Zapatistas Guadalupanos and the Virgin of Guadalupe


To the national weekly Proceso:
To the national newspaper El Financiero:
To the national newspaper La Jornada:
To the local newspaper of SCLC, Chiapas, Tiempo:

March 24, 1995

Sirs:

A communique-report going out, on the advances of the dialogue by letters. Please, realize how many days it takes for things to get here and to get out, and don't be anxious.

Here the spring is disguised as autumn and the leaves tend to don uniforms of brown. By day with horseflies and by night with cocuyos, the forest also changes clothes and surprises.

Go on. Health and a fresh wind that relieves the tedium of desperation.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Insurgent Subcommander Marcos.
Mexico, March 1995.

P.S. that shows how much the e-z-l-n has "imposed" itself on the uses and customs of the communities, and explains how "interests foreign" to the indigenous people camp out in the ranks of the "neocriminals."

A few days ago, in the now migratory town of "Guadalupe Tepeyac," there was an argument. A gift came to them from the city. Among the little humanitarian aid they received, the "Zapatistas Guadalupanos" (as they call themselves) found an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. From what they tell me, the image measures some 30 centimeters, has some gold cords and some colored candles. ("It's pretty," says the one who's telling me.)

The whole thing has generated different opinions: first a controversy, then an argument, and finally, a general assembly of these people who, far from their homes, traveling uphill and down, don't surrender, and call themselves with pride, "Guadalupe Tepeyac." The yellow laces that adorn the image were the first topic. "They're painted," said a man when he looked at them from far off. "No, they're made of gold," said a lady. Rapidly the community began to choose sides.

The argument goes on next to the church, in a little field that serves as a playground, a dance floor, or as it is now, a debating salon. The inhabitants of the settlement today serving as a temporary refuge for the Guadalupanos keep out of it. This is an affair of the people from Guadalupe Tepeyac, and no one else. Even the militia members, who guard the safety of their people, don't intervene. They smoke and keep quiet in a corner of the houses, their weapons resting on their legs and their packs ready.

At some point (he who tells me all this can't say how it happened, he describes the scene from different angles at the same time), the argument moves to the topic of whether the image will stay in the town sheltering them, or will go together with those of "Guadalupe Tepeyac" when they return (when?) to their homes. The sides become radicalized and a confrontation begins to emerge between the men and the women: some men are in favor of the image staying as a gift of thanks for the people that received them; the women, who begin to gather in greater numbers, say that the image is a gift, and that a gift should not be given again, because then it isn't a gift anymore because gifts, once given, aren't given again (he who tells me says everything at a run, I gather that the argument is more complicated and that he is sparing something that is hard to understand and even harder to explain).

Clearly some are thinking of the weight and bulkiness when their improbable moving comes, but the women don't give in. On each side, reasons and spontaneous orators arise. The one in charge of the town is found on one side of the playground, seated and silent, listening. At a certain point he gets up and proposes that the matter be resolved in a general assembly. In "Guadalupe Tepeyac" they have assemblies and votes even to see how long a dance should go on, so that the proposal is acclaimed. The agreement on this is unanimous, since after all, the gift is for the whole town, and there are still men burning cornfields and women washing clothes in the river.

The assembly will be in the evening, when the heat abates and the coolness caresses and relieves the dark skins of these men and women who were the headquarters, in August of 1994 and in January of 1995, of the Zapatistas' will for peace and who received, in response, dozens of tanks and helicopters, and thousands of soldiers who now occupy their lands. (Yes, I know I'm continually changing the tense of the verbs, but that's how they're telling me the story).

When the meeting starts, the day has already deposited its sun coin in the mountain's money chest, but there is still light so that the candles and lighters aren't needed. Over the past hours, each side has worked at convincing the others who weren't there. After this "conferring" (which between some couples sounds like threats), the assembly repeats the arguments: the image of the Guadalupana stays in the town that give them lodgings, or the Virgin goes where the the people of "Guadalupe Tepeyac" go.

