That discussion is best left to the experts. Finally, it should go without saying that the ideas here are the fruit of much collective thinking; I take credit only for putting them down in this form, and for any errors of fact or of omission. Z apatista since A Note on the Text communiques have poured forth an endless stream , and they keep coming.
There is no intention here to catalogue Introduction 19 or otherwise delimit or define the range of writing that has come out of the Lacandon jungle in recent years, simply an attempt to collectively read a small but representative cross-section of it. Without these antecedents, this book would have been much diminished. Communiques old and new are also widely available on the Internet.
Despite the enormous value of these books and online resources, I have translated many of the communiques here myself, though many, too, have been translated by others, both named and unnamed. This is not out of any disregard for the work of other translators, but simply because, in some cases, my own translation was done before other English versions I rendered my own versions in English for rare occasions, because I felt that the existing were available; in other cases, the pleasure of it, or, on Conant, Jeff Author.
This treatment attempts to it is due while also respecting one of the signal aspects ofthe commllniqlles: the fact that they are not copyrightecl, hut live in the give credit where public domain, and thus have been widely and variously translated and reproduced. Where other cited texts were originally in Spanish, I have undertaken the translations myself, and, as i n the rest of the material, am wholly responsible for any errors, inaccuracies, or misrepresentations.
Some names of native peoples have a variety of spellings; I have kept Poelils of Resislanle 20 to one standard spelling except in quoted sources, such that two of the pueblos indios of Chiapas are herein called both Tzeltal and Tseltal, and Tzotzil and Tsotsil. When endnotes refer to sources not cited in the bibliography, it is because they were found as quotes in non-source materials.
The ceremony revolved around seven symholic ohjects. We are Mexicans who want to be free. This is the flag of our history. Remember always that our struggle is for liberty. Remember always that our struggle is for humanity. It is our dignity that obliges us to take up arms so that nobody will have to take up arms again. We are soldiers who want to stop being soldiers.
This is the weapon of peace.
Remember always that our struggle is for peace. It is our longing for justice that sends this bullet on its path, that it may speak what our words do not say.
Massachusetts Daily Collegian
We arc voices of fire in need of a rest. This is the bullet of justice. Remember always that our struggle is for justice. It is our pride that we inherited from the ancestors, that which brings blood is that which makes us brothers. We are blood, which nourishes the soil and cries out the thirst of all our brothers and sisters. Remember always that Ollr struggle is for truth.
We are the men and women of corn, the sons and daughters of the first gods, the makers of the world. We are the corn that nourishes our history, that which tells us that we must command by obeying. It is the corn which, in its suffering, relieves the suffering of our brothers and sisters.
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Rememher alw::J. We are the forever dead, those who must die so that we may live. We are the death that has life. This is the death that gives life to all of our brothers. Remember always that our struggle is for life. Seven words that give force to the staff of command of the leader of the true men and women. Carry it with honor, and never allow it to give rise to words that are not spoken by the true men and women. Now you are not you, now and forever you are us. This is the poetic outfitting in which the Zapatistas, a guerilla army and a civil political force, dress their struggle.
Poetics and Aesthetics in Zapatismo. The Farewell of Subcomandante Marcos
As Comandante David has said, "We are the Word. Even in the clanrlestine ritual of the Seven Messages that took place "somewhere in the Lacandon jungle" before perhaps a few hundred indigenous warriors, away from both the press and the public, the flags, the guns, the blood, and the earth are invoked as symbols to animate the army.
In the fifteen-year history of Zapatismo, as in any history, the lexicon of symbols shifts with each twist and counter-twist of the historical plot, but certain persistent features remain. As long as the spirit of Zapata lives, the echoing cry tells us, there will be resistance to Power with a capital "P. As a political figure, the artist is immediately suspicious, whether populist, like a Langston Hughes or a VictorJara, vanguardist, like a Mayakovsky or a Khlebnikov, or some hybrid, like a Roque Dalton, a Federico Garcia Lorca, a John Lennon, or a Subcomandante Marcos.
And rightly so: the first front in any war of liberation is the front of language. Hope lives and dies in the language, and, as Marcos has repeated ad infinitum , the Zapatistas are not professionals of violence, but professionals of hope. In a communique of March 19, , Subcomandantc Marcos speaks of this voice and its power to redeem hope: Brothers and Sisters, With old pain and new death our heart speaks to you so that your heart will listen.
It was our pain that was, it was hurting. Keeping quiet, our voice was silenced. Our voice was of peace, but not the peace ofyesterday, which was death. Our voice was of peace, the peace of tomorrow.
Now we will not die. We will dance. We are named. Health, brothers and sisters! Let death die! The Zapatistas and their primary spokesman and voice, Subcomandante Marcos, recognize that the struggle is to retake Poelils of Resislanle 28 history, to reoccupy it: the revolution is the moment when the true past meets the true future and history is made anew.
Even as the news media have blacked-out the details-especially in the United States where, in the glut of entertainment, news and history have little to do with one another-the popular media has done much to inflate the Zapatista image. For their part, the Zapatistas call it "oblivion," as in "the war against oblivion.
That's why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones. Back in , the first epistles, legend has it, were banged out on a battered Olivetti portable typewriter. Always late, they still somehow managed to arrive at the offices of Mexican media outlets and in the in-boxes of insurgent computer geeks from San Cristobal to San Francisco, from Chilangolandia to Manhatitlan, always bearing as an approximate return address, "las montaiias del Sureste Mexicano.
Later, when Marcos left Chiapas for periods of time with the communiques tended to come no longer from "1m Mexicano," but from a tra Campana, montaiias del Sureste every corner of the Republic. These gestures, the acts that constintte the history of Zapatismo, embody the living spirit of the communiques.
Beyond the communiques are the videos, the other communiques-the murals, the corridos written and sung both within and outside ofZapatista Conant, Jeff Author. It has also brought to the world's attention a particlllarly Mexican hrand of snrrealism, where we are forced to wonder which is the real reality-the subterranean reality of talking beetles and Indian women running through the jungle with ski masks and submachine guns, or the above-board reality of the stock market and the global banking system, where virtual trading in non-commodities trades wealth for hunger as quickly as the sun sets over the bulls and bears of Wall Street and rises over the tigers of Asia.
Marcos, a political strategist and guerrilfero, is not first and foremost an author or a "literary figure" in the way that, say, a Solzhenitsyn is, or a Jorge Luis Borges, or an Alice Walker; he is also not primarily a poet in the way that, say, Breton is, or Ginsberg; to the extent that his oeuvre exists largely in service to the political aims he serves-as opposed to his political aims being best expressed in his poetry-he is not a Roque Dalton, a Garcia LOfca, or an Ernesto Cardenal. While he is a "political writer," one would hardly say that writing is his vocation; he is first and foremost a "political actor," whose writings represent a movement more than an individual.
Rllt there can he little nOllht that Marcos's writing deserves literary treatment and literary analysis.
With the biographical material that we have available, there is no question that Marcos's thinking evolved from a love of literature as lit- Poelils of Resislanle 32 erarure toward literary engagement as a means to effect social revolution. Telling Gabriel Garcia Marquez about his history of reading and the love for books he inherited from his family, Marcos cites Don Quixote as one of the first of the great books he was exposed to, at age twelve, in "a beautiful cloth edition.
Next came Shakespeare.