Letter to Luis Héctor Álvarez Álvarez
Zapatista Army for National Liberation
November – December 2012
“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it”
Tyrion Lannister to Jon Snow
“A craven can be as brave as any man, when there is nothing to fear. And we all do our duty when there is no cost to it. How easy it seems then, to walk the path of honor. Yet sooner or later in every man’s life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose.”
Master Aemon Targaryen to Jon Snow
To: Luis Héctor Álvarez Álvarez. Somewhere in Mexico (I hope)
From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. Chiapas, México.
Err…Allow me a moment, Señor Álvarez, to explain a little bit about where the epigraphs come from; the quotes are from the book: A Song of Ice and Fire. Book One: Game of Thrones. 1996. George R.R. Martin. The television series Game of Thrones, which gets its name from the first volume of the saga, isn’t bad (Peter Hayden Dinklange, who gives image and voice to Tyrion Lannister, ironically, stands above the other actors and actresses; Jon Snow is played by Kit Harington, and Master Aemon Targaryen by Peter Vaughan), and you can obtain the first two seasons at a reasonable price from your favorite video seller (say yes to piracy).
The DVD that I watched was an unrequested gift from an street vendor on Eje Central, Mexico City (that is to say, someone bought it there and sent it to me)…oops, Mexico City’s “left” government is going to enforce article 362 of the criminal code against me because, let’s face it, it’s applicable to just about everything (they would be the envy of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz…oh, oh, and this article was proposed in 2002 by then-mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and approved by the Mexico City legislature which had a PRD majority…hmm…don’t use this part…I wouldn’t want them to say that I am at the service of the right…you know how much I worry about what is said about me.)
The image was a little pixelated, but you could see and hear it pretty well. And at a good price, they tell me; in any case, it’s cheaper than paying for HBO, and without the anxiety of having to wait another week to know what happened with little Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), or with the dazzling Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
However I would also recommend reading the books – yes I know that this presidential term reading books isn’t in fashion and buying hair gel is cheaper – but one advantage is that you can take a course in practical philosophy (ah, the paradoxes) through the dialogues of Tyrion Lannister (who, I am told, is a literary projection of Mr. George R.R. Martin). The other advantage is that you can “spoil” (or whatever it’s called these days) copiously on your favorite blogs. Although it will earn you the enmity of many, your points (still negative) will increase significantly for posting. Just don’t go too far, because if it occurs to you to say that what happens in “Dance of Dragons”…ok…ok…ok…I’ll stop…say no to spoiling.
Señor Álvarez Álvarez:
This letter is not only to reaffirm that which the multitudinous silence of December 21 should have made clear to you, to the political class, to the PAN government in general and to Felipe Calderón in particular:
You have failed.
It’s not so dramatic really. Other governments have tried it before…and they will continue trying.
But, Señor Álvarez, you should not look to us as the cause of your failure, nor even to the lack of professionalism of your not so intelligent intelligence service (although now you know that they were and are total scoundrels). Who could possibly think that a Zapatista, any one of us, would turn to a government of criminals to ask for help if we were sick? Who could rationally think that the Zapatistas rose up for money?
Only the demodé conquistador mentality (best exemplified by Diego Fernández de Cevallos) inculcated in your political party, the PAN, would have allowed you all to enthusiastically swallow such a tall tale.
And you didn’t even need intelligence, all that you needed to do was to simply skim the newspapers or listen to past news reports: the bribones who presented themselves to you as “friends close to Sup Marcos” are the same people who simulated a surrender and “handover of arms” to the nefarious Croquetas Albores in 1998, posing as Zapatistas, and who are known scam artists who no longer fool anyone…well, except you. How much did they take you for? The difference is that Croquetas knew that it was all a farce and he paid for it to happen (and for the media to present the natural springs of Jataté, just outside of the municipal seat of Ocosingo as if they were “in the Lacandón Jungle”), but you not only fell for it, you actually went so far as to include it in a book.
