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(en) Mexico, Chiapas, Marcos to the insurgentas

From "irlandesa redux" <irlandesa_irl@hotmail.com>
Date Mon, 13 Mar 2000 04:19:32 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Letter 6e.

To those who have fallen,
To those who are following,
To those who shall come…

There goes my heated letter,
dove forged in fire,
with two folded wings
and the address in the middle.
Bird who pursues only
nest, air and sky,
flesh, hands, your eyes,
and the space of your breath.

Miguel Herna'ndez.

"The letters are late and they are not enough
to say what one wants."

Jaime Gil de Biedma.

Performing a balancing act with its nocturnal hat, the March hare is 
indecisive.  It still does not know whether to rain, or to be content with 
letting the sky be stained with black ink.  It is now the women's March, 
from the 8th to the 21st, that of the zapatista women, of the insurgentas.

I have spoken before of the rebel women, the insurgentas, of our being 
beside them, of their small and large heroisms.  Every March 8, we 
insurgents face them and give them the military salute.  A small fiesta 
usually follows, with the meager resources of our camps in the mountains.  
The women have been in the mountains of the Mexican southeast from the 
beginnings of the EZLN.  As time passed, more were to join that small 
delirious group, which the world would later know as the "Zapatista Army of 
National Liberation."

There are things, small, daily, that form part of the guerrilla life, and 
which are like small dues that the mountain imposes on those who dare to be 
part of it.  I know each and every one of these difficulties, and I well 
know that, for the women, they are double.  Not because we impose them like 
that, but rather because of things that come from other parts and other 
times.  If someone were to admire the fact that someone would abandon their 
history and, as we say, "join up with the guerrillas" – joining the 
profession of insurgent soldier – they should stop and look at those who 
make that choice while being women.  Their admiration would be double.  In 
addition to confronting a particularly harsh environment, the insurgentas 
must also confront a cultural code which, beyond the mestizo-indigenous 
division, determines "spaces" (I mean attitudes, places, duties, work, 
responsibilities and the multiple etceteras added by a society built on 
exclusion) which are not for women.  If an insurgenta thinks she has too 
much work with carrying, walking, training, fighting, studying and working 
along with the men, she is wrong.  It could always be worse.  And, in our 
case, what is "worse" is to be in command.

Primarily indigenous, the EZLN carries with it, not just the hope of 
something better for everyone, but it also drags along the world's troubles 
and blindness, which we want to leave aside.  If, in the indigenous 
communities and in the cities, women must confront a world where being male 
is a privilege that excludes those different (women and homosexuals), in the 
mountain and as troop commanders, they must confront the resistance by the 
majority of the insurgents to take orders from a woman.  If this resistance 
saw itself substantially diminished during the 1994 combat, this does not 
mean that it has completely disappeared.  The male will invariably think 
that he can do it better than his commander, if it is a she, a woman.  
Something similar takes place in the villages, but I am specifically 
speaking now of the regular troops, of the insurgents…and the insurgentas.

Over the last few days, there has been just one merit promotion in the EZLN, 
that is, a raise in military rank.  An insurgenta, Maribel, rose from First 
Captain to Infantry Major.  The now Major Maribel is still small and dark, 
she is still a woman, the only thing that has changed is that now she 
commands an entire regiment.  To those problems which she confronts in her 
new status as commander of a zone, must be added those that correspond to 
her for being a woman.  Like her, other compa~eras, with or without command, 
in arms and services, rigorously carry on, paying their dues of dedication 
and sacrifice, the same as all the combatants.  But, if the part least 
exposed now to the glare of outside spotlights is the insurgent troops, the 
insurgentas add one more shadow to that of the ski-masks they wear:  they 
are women.  And, I should say, they also add a superior level of heroism to 
ours, the men.  We might not understand it (in spite of regulations and 
statutes, of the revolutionary law of women, of talks and statements), but 
we shall not let it go unrecognized.

