THEM AND US.
III.- The Overseers.
Somewhere in Mexico…
The señor hits the table, furious.
“Señor, with all due respect, we’ve been trying to do just that for more than 500 years. All exalted successive empires have tried to do so with all the military might of their eras.
“And so why are they still there?”
“Err…we’re still trying to understand that” the lackey casts a reproachful look at someone in military uniform.
The aforementioned man gets up and, standing at attention, extends his right arm in front of him, with his hand extended and shouts with enthusiasm:
“Heil…! Excuse me, I meant to say, greetings, señor.” He glares threateningly at his chuckling companions and continues:
“The problem, sir, is that those heretics don’t confront us where we are strong, they circle around on us and attack our weaknesses. If it was a question of lead and fire, well, those lands, with their forests, water, minerals, and people would have been conquered a long time ago and you, señor, could offer them as tribute to the Big Boss. But those cowards, instead of confronting us with their heroic naked chests, or with bows, arrows, and spears and going down in history as heroes (defeated yes, but defeated heroes), instead of that, they prepare, they organize, they get together and make plans, they turn their backs on us, they hide when they take off their masks. But we wouldn’t be in this situation if you all had listened to me when this all started.” He looks with reproach at another guest at the table whose placard reads “chupa-cabras[i] version 126.96.36.199. The aforementioned man smiles as he says:
“General, with all due respect, we didn’t have an atomic bomb. And although we could have gotten one from one of our allies (the guest with the ambassador placard nods his head acknowledging the mention), we would indeed have annihilated the aborigines, but we would also have destroyed the forests and the water, and all of the work of mineral exploration and exploitation would be impossible for centuries.”
Another lackey intervenes:
“We offered them songs and poems upon their deaths praising their sacrifice, ballads, films, roundtables, essays, books, theatrical works, statues, their names in gold letters. We told them that if they tried to resist and stay alive, we would start rumors and sow doubts about why they haven’t disappeared, why they haven’t died, and we would say they were our own creation; we said we would carry out a campaign to discredit them that would even have the support of some progressive intellectuals, artists, and journalists.”
The guests make a gesture of approval, although more than one indicates displeasure at so many “ists.”
The señor interrupts impatiently:
“They answered us with this signal” (the lackey shows him his fist with the middle finger up).
The other guests become indignant and clamor:
“Proles! Trash! Rude people! Plebes! Barrio!”
The lackey continues to make the hand signal, staring straight at the señor. The señor rebukes him:
“I got it! You can put your hand down.”
The lackey lowers his hand slowly, winking at the other guests. He continues:
“The problem, sir, is that these people don’t worship death, but life. We have tried to eliminate their visible leaders by buying them off, seducing them.”
“Not only have we not managed to do that, we have realized that the bigger problem is the invisible leaders.”
“Alright, find them.”
“We already found them sir.”
“It’s all of them.”
“What do you mean all of them?”
“Yes, all of them, men and women. That was one of the messages that they were sending that day of the end of the world. We managed to keep it out of the press, but I think here we can say it without fearing that anyone else will get wind of it. It was a code for us to understand: the one who is on stage is the boss.”
“What? 40,000 bosses?”
“Err… sir, forgive me, those are just the ones we saw, we would have to add many others that we didn’t see.”
“Buy them off then. I imagine we have enough money,” he adds gesturing to the guest with the placard “Non-Automatic Teller Machine.”
The NATM stammers:
“Well, sir, we’d have to sell something belonging to the State and there’s almost nothing left.”
The lackey interrupts:
“Sir, we’ve tried that.”
“They don’t have a price.”
“Well convince them then.”
“They don’t understand what we’re saying. And to tell you the truth, we don’t understand what they’re saying either. They talk about dignity, liberty, justice, democracy.”
Well, then we’ll pretend they don’t exist. That way they will die of hunger and curable diseases. With a nice solid information blockade, no one will even notice until it’s too late. Yes, we’ll kill them with forgetting.”
The guest who looks surprisingly like a chupa-cabras gives a sign of approval. The señor acknowledges the gesture.
“Well, sir, but there’s a problem.”
