The late SupMarcos used to say that you could not understand the reasons for the uprising without first knowing the story of Paticha, the five-year-old girl who died in his arms for lack of a fever medication. I now tell them that they will not be able to understand what Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés will later explain in detail if they do not know the story of Dení.
Dení is an indigenous girl, of Mayan blood and roots. She is the daughter of an indigenous Zapatista insurgent and an indigenous Zapatista insurgent. When she was born, about 5 years ago, she was given that name to honor the memory of a compañera who died many years ago.
The late SupGaleano met Dení when she was a Patz. That is to say, a tamalito, because of how fat she was. In fact, that’s what Sup used to call her: “Patz“. Now she is skinny, because she walks all over the place. Dení, when the insurgent women get together to do some work, she starts, according to her, to give them autonomous health classes. And she draws doodles that, as she later explained, are health promoters. She says that women health promoters are better because men don’t understand about “how we are as women.” She strongly maintains that, to be a promotora de salud, you have to know how to inject but so it doesn’t hurt. “Because, what if you need an injection and you don’t want it because it hurts?”We are now in a meeting of the Zapatista leadership. Dení’s father and mother are not present, but the girl arrived following Tzotz and Pelusa, who are lying at the feet of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and, it seems, are paying attention to what is being said.
Someone is explaining:
“Here Dení is present and she is, let’s say, the first generation. In 20 years, Dení will have a female offspring and she will name her “Denilita,” who would be the second generation. Denilita, 20 years later, will conceive a girl who will be called “Denilitilla,”she is the third generation. Denilitilla, when she is 20 years old, will produce a daughter who will be called “Denilititilla,” she would be the fourth generation. Denilititilla, at the age of 20, will give birth to a girl and will be called “Denilí” the fifth generation. Denilí, when she is 20 years old, will have a girl and her name will be “Dení Etcétera” the sixth generation. Dení Etcétera, 20 years later, that is, 120 years from now, will have a girl whose name we cannot see, because her birth has already been removed from the calendar, but she is the seventh generation.”
Here Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés intervenes: “So we have to continue resisting so that this child, who is going to be born in 120 years, will be free and be whatever she wants to be. We are not fighting for that child to be a Zapatista or a partisan or whatever, but for her to be able to choose, when she comes to her senses, what her path will be. And not only that she can decide freely, but also, and above all, that she takes responsibility for that decision. That is to say, that she takes into account that all decisions, what we do and what we do not do, have consequences. So it is a matter of this child growing up with all the elements to make a decision and to take responsibility for its consequences.
In other words, she doesn’t blame the system, the bad governments, her parents, her relatives, men, her partner (male or female or otherwise), the school or her friends. Because that is what freedom is: to be able to do something without pressure or obligation, but being accountable for what was done. In other words, knowing the consequences beforehand.”
SubMoy turns to look at the now deceased SupGaleano, as if to say “it’s your turn.” The deceased, who is not yet deceased (but who already knows he will be soon), foresees that someday he will have to talk about it to strangers and begins:
“Will Dení to the Nth Power no longer speak ill of the fucking men? Yes, she will, for sure. But her arguments will not be that because they made fun of her, scorned her, molested her, harassed her, raped her, beat her, disappeared her, murdered her, and dismembered her. No, it’s going to be for normal things and issues, like that the damn guy farts in bed and stinks up the blankets; or that he can’t reach the toilet bowl; or that he burps like a cow calf; or that he buys the shirt of his favorite team, puts on shorts, socks and special soccer shoes, and then sits down to watch the games while stuffing himself with popcorn and lots of hot sauce; or that he takes great care in choosing the outfit he’s going to wear for decades: his favorite t-shirt, her favorite pants, and her favorite flip-flops; or because he doesn’t let go of the TV remote; or who doesn’t tell her that he loves her, even though she knows he loves her, but can’t spare a reminder every now and then. “
Among those listening, the women shake their heads affirmatively as if to say “of course”; and the men smile nervously.
