The wee hours of the morning…it must be like 2 or 3 o’clock, who knows. It sounds like silence here in reality [La Realidad]. Did I say “it sounds like silence?” Well it does, because the silence here has its own sound, like the chirping of crickets; some sounds up front, stronger and dissonant; and others always constant, below. There is no light nearby. And now the rain is adding its own silence. The rainy season has arrived here already, but it is not yet heavy enough to wound the earth. Just enough to scratch it a little, a constant pitter-patter. A little scratch here, barely a puddle over there. As if to give a warning. But the sun, the heat,[i] hardens the earth quickly. It is not time for mud; not yet. It is the time of shadow. True, it’s always the time of shadow. It goes anywhere and everywhere, without regard for time. Even where the sun is the most ferocious, the shadow can still be found, clinging to walls, trees, rocks, people. As if the light gave it even more strength. Ah, but night…in the earliest hours of the morning, this is truly the time of [the] shadow. Just as during the day it brings you relief, in the tiny hours of the morning it awakens you as if to say, “and what about you? Where are you?” And you stammer in your slumber, until you can answer clearly—answer to yourself—“in reality.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know, to tell you the truth. Supposedly in the city there is a custom, a way of doing things we could say, that when there is a death in the family, the other family members and friends visit the family to let them know they support them in their pain. They call it “offering condolences” I think. Yes, that’s it, to tell them that they are not alone.
“Ok, from what I have read, the majority of the students of the little school said that they felt at home, that they had been treated like family. Well, some said they had been treated even better than in their families. That is, as they say, there are families and then there are families, for example in…
“Could be. Yes, it could be that some feel the need to come and give condolences to the family of the deceased Galeano, or to the compas here, or both.
“It isn’t that easy, because here is very far away for them. What would it be, maybe some 7 hours from San Cristóbal? So you see, it’s far. And a violent death doesn’t give us any advance warning, it doesn’t have its calendar or its geography marked, it just comes in and sits down, uninvited. Yes, it enters by tearing down the door.
It isn’t like death from old age or illness, that slowly slips in with a foot, then a hand, and soon it is sitting there in a corner, waiting, until it gets comfortable and says, “here, I rule.” And so one can prepare oneself, get used to the idea. But not with violent death. Violent death comes like a blow, it knocks you down, stuns you, kicks you, clubs you, slashes you, shoots you, kills you, puts a bullet in your head and then mocks you. That’s how it works.
So if you make a plan, as they say, for a “sharing” or an exchange, or a meeting, or for courses at the Zapatista Little School, then you can say that it will be on this day in this place, and you let people know in advance, and each person, in their place, also makes their plan regarding work or school or family, and they arrange their trip. And you too use this time to prepare for where you will house them and what you will offer them.
But because violence gives no warning, there is no time to prepare anything, not who will come nor who will receive them. And then, what is there to say? Even if you are all there together, looking at each other, the sound of the silence quiets you, as if death had not only taken the deceased, but your words also.
So it is difficult for you to come, but not because you don’t want to, or not because you don’t love Galeano or the compas in La Realidad, but because it is hard to find a way to get here.
What’s more, where would we have these people stay, this caracol being very small and surrounded once again by paramilitaries? And what would we give them to eat? And what about the bathrooms, if 25 or 50 of them need to go, or if they want to bathe because of the heat[ii] or the rain?
Ah, yes, and if the visitors brought their own food and their own tent for the rain, well that would change things a little, but not much, because as the health promoter already explained, we have to care for, as they say, hygiene, and make sure they don’t turn this into, as they say, a pigsty. Because there are people you know who are really dirty, who always miss the toilet, above all the fucking guys. Because as women we are…
Huh? Yes, its important for preventing illness. Yes, like cholera. Huh? No, the other cholera, fury, rage.
What? No, good visitors tell us ahead of time that they are coming; they don’t just show up. When a visitor comes without warning, they call them, or used to call them, “gorrón,” or “gorrona,” as the case may be. I don’t know why they called them that, or still call them that, but they are referring to the people who show up without being invited, the ones who, as they say, invited themselves. Yes, death is like a “gorrón” or “gorrona,” as the case may be, like a visitor who shows up without warning, who didn’t ask if they could come. Yes, I know that it isn’t exactly the same thing, but that’s what came to mind
Yes, I think that if you give them a particular day, then some will come, not all of them, but some. Because even though they don’t all come, they are there in another way. Like “listeners,” but in reverse.
Because death can also be defeated with another calendar and another geography. Why do I say “also”? Oh, I know what I am saying. Pay me no mind right now. Maybe another day I will explain to you…or you will see.
How many? I have no idea, but it could be many, depending, because over there I see that they are putting up another shelter, and sweeping and cleaning. Yes, as if they are expecting visitors.
