archivi delle proteste globali
archives of global protests




Politics and "Bolsas" (Theirs and Ours). ("Bolsas": See Note 1 at end of Prologue)

This communication is to be delivered at Table 1 of the International Meeting for Humanity and against Neoliberalism. Everbody knows that the so-called Table 1 ("table" is a euphemism with which we stubborn zapatistas (2) hope to amuse the conference guests and to make the quagmire of Reality (3) seem more friendly), is named "Of Combs, Toothbrushes, Slippers and other concepts of a New Political Science"...

What? Is that really what's it's called?

How would you prefer it to be called? "What political strategy do we have and what political strategy do we need" ?

Seriously? Well, it's obvious that this idea that the great zapatistas (4) have a lot of imagination is another myth, that is, another myth in addition to this nose, which I declare to be a fine nose. Okay, we'll leave that for later. This is a prologue and should do what all prologues do, which is try to convince the reader or listener that what follows will be worth the trouble (or to console her before she becomes disillusioned, realizing that not even the prologue is worth her while). As you will see, this communication is fundamental for this conference table; its contributions to the political debate are beyond question and overflow with profound knowledge, convincing force, and other spices. The way in which this communication has arrived to this meeting and this table is something which truly merits a separate intergalactic meeting, but which will have to wait until we all recover from this intercontinental madness which some gullible people are calling a "meeting". In the meantime, I would like to deliver a brief report:

This writing was found inside an empty bottle of spirit, discovered in the middle of one of those storms which lashes the embrace gifted to us by the July ("julio") of the mountain. The other julio who follows after us gifting us embraces, Julio Cortázar, once held his own interplanetary meeting in the space of only one day, and, as well, gave us the luxury of teaching us to travel "Around the day in eighty worlds".

While in one of those worlds, that Julio sent us his own communication, which he called: Personal Coda.

"For this, señora, I told you that many would not comprehend this chamelion's promenade over the multi-colored carpet, and that my preferred color and orientation can only be perceived if you look closely: anyone would know that I live on the left, on the red. But I will never speak explicitly of these preferences -- or then again, maybe I will. I don't promise anything nor do I negate anything. I believe that I do something which is better, and that many understand -- even a few police chiefs -- because nobody is irremissibly lost, and because many poets continue writing with chalk on the jail walls of the north and of the south, of the east and of the west, of this horrible, lovely earth".

Since that is how things are, there is no harm in remembering that Julio in this month of July ("julio"), and together with the two of them, in remembering all of the prisoners in all of the jails in all of the world. I know that a prologue is not the place to dedicate a piece of writing, but it seems that thejulios have conspired to capsize the gentle routine of the mountains of the Mexican Southeast with a message in a bottle. If a bottle with a message can be found in the middle of a storm in the mountain, then surely a dedication may be found in the middle of a prologue. Therefore, and because of messages, bottles, julios and police chiefs, this communication is hereby dedicated...

To those alleged zapatistas who are in prison and, through them, to all the political prisoners of the world. To all the missing zapatistas and, through them, to all of those persons in the world who are missing for political reasons .

Fine, let's continue with the piece of writing which we found in a bottle and which is presented today as a communication at Table 1 of the First International Meeting for Humanity and against Neoliberalism. And since we are already speaking about meetings, someone would be doing a great favour to humanity by telling the zapateros (5) not to use such long names to refer to their acts of madness. It's so long, the name of this meeting, that when you finally get to the part that says "against Neoliberalism" you feel so tired that, believe me, it's enough to make you want to do anything except fight against something.

Where was I?

Ah, yes! At the communication that we found inside a bottle. Well fine, although the text bears no date, computerized scientific studies have determined that it could have been written on any day, in any part of the world, and by anyone of the humans beings who are, or have been in the world. Nevertheless, that which is most important has not yet been cleared up. The greatest centres of prestige and inconsequence have been consulted, but all to no avail. It has not been possible to determine neither who emptied the contents of that bottle between ribcage and backbone, nor to what strange dance that improbable being was inspired, as a result of the happiness and joy he may have encountered in that liquid -- which is, as we know in reality, something that human beings all carry where happiness and joy should be carried, that is, in their feet...

Translator's notes: (1) Bolsas. Throughout Marco's presentation, "bolsas" refers to two very different meanings for the same word: 1) flexible containers such as bags, sacks, purses and pockets, and includes figurative meanings such as the hearts and minds of a people, or their land; and 2) money or goods, including intangibles such as stock and bond markets (property rights related to the use of land, capital and labour in a capitalist market economy). These two meanings are employed in this article to highlight the contextual and conceptual differences of two contradictory perspectives. (2) Stubborn zapatistas. Original "zapatudos", affectionate and humorous variation of "zapatistas", which hints at the idea of stubborn people who wear big shoes or boots. (3) Reality: This communication, as well as the plenary and closing meetings of the Intercontinental Meeting, were delivered at a place called "La Realidad". (4) Great zapatistas. Original "zapatones", affectionate and humorous augmentative form of "zapatistas". (5) Zapateros: Affectionate and humorous form of "zapatistas", refers literally to those who make and repair shoes.