And alongside Maribel are other officers in what we call "Health Services," 
there are the Insurgent Captains Oli-Ale (the woman with the most active 
years within the EZLN) and Mo'nica, and Insurgent Lieutenant Aurora.  There 
are more, officers and troops, some of whom I have already mentioned, years 
ago, on an occasion like this one. I shall not name some others because 
there has already been an occasion to do so.  Before them, there was Alicia, 
from the first group that founded the EZLN in 1983, and the first woman with 
troop command (and so the first in the mountains;  in confronting the 
problem of, being a woman and commanding men):  a little later Luci'a 
arrived, who is the insurgent author of the words to the Zapatista Hymn (and 
of many of the songs that are heard today in the nights of the mountains of 
the Mexican southeast).  And still earlier there were Murcia (the first 
woman in the zapatista guerrilla to fall in combat in 1974), Deni' Prieto S. 
(fallen in combat in 1974), Soledad (fallen in combat in 1974), Julieta 
Glockner (fallen in combat in 1975) and Ruth (fallen in combat in 1983, who 
taught me how to shoot).

Through all of them, and with them, is Lucha, whom we call "the stainless 
steel insurgenta."  More than 30 clandestine years cause Lucha's ski mask to 
shine among us in a special way.  Today, in spite of the cancer that she 
hardly lets bother her, Lucha continues to be the first among our guerrilla 
women, the best memory.

This March 8, saluting our current insurgentas, we are saluting all those 
who preceded them and us, and who, in more than one sense, transcend us.

I shall tell you something about the name "insurgentas."  The anecdote could 
have taken place at any time and in any place in that neglected dailiness of 
the life of the mountains.  I found myself leading a military training.  
Between exercise and tactical exercise, the guerrilla column was trotting to 
the rhythm of more or less obvious chants:  I would, for example, shout "Who 
lives?" and the troops would respond in unison "The Patria!"  That is how it 
was done and how it is done.  One of the chants of combat march is when the 
commander asks "What are we?" and everyone responds "Insurgents!"  On that 
day that I am now recounting to you, half the column was made up of women, 
and, when I shouted "What are we?" the response was a disorderly clamor.  I 
thought they were tired and I gave the order to halt.  Deployed in what is 
called a "firing line," the troops remained in position, at attention and in 
silence.  I put myself in front of them and again shouted "What are we?" and 
then I could clearly hear that, while the males were responding 
"Insurgents!" the women were overcoming the men's voices, and they were 
imposing their shout of "Insurgentas!"  I remained silent.  I gave the men 
the order to "fall out."  Then, facing just the women, I repeated "What are 
we?"  They responded, without any interference now, strongly and firmly, 
"Insurgentas!"  I kept looking at them, disconcerted, and I noted a slight 
smile on their faces. I went back to the "What are we?" and they repeated 
"Insurgentas!" I lit my pipe and smoked slowly, not looking at anything.  I 
called them all to formation and told them, in so many words, "Today we 
learned that we are going to win.  Are there any questions?"  Silence.  In a 
strong voice I ordered "Attention!  Insurgents!"…I turned around to look at 
the compa~eras, and I added:  "And Insurgentas!  Fall out!  Now!"  The sound 
of the boots was, indeed, uniform.  Thank goodness, I muttered to myself.  
Everyone went to the quartermasters'.  I remained smoking, seeing how the 
afternoon, feminine as it is, was covered in sea and lilacs, in insurgentas.

The zapatista insurgentas…Now, this time, I want to speak more about one of 
them.  Concerning this woman I could say that she is one more of us, but for 
me she is not one more, she is unique.  The Sea is not a literary character, 
she is a woman, she is a zapatista.  She was the architect of last year's 
national and international consulta (and an important part of each and every 
one of the peace initiatives during these 6 years), and, as frequently 
happens with the zapatistas, her anonymity is double for the fact of her 
being a woman.  Now, given that it is March 8, I wish to make it clear that, 
although most of the time the public figure belongs to me, many initiatives 
belong, in their design and realization, to other compa~eros and compa~eras. 
  In the case of the consulta, it was a zapatista woman:  The Sea.  As soon 
as March 21 was over, she picked up her pack and joined the unit.