As if that had not been enough, then you go and invite Felipe Calderón to the presentation of the book, where, drunk on blood and alcohol, he not only blabbered incoherently but also distributed the his transcript to the media. Of course the media charged double, not to publish it, but to not publish it, because it made obvious the inebriated state of he who uttered those words. I think that it is clear now that Felipe Calderón Hinojosa lied up until the very last minute [of his office] and that what he said in his final governmental address was a shameless lie. The only rapprochement that his government had with the “representatives and leadership of the EZLN” was that of his armies, police, judges and his paramilitaries.
Well, now you know Señor Álvarez, what it is like to be despised by what the implacable calendar brings.
Like the indigenous, the elderly are ignored. And a symbol of that neglect is the meager coins of a handout, or, in your case, the humiliation of having been deceived, the insult of having been ignored, and the mockery that took place behind your back.
But there is a difference, a small difference, but one of those differences upon which the wheels of history turn: while you paid (with money that wasn’t yours, by the way) to be mocked (and you even made it into a book); we, indigenous and Zapatista, punish your disrespect with our silence and our long walk.
Because we know well that they have also sold you the idea that you will be remembered for your struggle for democracy (in reality, your struggle for power, but there, above, they seem to use these terms interchangeably), but no, that’s not the case. Although it’s not much, you may be remembered for having been an accomplice (or an official, it’s the same thing) of the most criminal government that this country has suffered since Porfirio Díaz.
And here, in Zapatista indigenous lands, you may be remembered as part of one more government that tried to defeat us (or to buy us, it’s the same thing), and as made evident by the thunderous silence from San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Altamirano, Las Margaritas, Palenque, and Ocosingo, as one more that failed.
Because the political class and those who live from their stupidity, will extinguish themselves without anyone ever holding them to account (well perhaps only to thank them for no longer being obstacles), and they will be nothing, nothing more than another statistic in the extensive list of those duped by the dream of being “historic.”
And note that we don’t question your morality. It’s well known that any band of criminals, like the one you have served all these years, seeks someone with a kind and gentle face so that, with this face as an alibi, they can conceal their predatory identity.
I think that you already knew this, Señor Álvarez. Above, throughout the entirety of the political spectrum, they are all the same. Although it’s true that some naive people don’t discover this until they themselves suffer injustice in the flesh, having ignored it when that injustice was meted out on a daily basis in other geographies near and far.
Your friends in the party profit from the blood of innocents, and now their only regret is that there was someone in the market who paid and charged more. All of them are nothing but a gang of criminals who made and make grotesque contortions to the foolish rhythms set for them by the media.
You must be proud to have been part of a team with a thug like Javier Lozano Alarcón, who had to hide in the senate so as to avoid being called to account by the law? Do you feel good for having been the compañero of Juan Francisco Molinar Horcasitas, a criminal whose hands are stained with the blood of children?
And, although sometimes paradoxes are comical, others are tragic.
Your political party, the PAN, was one of those that, since the dawn of 1994, led the hysterical uproar against us, demanding our annihilation, because according to them we were threatening to plunge the country into a blood bath. As it turns out it was your party, once in government, that spread terror, anguish, destruction and death to every corner of our already battered country.
And what about when the legislators in your party (together with those of the PRI and the PRD) voted against the San Andrés Accords that you had worked for, warning us that these Accords meant the splintering of the country. But it has been your party, Señor Alvarez that today hands back a nation shattered.
But take comfort, Señor Álvarez, your desire to go down in history will be realized. You will have your one line, yes, among those who were deceived by these jokers.
But also, in the pages of the history and geography books in the Zapatista schools, one paragraph will note:
“The bad government of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa is known as that which brought senseless death to every corner of Mexico, that offered injustice to the victims and the perpetrators and that left, as a self-homage to crime made co-government, his own monument. If Porfirio Díaz left the Angel of Independence, Felipe Calderón left the Pillar of Light [Estela de Luz]. In doing so, and without meaning to, both announced the end of a world, although they were late, and will be late, in understanding this.”
I suggest that you add an epilogue to your book. Something like, “I must admit that I may be a lousy student of the indigenous Zapatista communities. But I have to say, after hearing their thunderous silence, I learned one thing: that it doesn’t matter if we use bombs, bullets, batons, beatings, lies, projects, or money, or if we pay off the media to scream lies and silence truths, the result is always the same: the Zapatistas don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t tire and…surprise!!!…they don’t disappear.”
