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(en) Mexico, Chiapas, A Message from Marcos - Three Shoulders

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 27 Aug 2004 12:14:19 +0200 (CEST)

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The moon appeared on the shoulder of the night, but for barely a
moment. The clouds separated, like curtains being drawn apart,
and then the nocturnal body flaunted its tracing of light. Yes, like
the mark a tooth leaves on the shoulder when, in the flight of
desire, you don't know whether you're falling or rising.
Twenty years ago, after struggling up the first hill in order to go
into the mountains of the Mexican southeast, I sat down at a
bend in the road. The hour? I don't remember exactly, but it was
when the night says it was already-full-of-crickets-I'd better-get-
to-sleep, and the sun won't get anyone up. It was the dawn.

While I tried to calm down my breathing and my racing heart, I
thought about the advisability of choosing a more serene
profession. After all, these mountains had done quite well
without me before I'd arrived, and they wouldn't miss me.

I should say that I did not light my pipe. In fact, I didn't even
move. And not out of military discipline, but because my entire,
at that time splendid, body was hurting. Beginning a custom
which I have maintained (with rigid self-discipline) up to the
present time, I began cursing my flair for getting myself into

That's what I was doing &endash; the sport of gripe-gripe-gripe
&endash; when I saw a gentleman with a sack of maize on his
back, going up the hill. They had taken the load away from me
half way up the hill so the march wouldn't be held up. But it was
life that was weighing me down, not the pack. Anyway, I don't
know how long I was sitting there, but after a while the
gentleman passed by again, going downhill now, and now
without his burden. But the gentleman was still walking hunched
over. "Chin!" I thought (which was the only thing I could do
without hurting all over), "that's how I'm going to get with time,
my manly demeanor is going to be destroyed, and my future as a
sex symbol will be like the elections, a fraud."

And, sure enough, in a few months I was already walking like a
question mark. But not because of the weight of the pack, but so
I wouldn't catch my nose in the branches and the vines.

About a year later I met Old Antonio. I went to his hut one dawn
to pick up tostadas and pinole. At that time we weren't showing
ourselves to the people, and only a few indigenous knew about
us. Old Antonio offered to accompany us to the camp, and so he
divided up the load into two sacks, and attached the headband to
his. I put the bag in my pack because I don't have anything to do
with the headband. We made the trek with the flashlight until we
reached the edge of the dirt path, where the trees began. We
stopped in front of a stream, waiting for dawn to break.

I don't quite remember how it came up in our talk, but Old
Antonio explained to me that the indigenous always walk as if
they were hunched over, even if they aren't carrying anything,
because they carry the good of the other on their shoulders.

I asked how that was, and Old Antonio told me that the first
gods, the ones who gave birth to the world, made the men and
women of maize in such a way that they always walked
collectively. And he told me that walking collectively also meant
thinking about the other, about the compañero. "That is why
the indigenous walk bent over," Old Antonio said, "because they
are carrying on their shoulders their hearts and the hearts of

I thought then that two shoulders wouldn't be enough for that

Time passed, and, with it, passed what passed. We did not
prepare for battle, and our first defeat was in the face of these
indigenous. They and we walked bent over, but we did so
because of the weight of pride, and they because they were also
carrying us (although we didn't realize it). Then we became
them, and they became us. We began to walk together, bent
over, but all of us knowing that two shoulders were not enough
for that weight. And so we rose up in arms one first day of
January in the year of 1994Éin order to seek another shoulder
which would help us walk, that is, to exist.
The Third Shoulder

As with the origin of the Mexican nation, the contemporary
history of the zapatista indigenous communities also has its
founding legend: those who inhabit these lands now have three

To the two shoulders that the usual human beings have, the
zapatistas have added a third: that of the national and
international "civil societies."

In one of the subsequent parts of this "odd" video, I will be
speaking of the progress that has been achieved for the zapatista
communities. Then it will be seen that it is great, greater than
even we had dreamed.

But now I want to tell you that this has been possible because
"someone" gave us their shoulder.