When exactly? Well, ask Emiliano or Max, or SubMoi who I saw over there speaking with a young woman who is from here. He was on his way to talk to the comités [CCRI].
Me? Well, I’m waiting. When the comités from the zone come to an agreement, I’m sure they’ll tell me write something and that’s what I’ll do.
Look! …There!… that little light over there. Did you see what a strange animal that is? Yes it looks like a dog…or rather a cat. Yes like a cat-dog. Strange, no?
Yes, it’s true, reality is strange.
Fragment from Page 4 of the Investigative Report of the assassination of compañero Galeano. Questioning of compañera S., Zapatista, base of support from La Realidad, age 16 going on 17 years old. May 11, 2014.
(Warning: the following text contains language that may offend the sensibilities of the European royalty and those that aspire to the throne. Between us, it’s nothing that isn’t heard in any corner of the world below. Here goes).
“Today is May 11, 2014.
We have a compañera present here who is going to tell us what was said to her, rather, what one person in particular said; the other didn’t actually say anything. This is what the compañera is going to tell us about.
Go ahead, compañera.
Compañera S: Well you see, compa Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, I am going to tell you what this murderer said to me.
SCIM: When was it that he said this to you?
Compañera S: It was Saturday.
SCIM: May 10?
Compañera S: May 10.
SCIM: At what time?
Compañera S: At about 9.
SCIM: 9 in the morning?
Compañera S: Yes, at about 9 he said to me: “You’re really full of yourself,” but I didn’t want to answer him.
Then he said “stop,” and I stopped.
“Listen to what I’m going to say to you,” he said; I stopped.
SCIM: And what is this man’s name?
Compañera S: His name is R.
SCIM: R. Ok, continue.
Compañera S: He said to me, “listen to what I am going to tell you,” and I listened.
He said: “Enjoy your Caracol. Enjoy it now because we’re going to take it; that Caracol is going to be ours very soon. With glee I’m going to build my house there when it’s ours. Very soon we’re going to take it.
I answered him: “Well if that’s the case, if you feel like such a man, if you’ve got such a big cock and balls, that dead or alive you’re going to take the Caracol, then go ahead and take it if you have the balls.”
And he said to me:
“I do have the balls and the cock, you want to see?”
And I answered:
“If you want to show it, show it to your mother.” That’s what I said.
Then he said:
“Are you so angry because we killed your husband?”
And I said:
“That compañero isn’t our husband. That compañero is our compañero in struggle, in the struggle for our communities, not for measly handouts from the government.”
And he started to laugh with his friend who was with him, and he said…
SCIM: What was his friend’s name?
Compañera S: M.
He told me: “The ones we are going to get our hands on are Raúl, Jorge, and René. Once we get our hands on them we’re going to kill them like we killed la peluda (Note: “La peluda” is the derogatory name with which the CIOAC-H paramilitaries refer to compañero Galeano).
I told him that if they were going to do it to go ahead and do it, to try it, but to come into the Caracol. Not when there aren’t any people there, like they did in the school—they went in there because there wasn’t anybody there. I told him: “if you’re really men, take the Caracol.” And they laughed and said:
“You should be happy we didn’t kill your father.”
SCIM: That’s what he said to you?
Compañera S: Yes.
“We didn’t kill your father, but we will next time.”
And I responded: “Why didn’t you kill him?
“Well, we didn’t see him.”
“Well, if you’re going to do it, do it. He’s in the Caracol, that’s where he is.
That was when he said: “You know who killed la peluda?”
And I responded: “How am I going to know if I wasn’t there when they killed our compañero?”
He said: “It was me who killed him. I shot him in the head and sent him to hell. And that’s what we’re going to do when we get our hands on the others—the ones I already mentioned to you, that’s what we’re going to do to them. But each will have his moment. You know what? We’re fed up with you all.” This is what he said to me. “Because what you’re doing isn’t fair. We’re fed up with it.”
But I responded: “We’re the ones who are fed up with what you all are doing. Even more so when we found out what you did to our compañero. We compañeras went to pick up the body; that’s when we got really fucking fed up.”
And that’s when they laughed.
“Of course, because they are all your husbands,” he said to me.
SCIM: And when they were making fun, what was it that he was saying about what they do, that they do what they say, no? Didn’t he say something about the Good Government Council? Or didn’t he say something about…”
Compañera S: He said: “We are going to kill them, break them once and for all. You all are the Good Government Council, you are good governments, whatever we do to you, you’re not going to do anything in response. Why? Because you are good governments.
I said to him: “Yes, of course we are good governments, but not that good.”
“But what are you all going to do to me? Even if you know exactly who killed him, you’re not going to do anything to us because you’re the Good Government Council that protects everyone. I’m not scared,” he said. “I’m not scared, that’s why I’m telling you that I killed him.”