Chapter I:

In which Olivio explains the reason why there is no need to fear the airplanes, helicopters and other terrors with which the Powers that Be intend to punish the rebel dignity of the zapatista indigenous peoples.

A few days ago, in one of the American corners of the world, a group of persons held a meeting. A friend was around and about over there as well. By e-mail I had been advised that a group of dignitaries had met together to offer a toast and salutations to zapatista rebelliousness. I don't know whether to be thankful or regretful about the drinking of toasts, but as it was I made the most of the opportunity by sending a letter to offer a salutation in return, and by asking for a cup of coffee from the kitchen. That wasn't the real reason I took a coffee break -- I only wanted a friendly pretext for refusing to join their toast, in the event that they would offer to pour me a cup. Yes, I know you can't drink a toast by e-mail, but you can't be too careful about technological advances. They say that in Mexico there is a guerrilla that uses fax to declare war against the supreme government, and that uses internet and satelite communications to make known its declarations. "Just you wait and see, Sancho," (6) is what Durito would say, who is fortunately not in this chapter but rather in another.

That friend now is now around and about over here in this mud, pardon me, I intended to say on this soil. I'm not trying to show off, but that friend has been my friend for many years. Of course, he didn't know that he was my friend. He arrived quite some time ago. He arrived in the way the good friends do, that is, by way of letters. My friend, whom I call "my friend" taking avantage of the fact that he is now trapped here in the mud and is unable to protest, says that words of resistance are numerous in the world, and that they sound like the dense rain now falling on the shelters of the zapatista indigenous peoples, on shelters now shared in dignity by thousands of men and women of all the world. My friend is one of those rain hunters who are out there in the world. He walks along, like some others also do, gathering little droplets of the rain of resistance that falls in America. In Africa, in Asia, in Oceania, in Europe, there are other rain hunters who hunt for the stories of resistance that find no place in the history of forgetting, written by the dry power of Arrogance. I believe that all of the rain hunters who have come here are aware that we have all come here to rain, and that we have realized that the rain can be friendly if the word which wets us is sister to us. So we can say that this is a meeting of rainers, a wet way of saying that it is a meeting of brothers.

Once, I wrote to my friend, chatting about Olivio. This is what I said:

"Olivio is a child of the tojolabal people (7). He is not yet five years old and is still within the mortal limit which wipes out thousands of indigenous infants in this land. The probability that Olivio will die from a curable sickness before reaching five years of age is the highest in this country called Mexico. But Olivio is still alive. Olivio presumes to be the friend of "Zup" and to play football with Major Moiés. Well, this idea about playing football is a little bit arrogant. In reality, the Major limits himself to kicking the ball just far enough away to free himself from an Olivio who considers, as any child would do, that the most important work of an official of the zapatistas is to play football with children.

I observe from a distance. Olivio kicks the ball with spine-chilling determination, above all if you imagine that your own ankle could be the target. But no, the target of Olivio's kick is a little plastic ball. Well, that's not strictly true either. In reality, half of the kick and it's force end up in the mud of the reality of Chiapas, and only part of the kick's force sends the ball on its erratic and short trajectory. The Major then gives a powerful kick, and the ball shoots past me and ends up far away. Olivio runs after the sphere with resolve (this, and what follows, should be read with the voice of a television or radio sports commentator). He nimbly dodges past a tree-trunk and a not-so-hidden root blocking his path, feinting and dribbling past two chuchitos (in Chiapas: "puppy dogs") who, of their own accord, flee in terror before the implacable, determined and lightning advance of Olivio. He's already gotten past the defense (actually, "Yeniperr" and Jorge are sitting down and playing in the mud, but what I mean is that no enemy remains ahead) and the goalposts are unguarded before an Olivio who grits the few teeth he has and takes the ball straight ahead like a locomotive that has jumped the tracks. An expectant hush falls over the good public up in the stands... Olivio catches up - finally! - to the ball, and just as the whole galaxy is expecting a huge kick that will break the net (well, the truth is that behind the supposed enemy goalposts there is only an acahual flower, some branches, thorns and bejuco vines, but which serves as a net), and just as from the lungs of the crowd the cry of "goooal!" begins to rise up to their throats, and just as everything is ready for the world to demonstrate that it is worthy of itself, exactly at that moment is when Olivio decides it had been fine to run after the ball for awhile but that big crow flapping around can't be allowed to carry on with impunity, and - suddenly - Olivio changes direction and profession and heads for his catapult to kill the black bird, he says, and to bring something to the kitchen and to his belly. It was something, how can I tell you?... something anticlimatic ("very zapatista", my friend would say), so very incomplete, so very unfinished, as if a kiss were left hanging there on your lips without anyone doing you the favor of collecting it.

