Dignity cannot be studied,
you live it or it dies


June 20, 1995.

TO: Eric Jauffret
France

FROM: Subcomandante Insurgente marcos, CCRI-CG of the EZLN.
Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Mexico.

"I have seen Siqueiros mask the children and incite the wall to rebellion, and Rivera free the accomplice, enigmatic and anonymous tenderness..."
Eric Jauffret.

I, on the other hand, have seen our own cover their faces in order to show them to the world and take off their ski-masks in order to hide from the enemy. For example, during a recent arrival of fresh government troops, one of the officials said goodbye to the townspeople. He sent greetings to the Zapatistas. I will return, he said, in four months. During those five months he looked for the Zapatistas and did not find them. "They left the mountain and they are in the towns. We'll never find them like that", says the official, explaining in his own way, that he is involved in an absurd war where the enemy shows himself by hiding and hides as he shows himself.

I've also seen that Beto (10 years old going on 11 and a half, a quarter to 12) has turned the world on its head and, as proof, sends me a drawing made with worn-out colored pencils, where the ocean is the sky and the sky is the ocean. Beto is, in terms of work in the community, old now. He carries his share of firewood and has already complicated the life of one of the women in the peace camps. "How about that about the ocean?" Beto asks, because he's had to confront a pile of books full of photos, drawings and letters. The explanation begins with the clarification of a question, which, according to the volunteer teacher appears important: is it "el"[male denomination in Spanish grammar] mar or "la"[female denomination]"? Beto's question only concerns itself with learning whether helicopters and planes can fly in the ocean.

No, they can't...the teacher answers and continues a complicated explanation about density, physical laws, aerodynamics, chemical composition of H20 and other rules of grammar.

Beto sends a message with his uncle so that among the demands of the EZLN there be one about raising the ocean to the sky and lowering the sky to the ocean. Beto thinks that, this way the ocean will be more democratic because everyone will be able to see it and he, Beto, will no longer have to suffer through a long explanation in order to learn that the ocean, like hope, is of the female gender. Beto also says that he has a friend called Nabor. Nabor's father died on February 10th of 1995 when the government sent its troops to recover the "national sovereignty". Mortally wounded, he was separated from his unit, which retreated in order not to confront the federal troops. Hovering vultures pointed out, days later, where he laid. Beto has adopted Nabor and has shown him all he needs to know to survive in the Lacandon Jungle. The prodigious student Nabor, brags about how he has already kissed a companera.

MMMh, delicious! Nabor says as he brings his hand to his lips and gives it a mock kiss.

Nabor agrees with Beto that the sky should be below and the ocean above. A helicopter with artillery passes by in order to confirm it. Beto thinks the change will not be too complicated. They're both blue, right? Both big? Anyway, Nabor says it's simpler to change the world than for us to learn how to walk on our heads. For Beto and Nabor happiness would be stooping in order to see the sky.

Oh, I forgot. Nabor is three years old, and, as is obvious, over here each year is a decade and the classes for "responsible sex" should begin at age 2...

But Mister Jauffret, I am not writing to tell you about Beto's drawing or about his friend Nabor and his plans to turn the world upside down. I am writing to thank you for your letter and to tell you about our actual situation.

The indigenous peoples who support our just cause have decided to resist without surrender, without accepting the alms with which the supreme government hopes to buy them. And they have decided this because they have made theirs a word which is not understood with the head, which cannot be studied or memorized. It is a word which is lived with the heart, a word which is felt deep inside your chest and which makes men and women proud of belonging to the human race. This word is DIGNITY. Respect for ourselves, for our right to be better, or right to struggle for what we believe in, our right to live and die according to our ideals. Dignity cannot be studied, you live it or it dies, it aches inside you and teaches you how to walk. Dignity is that international homeland which we forget many times.

Our ideals are simple, and for that reason very large: we want, for all the men and women of this country, and of the entire world, three things which are fundamental for any human being: democracy, liberty, and justice. It can appear, and the powerful means of communication certainly help this appearance, that these three things are not the same thing for an indigenous person of the Mexican southeast as for a European. But it is about the same thing: the right to have a good government, the right to think and act with a freedom which does not imply the slavery of others, the right to give and receive what is just.

For these three values, for democracy, liberty and justice, we rose up in arms on January 1st of 1994. For these three values, we resist today without surrender. Both things, the war and resistance, means that these three values represent everything for us, represent a cause worth fighting for, worth dying for..so that living is worthy of us. Our cause we believe, is not only ours. It belongs to any honest man or woman in any part of the world. And this is why we aspire so that our voice can be heard in all the world and so that our struggle will be assumed by everyone in the world. Our cause is not the cause of war, or the cause of destruction, or the cause of death. Our cause is that of peace, but peace with justice; it is the cause of construction, but with equity and reason; it is the cause of life, but with dignity, and always new and better.

Today, we find ourselves in a very difficult situation. The war is dressed in its terrible suit of hunger and entire communities suffer in conditions below the minimum survival level. We willingly accept this not because we like martyrdom or sterile sacrifice. We accept it because we know that brothers and sisters the world over will know how to extend their hand to help us triumph in a cause which is theirs as well.

Like yesterday, we cover our faces in order to show the world the true face of the Mexico of the basement and after washing with our blood the mirror in which Mexicans can see their own dignity. Now we hide our face in order to escape the treachery and death which walks in the steps of those who say they govern the country. We are not fighting with our weapons. Our example and our dignity now fight for us.

In the peace talks the government delegates have confessed that they have studied in order to learn about dignity and that they have been unable to understand it. They ask the Zapatista delegates to explain what is dignity. The Zapatistas laugh, after months of pain they laugh. Their laughter echoes and escapes unto the high wall behind which arrogance hides its fear. The Zapatista delegates laugh even when the dialogue ends, and they are giving their report. Everyone who hears them laughs, and the laughter re-arranges faces which have been hardened by hunger and betrayal. The Zapatistas laugh in the mountains of the Mexican southeast and the sky cannot avoid infection by that laughter and the peals of laughter emerge. The laughter is so great that tears arise and it begins to rain as though the laughter were a gift for the dry land...

With so much laughter raining, who can lose? Who deserves to lose?

Vale, Mister Jauffret.
Health and remember that about "The world is as blue as an orange."

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, June 1995


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