One must also remember that the mobilization of women (in Mexico and in the 
world) in that consulta formed the backbone, in the contact office (national 
and international), in the brigades, in the actions: women (of all sizes, 
origins, status, colors, ages) were the majority.  And so, in order to 
salute the women who are fighting and, above all, those who are fighting and 
who are not seen, in several senses, the insurgentas appear in these lines.  
In order to celebrate them I have asked for the accompaniment of an old 
indigenous wise man: Old Antonio, and also of the most intrepid and gallant 
knight these worlds have ever seen:  Durito, alias Nebuchadnezzar, alias Don 
Durito of the Lacandona, alias Black Shield, alias Sherlock Holmes, alias 
Durito Heavy Metal, alias whatever occurs to him).  Sale pues, best wishes 
to the rebel women, to those without face, to the insurgentas…

Down below, March is once again repeating its three first letters in the 
eyes which, wheat in the light, it reads.  Fito Pae'z accompanies me to give 
a gift of dress and love, and I went ahead, on the little tape player, with 
"everything you tell me is too much."  I take advantage of a gust of wind, 
and I reach Don Durito, who is painstakingly sawing and nailing I know not 
what on his sardine can.  I already know that I have said before that it is 
a pirate ship.  Durito has, in fact, turned around to look at me with eyes 
like sharpened daggers when I have written "sardine can," but I have done so 
only so that the reader might remember that Durito is now Black Shield 
(Escudo Negro), the famous pirate who shall inherit a truly difficult trust 
from the dead Barbarroja [Redbeard].  The vessel on which Durito, excuse me, 
I meant Black Shield, arrived here is called "learn from the mistakes of 
others," for reasons still unknown to me.  Durito has proposed to me that I 
accompany him in the search for a treasure.  I have already recounted all of 
this in a previous letter, and so I shall not go on about it.  The fact is, 
in this March of the sea, I have come to where Durito is working in order to 
see what he is doing and in order to ask for guidance and advice.

Durito is giving the last blows to what I surmise to be a topmast with 
velacho, when I clear my throat in order to let my presence be known. Durito 

_  Good, there it is.  Now, with you in the bow, no adversary shall be 
capable of opposing  us.

I smile melancholically and look at the vessel with indifference.  Durito 
scolds me: - It is not just any "ship."  It is a galley, a classic vessel, 
destined for the war in the 16th century.  The galley can be propelled by 
sails or by the oars used by the so-called "galley slaves."

He pauses and continues:  - And, speaking of sails [velas], might one know 
why the sadness is veiling your face?

I make an "it's not important" gesture.

Durito interprets it and says:  -  Ah!  Love sickness…He slowly puts the 
hammer and saw aside, disembarks and, taking out his little pipe, he sits 
down next to me.

- I assume, my future run prow, that what has you sad and heavyhearted is 
nothing other than a she, a female, a woman, in fact.  I sigh.  Durito 

- Look, my dear bathtub sailor, if the one keeping you up is a woman, but a 
unique one, then the illness is serious, but the remedy possible.

- I confess -  It so happens that, yes, it is a woman, a unique one, she who 
is sea for many more reasons than the "Mariana" which names her.  One 
unlucky day I drifted away from her, and now I cannot find the means or 
manner of taking refuge in her damp, of having bad storms forgotten, of her 
forgiving me.

Durito takes a long puff and sententiously declares:

-  Your lacks and losses are great and serious, but I can give you some 
counsel if you promise to follow my directions to the letter.

	I said "yes" with an enthusiasm that made Durito jump with surprise.  He 
readjusts his eye patch as best he can and says:

- It is necessary to resort to a spell.  In love, the world is, as always, a 
puzzle, but it so happens that, if a unique one finds a unique one, the 
pieces make sense and take form, and the puzzle is put off and breaks faces 
,arms and legs.

- And hearts – I say, rubbing the anguish I am feeling in mine.

- Good, where I'm going is that the spell will only have an effect if she, 
the Sea in your case, is willing to submit to it, because, otherwise, all 
will be useless.  I mean that the spell will not work if the person on whom 
the spell is cast is not aware that she is being charmed.

- A strange spell, this – I say.