I am a discreet football fan, serious and analytical -- one of those who goes over the percentages and past performance of the teams and the players, and who can provide a complete explanation of the logic behind a given match, no matter whether the result is a tie, a triumph, or a defeat. In effect, I'm one of those fans who afterwards explain to themselves that there's no need to get sad about the defeat of their preferred team, that it was to be expected, that a recovery will be made in the next match, and other etceteras which deceive the heart with the useless work of the brain. But in that moment my feet lost their stirrups, and like the football fan who sees that the supreme values of the human race have been betrayed (that is, those that have to do with football), I jumped over the benches (in reality I had been sitting on a bank of tree-trunks) and, furious, I headed straight towards Olivio, to protest his lack of pride, professionalism and sporting spirit, and his ignorance of the law that commands the football player to give himself entirely to the game. Olivio sees me coming and smiles. I detain my approach, stop dead in my tracks, frozen, petrified, immobile. But don't believe for a moment, friend, that it is because of tenderness that I stopped.

It isn't the tender smile of Olivio that stopped me.

It's the catapult that he's got in his hands...

But yes, friend. I know that it's already quite evident that I'm trying to use a simile to talk to you about the tender fury that makes us soldiers today -- so that, tomorrow, military uniforms will only be good for costume parties, and so that, if someone should put on a uniform, it would be for playing, for example, football..." (End of quotation from letter).

That was the 8th of this wet July ("julio"), and as the other Julio says, nature imitates art. So it was that some days later -- today -- I found Olivio using his shoes the way they should be used, that is, to kick a ball. Olivio was running after the ball just as a special troops military aircraft was passing over The Reality. Olivio tripped over a rock and fell. Olivio then fulfilled his duty with complete integrity, that is, he began to scream with a dedication worthy of admiration. That was how it was, with the aircraft searching for transgresors of The Reality, Olivio crying, and me smoking under a tree, when the incredible took place: Olivio stopped crying and began to laugh.

Yes, it turns out that while Olivio was gulping down air in order to renew his screaming he lifted up his head and began watching the military aircraft. Suddenly, he suspended his gulping of air and broke into a smile. I made a face that said: "I'm telling you, I always thought that kid would end up going crazy". But please don't think that I am hard-hearted. Immediately, I decreed a red alert and sent a go-between to the UN in ask for a child psychiatrist, because I did not wish to see Olivio left alone with his madness, and thought it would be good if he should have company. But as the UN acts rapidly only when authorizing the employment of multinational armed forces, I thought it best to carefully approach Olivio in order to discover the meaninglessness of his madness. At a prudent distance I halted and very tactfully asked him:

"How come you were you crying a while ago but now you are laughing?"

Olivio smiled at me and answered:

"I saw the soldier airplane. When I fall down, I cry and then I get back up again. But if that airplane falls, it won't cry or get back up again."

And off went Olivio after the ball. I backtracked at a run to cancel the red alert and the go-between to the UN, and I sent a war report to the CCRI (8) to inform them that we were going to win, and that they should prepare for the promotion of Olivio to a least the rank of Division General.

Olivio doesn't seem to be concerned about his imminent promotion. On the contrary, a little bit later he is acting silly, trying to convince me that we should make a big, big ladder, he says, so we can climb up it at night and play football with the moon, and that...

Translator's notes: (6) "Cosas veredes, Sancho": A quotation from El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. There are several textual references to Don Quijote in this article. "Durito", an affectionate nickname meaning "Little Tough Guy", is not taken from Don Quijote, but is used to refer to a person who seems in some ways similar. (7) Tojolabal: Name of an indigenous people in Chiapas. Other indigenous groups in the region include the tzeltal, zotzil and chol. (8) CCRI: Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee.

Chapter II:

In which the rain, Julio, and Old Antonio announce the present, but 10 years in advance.

It rained lying down. What I mean is that even the rain went to bed with the wind, after he had taken her by the waist. Old Antonio and I had gone out hunting that night. Old Antonio had wanted to kill a badger that was stealing the corn that had started to peep up in the cornfield. We had been waiting for the badger to show up, but in his stead a wind and a rain showed up which obliged us to take refuge in the almost empty granary. Old Antonio made himself comfortable in a spot located well inside while I sat down under the doorway on the threshold. We were both smoking. Then he began to nap, while I watching how the rain swayed from side to side, following the step of a more capricious than usual dance of the wind . The dance ended, or else had ended up moving to some other place. Suddenly, nothing was left of the rain except the deafening competition between the crickets and frogs. I stepped outside, trying not to make any noise so as not to wake Old Antonio. The air had ended up humid and hot, as it does of its own accord when desire finally brings an end to the dancing of bodies.

