Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa
The First Other Winds
First Part/II and Last
Above, a hacienda as political program. Below, Mayan dignity awakening the other.
On one side, that of above: the resistance of the powerful to losing privileges won through blood and fire since the times of the Conquest. On the other, that of below: ancient rebellion multiplying its colors.
The postmodern hacienda of the PAN’s Yucatán is adding the establishment of maquiladoras to the tourism and oil. The weak scaffolding of government propaganda is being built on top of this: even though local economic powers are still thinking in the 16th century, Yucatán is exploiting these lands (and their people) using 21st century methods.
This is the National Action Party’s [PAN] political program: an encomendero mentality running an industry. More is missing, this is the “government of change.” The real results are at odds with the fragile PAN stage set: land seizures, privatization of the heritage, industrial exploitation, destruction of nature, migration. This truth is more visible in rural Yucatán: the destruction of the Mexican countryside is not the result of the governments’ lack of skill, rather it is their primary objective. It has to do with a strategic plan that entails, in simple and straightforward terms, a war, a war of reconquest. But this war is not just one-sided, the resistance is also resounding from below.
And then the guardians appear who are making it quite clear that not in their name will the oblivion of the native persons of these lands be legislated. The Mayan artisans who are resisting the seizure of memory made stone of their ancestors. Chichen Itzá: the fishermen of Puerto Progreso, of the Camarón Vagabundo, who denounced that they are turned into criminals if they work because of a law. They have to pay them to get permission to work, and not even then. In addition, the inspectors steal their catch. The ejiditarios of Oxcum who note that they want to seize their lands for an airport. The banda that suffers persecution for making and promoting another culture.
And the fury and indignation looks around, and, with Mayan language, color and ways, they find the others who are also repeating, though separately, that “ya basta!” Also appearing here, along with residents, students, artisans and academics, homosexuals, their Oasis of San Juan de Dios and their threefold struggle against AIDS: against the virus, against the society which discriminates against them and segregates them and against the government which washes its hands of the problem. Others who join in with the struggle for respect for sexual diversity.
They all say, repeat, insist: we’re not going to allow it, no longer, ya basta. And now it is not only pain which can be heard in the voices of below. Also the joy of someone who is beginning to realize that he or she is not alone, who, by being listened to and listening, finds the compañero, compañera.
But the rebel peninsular wind doesn’t stop here, and it goes on to…
Above, destruction as government program. Below, the rebellion of colors.
In Bekal, the first voices resound, and from here they are beginning to sound the alert about the greatness of raising a movement of the people throughout the country. The recounting is made: ejiditarios harassed by corrupt leaders, by the government and by the big owners. Now they have to pay to work their own land, pay to be poor. In the port of Campeche, the voice continues, and the listening is organized primarily by young people. The only point in common with injustice is the number two: 20 wealthy families, 200 of courtiers and 200,000 poor families. The owners of the economy also own the political: a powerful family stands candidates for the three parties: PRI, PAN and PRD. They appropriate large expanses of land and beaches, and the campesinos and fishermen go on to become employees of tourism centers, or they emigrate to the United States.
Hand in hand with wealthy locals, Pemex contributes to the destruction of nature. In Campeche a truth is made evident: nature is being destroyed by the selfsame officials who are in charge of protecting it. The pirates and corsairs who once ravaged the Campeche coasts now hold public and private offices and appear in the society pages while 180,000 residents are surviving in conditions of extreme poverty. The sorrow reaches to Xpujil (Calakmul) and Candelaria. The old PRI politics (sometimes with the flag of the PT, of Convergencia, of the PAN or of the PRD) is being repeated in the Mexican countryside: the buying of campesino leaders, division and confrontations between organizations, repression, persecution, imprisonment, death. Migration to the United States is the only door they find open. The situation isn’t far different from what existed in the times of the chicleros. Injustice is christened in these lands by Carlos Salinas de Gortari as Calakmul (Edificios Gemelos) in order to emphasize the zeal of the neo-conquest of capital: these lands, with everything and the historical wealth they amass, will belong to the new lords of money.
And lies hold an important place in this war: the government social welfare programs do not arrive in full. Those monies remain somewhere else, but government progress is nonetheless announced with pomp and circumstance. The modern divestiture follows known paths: bank credits, increasing interest rates, the bank devouring all the work, and the debt somehow grows, Procede eliminates legal impediments and they are seized. Years of work and, in the end, without land or anything…only rage.