“Although we ignore them, they insist on continuing to exist. Without our handouts, excuse me, I meant to say without our help, they built schools, they made the land productive, they built clinics and hospitals, they improved their homes and their food supply, they reduced delinquency rates, they ended alcoholism. And, in addition to prohibiting the production, distribution, and consumption of narcotics, they raised their life expectancy so that it’s now almost equal to that in the great cities.
“Ah, you mean it’s still higher in the cities,” the señor smiles contently.
“No sir, when I said “almost” I meant that theirs is superior. Life expectancy in the cities has gone down thanks to the strategies of your predecessor, sir.”
Everyone turns with mockery and reproach to look at the figure in the blue necktie.
“You mean to tell me that those rebels live better than those who sell out to us?
“Absolutely, sir. But no need to worry about that, we’ve put together an ad hoc media campaign to cover it up.”
“The problem is that neither they nor our own people watch television, or read our press, they don’t have twitter or facebook, they don’t even have cell phone signals. They know they are doing better and our people know they’re doing worse.”
The guest with the placard, “modern left” stands up.
“Sir, if you’ll allow me. With our new program Solid… excuse me, I meant to say our new program National Crusade…”[ii]
The lackey interrupts impatiently:
“Enough Chayo, don’t start with speeches for the media. Everyone here agrees that the principal enemy are those damned Indians and not the other unnamable.[iii] We have that guy totally infiltrated andsurrounded by people that take orders from yours truly.
The guy with the “chupa cabras” placard concurs with satisfaction and gets high fives from the guests around him.
The lackey continues:
“But you and I, and everyone else who is here, knows that all this about the social programs is a lie, that it doesn’t matter how much money we put out, at the end of the line nothing is left. Because everyone takes their cut. After you, Sir, with all due respect, take your sizable chunk, and everyone else here does too, then the governors, then the military and naval commands in each zone, then the local legislatures, then the municipal presidents, the commissioners, the bosses, the managers, the check-out people, well, at the bottom there really isn’t much, or anything, left.”
The señor intervenes:
“Well something must be done then, because if not, the Big Boss is going to look for other overseers and you all know very well, ladies and gentlemen, what this means: unemployment, ridicule, perhaps jail or exile. The guy labeled “chupa cabras” shudders and makes a gesture of affirmation.
“And this is urgent, because if these Indians pata-rajada[iv]… (the daughter of the señor makes a gagging sign, his wife looks vaguely ill and acquires a greenish color that makes Linterna ídem look pale). The wife leaves the room saying something about pregnancy.
The señor continues:
If those damned Indians unite among themselves, we will be in very serious problems, because…”
“Ahem, ahem, señor – they lackey interrupts.
“I’m afraid there’s a bigger problem, that is, something worse, sir.”
“Bigger? Worse? What could be worse than an Indian insurrection?
“Well, that they get together with the others, sir.”
“The Others? Who are they?”
“Hmm… let me see… well, the peasants, workers, unemployed, young people, students, teachers, employees, women, men, old people, professionals, gays and lesbians, punks, rastas, skaters, rappers, hip-hoppers, rockers, metalheads, drivers, neighborhood residents, NGO workers, street vendors, the people below, trash, plebes…”
“Enough! I got it… I think.”
The lackeys exchange looks with a complicit smile.
“Where are the leaders we’ve bought off? Where are those we’ve convinced that the solution to everything is to become like us?”
“There are fewer and fewer who believe them, sir. They are less and less able to control their people.
“Look for who to buy off! Offer them money, trips, television programs, property titles, council positions, senatorial seats, governments! But above all money, lots of money!”
“We are, señor, but… the lackey pauses doubtfully.
“And?” prompts the señor.
“There are more and more…”
“Fantastic! You need more money then?”
“Sir, what I mean is that there are more and more who don’t sell out.”
“Sir, there are more and more who aren’t afraid, or if they are, they control it.”
“Sir, there are more and more who think for themselves.”
“We have to finish them all off then!”
“Sir, if we disappear all of them, we also disappear ourselves. Who will plant the ground, who will run the machines, who will work in the mass media, who will attend to us, who will fight our wars, who will praise us?”
“Well then we have to convince them that we are as necessary as they are.”