"Look," Old Antonio says to me, and stretches out his hand towards a star which barely peeped out from behind the curtains made by the clouds in the west. I look at the star and feel I-don't-know-what pain of sadness in my chest. Something like a sad and bitter aloneness. I smile to myself, however, and before Old Antonio can ask me I tell him the answer:

"I'm remembering a proverb that goes more or less like this: 'When someone points at the sun, the fool looks at his finger." Old Antonio laughs wholeheartedly and says:

"He would even be more foolish to look at the sun. He would end up blind." The overwhelming logic of Old Antonio leaves me stuttering the explanation of what I suppose to be the message of the proverb. Old Antonio keeps on laughing at I-don't-know-what, whether at me, my explanation, or the fool who looks at the sun pointed out by the finger. Old Antonio sits down, lays his gun to one side and forges a cigarette on a tool he found in the old granary. I understand that it is time to shut up and listen. I sit at his side and light up my pipe. Old Antonio takes a few puffs on his cigarette and begins to rain down words, with only the smoke to soften their fall.

"A while back I pointed out that star to you with my hand. I was thinking about how much farther we have to walk before I can touch that star up there with my hand. I was going to ask you to calculate the distance between my hand and the star, but you came out with this story about the finger and the sun. I wasn't showing you my hand, but neither was I showing you the star. The fool that your proverb talks about doesn't have an intelligent alternative: if he looks at the sun and doesn't go blind, he will surely stumble a lot from looking upwards; and if he looks at the finger he won't find his own way, and will end up either stopped dead or walking behind the finger. In the end, both are fools: the one who looks at the sun and the one who looks at the finger. Walking, or rather living, isn't done by means of great truths, which when measured turn out to be small. A night will come through which we will reach the day, by walking through it. If we only look at what is near, then we will only end up walking a short distance. If we only look at what is very far off, then we will stumble a lot and lose our way." Old Antonio lets his words take a rest. I ask him:

"And how will we be able to look both far and near?"

Old Antonio resumed smoking and speaking:

"Speaking and listening. Speaking and listening with those who are near. Speaking and listening with those who are far away."

Once again, Old Antonio stretches out his hand towards the star. Looking at his hand, Old Antonio says:

When we dream we need to see the star way up yonder, but when we fight we need to see the hand that points to the star. That's what living is. Looking up and then looking down, continuously.

We returned to the village of Old Antonio. The early morning had already begun to clothe herself with the dawn when we parted. Old Antonio came out and accompanied me as far as the gate to the pasture. When I was already on the other side of the barbed wire I turned to him and said:

"Old Antonio. When you stretched out your hand towards that star I wasn't looking at your hand and neither was I looking at the star..." Old Antonio interrupted me.

"Ah! Very good, you were looking at the space between the one and the other."

"No," I said to him. "I wasn't looking at the space between one and the other.

"What, then?"

I smiled to myself, put a little distance between us, and shouted:

"I was looking at a badger that was between your hand and the star..."

Old Antonio looked at the ground for something to throw at me. I don't know if he found something or not, or whether I was already too far away for his hand to reach me. Anyway, I was fortunate that he wasn't still carrying his gun.

I went walking along, trying to look both near and far. Above and below, the light brought the night and the day together, the rain enlaced July with August, and the mud and those fallen in action hurt a little less. Ten years later we began to speak and listen with those whom we had believed to be far away. All of you here..."

Chapter III:

In which the illustrious and noble Don Durito of La Lacandona explains the strange relation between combs, slippers, toothbrushes, "bolsas" (theirs and ours) and the international meeting for humanity and against neoliberalism. ("Bolsas": See Note 1 at end of Prologue)

There is a greyness above us. As if the night and the day felt lazy, the one to leave us and the other to arrive. An early morning overly extended, much time without either night or day. There below, close to that young and big-canopied ceiba tree, a vigil is kept over weapons and dreams. Everything in the area, however, seems normal. There's mud, floating lights, and solid shadows. Only around the ceiba tree can one make out some movement. A powerful lens permits one to distinguish a seated man who is speaking and gesturing. It looks as if he is alone, and yes, a little crazy. But... wait! What's that at his side? An suit of armour from a museum of miniatures? A battered and broken-down little war tank? A armoured and mobile mini-bunker? A baby warship run aground on the shores of reality? A... a... beetle?

"Veeeery funny, veeeery funny," says Durito as he looks upwards defiantly. I lift my gaze upwards and only see grey over the obscure green of the ceiba's canopy.

"To whom are you speaking?" I ask, after listening to more denunciations and challenges from Durito.