But in the Campeche of below there are rebels who are not just from here, but also from the majority of the states of the Republic. And so rebellion takes on many colors throughout the state. As injustices multiply, so, also, multiply intelligent and organized rebellions.
The Other Campeche joins together artisans, campesinos, cultural and theoretical analysis collectives, beekeepers, cooperative members, mostly indigenous. Many come from the ecclesiastical base communities and committed Christianity. And all of them are in agreement about their being fed-up, about their rage, indignation, rebellion. But they don’t stop there, they form their organizations and educate in the struggle, and there they identify the enemy and the compañero, the opportunist and the momentary passenger.
The wind resounds in the Other Campaign and repeats: “No longer!,” and the echo is so powerful it manages to reach the other country which, below and to the left, watches over the night in order to continue on its path, on another dawn, to Tabasco.
Along its way and in its way, the Otra is beginning to turn into an option, into something else, into another alternative to despair. While up above the noise comes and goes (as does the money to simulate discussion and debate, where there are only e-spot ads), an echo sounds in the other voices of below, an echo which does not end, which is beginning to define itself in collective: the Otra is joining together struggles and thoughts. The “I am” is beginning to transform, step by step, into “we are.”
Various points in common in the first winds:
- The brazen alliance between businesspersons and politicians from all parties.
- Seizure of lands.
- Privatization of the national heritage.
- Premeditated destruction of the environment.
- Repression, persecution and imprisonment of those who fight for social good.
- High cost of living, especially that of electricity.
- Migration to the United States.
- Educational crises at all levels and, in the end, the disaster of unemployment.
- Disgust with the political class and criticism of institutional political parties.
And so the bridges are beginning to be extended between those who below are who we are. The first of them, the struggle for our own: freedom for all political prisoners and the cancellation of all arrest warrants for social activists.
But that is not all. Proposals are also beginning to emerge: the general strike over payments to the Federal Commission of Electricity until fair rates are agreed according to the criteria that the rich pay more and the poor pay less or they don’t pay. The generalized campesino rejection of Procede. The national blockade against the official policy of destroying the environment. The national defense of our heritage in the face of its growing privatization. The building of a new option for future migrants which consists of a cry: Stay and fight! Another 1st of May for the other workers. And the first signs of other realities and demands, which we will explain further along.
Video Click: The Week Above and Below
There are differences, above and below, in looking at how the week transpired. Up above it’s always Monday, even for those who are running as the electoral alternative.
Time and again they tell us that we don’t have to go quickly, we have to stop, walk so slowly that movement is barely feigned.
Ah! It’s so nice up above! Entertainment suitable for a wallet full of plastic, high culture, highways and wide streets for vehicles, second floors in order to reaffirm that we are above, television as an instant stage set in every Mexican home. Ah! And once again those naughty ones of below, listening to each other, exchanging histories which look so nice in books and essays, but that way, being talked about, how they offend, my friend, that democracy of those words of below is in such bad taste. Then what are we for, the popular representatives, the opinion leaders, the columnists, the commentators, editors? Where do they get off dispensing with intermediaries and speaking among themselves? And then, in addition to talking and listening, they dare to agree to rise up. Better that you turn up the volume on the television, my friend! Come on, just like that! How are the polls going? Good, we’re in the lead.
What? The Other Campaign? A murmur, nothing to worry about…Or yes? I don’t know why they’re infuriated and promising us a jail. But who is advising them to try and dispense with us? They themselves? Why don’t they wait? We can go on leading them, teaching them the caution and prudence which we learned and which, you’ll see, is so comfortable! Red and black weekend? Excuse me, no, my friend, that color isn’t registered, it’s worthless. What do you mean they don’t want to be registered? Don’t tell me another politics is possible? And we, the whitewashed tombs of unhurried, exceedingly slow change, take no notice, my friend, because then the investors will be frightened away from us. What is this about their not wanting investors? Or politicians? You see, my friend, they are so very pre-modern. Let’s hope they don’t affect the polls. What would happen to our democracy then?
Yes, they look so pretty when they’re silent, stopped, attentive to our word, to our directions. Yes, ingrates. They don’t know they can’t do anything in such a hurry, so below, so to the left. Yes, little by little. Now, with the project for the Isthmus…What? The same as the Plan Puebla Panama? No, my friend, if this is from the left. Bah! There’ll be a few indigenous peoples disappeared and a few effects on the land. But there will be jobs, maquiladoras and a glimpse of the service and tourism industry booms. Yes, modernity, but with a human face, our face.