SubMoy knows that it is his SupGaleano’s trick and that now he is going to go on, in what is called “gender solidarity,” to badmouth women, so he interrupts just when the now deceased is saying, “But it’s just that women…”
“Well,” says SubMoy, “now we’re talking about a girl who’s going to be born in 120 years and we’re going to focus on that.” The one who senses that he will be demised sits down, regretting not having been able to expound his brilliant thesis against women. SubMoy continues:
“So we have to think about that little girl. To look into the distance, then. And, looking at what seems very far away, we have to see what we have to do for that child to be free.
And this is important because the storm is already upon us. The same storm we warned about almost 10 years ago. The first thing we see is that the destruction is coming faster. What we thought would happen in 10 years is already here.
You have explained it already here. You have told us what you see in your Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Cho’ol, Tojolabal, Mame, Zoque, Quiché areas. They already know what is happening to Mother Earth because they live and work on the land. They know that the weather is changing.”The climate,” as the cityfolk say. That it rains when it shouldn’t, that it’s dry when it shouldn’t be. And so on. And so on. They know that the sowing can no longer be decided as it was by our ancestors, because the calendar is wrong, it has changed.
But not only that. We also see that the behavior of animals has changed; they appear in areas that are not their usual habitat and in seasons that are not appropriate for them. Here and in the geographies of our sister peoples, the so-called “natural disasters” are increasing, but they are a consequence of what the dominant system, that is, capitalism, does and does not do. There are rains, as usual, but now they are fiercer and in places and seasons that are not the same as before. There are terrible droughts. And now it happens that, in the same geography -for example here in Mexico- on one side there are floods, and on the other there is drought and they run out of water. There are winds so strong, that it is as if the wind gets angry and says “enough is enough” and wants to knock everything down. There are earthquakes, volcanoes, plagues like never before. As if Mother Earth were saying “this is it,” no more. As if humanity were a disease, a virus that must be taken out by spewing destruction.
But besides the fact that we can see that Mother Earth is in a state of dissatisfaction, as if protesting, there is the even worse: the monster, the Hydra, capitalism, which is like a madman stealing and destroying. Now it wants to steal what it did not care about before and continues destroying the little that is left. Capitalism now produces misery and those who flee from it: the migrants.
The COVID Pandemic, which still continues, showed the failure of an entire system to give a real explanation and to take the necessary measures. While millions died, a handful became richer. Other pandemics are already looming and the sciences are giving way to pseudo-sciences and charlatanry turned into political projects of the government.
We also see what we call Disorganized Crime, which is the same bad governments, of all political parties, that hide and fight over money. This Disorganized Crime is the main trafficker of drugs and people; the one that keeps most of the federal support; the one that kidnaps, murders, disappears; the one that does business with humanitarian aid; the one that extorts, threatens and charges taxes so that a candidate can say that now things are going to change, that now they are going to behave themselves.
We see originary peoples who, tired of scorn, mockery and lies, arm themselves to defend themselves or to attack the caxlanes. And the cityfolk are frightened, being that they themselves, with their own shitty way, fed this hatred that they now suffer, and that is no longer under control. As with Jovel’s arrogance, they reap what they have sown.
And we also see with sadness that they fight even among indigenous people of the same blood and language. They fight each other for the miserable support of the bad governments. Or to take what little they have or that which arrives. Instead of defending the land, they fight for handouts.
We warned the public and the indigenous brothers and sisters about all of this almost 10 years ago. There are those who paid attention, and there are many who did not even consider it. As if they saw and still see that all that horror is very far away, in time and distance. As if they only see what is in front of them. They do not see further. Or they see, but they do not care.
As we already know, in all these last years, we have been preparing ourselves for this darkness. 10 years we have been preparing for these days of pain and sorrow for those of us who are all the colors of the earth. 10 years of self-critically reviewing what we do and what we do not do, what we say and what we keep to ourselves, what we think and what we look at. We have prepared ourselves in spite of betrayals, slander, lies, paramilitaries, information sieges, scorn, rancor and attacks from those who reproach us for not obeying them.
