Translated by irlandesa
(First Image: the city between illusion and reality)
It is once again dawn when the hand and eyes touch the calendar. On top it says "December," and, below, "Mexico Federal District."
Not without effort, cloud and stone ascend from the land of Zapata to the Federal District limits. The early morning cold greets them when they reach Malacachtepec Momozco, which is what the ancient ones called Milpa Alta. The rebel resistance of the inhabitants of this land led, in 1529, to the Royal Court recognizing their communal property and their right to elect their leaders. The history of struggle continued until 1914, when the zapatistas ratified the Plan de Ayala at the Oztotepec barracks, and it continues. Fancied by the powerful, these lands were defended by their inhabitants throughout the 20th century. And the dawn of the 21st century is shining its light on Milpa Alta residents doing the same thing that they have been doing for 500 years: resisting.
Organized around the Community Property Delegation of Milpa Alta and Annexed Towns, the settlers of this region have formed the Front Against Levies and Land Seizures. Through the hand and words of the communal representative for more than 80 years, Don Julian, walks the wisdom of the most early who again carried the two standards: resistance and rebellion. And so the residents of Milpa Alta are replicating the history of resistance against the Spanish crown and recalling, without naming, the recently deceased Ramiro Taboada and the Alliance of the Peoples of Anahuac.
The seizure of lands is something which unites Milpa Alta with a large part of the periphery of Mexico City. Here, and in the entire west flank of the city, reverberates the voracity of those who are Power. The government and the city insist on superimposing their neighborhood councils (with an urban logic) on communal structures (with a campesino indigenous logic). The disjunction of the community is always foreign, although the birth certificate says the opposite.
Following the Chichinautzin sierra and the stretch of highway which batters and divides the peoples of San Mateo Tlaltenango, Santa Rosa Xochiac, San Bartolo Ameyalco, San NicolÃ¡s Totolapan, Ajusco and Contreras, in order to connect the Military College with Cuajimalpa, the stone arrives at the latter. Cuauximalpan or Cuajimalpa shelters the so called Desert of the Lions and the Cedar Forest. This forest encompasses 331,433 square meters, and it was purchased in 1982 by Emilio AzcÃ¡rrago Milmo, Guillermo CaÃ±edo de la BÃ¡rcena and Guillermo Barroso ChÃ¡vez, among others, for the amount of 16 and a half million pesos. Despite the fact that the law prohibits construction for profit, those who are government twisted the law for the benefit of the businessmen.
In the plans of money, the western part of the Federal District will be the headquarters for their dream: living in a North American city. Its name: Santa Fe. And so those areas close to that metropolis of the future are worth gold...well, dollars in fact, because the lands in Cuajimalpa are not sold in pesos, but in dollars. The cloud stops in front of a sign that advertises a flat at a bargain rate price: it costs only $400,000.
The strategy of dispossession has engulfed the Federal District. It is the logic of money which is destroying and rebuilding the environment, like a war. Cuajimalpa, Huixquilucan, La Marquesa, Toluca, AtizapÃ¡n, San Salvador Atenco. Do the names sound familiar? Their common denominator is the war by capital to conquer those lands, but it is also the resistance and rebellion of those who oppose the destruction.
In the north, in the Progresa development, urbanization programs and transportation routes are expelling the residents. In Azcapotzalco, the delegate called SaldaÃ±a, who belongs to the PAN (she stated, without any shame, that "dealing with the rabble gives one migraines"), is sacrificing social programs in order to be able to spend more money on election campaigns, and she is making nepotism her government program. Demonstrating that she can emulate the PRIs, the delegate is making the regularization of informal commerce contingent on joining the National Action Party. In addition, the entire delegation is being reorganized so that industry (and not the residents) have all the facilities. The ancient FerrerÃa market is being converted into an industrial plant for maquilas. Highways are being remodeled for the benefit of these industrial plants. The Metrogas company is threatening the lives of residents of the Nueva Santa Marta development who express concerns about the security and efficiency of the service they are trying to impose on them. The ejiditarios of San Juan Tlilhuaca are resisting the theft of their lands. In Unidad CuitlÃ¡huac and in Unidad Pantaco, former railroad workers are organizing in order to prevent their being expelled.