And I answered: “I wish that were the case. When your day comes I hope you posture like the tough guy you’re posturing with me right now.”
“That is what I’m going to do. But when? That day isn’t going to come,” he said. “Because you all are the Good Government Council, you are good governments and you’re not going to do anything to us.”
SCIM: Anything else you remember about what he said to you? You had said something about him laughing and cackling.
Compañera S: Yes, he laughed and his friend was yelling, but didn’t say anything.
SCIM: M didn’t speak, he just laughed?
Compañera S: He didn’t say anything, he just laughed. M was there, he poked the other guy’s back so that he wouldn’t say anything else.
SCIM: Ah. He poked him?
Compañera S: Yes, he poked his back and they started yelling. He said:
“You should go on your way, go do your errand.” I didn’t respond to him.
SCIM: Okay, if later on you remember anything else he said to you, we can do some more work here. This is to keep gathering information, because in this case that guy himself said what happened.
Compañera S: Yes.
SCIM: And he himself had tried to cover it up. So you say that he had asked you if you knew who killed compañero Galeano. And then he says he did it, right?
Compañera S: Yes.
SCIM: “And he says he shot him in the head.”
Compañera S: “That he shot him in the head and that finished him off.”
SCIM: Okay compañera. What is your name in the struggle?
Compañera S: My name is S.
Compañera S: yes.
SCIM: Okay compañera. That’s what we wanted, so that it is clear that the testimony is direct, because you are from here, from La Realidad. What was your work when you went to the “sharing” or exchange in Oventik?
Compañera S: Listener
(Note: “Listener” is a job or a commission or a responsibility given to some compañeras and compañeros that consists of “listening” to what is said in one of the “sharings” or exchanges and then recounting it to their community, region, and zone. This is so that what happens in the exchange isn’t limited to those attending, but is heard by all of the Zapatistas. It would be like the equivalent of “narrator.” The compas select young people to be the “listeners” who have a good memory, understand Spanish well, and can explain in their own languages what was said. The exchange with National Indigenous Congress (CNI) already had dozens of young people from the various zones assigned as “listeners.” The idea was that whatever the compas from the indigenous peoples of the CNI said would be heard by all of the Zapatista bases of support.)
SCIM: Ah, yes, yes, yes. The exchange that was going to take place with the National Indigenous Congress. Very good. That will be all, compañera S. Thank you.
SCIM: Oh wait. When you talked to this guy R, was he drunk or sober?
Compañera S: No. I got pretty close but I didn’t smell alcohol. And when I got to L’s house, the same guy passed by on his way home. He looked at me and turned around and laughed. I looked at him with anger in my face.
SCIM: So we could say that he was sober when he said what he said to you? He wasn’t drunk then.
Compañera S: No, he wasn’t drunk.
SCIM: Okay, that’s all compañera. Thank you.
Another night, in the wee hours of the morning. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés comes and tells me:
“The decision is made. The agreement is that the arrival will be Friday May 23, the homage for compa Galeano will be Saturday May 24, and Sunday May 25 everybody goes home. The bases of support that is.”
“And for those from outside our communities?” I ask.
“Same, but for those from outside, tell them the same applies as for the bases of support: everybody brings their own food and place to sleep.”
“So I should make it a communiqué or a letter or what?”
“Whatever you think, but make it clear so that they aren’t a burden on the compas. They are coming to lend their support, to offer their condolences to the family of the deceased and the compas here, not to be attended to. Meaning, it’s not a party.”
Oh, and also tell them that the bases of support will be holding an homage to compa Galeano in all of the caracoles on May 24. And that it would be good for them to do something that day in the places where they live also, according to their own schedules and styles.
And another thing. Tell them we are especially inviting the compañeras and compañeros from the independent media or alternative media or autonomous media or whatever, the media that isn’t paid off, that is part of the Sixth, the ones that are our compañeras and compañeros and have the responsibility of “listener” commission in their lands. Tell them that maybe—say it like that, “maybe”—the General Command of the EZLN will do a press conference with the independent media or whatever you call them, the ones who are part of the Sixth. I say “maybe” because it could be that it won’t happen because of work we have to do and we don’t want to end up on bad terms. Also, the paid media aren’t invited; we won’t receive them.
“Shall I send them a photo of the deceased?”
“Yes, but the one of him alive, not of the cadaver. Because we remember our compañeros for how they lived the struggle.”
“Okay. What else?
“Just that we are here—which I think they already know—here in la realidad [reality].”
Vale. To health and listening.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, May 2014. In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.
[i] Calor, or heat, is a masculine noun in Spanish.. Here the author uses “la calor,” in the feminine.
[ii] See footnote 1.