"It's that impertinent satellite that doesn't even know how to distinguish between a war tank and a brave and valiant knight errant." Durito makes an obscene sign in the direction of the Àsatellite? and and then turns to me and asks:

"Where were we, my battered and broken-down squire?"

We were where you were about to tell me... how to get out of the problem I'm in."

"Ah! Yes... I can understand that a inept heart such as the one that you carry in your mistreated chest might not be capable of reaching a comprehension of the goodness which destiny has conferred upon you by putting you at the side of a knight errant such as I. You must understand, miserable and foolish mortal, that

[Image] the great gods have forged the destinies of humanity with threads of steel, and that villainous sorcerers, aside from speculating in the stock markets, have made some terrible knots with these threads, in order to oppose the natural goodness of doers of greatness and to rejoice in the suffering of little beings such as yourself. Well, I mean little without counting your nose. But the powers of good have not abandoned their creatures to the perverse will of these wizards. No, to cut these terrible knots of pain and misfortune so that history may be woven with rectitude, so that wrongs may be righted, to save the destitute, to teach the ignorant, in conclusion, so that humanity does not shame itself, for this reason wandering knights exist. If you could understand this you wouldn't be doubting the wonder of my arm, the wisdom of my word, the luminosity of my gaze..."

"...and the great problems which you put me into," I interrupt Durito. He hesitates and I make the most of the opportunity to practice the old and dear sport of reproaching:

"Because it is my duty to remind you, my illustrous and wandering knight, that it was the wonder of your arm, the wisdom of your word, and the luminosity of your gaze, which set your hand and seal to the letter of announcement and invitation to the intercontinental meeting in this absurd place of slippers, combs and toothbrushes. As well, everyone says that it is a cheap plagiarism of Cortázar of the cronopios..." Durito can't stand the criticism and counter-attacks

"They lie!" How can they say that if it was I, the great Don Durito of La Lacandona, who showed unto Julio the richness which beetles encompass?..." Now it is I who interrupts:

"You mean cronopios..."

"Cronopios or beetles! It's the same! Tell me quickly -- who is the rascal who dares to insinuate that my brillant writing owes something to no one." Durito draws his weapon.

Hoping to collect on some outstanding debts, I say to him:

He's not a rascal. And more, it's not a he, it's a she. And she doesn't insinuate that there was plagiary, she declares it, and signs her name beneath without the slightest timidity.

Durito waxes pensative for a few moments:

"A she?" Well, a damsel may say what she wishes without fearing the fury of my excalibur. It must be the malevolence of some perverse sorcerer who has worked evil magic on her, and put evil thoughts where, surely, only kind thoughts for my persona had been cherished. Yes, that must be it, because everyone knows that womenkind cannot but sigh with admiration and secret desire when they hear the name of the greatest knight, namely me. So all we can do is wait for the effects of the dark concoction which that sorcerer must have administered to wear off, or until I meet that sorcerer myself, in which case you'll see that the force and justice which empower my arm will cause him to withdraw the sorcery, and that will solve the problem. So why don't we leave that Julio fellow in peace, and maybe he'll manage to convince this julio (July) not to drown us under so much rain."

Durito sheaths his twig, or his sword, depending on the imagination of the satellite which they say is spying on him. Without surrendering I change my strategy:

"Be then, my lord and guide. May that poor wretch who spoke ill of your person be promptly freed of her magic curse, and once again offer her adoration unto thee. And if not, may a terrible punishment fall upon her: may she get a job as a spokesperson for one of the neoliberal governments who are devastating the world, or as a psychiatrist for the powerful criminals who think that they govern the planet, or..."

"Ha! Ha! Ha! That would be too great a punishment for the beauty!" Durito said, becoming magnanimous. I continue:

"Insofar as my problem is concerned, lord of wisdom, I beg that you save me because the meeting is already a reality in the Reality (see Note 3, Prologue) and everyone is waiting for a satisfactory explanation of the requirement for slippers, combs and toothbrushes..."

"An explanation? Durito looks at me harshly, as his name would indicate (See Note 5, Chapter I).

"Yes. The invitation says that the naive and gullible... pardon me, I mean the invited guests, will find here at the meeting the explanation for this weirdness." I say this trying to calm him down.

Alright. If it is written, written it is. And the law is that we must fulfill what is written. So write down what I am about to dictate. Do it with the greatest care because this is a contribution that will revolutionize political science, and will serve as well to distract some of the attention from accusations of plagiary and other sorceries."

Forthwith, I pulled out a ball-point pen, which of course had no ink. Durito immediately took notice, and produced from who-knows-where an elegant ostrich feather and an inkwell (9).

"And these?" I asked, looking alternately at the plume and at the inkwell.

"Ah! A gift from an African beetle," said Durito with an air of self-importance.


