso Reyes, now he preaches and founds his ambitions on love… for the right.

Those who criticized Javier Sicilia for his show of affection for the political class, will they now criticize the “Loving Republic?”

Those that agreed and preached that Televisa was the evil to defeat, will they now criticize the loving handshake with its primetime lackey?

Will Octavio Rodríguez Araujo now write an article demanding “consistency, leader, consistency”? Will John Ackerman demand of him radicality, arguing that this is what the people want and wait for? Will the ciro-gómez-leyva of La Jornada, Jaime Avilés, denounce him for negotiating with the dogs, the businessmen, his hated López Dóriga? ¿Will the laura-bozzo of La Jornada, Guillermo Almeyra, judge and condemn him as a collaborator (informant), singing his chorus of “let the wretch move on!”

No. They will look the other way. They will say that it is a question of tactics, that he is using this to earn votes with the middle class. Alright, so nothing is what it seems: the encampment on Reforma was not to demand the recount of votes that would have been clear evidence of the fraud, but rather so people would not become radicalized; the critiques of Televisa were not to denounce the power of the media monopolies, bur rather so that they could have access to that company’s spaces (and become once again its client in the electoral spots). What’s next? The brigades collecting donations for the telethon?

We could understand that he was just employing a tactic (clumsy and naïve, we think, but a tactic). That he doesn’t seriously believe the businessmen are going to support him, that the dogs are not going to betray him, that the PT and the Movimiento Ciudadano are parties of the left, that Televisa is changing, that his privileged interlocutor in Chiapas should be priismo (as before it was sabinismo). We could even believe that he is more intelligent then all of them and that he is tricking them by simulating his alliance, or exchanging uses and customs in the impossible political game of “everybody wins” and “love and peace.”

Okay, it’s a tactic… or a strategy (in any case they don’t understand the difference between the two). What is verifiable is that he keeps adding to his right (deserters of the PAN included) and nothing appears on his left. He follows the same steps as his predecessor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, who ingratiated himself with the powerful, betting that the left would have no choice but to support him because “there isn’t anything else.” Okay again, strategy or tactic, it will be explained by the cartoonists. We only ask: when, in Mexico, has it benefited the left to run to the right? When has being servile with the powerful done anything other than entertain them? True, the “dogs” could realize the success of the political tactic (or strategy?), but it’s not about taking that same road again… or is it?

Meanwhile, the cultured attack squads that promote him will continue their juggling acts to justify the change in path… or they will gamble on lack of memory.

In any case, there won’t be a lack of people to blame for finishing third, right?

Alright then.

El Sup, smoking and waiting for the avalanche of lies that, in the name of “freedom of expression” and under copyright, the opposition prepares from above.



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