Don~a Herminia (or "Ermin~a," as he says who's telling me) starts to speak, hoarsely. With the weight of a hundred years on her, don~a Herminia begins to speak slowly and quietly. She obliges a special attention, out of respect and to be able to hear what she says. She says that the Virgin of Guadalupe came again from the city, came to find her sons and daughters, the Zapatistas Guadalupanas, and that as she didn't find them, she searched for them up in the mountains, and came to their hands after much traveling, from one place to another, uphill and down.

The don~a says that the Virgin must be tired of so much going up and down hills, especially with this heat that dries up saints and sinners alike, and that a little rest would do her no harm at all, and now that she is with them, it is good that the Virgin rest a while with her own. But she didn't come from so far away, the mother Lupita, to stay here, she didn't travel from one place to another, seeking us, to end up staying in a place if the Guadalupanos go to another.

The don~a thinks (and here all the women, and a man here and there, assent with their heads and join in the thought of the don~a) that the Guadalupana will want to be with her sons and daughters wherever they are, and that her tiredness will be better if she rests together with her family, and the sadness will hurt her less if it hurts her together with them, and that the joy will shine more if it shines on her being in a group.

The don~a says that she thinks (now there are more who agree), that the Virgin will want to go wherever the people of "Guadalupe Tepeyac" go, that if the war throws them into the mountains, to the mountains the Virgin will go, turned soldier like them, to defend her dark dignity; that if peace brings them back to their homes, the Guadalupana will go to the town to reconstruct what was destroyed.

"So I ask you, madrecita, if you agree to going wherever we go, all of us you gave yourself to," the don~a askes, addressing the image that is in front of the assembly. The Virgin doesn't answer, her dark gaze keeps looking downward. After a moment of silence, the don~a finishes: "That is all my word, brothers."

He who is leading the assembly asks if anyone else wants to speak. A unanimous silence is the answer. "There will be a vote," he says, and takes the vote. The women win. The Virgin of Guadalupe will go wherever the Guadalupanos go. After the assembly there will be a dance. A marimba and the dark-skinned image preside over the festivity. In some circles they continue arguing over whether the little cords are of gold or only painted yellow. A cumbia grabs the ones arguing by the feet and carries them what is now the dance floor.

- So the women won again - I ask.

- Sure! - says he who is telling me the story. You never contradict a woman, and much less when spring is already warming the nights in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast...

P.S. that wanders on a moonstruck theme and wishes, ingenuously, to be given a place in the scientific columns of the main dailies and magazines.

Mounted on a curl of the smoke of my pipe, I rise to the highest curl of the ceiba tree. It is night and a sorrow is gaining on the moon, now darkening a good bit of her figure. The Sup reflects: "The Moon is a satellite of the Earth. That is, the Moon spends her life turning around the Earth, with the same tedium with which a merry-go-round turns, empty, in a town fair. The Moon says nothing in the face of this sentence. What is she going to say, if in any case there is a long and invisible chain that ties her to the Earth and keeps her from leaving to take a turn around so many other stars and planets.

Nevertheless, as far as one can see, the Moon is not bitter. It doesn't occur to her, for example, to let herself fall on the Earth with the same wavering spin as a coin coming down to elucidate the first mystery: heads or tails? No, the Moon doesn't let herself fall. That means nothing else than that the Moon has hope. And this fact is what has, until now, gone unnoticed by all the astronomers, astrophysicists, astrologers, astronauts, and by the Houston "Astros." Up until now, I say, because I intend to unveil this technical and scientific datum that will revolutionize all modern science and, above all, the daily and nightly approaches of amorous couples.