That left – how can I say it – isn’t it an ugly, poorly educated, vulgar left? Where is the high level of debate, our skill in dulling the edges of words and our all remaining friends, happy, immobile? Yes, we say what debate is and what it is not. For example, all discussion that ends up in principled commitments is not high-level debate, it’s for ultras, the desperate, resentful. Bah! They can’t take anything, a few indigenous shot, kidnapped, tortured, stripped. No, my friend, don’t look down there. What for? Here is the mature, calm, prudent path. Do you see how we barely move? No, my friend, don’t be distracted, look at me, listen to me, sit down, wait, don’t move, like that, very quiet. Look, what you have to do is to let me do. The rest are just that, the “rest,” the “other.”
Listen, my friend, and are there a lot of them? And you say they’re coming for us? For everyone? Also for the left that’s faithful and loyal to the system? And are they going to take a long time? You know, the academy, the café, the automobile, the position, the symposium, the stroking we give and receive, the invitation to eat with that so very important politician-businessman-leader.
Another communication? All right, tell me why if this one that we have is the one that rules, the one that counts in the polls, the democratic and modern one. As if there’s anything more important to report on other than what concerns me? Another art? What? And the exquisite selection of our tastes? Another culture? That, yes. The charrapastrosos need their own things. They look so cute with all those things. What are they called? Yes, that, with their idiosyncrasies, their crafts, their piercings, their tattoos, their hair sticking up and painted in scandalous colors, their chido-guey-varo-rola things, their music. No, my friend, that’s not rock. Real rock is neat and tidy, “nice,” it’s “your rock is voting,” it’s “better shut up,” it’s about that immobility that moves, jumps and applauds, but thinking…well, my friend, what for? If you’re going to grow up and mature and you’re going to be like us anyway…Or not?
What are you saying? An uprising? National? You mean it’s not just a national mailbox of complaints? They’re also joining together, organizing? But that’s too fast, there should just be a few. What? They’re growing? Listen, but is it true they’re still going to be a while? My grant, my position, my editorial, my essay, my teaching post, my candidacy…
Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Puebla. Eight states and one single challenge: communication, another communication. Among the conclusions of this first third of the trip around the country is that “All Mexico is Telcel country” is a lie. Slim needs to be put in jail, not just for exploiting, but also for lying.
One of the challenges is that of communication with all those who are battling for this. Technology should also seek the path of below so that the weaving of this network can be made visible in the Other Campaign. Here is a job for now, for right now. The alternative media should not be satisfied with keeping the words of the “others” up to date on their current channels. They should, we believe, seek out the others who don’t have the ways or means to learn about this “other” which is growing down and to the left.
Little by little, the alternative media is coming to understand that the Sixth Committee of the EZLN is just their “back stage,” a support team (big-nosed and ill-tempered at this point) which is helping this part of the “other” a bit in the beginning: making the word grow from below and building a collective ear for it. But the science and technology is still lacking to link up the most distant compas.
Provisional Final (only for the broadminded)
Dawn has almost slipped away. The light from the sun is beginning to peek through the crevices, and we must return to the dim shadows which clothe us. The skin of desire and the tempest of her hair are still missing from my hands. A sigh still waits expectantly on lips. The gaze, and the cloud which envelops it, miss the light which is absent from them. Ah! The tricks of imagination: in the half-sleep dream, her thighs were moaning on cheeks and prison for the waist. Standing, the ride of desire ending, after a brief precipice, in a damp and mutual fall. And at the end there were no debts other than those one has with oneself. Ah, the longing to be drenched in her rain. To be sated by her and to make her desire increase.
Dawn breaks with the certainty that there could be no better photo than the one I take with my hands and lips, no better audio or video than that of awakening her gasps and moans, no better show or painting than that of skin joined together, no better meeting than that of our bodies…
Another communication? Another news report? Another art? Another culture? Another campaign? Who in the hell would embrace that nonsense?
They are knocking on the door of the day. The shadow laces up his boots and desires. We must continue walking, listening…
From the Other Tlaxcala,
Mexico, February of 2006
P.S. As of February 15 of this year, the Sixth Declaration and the Other Campaign has gained 1036 political, indigenous, social, non-governmental organizations, groups and collectives supporters, all of them from below and to the left. Without any ads other than their voices, nor any signatures traced other than those of their steps throughout the country, signed firmly and with a flourish. Here we are, we are the Otra, rebel dignity, the heart forgotten up till now by the Patria.