Durito continues without paying me any mind: -  Bring her a good memory, one 
of those which serve for seeing ahead and far away, one that shall make her 
lift her gaze and take it long and deep.  Tell her to look ahead, not to the 
following day, not to the next week, nor to the coming year.  Further ahead, 
further away.  Do not ask her what she sees.  Only look at her looking 
ahead.  If you see that her gaze smiles with tenderness, then you will be 
forgiven, and there shall be wheat and beach and sea and wind, and you will 
be able to sail once again, and that, and nothing else, is what love is.

Durito picks up his things once again and continues fixing the galley.  The 
destination of the trip is still unknown to me, but Durito remains silent, 
letting me know that I should go and carry out what he has told me.

I wander about through the dawn a bit more.  I seek to find The Sea in bed.  
I know that you are thinking that I am speaking of just bed, but here bed is 
any bed or table or ground or chair or air, as long as our shadow is doubled 
in the other, never one, always two, but so close together. I think that, if 
The Sea is sleeping, it will be a problem to wake her up with this absurd 
story of the spell.  Then it occurs to me that I should address the issue 
indirectly, approaching while whistling some tune, commenting on the 
weather…or trying to write a love poem.

But the problem, I sense, is that the poem of love holds a lock, an ultimate 
secret, which only a few, a very few, almost no one, is able to open, to 
discover, to free.  One is left with the impression that what one feels for 
someone has already found its perfect, brilliant, complete formulation in 
someone else's words.  And one crumples up the paper (or, in cybernetic 
times, decrees the file in question "deleted") with the commonplaces in 
which feeling is made word.   I do not know much of love poetry, but I do 
know it enough that, when my fingers resort to something like that, I sense 
that it seems more like a strawberry malted than a love sonnet.  In short, 
poetry, and more specifically, love poetry, is for anyone, but not everyone 
has the key that opens its highest flight.  Because of that, when I am able 
to, I call on the poets, friends and enemies, and, to the ear of The Sea, I 
bring back the plagiarisms which, barely stammered, appear to be mine.  I 
suspect that she knows, in any case, she does not let me know, and she 
closes her eyes and lets my fingers stroke her hair and her dreams.

I draw close and I think and I feel and I say to myself such desires to 
return to the beginning, to start again, to go back to the first stroke of 
the first letter, the "A" of the long alphabet of the company, to return to 
the first sketch that the two of us made together and to begin to grow once 
more, and, once more, to hone the point of hope.  There she is.  She sleeps. 
  I draw close and…


And all of this comes to mind, or to the story, because, in this sea of 
March, everything seems to smell of desolation, of impasse, of irretrievable 
fall, of frustration.  Because I am sure that it would seem strange to all 
of you that I would dare, today, to prophesy the return of the flags of all 
colors, peopling, from below, fields, streets and windows.  And I dare to do 
so because I am looking at this zapatista woman, her tender determination, 
her dream.  I look at her and, through her and, above all, with her, I am 
promising and promising myself, new airs for those sister flags, banners, 
volanderos, that disturb and make the rich and poor anxious, although for 
different reasons the one and the other. I promise, and I promise myself, 
right in the midst of the most tedious night, another tomorrow, not the 
best, but better.  For this woman who, in the mornings and in front of me, 
pricks up her ears and puts on her pistol while telling me "there comes the 
helicopter" as if she were saying "they are knocking at the door."  For this 
zapatista, for this woman, and for many like her who, two and three times 
behind, carry the weight so that the little good that remains does not fall, 
and in order, with that material, to begin now to build that which today 
seems so far away:  the morning.

Vale. Salud to all, and, for her, a flower.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, March of 2000.

PS THAT FULFILS THE DUPLICITY -  I am attaching here the memory that I gave 
to the Sea.  This is how this Letter 6e. achieves its double wing and takes 
the flight necessary for the entire letter.  Sale y vale:

Story for a Night of Anguish

I tell the Sea that, for some reason that I cannot manage to understand, Old 
Antonio might have read the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in part.  
Instead of becoming impassioned with xenophobia, Old Antonio took everything 
that was good from the entire world, without regard for the land that 
birthed them. Referring to good persons from other nations, Old Antonio used 
the term "internationals," and he used the word "foreigners" only for those 
indifferent to the heart, not caring whether they were of his color, 
language and race.  "Sometimes there are foreigners in the same blood," Old 
Antonio said, in order to explain to me the absurd stupidity of passports.