"The Moon has hope" I have said, and here lies the point of an epistemological break and the birth of a new scientific paradigm (by the way, speaking of T. Kuhn and of the Scientific Revolutions, once I wrote a letter to Gilly where I explained the uselessness, scientifically and for the police, of speculation over who was behind the criminal nose and the ski mask. Time and the pathetic PGR [Justice Dept.] proved me right (and with the arrest warrant).

Well - let's repeat it: "The Moon has hope." The simplistic will go ahead and ask: "What does the Moon hope for?," but the problem will have no solution unless we first answer the following question: "What makes it possible for the Moon to have hope?" Clearly it isn't the same, but the question is as momentous as if we referred to "The Moon is sleepy," something that of course, is nonsense, because being a nocturnal animal, the Moon obviously suffers from insomnia.

A statement such as, "The Moon is feverish" sounds hot and sensual, and perhaps, may help to melt the resistence of the other person to a closer contact, and thence to the inevitable contagion, but nothing more. The pragmatic will discard such a claim immediately, since, they will argue, there is no thermometer capable of taking the temperature nor antipyretic imaginable for such a space fever.

An utterance like "The Moon has desires" is as ambiguous as "The Moon has hope," and leads one to ask, "What does the Moon desire?" By the way, I'm getting there...

(The Sup approaches the edge of the top of the ceiba with admirable balance, and after the characteristic sound that betrays the way in which mammals evacuate the contents of their bladders, returns with a face saying "duty done") "All right, let's return to science, now that the prosaic reminder of the body is answered, with its ebbs and flows. Where were we? Oh yes! On, "The Moon has desires." No, that we had already discarded (in more than one sense).

We'll go back to the rash statement that "The Moon has hope." It's elementary. Can you imagine someone turning and turning around the same thing, seeing always the same landscape and repeating always the same routine? What? The special under-attorney for the murder cases of LDC [Luis Donaldo Colosio], JFRM [Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu] and Cardinal Posadas? For God's sake! We're talking about science, not comic strips! Back we go.

All right, isn't it logical to suppose that this "someone" would be bored and wish to be freed of such a circular sentence? Yes, I know that, in the case of the Moon, there is that silly chain of the "force of gravity." But.. why then not let yourelf drop? You still doubt! Okay, it's not important.. We geniuses have always been misunderstood.. at first. All right, all right, be kind (remember that it's spring), grant me that it's like this, that the Moon is a prisoner, and that, nevertheless, she takes no vengeance on the one who makes her a prisoner.

Who is it that keeps her prisoner? The human being! If they hadn't invented that "law of gravity," the Moon would have been off romping about Jupiter or Saturn or even further...

Thus, the Moon undoubtably has hope, hope of seeing herself free and able to go wherever she lunatically desires. What is one of the main consequences of this fact? Well, it's that if the Moon escapes, whether it's because the silly chain breaks or because her jailer forgets to tie her, people in love won't be able to use her as a reference anymore, to convince or to deny.

How could they say, "In the double moon of your breast, hands, kisses and gazes surrender," or that other one, "with the complicity of the moon I discovered the pleasure you had hidden in your womb," or, also, "Don't bring your breath any closer, the Moon will flee, frightened to see us as one"? So, these are only some examples, but you can see what kind of problems would arise the night the Moon abandons her usual route and just leaves, to ride off into the stars...

P.S. to the lunatic P.S.

One must also be careful with the Moon. Many years ago, one Knight of the White Moon defeated me on the beaches of Barcino and obliged me, ungrateful, to put away arms and warlike desires for a good while. Now I have freed myself, but that's another story I'll tell you... another moon.

P.S. that, understanding, offers an alternative.

All right, if you don't want to publish it in the science column, at least do me the favor of tying that postscript with a little string to the UNAMSAT-1 and tell them to let it go when they pass by the Moon. It will do her good to know that someone understands her...

Go on again.
Health, and may hands and moons find each other.

The Sup,
a little embarrassed because now he doesn't know how to get down out of the ceiba. How about sliding down that silver rail that turns to the ground?...


To the Mexico page