"Yes. You don't think that you're the only ones who are holding your intercontinental meeting. We beetles have our meeting as well," said Durito.

I did not wish to find out more. Not even if there are beetles in Africa. I was preoccupied about resolving the enigma of the slippers, combs and toothbrushes, so without further delay I wrote down what Durito dictated to me, and which is intitled:

Durito What-comes-next.

(Neoliberalism, slippers, combs, toothbrushes, and "bolsas")

"Bolsas?" I asked, "But the invitation didn't say anything about bolsas..." (See Note 1, Chapter I.)

"No? Well, that's where the problem is. I believe I forgot to put in the part about bolsas. I'm sure that with the bolsas included everyone would have understood perfectly. Fine, fine, don't interrupt me again. Write, write!" Durito urged me. Together with my doubts I continued, writing down what follows below:

a) Slippers are an alternative to boots. If you had paid heed to me, you wouldn't have brought all these different models of big boots which which you hope in vain to defend yourselves from the mud. Whether with boots or slippers, either way you'll still get full of mud, and both are equally as good for slipping and sliding. No? Boots are useless, and as well, dangerous. So if you had brought some slippers you would at least have a good excuse for ending up on the ground and so muddy so much of time.

In addition, one should argue that slippers can be taken off with complete facility, commodity and speed. Lovers and children will agree that I am right, among other things, because the only beings able to understand the profundity of this message are children and lovers.

As well, winter is approaching and we will need to keep ourselves warm, so with slippers we will make ourselves an overcoat that will cause a furor in the world of fashion.

Ergo, there should be an International Meeting for Slippers and against Boots. The name is equally as long as the other and, believe me, it's more definitive.

b) Combs are very useful in events of this kind, where nostalgia is a contagious illness. With a little piece of paper and the correct technique for blowing, you have a musical instrument. With music you can liven up both heart and feet. Dancing is a joyful form of meeting, and we should not forget that this is a meeting.

Ergo, combs are indispensable for all intercontinental meetings for humanity and against neoliberalism.

Ah! They are also good for combing hair.

c) Toothbrushes are an invaluable help for scratching one's back. They come in many different colours, shapes and sizes. Although they may differ one from the other, all fulfill the function of a toothbrush, which is, as everyone knows, to scratch one's back. Everyone would agree, and I raise the motion that this be a item of agreement for the final plenary session, that to scratch oneself is a pleasure.

Ergo, toothbrushes are rather necessary for intercontinental meetings for humanity and against neoliberalism.

d) Slippers demonstrate that logic and boots do not serve any purpose when it comes to dreaming and dancing. Combs demonstrate that in music and love everything is an excuse. Toothbrushes demonstrate that one can be different but equal.

e) Dance, music, pleasure, and consciousness of one another: these are the banners for humanity and against neoliberalism. Someone who doesn't understand this surely must have cardboard for a soul.

f) "Bolsas" can be classified into two types: their bolsas and our bolsas.

f.1) Their bolsas are known as "bolsas of values", or stock exchanges and stock markets, and paradoxically, can be recognized due to their lack of value (translator's note: here, the term "bolsas" refers to intangible "containers" for keeping securities, bonds and investments). Usually they are full of holes at the convenience of speculators, and they have the sole virtue of provoking insomnia and nightmares in our government leaders.

f.2) Our bolsas are known as "bolsas" and as the word indicates, they serve for keeping and protecting things (translator's note: "bolsas" literally refers to bags, sacks, purses and pockets). Usually they have some holes due to forgetfulness, but they can be mended with hope and dignity. They have the enormous virtue of keeping toothbrushes, combs and slippers.

g) Finale Fortíssmo: A bolsa that can't be used to keep a toothbrush, a comb and some slippers, is a bolsa not worth the effort.

With this conclude the 7 definitive points for humanity and against neoliberalism.

That's it. It is finished.

Translator's notes: (9) Ostrich plume: A reference to Don Quijote, who wrote with such a plume. "Cronopios", however, are an invention of Julio Cortázar.

Chapter IV:

In which the famous knight errant dialogues with his long-nosed squire, bags are packed, and other marvellous or terrible things are announced.

Durito has finished saddling up "Pegasus", who is acting rather spirited for a turtle. Durito has not stopped talking. Sometimes it seems like he is talking to "Pegasus", other times like he is directing his words to me, and other times it seems like he is talking to himself. Are we convincing him that it's time to leave, or is Durito convincing himself?

"Let's head out at a steady pace, since in the nests of times past there are birds of today. I was mad, and I continue to be mad..." Durito, as one can see, adapts literary history to whatever suits himself best (10).

Durito weaves from side to side with such determination that, if it were not for his seriousness, it would seem like a complicated dance. I have become sad because, as we were packing, I noticed how little I have. Anyway, I have some wheat, and that is sufficient. Durito, however, is carrying several travels of books, which are loaded on "Pegasus" from shoulder to rump.

