The Most Expensive Building in the World
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
It is the eve of the big day… in the wee hours of the morning. The cold bites under the cover of shadow. On the solitary table that furnishes this small hut (which has no sign but is known to now be the headquarters of the Zapatista Command), there is a handwritten, wrinkled sheet of paper detailing the accounts for the construction of the clinic-school in the Zapatista community of La Realidad. A voice summarizes the gazes, silences, smoke, rage:
The accounts don’t balance. The life of any Zapatista is worth more than Peña Nieto’s white house and the houses of all of the rich in the whole world combined. The entirety of the funds required to construct the huge buildings where the powerful hide in order to organize their thievery and crimes would not be enough to pay for a even a single drop of Indigenous Zapatista blood. That is why we feel that this is the most expensive building in the world.
So must state clearly that what doesn’t appear in the accounts is the blood of our compañero Galeano. All of the papers in the history of the world would not be enough to balance that account.
And so that is how it should appear in those lists that come out in the press where they name the richest people, and where the poorest live. The rich have first names, last names, lineage, and pedigree. But the poor only have a geography and a calendar. So they should say that the most expensive building on the whole planet is in Zapatista La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. And that the Indigenous Zapatista girls and boys attend the most expensive school in the world. And that the men, women, boys, girls, elderly, indigenous, Zapatistas, Mexicans, when they get sick in La Realidad, will be treated in the most expensive clinic on earth.
But the only way to balance these accounts is to struggle to destroy the capitalist system. Not to change it. Not to improve it. Not to make it more human, less cruel, less murderous. No. To destroy it completely. To annihilate each and every one of the heads of the Hydra.
Even then there would be more to do, as what we want here is to construct something better: another system, one without masters, without patrons, without bosses, without injustice, without exploitation, without disrespect, without repression, without dispossession. One without violence against women, children, anyone who is different. One where work is paid justly. One where ignorance does not rule. One where hunger and violent death are just bad memories. One where no one can be above on the backs of others below. One that is reasonable, one that is better.
Then and only then, the Zapatistas can say that the accounts are even.
Thank you to the others, men, women, children, elderly, groups, collectives, organizations, and whatever you call them inside and outside the Sixth in Mexico and around the world for the support you have given us. This clinic and school are also yours.
Now you know that there is an Autonomous Health Clinic and Autonomous School in the Zapatista La Realidad available to you.
We know that it’s a little far, but who knows, the world is round and keeps turning, and so maybe, who knows, could be… perhaps one day on some dark early morning you realize that, this thing about entering the struggle to balance the accounts is part of your own balance sheet.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
La Realidad Zapatista, Chiapas, Mexico
Section “From the Diaries of the Cat-Dog””
Notes on gender:
-(…) That is why as women of this country we need to organize ourselves, because there are many disappearances. Many of us are mothers, and we are suffering the pain and sadness of having our sons disappeared, our daughters killed. Now in this system, in addition to being humiliated, disrespected, exploited, in addition to all of that, they come to kill and disappear our children. This is what happened in the ABC case and now with the 43 disappeared from Ayotzinapa, the disappeared women in Ciudad Juárez, and the case of Aguas Blancas—all of this is the system’s doing.
This system will not resolve our problems, it will not provide us with any answer. That is why, brothers and sisters, we need to organize ourselves because it is the we who will decide, who will set out the path that we want as peoples. As communities of men and women, not only indigenous communities in the countryside but also you sisters in the city, we must learn to govern ourselves, alongside our men, together between men and women. This is how we will build a new system where we as women are taken into account and perhaps there, compañeras, sisters, we will find relief from the pain inside us and this collective rage that now unites us.
(…) Now, in the 21st century, there are just a few women who enjoy wealth—the wives of the rich, the wives of the presidents and governors, and the women who are congressional representatives and senators. But in our situation as indigenous women we continue to suffer pain, sadness, grief, rape, exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, imprisonment, disrespect, marginalization, torture, and much more, because for us there is no government. This is why the situation for the rest of the women in the country is still the same, they are living just as women lived before in previous eras [the time of the ejidos, the time of the colonies]. Our grandfathers adopted this bad culture from their colonial bosses and drug it along with them into the house, thinking that they were in charge, as if they were the little bosses of the house, insisting that “I rule”—and this from the father in the family. And the person he ruled over was his wife, and that is how the most horrible thing arose, that the women, that is, the daughters, the compañeras, were obligated to marry whoever the fathers chose according to whom the father wanted as a son-in-law. And they chose whoever offered more liquor or more money. That’s how things worked in the time of the ejidos, the woman was never taken into account. When the men organized themselves to work, women were left out.
(…) So many women have been disappeared, killed, raped, exploited, and nobody says anything about them. And a few rich women enjoy the wealth created by other exploited women. Those rich women do not suffer, they do not feel the pain and humiliation of being exploited because one is poor. But that is no reason for us to stop organizing and fighting as women, because for most of us women, this system only means pain, sadness, imprisonment, humiliation, and rape. This is the situation of the mothers of the 43 disappeared students, the ABC Daycare, the mine in Pasta de Conchos. It is the same thing in Acteal. But this does not mean we will stop organizing and fighting in the countryside and the city. This is why we are sharing with you for the first time in history.
(…) In this system, there are men who do work that is usually considered woman’s work, but this is not for the good of a new society like what we Zapatista are trying to create. Here is an example: in some places there are fancy restaurants where very elegantly dressed men do the work that usually women do, but they are exploited. Meanwhile, the women who previously held these jobs are taken elsewhere for other purposes, like commodities, where their photos are taken for magazines, movie covers, and internet publications. So we see that life in this system in which we live is harder than it was 520 years ago, because it is the same bad government: the grandchildren are the same as the sons of the landowners of before, and they are the ones who continue exploiting us today in this country. So we see that there is never any change in the system and it is always the sisters and brothers suffering this same pain that the bad government causes us today. (Notes from the sharing/exchange of the Zapatistas in the First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism. Complete version found in “Zapatista Rebellion n.4,” next issue).
In this system, to be born, grow up, live and die as a woman can be like being dragged through a thicket of barbed wire. But this pain is just one of many stains on history. What brings relief is that women, more and more of them, decide to stand up and walk with their heads held high. Not as if the barbs were simply flowers, but as if the scratches, including the lethal ones, made them stronger, urging them to forge new paths. Not paths to change which gender is dominant, but to end domination. Not to have a place in the history from above, but so that history below ceases to be a wound that never heals or scars over. Neither dominator nor dominated. Neither queen nor plebian. Neither Khaleesi nor Jhiqui. Neither boss nor employee. Neither slave nor master. Neither owner nor servant. But the terrible part of this is not that every being born a woman must fight this racket on every page of the calendar in whatever political geography to come. What is terrifying is that those who strive for a better world often weave these injurious traps with their own hands. But every so often reality, which is feminine, lands a blow on the calendar of above from every geography below. I have faith.
 The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.