We did it in silence, without fuss, calm and serene because we looked into the distance, as we were taught by our ancestors. And out there shouting at us to look only here, nothing but a calendar and a geography. Very little what they want to make us look at. But as the Zapatistas that we are, our gaze is the size of our heart, and our walk is not of a day, a year, or a six-year term. Our step is long and leaves a mark, even if it is not seen now, or if they ignore and disdain our path.
We are well aware that it has not been easy. And now everything is worse, and we have to look at that girl in 120 years. So we have to fight for someone we will never meet. Not us, not her children, not her children’s children, and so on. And we have to do it because it is our duty as the Zapatistas that we are.
Many misfortunes are on the way, wars, floods, droughts, diseases, and in the midst of the collapse we have to look far away. If migrants are now in the thousands, soon they will be tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands. There will be fights and death between brothers and sisters, between parents and children, between neighbors, between races, between religions, between nationalities. The great constructions will burn and no one will know why, or who, or what for. Although it seems that it couldn’t be anymore, but yes, it is going to get worse.
But, just as when we work the land, from before planting, we see the tortilla, the tamales, the pozol in our homes, so now we have to see that little girl.
If we don’t look at that little girl who is already with her mother, but 120 years from now, then we will not understand what we are doing. We will not be able to explain it to our own comrades. And our fellow peoples , organizations and people from other geographies will understand it even less.
We can already survive the storm as the Zapatista communities that we are. But now it is not only about that, but about going through this and other storms to come, going through the night, and arriving at that morning, 120 years from now, where a girl begins to learn that to be free is also going to be responsible for that freedom.
For that reason, looking at that little girl in the distance, we are going to make the changes and adjustments that we have been discussing and agreeing together in these years, and that we have already consulted with all the Zapatista peoples.
If anyone thinks that we are going to receive a prize, or a statue, or a museum, or some golden letters in history, or pay, or thanks; well, it is about time that they look elsewhere. Because the only thing we are going to receive is that, when we are about to die, we will be able to say “I did my part” and know that it is not a lie.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés remained silent, as if waiting for someone to leave. No one did. They continued discussing, contributing, planning. Lunchtime arrived and they asked when they were going to stop to have a break.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés answered: “Soon, in 120 years.”
I’m going to be honest with you, as I am. I, the captain, can dream of that moment when a girl is born without fear, who is free and who takes responsibility for what she does and what she does not do. I can also imagine it. I could even write a story or a tale about it. But these women and men that I have in front of me and to one side, indigenous Zapatistas all with Mayan roots, my bosses, they do not dream, nor do they imagine that girl. They see her, they look at her. And they know what they have to do so that this child is born, walks, plays, learns and grows up in another world… 120 years from now.
Like when they look at the mountain. There is something in their gaze, as if they were looking beyond in time and space. They look at the tortilla, the tamales and the pozol on the table. And they know that it is not for them, but for a girl who is not even in the minds of those who will be her parents, because they have not been born. Neither they, nor their parents, nor their grandparents, nor their great-grandparents, nor their great-great-grandparents, and so on up to seven generations. Seven generations that start counting from this Dení, the Dení First Generation.
I have faith that we are going to make it. It’s just going to take a little time, but not too long either.
Just a little more than a century.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Insurgent Captain Marcos
Mexico, November 2023.
P.S.- Every bomb that falls on Gaza also falls on the capitals and major cities of the world, they just haven’t realized it yet. From the rubble the horror of tomorrow’s wars will be born.
P.S. SEVERAL WARS EARLIER (the day before, almost 120 years ago):
– “Wouldn’t it be better to declare war frankly?
The professor answered simply: “Our Government wants, no doubt, for the others to declare it. The role of the attacked is always the most pleasant and justifies all subsequent resolutions, however extreme they may seem. There we have people who live well and do not want war. It is convenient to make them believe that it is the enemies who impose it upon us, so that they may feel the necessity of defending themselves. Only superior spirits come to the conviction that great advances can only be made with the sword, and that war, as our great Treitschke said, is the highest form of progress.” The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1916). by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (Spain 1867-1928).