catch it and hold it still in your hand, listen to what rises beyond El Norte:

The following is drawn from the text of a speech given on December 24 at the “In Defense of Humanity” conference.

Our Struggle is Against US Imperialism

I Believe Only in the Power of the People


What happened these past days in Bolivia was a great revolt by those who have been oppressed for more than 500 years. The will of the people was imposed this September and October, and has begun to overcome the empire’s cannons. We have lived for so many years through the confrontation of two cultures: the culture of life represented by the indigenous people, and the culture of death represented by West. When we the indigenous people–together with the workers and even the businessmen of our country–fight for life and justice, the State responds with its “democratic rule of law.”

Cochabamba 1999 battle over water, against Bechtel

What does the “rule of law” mean for indigenous people? For the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the “rule of law” means the targeted assassinations and collective massacres that we have endured. Not just this September and October, but for many years, in which they have tried to impose policies of hunger and poverty on the Bolivian people. Above all, the “rule of law” means the accusations that we, the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaranties of Bolivia keep hearing from our governments: that we are narcos, that we are anarchists. This uprising of the Bolivian people has been not only about gas and hydrocarbons, but an intersection of many issues: discrimination, marginalization , and most importantly, the failure of neoliberalism.  […]

And I want to tell you, companeras and companeros, how we have built the consciousness of the Bolivian people from the bottom up. How quickly the Bolivian people have reacted, have said–as Subcomandate Marcos says–ya basta!, enough policies of hunger and misery.

From the BBC,  Subcomandante Marcos, the rebel leader of what Naomi Klein calls a “dreaming revolution”  emerges:

Mexico’s Zapatista rebels are emerging once again from their jungle hiding place in the south of the country.

The Zapatistas are embarking on a six-month tour of Mexico’s 31 states as an “alternative project” to the presidential elections.

Chiapas Mexico 2003

Another Calendar:  That of Resistance

Place:  Mountains of the Mexican southeast.  Date:  January of 2003.  Hour:  Dawn. Climate:  Cold, rainy, tense.  Altitude:  Various meters above sea level.  Visibility:  Without a flashlight you can’t see a bloody thing. […]

If it is true, as, in fact, it is, that life first walked as liquid in the caves that abound in indigenous lands, that the caves were and are the womb which the first gods gave to themselves in order to birth themselves and to make themselves, and that the grottoes are but the hollows left by the flowering of life in the land, as cicatrices, then it is within the land where we can read, in addition to the past, the paths which shall take us to tomorrow.

In this January, the creator couple, Cosana and Xonaxi, embraced the womb of the earth, and they soothed it, in order to turn it into fertile sown fields.  Not only so that the rebel struggle which is collective – because that is the only way it can be rebel – might be renewed, but also so the dream might be born with the color of those of us whom are the color of the earth.

Silent history now.  And what is silent is always greater than that which speaks.  Silence…”

scarlet macaw

Above, a storm greets the macaw’s determined flight with lightning…

Below, Monte Albán remains, with its arrow building breaking the monotony of the entire ceremonial complex, warning that there are pieces missing, preventing us from understanding what we are seeing. As if to remind us that what is missing is greater and more marvelous than what we are seeing.

Because when we see what we are now seeing, vainglorious Monte Albán, we futilely seek continuity.  In reality, we are only seeing a photograph, one instant, an image of a clock which stopped running on a particular date.

Monte Alban Oaxaca

But it is a discontinuous clock.  Only for the powerful is history an upward line, where their today is always the pinnacle.  For those below, history is a question which can only be answered by looking backwards and forwards, thus creating new questions.

And so we must question what is in front of us.  Ask, for example, who is absent but yet nonetheless made possible the presence of images of gods, caciques and priests.

Ask who is silent when these ruins speak.

gila monster

There are not a few stelai in Monte Albán.  They mark calendars which are not yet understood.  But let us not forget that they present the calendars of those who held power in those times, and those calendars did not envisage the date in which the rebellion from below would bring down that world.  Like an earthquake, the discontent of that time shook the entire social structure, and, while leaving the buildings standing, it did away with a world which was removed from everyone’s reality.

Since ancient times, the governing elites have been fashioning calendars according to the political world, which is nothing but the world which excludes the majority.  And the disparity between those calendars and those of lives below, is what provokes the earthquakes in which our history abounds.

For every stele which the power sculpts in its palaces, another stele rises from below.  And, if those stelai are not visible, it is because they are not made of stone, but of flesh, blood and bone, and, being the color of the earth, they are still part of the cavern in which the future is ripening.

Those buildings which, like plumes, crown the Hill of the Tiger, do not belong to those who raised and maintained them with their effort and wisdom.

