Fragments of a letter from Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, sent a few months ago, to a geography far away in distance and close in thought:
“Zapatista Sixth Commission, Mexico.
Abril del 2023.
Because then it would be something like, in the face of the terrible storm that is already battering every corner of the planet, even those who thought they were safe from all evil, we don’t see the storm.
I mean to say that, we don’t only see the storm, and the destruction, death and pain it brings. We also see what follows. We want to be the seed of a future root which we will not see, which will then be, in turn, the grass which we will also not see.
The Zapatista vocation, if someone hurries us to a succinct definition, is then “to be a good seed”.
We do not intend to bequeath to the next generations a vision of the world. Nor do we intend to pass on to them our miseries, our resentments, our pains, our phobias, or our philias. Nor do we want them to be a mirror with a more or less approximate image of what we believe to be good or bad.
What we want is to bequeath life. What other generations do with it will be their decision and, above all, their responsibility. Just as we inherited life from our ancestors, we take what we consider valuable, and we assign ourselves a task. And, of course, we take responsibility for the decisions we make, for what we do to fulfill that task, and for the consequences of our actions and inactions.
When we say that “It is not necessary to conquer the world, it is enough to make it anew”, we move away, definitively and irremediably, from the current and previous political conceptions. The world we see is not perfect, not by far. But it is better, without a doubt. A world where everyone is who he or she is, without shame, without being persecuted, mutilated, imprisoned, murdered, marginalized, oppressed.
What do you call that world? What system sustains it or is dominant? Well, that will be decided, or not, by those who live in it.
A world where the hegemonizing and homogenizing efforts learn from what they have caused in this and other times, and fail in that world to come.
A world in which humanity is not defined by equality (which only hides the segregation of those who are “not equal”), but by difference.
A world where difference is not persecuted, but celebrated. A world where the stories told are not those of those who win, because no one wins.
A world where the stories told, whether in private, or in the arts, or in culture, are like those that our grandmothers and grandfathers told us, and that teach not who won, because no one won and, therefore, no one lost.
Those stories that allowed us to imagine terrible and wonderful things and in which, between the rain and the smell of cooking corn, coffee and tobacco, we were able to imagine an incomplete world, yes, awkward too, but much better than the world that our ancestors and our contemporaries have suffered and are suffering.
We do not intend to inherit laws, manuals, worldviews, catechisms, rules, routes, destinations, steps, companies, which, if you look closely, is what almost all political proposals aspire to.
Our intention is simpler and terribly more difficult: to bequeath life.
Because we see that this terrible storm, whose first gales and rains are already lashing the entire planet, is coming very fast and very strong. So we do not see the immediate. Or we do, but according to what we see in the long term. Our immediate reality is defined or in accordance with two realities: one of death and destruction that will bring out the worst in human beings, regardless of their social class, their color, their race, their culture, their geography, their language, their size; and the other of starting over again on the rubble of a system that did what it does best, that is, to destroy.
Why do we say that the nightmare that is already here, and will only get worse, will be followed by an awakening? Well, because there are those who, like us, are determined to look at that possibility. Very slim, it is true. But every day and at all times, everywhere, we fight for that tiny possibility to grow and, although small and insignificant -like a tiny seed-, to grow and, someday, to be the tree of life that will be of all colors or it will not be at all.
We are not the only ones. In these 30 years we have peered into many worlds. Different in ways, times, geographies, histories, calendars. But the same only in our determination and the absurd gaze set on an undefined time that will happen, not by destiny, not by divine design, not because someone loses so that someone wins. No, it will be because we are working for it, fighting for it, living for it, dying for it.
And there will be a meadow, and there will be flowers, and trees, and rivers, and animals of all kinds. And there will be grass because there will be roots. And there will be a child, be it girl, boy, or any child living. And the day will come when they will have to take responsibility for the decision they make about what to do with that life.
Isn’t that freedom?
And we will tell you the story of the indigenous woman of Mayan roots, more than 40 years old, who fell dozens of times learning to ride a size 20 wheel bicycle. But she also got up the same number of times and now rides a size 24 or 26 wheel and, with that, she will get to the medicinal plant courses.
We’ll tell you about the health promoter who will arrive in time, to a remote community without a paved road, to administer anti-venom serum to an old man attacked by a nauyaca viper.
Or of the indigenous woman, autonomous authority who, with her nagüa and her backpack, will arrive on time to an assembly “as the women that we are” and will be able to give a talk on feminine hygiene.
And that, when there was no vehicle, gasoline, driver or passable road, health, to the extent of our development and possibilities, will reach a champa (little hut) in a corner of the Lacandon jungle.
A champa where, around a bonfire, where it is raining and without electricity, the education promoter will arrive, also on a bicycle, and amidst the smell of cooked corn, coffee and tobacco, she will listen to a terrible and wonderful story, told in the voice and language of an old woman. And this story will speak of the Votán, who was neither man nor woman nor otroa. And that they were not one, but many. And you will hear her say: “that is what we are, Votán, guardian and heart of the people.”
And that, back at school, that education promoter will tell the Zapatista boys and girls that story. Well, rather, the version she will tell from what she remembers having heard, because it was not very audible due to the noise of the rain and the muffled voice of the woman who was telling the story.
And of “la cumbia de la bicicleta” that some youth music group will create and which will relieve us all from listening for the umpteenth time to “la cumbia del sapito” (the cumbia of the little frog).
And our dead, to whom we owe honor and life, will perhaps say “well, at last we have entered the age of the wheel.” And at night they will look at the starry sky, without clouds to hide it, and they will say “Bicycles! From there, come the spaceships.” And they will laugh, I know, and someone living will turn on a tape recorder and a cumbia will be heard that we all, living and dead, hope it is not “la del moño colorado” (the one with the red bow tie).
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
On behalf of the boys, girls, men, women and otroas Zapatistas.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
General Coordinator of the “Tour for Life.”
Mexico, April 2023.
These fragments are taken from the original, and with the authorizations of the sender and the addressee.
Original text published by Enlace Zapatista on November 21st, 2023. English translation by Schools for Chiapas.