"Can one be permitted to know where we are going?" I ask Durito, taking advantage of the fact that we had stopped to rest. Durito hasn't caught his breath yet, so he makes an indefinite gesture, pointing outwards to no direction in particular.

"Is it very far?" I ask.

Durito, finally able to speak, says:

The duty of a wandering knight is to travel the world until there is no corner of the earth in which injustice continues to exist with impunity. This duty is valid for every place, and for no place. It's always nearby, but can never by reached. The calvary of wandering knights rides on until it reaches tomorrow. Then they take a rest. But after a short while they must push onward once again, because the morning has continued on ahead and there's still a good distance left to be covered."

"And what will we carry with us?" I ask, feeling suddenly more serious.

"Hope...," answers Durito as he points to the "bolsa" that he carries in his chest (11). He is already mounting "Pegasus" when he adds:

"We don't need anything else. She's all we need..."

Translator's notes: (10) Nests of times past: This is a modified quotation of Don Quijote, who said: " the nests of times past there are no birds of today. I was mad but now I am sane: I was Don Quijote of La Mancha but now, as I have said, I am Alonso Quijano the Good." El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes, Editorial AHR, Barcelona, 1971, page 1305. (11) Bolsa: Here, as well as later in this text, the heart is referred to as a figurative container.

Chapter V:

In which the moon rehearses a dance which has much to do with copulation and happiness

Full and round once again, the moon peeps up her coquetry from behind the high barrier of the eastern mountains. With care, she rolls up her large and full skirt, tiptoes forward and climbs the back of the mountain, as if mounting a staircase. When she reaches the highest peak, she extends her white underslip and whirls about. Her own light reflects in the mountain's mirror, offering gifts of colours, lilacs and blues. Always whirling, a wind caresses her face and lifts her up high. With blind and useless eyes, the wind vainly tries to make out her belly, moistened by the rain. Neither does the moon look at wind, but not due to blindness. All of her gaze is engaged in looking at herself, in the reflection that a little pond of rainwater offers up to her as a gift from the reality below. Finally, the moon gives over her hand and waist to the wind. Now they whirl together. The pass the night together. Dancing. Wet and happy. But after some hours the moon is tired, and the noctural dance floor starts to fade away. Always holding her by the waist, the wind lifts her to the west and sets her down on a mountain. Always blind, the wind tries to give her a goodbye kiss on the cheek, but he misses and instead brushes her lips. Was it a mistake? The moon pardons him but wants to make certain. Before sliding down in the west, the moon looks down at two figures, one slight and curvaceous, the other tall and ungainly. the moon doesn't know whether they are coming or going, but she can see that they are walking. That's why she brushes against them, just before hiding, so for a moment it seems like the two persons are going upwards, to the moon...

Chapter VI:

In which the narrator digresses, with rain and moon for company, about sorrows, struggles, and the etceteras which weigh down the soul of those of us humans who are around and about in these parts, himself included.

The moon peeps up only to renew, perhaps, a promise disguised as a flower. But, jealous as she is, the rain pulls her behind clouds and humidities. This was an early morning, before the dawn, in which even aloneness would feel sad. The narrator is alone, and so he feels like he has the right to leave off narrating what happens, or what is dictated to him, and he decides to pull out, with a sharp corkscrew of words, a sorrow that clouds him -- to look at it and move on. The narrator speaks. No, it's more like a whisper:

How I wish to have the air as my native country and the future as my flag! So many people and so many colours! So many words with which to give a name to hope!

Would now be the moment to speak of death? For some have died a fighting death, so that I could think of so many people, so many colours, so many hopes.

Is this the place to speak of our dead ones? No?

Who will tell you, then, that there was live blood that died dreaming that some of the best men and women to whom this century has given birth would one day arrive here? Who will ask you to remember all of those who died, to hear the "Don't forget me!" of those zapatistas who have fallen in combat for humanity and against neoliberalism? Where are the chairs here for them, our dead, to sit down together with us? The presentation of their blood in the streets and in the the mountains -- at which conference table has it been registered? Who is the moderator for the silence of these deaths? What price is to be put on the blood of our dead, who gave us a voice, a face, a name and a tomorrow?

Can I speak? Can I speak about our dead at this celebration? After all, they are the ones who made it possible. Can someone say that we are here because they are not? Is that permitted?

I have a dead brother. Is there someone here who doesn't have a dead brother? I have a dead brother. He was killed by a bullet to his head. It was the before dawn on the 1st of January, 1994. Way before dawn the bullet that was shot. Way before dawn the death that kissed the forehead of my brother. My brother used to laugh a lot but now he doesn't laugh any more. I couldn't keep my brother in my pocket, but I kept the bullet that killed him. On another day before dawn I asked the bullet where it came from. It said: "From the rifle of a soldier of the government of a powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another in the whole world. The bullet that killed my brother has no nationality.