Because history, Señor Álvarez, will continue to repeat itself time and time again: rebels will reappear in every corner, and maybe, with them, so will their Mario Bendettis, their Mario Payeras, their Omar Cabezas, and their Carlos Montemayors. And maybe the Eduardo Galeanos of those torrents will or will not hold you and yours to account.
And there will also be windows, with or without marcos.
And you all, Señor Álvarez, will continue peering out, looking at us without seeing us, scarcely realizing in this glimpse of the world to come that you all are irremediably outside of it.
I don’t think that you put this in your book, but remember that one time I told you that we Zapatistas are highly valued, but we have no price. And “there’s no need to confuse value with price” (no, it wasn’t Karl Marx that said that, it was Juan Manuel Serrat).
However, Señor Álvarez, in memory of the moments of solid dignity that you have had, and those that I witnessed when you worked in the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, you can still change this:
Leave your party and what it represents, abandon the political class, which has done nothing but turn itself into an insatiable parasite. You are from Chihuahua. Go to the Sierra Tarhumara, ask that they allow you to enter into one of the rarámuri communities. Perhaps they won’t let you stay; our dear Ronco is no longer here to ask. But maybe they will allow you to stay for a few days. There, with them, you will learn the fundamentals of the indigenous heart, of the struggle and hope of the original peoples of Mexico. After all, isn’t that the title of your book?
Go, Señor Álvarez Álvarez, to that, or to any indigenous community that will accept you after you’ve renounced that which you are today. There you will be respected (and not poorly tolerated) for your age, and above all, you will learn that for the Indian peoples of Mexico, “dignity” is a verb that has been conjugated in the present for five hundred years …and then some.
Well, maybe this is the day that you have to choose. In your case, this is nothing simple, because it comes down to choosing between one world and another. Don’t let your old age detain or deter you. Look at us, we are over 500 years old and still we learn.
If you don’t do this, at least you will know for yourself the truth that is contained in the 17 syllables of that Haiku by Mario Benedetti:
“Who would have thought that,
it is the truth that the weak
Ok. Be well, and, did you listen? “There are few things/ as deafening /as silence” (yes, also a Haiku and also by Mario Benedetti)
From the mountains of Southeastern Mexico,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. México, December 2012.
Listen to the audio that accompanies this Communiqué: Theme song for the opening of Games of Thrones. HBO. Music by Ramin Djawadi, arrangement and principal performance by Jason Yang in the electric acoustic violin.
 Luis H Álvarez is was part of the Commission of Concord and Pacification (COCOPA) in Chiapas responsible for the peace negotiations between the Federal Government and the EZLN; he served as Coordinator of the Dialogues for Peace in Chiapas under Vicente Fox and as Commissioner for the Development of Indigenous Peoples under Felipe Calderon. At the end of his tenure in July of 2012 as Commissioner for the Development of Indigenous Peoples Álvarez published a book “The Indigenous Heart: Struggle and Hope of the Original People of Mexico” in which he flamboyantly claimed that the EZLN had in effect disappeared as a relevant political force on the State of Chiapas.
 This comment refers to the constant rumors circulated in the past few years by the PAN government and Luis H. Alvarez himself that Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos was sick and on his death-bed and asking the Mexican government for assistance (see Proceso July 25, 2012, “El subcomandante Marcos sufre cáncer y pidió ayuda al gobierno: Luis H. Álvarez).
 ‘Bribones’ means dishonest, but is also the name of a popular cartoon character in Mexico and a name that Marcos frequently uses to denote the political class.
 Roberto Albores Guillén, PRI Governor of the State of Chiapas from 1998 to 2000.
 The Estela de Luz (Pillar of Light) is a monument in Mexico City built in 2011 to supposedly commemorate the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule.
 In the Spanish text the word “marcos” is a play on words used here to mean that both frame and a reference to Subcomandante Marcos.
 Ricardo Robles, Jesuit Missionary and tireless defender of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, spent over 45 years living with the Raramuri people of the Tarahumara.