“Monumental architecture, in instances such as Monte Albán and other sites of Mesoamerican cultural interest, was a response to the need for a space dedicated to ceremonies, which corresponded to the organizational demands of a priestly social class with a much higher status than that of the average agricultural population.  And so the buildings of Monte Albán, from their first period, were used for reinforcing the political system based in religious worship and for maintaining the ruling class in power.  The populace in the villages and towns were charged with supplying all the consumer goods for that class, as well as with providing labor for constructing the buildings and for their continuous maintenance.  Another obligation was that of providing all the supplies necessary for carrying out the ceremonies and the indispensable human material for those ceremonies.”  (Robles García, Nelly.  Monte Albán. Codees Editores).

jaguar, panthera onca

It was the powerful who enjoyed the work of those of below, the work which raised these buildings, these buildings which are less surprising than the arrogance which destroyed them.  Because Monte Albán, as often happens in those spaces where power resides, collapsed from rebellion from below, which was, in turn, provoked by the indifference of those who governed.

The Spanish conquistadors’ two-fold lesson of Monte Albán (the advanced development of a culture and the neglect caused by government arrogance) passed unnoticed.  

For the Spanish crown of the 16th century, as for the neoliberalism of the beginning of the 21st century, the only culture is the one which they dominate.  

Then the indigenous lands were nothing but an abundant source of labor for the Spanish powers, as they are now for savage capitalism.  Under the Spanish power, condemned to barbaric forced labor in the mines, almost 90% of the indigenous population of Oaxaca disappeared.  But their suffering continued underground, and rebellion was forged in the grottoes, rebellion which today nourishes the color of the earth. […]

great horned owl

But the powerful do not only purchase history in order to possess it, but also in order to prevent its being read as it should be, that is, looking ahead.

The history of above continues saying “were” to those who still are.  It does so because up there the only thing that matters is the exchange of those who are in power.  And so time ends for the powerful only when another power replaces it.

Below, however, time continues to flow.

By responding to the unknown posited by the historic past, those below decipher crooked lines, ups and downs, valleys, hills and hollows.  That is how they know that history is nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle which excludes them as primary actor, reserving for them only the role of victim.

hyacinth macaw

The piece which is missing in national history is the one which completes the false image of the uniqueness of possible worlds, the current one, but rather the one which includes everyone in its true reach:  the constant struggle between those who are attempting the end of times, and those who know that the last word will be built through resistance, sometimes in silence, far from the media and the centers of Power.

La Paz January 28, student protest rally [Reuters]

Only in that way is it possible to understand that the current world is neither the best nor the only one possible, nor that other worlds are not merely possible, but, above all, that those new worlds are better and are necessary.  As long as that does not happen, history will remain nothing but an anarchic collection of dates, places and different colored vanities.

The grandeur of Monte Albán will not be completed with the discovery of more temples, tombs and treasures,  nor even through the exact reconstruction of its undeniable splendor.

 Monte Albán will be complete – and along with that, it will be part of the real history of our country – when it is understood that the ones who made it possible, who raised and maintained it, and whose rebellion undermined the arrogance that inhabited it, are still living and struggling, not so that Monte Albán and its power will be renewed and history will make an impossible backward turn, but for the recognition of the fact that the world will not be complete unless it includes everyone in the future.

The indigenous movement in which zapatismo is inscribed is not trying to return to the past, nor to maintain the unfair pyramid of society, just changing the skin color of the one who mandates and rules from above.

quezalcoatl as plumed serpent

The struggle of the Indian peoples of Mexico is not pointing backwards.  In a linear world, where above is considered eternal and below inevitable, the Indian peoples of Mexico are breaking with that line and pointing towards something which is yet to be deciphered, but which is already new and better.

Whoever comes from below and from so far away in time, has, most certainly, burdens and problems.  But these were imposed on him by those who made wealth their gods and alibis.  And, in addition, those who come from such a long way can see a great distance, and there is another world in that distant point which their heart divines, a new world, a better one, a necessary one, one where all worlds fit…

If, in their long and stupid march, the neoliberals say “there is no culture other than ours,” below, with the underground Mexico which resists and struggles, the Indian peoples of Oaxaca are warning:  “There are other grottoes like ours.”

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Insurgente Marcos, who often signs off reminding that the heart beats on the left.  And it does.  It does.

La Paz indigenous communities protest October 2001

Evo, again:

I believe only in the power of the people. That was my experience in my own region, a single province–the importance of local power. And now, with all that has happened in Bolivia, I have seen the importance of the power of a whole people, of a whole nation. For those of us who believe it important to defend humanity, the best contribution we can make is to help create that popular power. This happens when we check our personal interests with those of the group. Sometimes, we commit to the social movements in order to win power. We need to be led by the people, not use or manipulate them.

Zapatista mural,
Rebel Autonomous Secondary School

x-posted at media girl

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