The fight that must be fought to keep our brothers with us, rather than the bullets that have killed them, has no nationality either. For this purpose we zapatistas have many big pockets in our uniforms. Not for keeping bullets. For keeping brothers. What all "bolsas" should be for.

The mountain is also a bolsa for keeping brothers (12). Sometimes the mountain seems like the sea. Sometimes the night seems like morning. El mar. La mar. El mañana. La mañana (13). The sea and the morning have no sex. Perhaps because of this we fear them, or perhaps because of this we desire them.

How painful it is to go! What a sadness to stay!

I'm going. I just want to say one thing:

The heart is a "bolsa" which can hold both the sea and tomorrow. And the problem is not how to put the sea and tomorrow in your breast, but how to understand that the heart is just that, a "bolsa" for keeping the sea, and tomorrow...

The narrator takes his leave. Together with the night he leaves. Together with the rain he leaves. Together with the July ("julio") he leaves. The other Julio stays behind to organize the expedition to be carried out in "Around the day in eighty worlds". Julio still has one voyage left, the Voyage to a country of cronopios:

Of course, the travelling cronopio visits the country, and one day when he has returned to his own land he writes his memoirs of the voyage on little pieces of paper of different colors, and then he distributes them at the corner of his house so that everyone can read them. To the "famas", the arrogant, he gives little pieces of blue paper, because he knows that when they read them they will turn green, and nobody is ignorant of the fact that a cronopio likes immensely the combination of these two colors. For the "esperanzas", those who hope, he gives little pieces of white paper, because since they blush a lot when they recieve a gift they will have something to cover their cheeks, and the cronopio, from the corner of his house, will see diverse and pleasant colours that will disperse in all directions, carrying the memories of his voyage."

Translator's notes: (12) Bolsa: figuratively, "a place". (13) Mar and mañana: These two words, "sea", and "morning" or "tomorrow", are both masculine and feminine in Spanish.


In which it is explained why the accounts don't add up and it is demonstrated that addition and subtraction are only of value if they are for adding hopes and subtracting cynicisms.

Yes, I know that the title of this presentation is "Presentation in 7 Voices 7", and that only six voices have spoken, so it can't be over because the title is very clear, and it even repeats 7 times that there are 7 voices 7. But my master and lord, the wandering knight who is a wizard in love and a sorcerer in combat, Don Durito of La Lacandona, tells me that we're leaving, that it's time to go, that the seventh voice is the one of value and the one that counts, and that this, the seventh word, touches each and every one of you (14).

So "Adios!" and I hope that someone will write to us and relate how the whole thing ends up.

Alright (15). I wish you good health. If the thieves demand "Your bolsa or your life!" they will have to take our lives.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southwest.

SupMarcos (16)

Planet Earth, July, 1996.

P.S. Durito and his spirited Pegasus have already left. "Pegasus" is a turtle who suffers vertigo at velocities of greater than 50 centimetres per hour, which means that it will take some time for him to reach the exit. So I have time enough to tell you that you are welcome to the mountains of the Mexican Southwest, where the "bolsas" that are of real worth are ours, yours, and the those of everyone who we are... (17)

Alright once again. To your health! And may you have much hope and dignity to repair your "bolsas" of whatever sizes, both great and small.

The "Sup" disconcerted because he forgot which is the way in and which the way out.

Translator's notes: (14) "Communication In 7 Voices 7": In Spanish, this title connotes shouting or speaking in a very loud voice ("Don Quijote á grandes voces decía...", page 846, ibid Note 9). As well, the grammatical structure suggests a musical composition in "7 voices" (multiplied by 7). (15) Alright: "Vale" in the original, the last word spoken by Don Quijote in Cervantes' account. (16) SupMarcos: This is the nickname given to Marcos by the people who live in La Realidad, where this communication was delivered. "Sup" is a modified pronunciation of "Sub", a reference to Marcos' military rank of "Subcomandante". (17) Everyone who we are: The expression used in Spanish alludes to the well-known expression "We are all Marcos" used by groups of hooded Mexican citizens to defend Marcos and the zapatista leadership from the previous government campaign which attempted to criminalize the leaders of the zapatista movement.

(**) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION for curious or bewildered readers: This communication was delivered to an informed audience within the specific context created by the Intercontinental Meeting, which included the delivery of many other presentations. If you have found this article difficult to understand you may wish to read some background information.

Please contact the translator of this document if you wish to suggest improvements. Thank you for your assistance. Date of this draft: September 18, 1996

To the For Humanity and Against Neo Liberalism index

1st encuentro | 2nd encuentro | |