“Sir, not only are more and more people realizing that we aren’t necessary, but it appears that the Big Boss is doubting our utility also, and by “our” I mean all of us.”
The guests at the señor’s table shift uncomfortably in their seats.
“Sir, while we look for another solution, seeing as the “Pact”[v] didn’t work at all, and seeing as we must avoid repeating the shame of seeking refuge in a bathroom,[vi] we have acquired something more convenient, a “panic room!”
The table guests stand and applaud. They all crowd around the machine. The señor enters and stands in front of the controls.
The lackey, nervous, warns:
Sir, just be careful not to push the “ejection” button.
The makeup people and puppeteers run to give first aid.
The lackey speaks to one of the cameramen who has filmed everything:
“You have to erase that part… And tell the Big Boss to prepare a replacement doll. We have to constantly be ‘resetting’ this one.”
The guests at the table adjust their ties, skirts, fix their hair, and cough, trying to draw attention to themselves. The clicks of the cameras and light from the flash overshadow everything…
(to be continued…)
From whatever corner of whatever world.
Information taken from Report #69 of the Autonomous Intelligence Service (SIA by its Spanish acronym) on what was seen and heard in an ultra-arch-extremely-hyper-secret meeting held in Mexico City, back patio of the United States, latitude 19° 24´ N, longitude 99° 9´ W. Date: a few hours ago. Classification: for your eyes only. Recommendation: don’t make this information public because they are going to be watching us closely. Note: send more pozol because Elías[vii] already finished it off to the yell of “to the yell of “We can do this!” and he’s dancing ska to the track Tijuana No, “Transgressors of the Law,” the version by Nana Pancha. Sure the track is cool, but it’s hard to get into the moshing given that Elías is wearing steel-toed mining boots.
See and listen to the video that accompanies this text:
“Luna Negra.” Lyrics by Arcadio Hidalgo. Music and performance by Los Cojolites. Now for real the other son jarocho. ¡A zapatearle en el fandango raza!
“En esta tierra que me vio nacer” (In this land where I was born) with MC LOKOTER. Greetings to the other Zumpango. Production and Photography: Joana López. Direction and editing: Ricardo Santillán. Production: BLASJOY DESIGNER. Year 2012.
Note: An “MC” is something like a DJ with noble sentiments and good words, but in hip hop rhyme. ¡A Rapeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeear! [Let’s rap!]
“Transgresores de la ley” (Transgressors of the law) by Tijuana No, version from Nana Pancha, on the album “Flores para los muertos”(Flowers for the dead). Every time “Tijuana No” played this song they dedicated it to the ezetaelene [EZLN], even when the zapatones weren’t in style. Greetings and a big hug to those who never forgot us. ¡Skaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! ¡Al brincolín banda! [Everybody jump!]
[i] Legendary beast, literally “goat-sucker.” The name refers to the beast’s rumored vampire-like activity of attacking and sucking the blood of animals, especially goats. While its mythology is present in various countries in Latin America, in Mexico it was especially prominent in (and now used somewhat allegorically to refer to) Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s administration: the vampire aspect reflects a government looting its own nation.
[ii] “Solid…” implies that “Chayo” was about to make reference to the “Solidaridad” government assistance program under former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, when what she means to say is the “National Crusade Against Hunger” under Enrique Peña Nieto. The implication is Salinas is still pulling the strings. “Chayo” likely refers to Rosario Robles, former member of the PRD and now member of the PRI.
[iii] The “unnamable” refers to Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.
[iv] A pejorative term, like “filthy savage.” Literally “cut feet,” referring to the rough souls of the feet of those who go barefoot.
[v] Refers to the “Pact for Mexico,” a political agreement regarding national political priorities made immediately after Enrique Peña Nietos’s inauguration between all three principal political parties, the PAN, PRI, and PRD.
[vi] During a speech at the Universidad Iberoamericana during the presidential campaigns, Enrique Peña Nieto famously hid in the men’s bathroom while students outside staged a protest against him.
[vii] Elias Contreras, the main character of “The Uncomfortable Dead,” a crime fiction novel co-written by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and a collective pseudonym given to those assigned intelligence detail for the EZLN.