We believe that we have been fortunate. From its beginnings, our
movement has had the support and kindness of hundreds of
thousands of persons on the five continents. This kindness and
this support has not been withdrawn, even in the face of personal
limitations, of distances, of differences of culture and language,
borders and passports, of differences in political concepts, of the
obstacles put up by the federal and state governments, the
military checkpoints, harassment and attacks, of the threats and
attacks by paramilitary groups, of our mistrust, our lack of
understanding of the other, of our clumsiness.

No, in spite of all of that (and of many other things which
everyone knows) the "civil societies" of Mexico and the world
have worked because of, for and with us.

And they have done so not out of charity, nor out of pity, nor out
of political fashion, nor out of a desire for publicity, but because
they have, in one way or another, embraced a cause which is
still, for us, great: the building of a world where all worlds fit, a
world, that is, which carries the hearts of everyone.

In one year, persons and organizations from at least 43 countries,
including ours, which is Mexico, from the most unexpected
corners of Mexico and of the world, from the small islands which
remain in spite of the neoliberal hurricane, came to visit the
caracoles and to speak with the Good Government Juntas
(whether about projects, donations, explanations, or simply to
learn about the process of building autonomy).

Men and women, as individuals and with organizations, from
Spain, Germany, the Basque Country, Slovenia, Italy,
Switzerland, Scotland, the United States, Denmark, Belgium,
Finland, Australia, Argentina, France, Canada, Poland, Sweden,
Holland, Norway, Brazil, Guatemala, Turkey, Chile, Colombia,
El Salvador, Peru, Greece, Portugal, Japan, Northern Africa
(that's what the report said, I don't know which exact country),
Nicaragua, England, Uruguay, Bolivia, Austria, New Zealand,
Israel, Iran, the Czech Republic and from all the states in the
Mexican Republic. All of them have put their shoulders next to
the communities' two shoulders in order to begin to radically
change the living conditions of the zapatista indigenous.

And so in one year there have come to the caracoles and to the
Good Government Juntas (JBGs) &endash; (sometimes with
economic projects, sometimes with donations, sometimes to
listen attentively and respectfully, sometimes with the brotherly
word, sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with scientific zeal,
and sometimes with the desire to solve problems through
respectful dialogue and agreements between equals) &endash;
thousands of persons as individuals, as social organizations, as
non-governmental organizations, as humanitarian aid
organizations, as human rights defense organizations, as
cooperatives, as municipal officials from other states in Mexico
and from other parts of the world, as diplomatic corps from other
nations, as scientific investigators, as artists, as musicians, as
housewives and "househusbands," as sex workers, as market
tenants, as street sellers, as football players, as students, as
teachers, as doctors, as nurses, as businesspersons, as
contractors, as state officials, and as many other things.

In Oventic alone, the caracol reported that in one year they had
dealt with 2921 persons from other countries and with 1537 from
Mexico, without counting the zapatista support base
compañeros and compañeras who go to the juntas to deal
with various problems.

The third shoulder of the zapatista struggle has many colors, it
speaks many languages, sees with many looks, and walks with
many others.

We are speaking to them, and we want, in addition to thanking
them, to give themÉ
The Accounts

Good, the hour of the accounts. I beg for your tolerance, because
it has fallen to me to review the accounts of all the juntas, in
order to draw up a kind of report, and each one has their "way" of
deciding what to put in the plus column and what to put in the
minus column. Anyway, it hasn't been easy, but the details can
be consulted in each caracol as of this September 16.

Collectively, the five Good Government Juntas which are
functioning in zapatista territory reported income of almost 12
and a half million pesos, expenditures of close to 10 million and a
balance of about 2 and a half million.

In each case there are considerable differences in the accounts
managed by the JBGs. This is because some of the juntas report
all the money they know about, that is, they include in the
accounting what they receive directly and what the Rebel
Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities (MAREZ) receive with the
approval of the Good Government Juntas. Other juntas report
only what they manage directly, without including what the
MAREZ receive.

There are also considerable differences in the JBGs' income. In
some cases this is due to the fact that there are juntas (like the
one in Los Altos and the Border Selva one) which cover a very
large territory. In other cases, it is because their seats are more
well known to "civil societies" (Oventic and La Realidad), and in
others because the differences in organizational development
throughout the regions are still quite marked.