But I tell the Sea that the history of nationalities is another history.  
What I am remembering now concerns the night and its paths.

It was one of those dawns with which March affirms its delirious vocation.  
A day with a sun like a six-tailed whip was followed by an afternoon of grey 
storm clouds.  For the night, a cold wind was already gathering black clouds 
above a faded and timid moon.

Old Antonio had passed the morning and afternoon with the same calmness with 
which he was now lighting his cigarette.  A bat flew about us for an 
instant, most certainly disturbed by the light with which Old Antonio gave 
life to his cigarette. And, like the tzotz, it appeared suddenly, in the 
middle of the night.

The History of the Air of the Night.

When the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, the very first, were 
thinking about how and for what they were going to do what they were going 
to do, they made an assembly in which each one brought forth his word in 
order to know it and so that the others would know of it.  And so each one 
of the very first gods were bringing forth a word and they were throwing it 
into the center of the assembly and there it bounced and it reached other 
gods who grabbed it and threw it once more, and so the word went like a ball 
from one side to the other until everyone then understood it and then they 
made their agreement, the most great gods who were those who birthed all 
things we call worlds.  One of the agreements they found when they brought 
forth their words was that each path has its traveler and each traveler his 
path.  And then they went about making things complete, or, rather, each 
with his partner.

That is how the air and the birds were born.  Or, rather, that there was not 
air first and then birds to travel it, nor were birds made first either, and 
then air, so that they could fly it. They did the same with water and the 
fish who swim it, the land and animals who walk it, the path and the feet 
which travel it.

But, speaking of birds, there was one that protested very much about the 
air.  This bird said that it would fly better and more quickly if the air 
did not oppose it.  This bird grumbled very much, because, even though its 
flight was agile and swift, it always wanted to be more and better, and, if 
it could not be so, it was, it said, because the air had become an obstacle. 
  The gods became annoyed at how much bad this bird was speaking, who flew 
in the air and complained of the air.

And so, as punishment, the first gods took away its feathers and the light 
in its eyes.  They sent him naked out into the cold of the night and blindly 
he would have to fly.  Then his flight, once graceful and light, become 
disordered and clumsy.

But once found – and after many blows and setbacks – this bird was given the 
ability to see with its ears.  By speaking to things, this bird, or the 
Tzotz, guides its path and knows the world, which answers him in a language 
only he knows how to listen to.  Without feathers to dress him, blind and 
with a nervous and hurried flight, the bat rules the night of the mountain 
and no animal travels the dark air better than he.

>From this bird, the Tzotz, the bat, the true men and women learned to grant 
great and powerful value to the spoken word, to the sound of thought.  They 
also learned that the night contains many worlds and one must know how to 
listen to them in order for them to come forth and to flourish.  The worlds 
of the night are born with words.  Through sounds, they are made light, and 
they are so many they do not fit in the land and many end up adapting 
themselves to the sky.  That is why they say that stars are made on the 

The most great gods also birthed men and women, not so that one would be the 
path of the other, but so that they would be, at the same time, the other's 
path and traveler.  They were made different in order to be together.  The 
most great gods made men and women so that they would love each other.  That 
is why the air of the night is the best for flying, for thinking, for 
speaking and for loving.

Old Antonio ends his history of that March.  In this March, here, the sea is 
sailing a dream where the word and bodies disrobe, they travel the worlds 
without colliding, and love can take flight without anguish.  Up there a 
star discovers an empty space on the ground and quickly lowers itself, 
leaving a momentary rent in the window of this dawn.  On the little tape 
player, Mario Benedetti, a Uruguayan of the entire world, is saying "You can 
go, I am staying."

ANOTHER PS -  Did the Sea accept the spell? It is, as I do not know who 
said, a mystery.

Vale de nuez.  Salud and March is, as always, coming in very crazily.

The Sup, waiting as by law, that is, smoking.

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