Part Two: Do the Dead Sneeze?

October 2023.

SupGaleano died. He died as he lived: unhappy.

Of course he took care, before passing away to return the name to the one who is flesh and blood inherited from Master Galeano. He recommended keeping him alive, that is, fighting. So Galeano will continue to walk in these mountains.

As for the rest, it was a simple thing. He started humming something like “ya sé que estoy piantao, piantao, piantao,” (I know I’m a little mentally off) and, just before he expired, he said, or rather asked, “Do the dead sneeze?,” and that was it. Those were his last words. No sentence for history, nor for a headstone, nor for an anecdote told in front of the fire. Just that absurd, anachronistic, extemporaneous question, “Do the dead sneeze?”

Then he remained still, his tired breathing suspended, his eyes closed, his lips at last silenced, his hands twitching.

We left. Almost as we left the champa (tent), already in the doorway, we heard a sneeze. SubMoy turned to look at me and I at him, with a barely hinted “bless you.” Neither of us had sneezed. We turned to where the body of the deceased was, and nothing. SubMoy just said “good question.” I didn’t say a word, but I thought “he must surely be with the moon rolling around in Callao.”

Of course, we were spared the burial. Although we missed the coffee and tamales.


I know that nobody is interested in one more death, least of all that of the now deceased SupGaleano. Actually, I am telling you this because he left that poem by Rubén Darío with which he began this series of texts. Ignoring the obvious nod to the Nicaragua that resists and persists – it could even be seen as a reference to the current war of the State of Israel against the people of Palestine, but, at the time of his death, the terror that today overwhelms the world had not resumed – he left that poem as a reference. More as an answer to someone who asked how to explain what is now happening in Chiapas, Mexico and the world.

And, of course, as a discreet homage to the master Galeano -from whom he inherited the name- he left what he called a “reading report”:

Who started it? Who is guilty? Who is innocent? Who is the good and who the bad? Where does Francis of Assisi stand? Does he fail, or is it the wolf, or the shepherds, or everyone? Why does Francis of Assisi only conceive of an agreement being made based on the wolf renouncing being what he is?

Although this was months ago, the text raised allegations and discussions that continue to this day. So I describe one of them:

It is like a kind of meeting or assembly or something like a debate table. There are the best of each house: specialists in everything, militants and internationalists of every cause except those of their own geography, spontaneous people with a doctorate in social networks (most of them), and one or the other who, upon seeing the commotion, came to see if they were giving away buckets, caps or T-shirts with the name of whatever party. There were more than a few who approached to find out what all the fuss was about.

– “You are nothing but an agent of expansionist and imperial Zionism!”-shouted one.

– “And you are just a propagandist for fundamentalist Arab Muslim terrorism!” -responded another, furious.

There had already been several attempts at a scuffle, but it had not yet gone beyond a few “see you at the exit” type of shoves.

They had reached that point because they had been analyzing Rubén Darío’s poem “Los Motivos del Lobo.”

It had not all been an exchange of adjectives, pranks and bad faces. It began like everything else in those parts: with good manners, forceful sentences, “brief interventions” – which usually lasted half an hour or more – and a profusion of quotations and footnotes.

Purely male, of course, because the debate was organized by the so-called “Hypertextual Toby Club.”

“The Wolf is the good one,” said someone, “because he only killed out of hunger, out of necessity.”

“No,” argued another, “he is the bad one because he killed sheep, which were the shepherds’ livelihood. And he himself acknowledged that “at times he ate lamb and shepherd.”

One more: “the villagers are the bad ones, because they did not keep the agreement.”

The one further on: “the fault lies with Assisi, who reached the agreement by asking the wolf to stop being a wolf, which is questionable, and then does not stick around to keep the pact.”

More here, “But Assisi points out that the human being is evil by nature.”

They are reiterated on one side and the other. But you can see that, if a poll were taken right now, the wolf would have a comfortable double-digit lead over the shepherd village. But a clever maneuver in social networks, got the hashtag “loboasesino” (murdererwolf) to come out on TT well above #mueranlospastores (death to shepherds). So it was a clear triumph for the pro-shepherd influencers over the pro-wolf influencers, although only in social networks.

There were some who argued in favor of two States living together in the same territory: the Wolf State and the Shepherd State.

And another for a Plurinational State, with wolves and shepherds, coexisting under the same oppressor, sorry, I meant under the same State. Another replied that this was impossible, given the background of each party.

A man in a suit and tie stood up and asked for the floor: “If Ruben (so he said, ignoring Darío), proceeded from the legend of Gubbio, then we can do the same. Let’s continue the poem:

The shepherds, exercising their legitimate right to defend themselves, attack the wolf. First destroying its den with bombardments, and then entering with tanks and infantry. It seems to me, colleagues, that the end is foregone: the wolf’s terrorist and animal violence is annihilated and the shepherds can go on with their bucolic life, shearing sheep for a powerful transnational firm that makes clothes for another equally powerful multinational firm that, in turn, owes an even more powerful international financial institution. This will lead the shepherds to become efficient workers on their own land -with all the benefits of the law- and will raise the village to first world levels, with modern highways, tall buildings and even a tourist train where visitors from all over the world will be able to appreciate the ruins of what were once meadows, forests and springs. The annihilation of the wolf will bring peace and prosperity to the region. Sure, some animals will die, no matter the number or species, but they are just collateral damage that is perfectly forgettable. After all, you can’t ask the bombs to distinguish between a wolf and a sheep, or to limit their shock wave so as not to damage birds and trees. Peace will be won and no one will miss the wolf.”

Someone else stands up and points out: “But the wolf has international support and inhabited that place before. The system cut down trees for grazing fields, and that upset the ecological balance, reducing the number and species of animals that the wolf consumed for a living. And it is to be expected that the wolf’s descendants will seek retribution.”

“Ah, so the wolf also killed other beings. It’s just like the shepherds,” retorted someone.

So they went on, giving as good arguments as the ones pointed out here, full of wit, erudition and many bibliographical references.

But the restraint did not last long: they went from wolf and shepherds to the Netanyahu – Hamas war and the discussion went up in tone until it reached the point that heads this anecdote, courtesy postmortem of the now deceased SupGaleano.

But at that moment, at the end of the room, a small hand was raised asking for the floor. The moderator couldn’t quite make out whose hand it was, so he granted the floor “to the person raising his hand over there in the back.”

They all turned to look and were on the verge of shouting in outrage and reproach. It was a girl carrying a teddy bear that almost matched her in size, and wearing a white blouse with embroidery and pants with a kitten near her right ankle. In short, the classic “outfit” for a birthday party or something like that.

The surprise was such that everyone kept silent and kept their eyes on the girl.

She stood up on the chair, thinking that way they would hear her better and asked:

“What about the pups?”

Surprise then became a condemning murmur, “What pups? What is this girl talking about? Who on earth let a woman into this sacred precinct? And worse, she is a child woman!”

The girl got down from the chair and, always carrying her teddy bear with clear signs of obesity -the bear, it is understood- went to the exit door saying:

“The pups. That is, the wolf’s pups and the shepherds’ pups. You know, their babies. Who’s thinking about the children? Who am I going to talk to? And where are we going to play?

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Insurgent Captain Marcos.

Published in Enlace Zapatista on October 29, 2023.
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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