Nonetheless, in approximate figures (and rounded off, because
the compas report right down to the centavo), here is some of the
data which has been reported by each of the juntas in one year of

JBG --------- Annual Income --- Annual Expenditures

R. Barrios - 1,600,00 pesos -- 1,000,000 pesos

Morelia ---- 1,050,000 pesos --- 900,000 pesos

La Garrucha -- 600,000 pesos --- 300,000 pesos

Oventic ---- 4,500,000 pesos - 3,500,000 pesos

Realidad --- 5,000,000 pesos - 4,000,000 pesos

What is done with this money? Well, the part will be coming
which gets to that part. For now, let me just say that none of it
was for anyone's individual benefit.

The personal needs of the autonomous authorities who rotate in
to lead the Good Government Juntas are supported, for the days
they are serving in the caracoles, through contributions from the
villages or with support from the EZLN. The average daily
expenses (without counting transportation from his community
to the caracol and his return) for a member of La Garrucha junta,
for example, is less than eight pesos (other places it goes a bit
higher). In the case of Oventic, it's zero pesetas, because the
authorities carry their own tostadas, their beans and their coffee,
if they have it (if not, then it's zacate tea).

Compare this, in Mexico for example, with what the director of
the IMSS earns (who charges for dismantling the achievements
of the workers of that institute), or for example with what a few
towels cost in our country's presidential residence, or for
example with what's paid for some mattresses in the home of a
Fox government official abroad, or with what a deputy or senator

Obviously our authorities do not use bodyguards, nor do they pay
advisors, nor do they buy new cars, nor do they eat in luxury
restaurants, nor do they put their relatives on the payroll.

Or, to put it another way, governing does not have to be onerous.
The Shoulder of the Birthday Celebrant

Any mention of the "third shoulder" would not be complete
without mentioning those who &endash; even though silence
might have suggested losing the way, internal fights,
disappearance or the rumor that has become fashionable these
days &endash; have remained attentive and willing to try and
understand what is being fought for here (and the means and
times with which they fight).

Listening to what the other says and, above all, to what he does
not say, is only possible among those who share the path and, by
times, the burden.

And I am referring to those who, while certainly having more
important things to do, find the time and the attentiveness
necessary for listening and seeing those who are not generally
heard or seen (or only when there are "important" events).

Those of whom I am speaking will be celebrating, just as I am,
20 years this September. I mentioned them only in passing in the
first part, because to us they are not just a media. You'll know
then that I am speaking and thinking about those who direct and
work at the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

Like many men and women who support the struggle of the
Indian peoples (and therefore the zapatistas), the "jornaleros" do
not look at or listen to the zapatista peoples because it is
fashionable or out of media considerations. Their path goes
beyond that of just journalistic work. It has to do with what some
call an "ethic of commitment," and it is in keeping with the
desire for a real and just change, and not with the desire for
economic and/or political gains. I do not want to be unfair, by
saying that the "jornaleros" have been generous. On the contrary,
I would say that they have been conscientious, and there are few,
very few, people about whom one can say that and who have
been so for 20 years.

I know that I'm getting ahead of myself, but it's almost certain
that on that day, the birthday day, La Jornada will come out full
of display ads congratulating them on their twentieth
anniversary, and it will be hard to find room for the
congratulations which we, the smallest of their brothers, are
sending them.

That is why we are acting ahead of time, and, on this, your
"non-birthday", we are sending all of you an embrace, just one,
but one of those which can only be given between brothers, and
which says things which cannot be said. My personal best wishes
as well, in hopes of being able to give them personally (hopefully
not post mortem) to each and every one of the jornaleras.

And, since "the early bird is worth a bird in the hand" (Isn't that
how it goes? Pardon, the office incoherence is contagious), we
ask for the same at the moment of cutting the cake which, no
matter how large it may be, we know will never be the size of the
heart which you carry.

In sum, a very happy birthday (don't have too many pints,
because then things will happen which need honest listening and

And, to everyone, "civil societies", congratulations on the
birthday of the caracoles and the Good Government Juntas. And
thanks for the third shoulder.

Vale. Salud and, if the piñata has Bush's face, I'll ask for a go
at it.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, August of 2004. 20 and 10.

P.S. My birthday will be light to moderate. There will be bitter
pozol, and not because I like it, but because then the compas get
to act dumb.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

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