For la Maestra, with affection
To the maestras [female teachers] of the teachers in resistance:
To the national and international Sixth:
To the attendees and participants of the CompArte all over the world:
Compas, hermanoas,[i] etcéteras:
We send you all [todas, todoas, todos] our greetings and respect. We hope that your health is good and your spirits high.
We are writing to send you a few videos of the contributions that the Zapatista bases of support had prepared for the CompArte. For now we are including two videos dedicated to women below and to the left, and especially to the maestras in struggle. Here goes:
“TO DANCE A THOUGHT”
This first video that we will show you is from the Caracol of La Garrucha. It a bailable [choreographed dance] entitled “The Rights of Women.” As is the case with almost everything here, it was prepared collectively by men and women, young people trained in the Zapatista autonomous education system. Zapatista bases of support wrote it, practiced it, and prepared to present it at the CompArte. The MC [maestra or master of ceremonies] explains everything. If you end up repeating the chorus, that’s to be expected. But we can tell you one thing: when you are capable of, as the compañera MC says, “singing a thought,” then perhaps you will have to rethink the idea that Art only comes from above, while below what we have are “crafts” [artesanías].
The value of a bailable lies not only in what you will see and hear below, but in its genealogy: the Selva Tzeltal zone, whose Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] is located in La Garrucha, was the last [zone] to incorporate women into positions of organizational responsibility. Just as the bailable or choreography demonstrates, it was just a few women at the beginning who started participating (two or three, as we remember). The other compañeras began taking on other positions of responsibility later, yes, but not because the men told them to, or because the mandos [EZLN authorities] gave an order, or because of the “consciousness-raising” that various feminist groups tried to impose on us once we were “famous.” Rather, it was the Zapatista women themselves who explained to each other, convinced each other, and began to take on positions of responsibility.
So there’s the challenge: go figure out how to dance a thought; then we’ll talk.
The video is from April of 2016, and it was produced by “Los Tercio Compas.” Copyleft: Junta de Buen Gobierno, etc.
Gender gossip: a delegate from the “Subterranean” section of the Tercios Compas went down, underground where the late SupMarcos is resting poorly, to show him the video. The deceased just made a few pained gestures and declared: “forget about the dance, the problem is the reality.” Then, upon seeing how each compañera who joined the dance cast the men behind her and took position ahead of them, he shook his head in disapproval and, before returning to his non-eternal slumber, said “nobody has any values anymore.”
The Dance of the Rights of Women:
The following video is not finished. It’s just a clip, less than a minute, because… because… well, because of technical problems. Talking among ourselves, we were remembering the festivals and celebrations from before (meaning, more than 22 years ago), when women only danced. They were never seen playing an instrument. What’s more, we didn’t even imagine it was possible for the women to make music other than church songs. So watch and listen to the history of struggle behind this track of ranchera-corrido-balada-cumbia-norteña. This part isn’t in the video, but when we asked the women in charge to call the band over to make the video, they commented among themselves, “hey, go look for the musiqueras, they’re going to get their picture taken.”
If you manage to dance a thought, perhaps you will discover the genealogy behind those ski masks, the history that embraces the violin as if it were embracing a shield, and which grips the trumpet as if it were what it is: a sword.
The song is by a collective from the community “OSO,” MAREZ [Autonomous Zapatista Municipality in Rebellion] “Lucio Cabañas,” Caracol of the Tzotz Choj zone which includes Tzeltales, Tzotziles, and Tojolabales, and is titled “Our Demands.” The video is from April 2016 and was produced by “Los Tercios Compas.” Copyleft or whatever it’s called.
Okay, compas and non-compas. That’s all for now. It possible, maybe probable, who knows, perhaps, that another day we’ll send along more examples of what we prepared for CompArte, with photos and videos. And maybe, we’re not sure, who knows, perhaps, we’ll tell you about an upcoming surprise.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
Mexico, July 2016
From the notebook of the Cat-dog:
Conversation captured by the interstellar satellite system “Pozol Systems,” during July of 2016. The coordinates are classified, but of course everybody knows that it was in Chiapas, Mexico, America, Planet Earth on the path of extinction. The audio is defective and it’s impossible to tell who’s talking and whether it’s a man, a woman, unoa otroa, an animal, vegetable, or mineral:
“Los maestros” [the teachers],” “los dirigentes” [the ones in charge], “los líderes” [the leaders], ha. All referring to “los,” [men]. And what about the “las” [women]? They’re out there too. And there aren’t just a few of them. No, I’m not sure of the exact quantity. What, I have to actually count them? Huh? So approximately how many? I mean it’s not a popularity contest, my friend. You all are always concerned with quantities, you always end up counting ‘likes,’ thumbs up, views, followers, subscribers, affiliates, members, marked ballots… you even demand statistics from reality. Yes I know, but your logic of accuracy and correction infuriates me. If it was up to you all, shit would be your candidate and your slogan would be “millions of flies can’t be mistaken.” Huh? Ah true, that’s already the case. But look, the issue isn’t what you count, it’s what you don’t. Let’s say you apply this thing about gender equality to the teacher’s popular movement, well, they wouldn’t be in compliance. There are more women than men. And if that’s how we’re doing things, then why don’t you count loas elloas? They’re there too. Huh? Yes, among the people, not just among the teachers. Go and see for yourselves, because you all say they’re vandals, criminals—you’re almost at the point of calling them “terrorists.” There you are going to see women from the market, the lady who sells tortillas, you know, people from the community. People who break their backs every day, all day, trying to make enough to live poorly. Yes, these are the ones who not only support the teachers, but also demand justice, freedom, democracy, good government. Eh? The Zapatistas? I don’t know really, they are in their caracoles, you can go ask them if you want. I’m telling you about the blockades, which are more like a people’s encampment then a blockade. What? You don’t like the word? Oh yes, of course, your obsession with “populism.” By the way, listen, how ridiculous was that guy who went and got himself a boss among the gringos… oh it was in Canada? Same thing, the geography doesn’t change the result. An idiot anywhere is an idiot everywhere. Oh I see, I can’t say anything against the main guy, the one at the top, the one with the money? Well anyway I was talking about the women. No, not about the teacher’s movement, but about the women. Because you all think they’re only good for… huh? Without being rude? Oooooh, look how sensitive you all turned out to be. Fine then, about the women: some are teachers, yes, others employees, others housewives or “box” wives because don’t tell me you can call those cardboard constructions houses. Some are students, yes. Professionals? Well, I don’t go around asking them for their degrees or their voting registration or anything like that. I just watch, see, hear, listen, learn. Anyway, I was telling you about the maestras. They’re out there. They get beaten, gassed, and chased too. And the things people say to them. It’s not that they’ve told me about it; I’ve seen it myself. And did you see them give up? No. They don’t falter, that is, they aren’t doormats. No, they aren’t manipulated by diabolic forces, nor are they part of a conspiracy. They are, well, normal. Young women, mature women, elderly women. They are all different, but they are alike because they are all from below and they are women. Look, what I notice is the gaze. And it’s clear that these women have their gaze set, as if they were saying no more, this is the line, enough already. Why? I don’t know, but I think it’s because they know now that they are not alone…
[i] The text uses “hermanoas” for sisters [hermanas] and brothers [hermanos] to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.