The cloud flies high in order to have a better look at Mexico City, now called "the city of hope." Yes, but AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador's hope, the hope of reaching the Presidency of the Republic in 2006.
Although it is assumed that that there are three years until the presidential elections, the 2006 campaign began on the day Jorge CastaÃ±eda G. resigned as Secretary of Foreign Relations and left "for civil society." SeÃ±or CastaÃ±eda counted on obtaining the approval of the US government for his candidacy. The "test of love" was the radical shift in foreign relations, particularly regarding Cuba. After the "Monterrey affaire," the gringos showed themselves to be more than satisfied, and CastaÃ±eda received the recommendation for leaving the cabinet so that he would not have to be subjected to the strain any longer. He can repeat Fox's path from the outside: reaching Los Pinos without a political party, but with friends like Elba Esther Gordillo, and, of course, SeÃ±or Garza, the United States ambassador to Mexico.
In an almost parallel fashion, Marta SahagÃºn de Fox got underway. She is now being torn by competing interests...between her ambition and her witlessness, both of which are now part of the Mexican cunning and which will, most certainly become the stuff of legend. Whatever happens to everyone else, SeÃ±ora SahagÃºn already has - in addition to bad taste in clothes - a government program: converting 80 million Mexicans into grateful beggars.
Even La Coyota, Diego FernÃ¡ndez de Cevallos, is doing his sums. Although he has been living in Los Pinos since the times of Salinas de Gortari, La Coyota is making financial calculations concerning the profitability of being in Power or behind it. Meanwhile, with the same indecision with which he confronts his closet every morning, the "Mexican psychopath," Santiago Creel, is playing "she loves me, she loves me not" with a flower no one has offered him.
Far off in the distance, and still in line at the starting gate, are: Pablo Salazar M., in Chiapas; Miguel AlemÃ¡n Velasco in Veracruz (who, being a bit dim, thought that putting "ValdÃ©s" in the letter was a mistake, when it was, in fact, being tactful - since it is better to insult the father than the mother); Murat in Oaxaca and Monreal in Zacatecas.
Madrazo Pintado? He is, perhaps, just beginning to realize that he is presiding over a party that no longer exists (at least not as it did previously, which is why he constantly resorts to nostalgia in his speeches), and, besides, he does not have time to deal with his opponents, since he has to be watching out for the shameless sweet nothings his secretary general lavishes on the first lady.
What? Does "the field look weak?" It's not surprising. The great lesson of the 1994 election (when Zedillo won the Presidency) was that any imbecile whatsoever can be head of the federal executive.
Unlike all his current opponents, LÃ³pez Obrador counts among his assets the prospects for a social movement. Knowledgeable about how these movements arise, how they are encouraged, and their leaders' aspirations, LÃ³pez Obrador is also familiar with the mechanisms for co-opting and controlling them.
An extraordinarily skillful and pragmatic man, LÃ³pez Obrador has envisioned (just as CÃ¡rdenas SolÃ³rzano did during his time) heading the Federal District government as being a springboard to the presidency. But there is a fundamental difference with CÃ¡rdenas: LÃ³pez Obrador governs, and is governing, by building alliances and pacts, by co-opting or destroying critics and opponents, by cultivating contacts, by flattering thoughts which might call him into question, and, above all, by being on his best behavior in order to win over that great elector: the power of money.
As head of the government of Mexico City, LÃ³pez Obrador is demonstrating that one of the arts of modern politics, the art of deception, is still effective. Especially if one has accomplices as effective as one's rivals: Fox and the PAN. If no one remembers LÃ³pez Obrador's false election promise ("for the good of all, first the poor"), it is because Fox's lies have not left room for anything else.
An old fox, LÃ³pez Obrador views the carnage inside the PRD from a distance. He knows that a weak political party is a party which cannot be demanding. And, in addition, sheltered behind the image of LÃ³pez Obrador, PRD candidates have more assets than debits in the accounting which is to come.
The PAN? Well, now only the PRI is its equal in its nonexistent capacity for mobilization and resistance. Incapable of opposing from below (PAN leaders in the delegations have just discovered that they cannot do mass "pots and pans" demos because their "bases" use microwave ovens), the PAN has resorted to scandals in the press (which already bore them good results with Rosario Robles, when she succeeded CÃ¡rdenas in the Federal District government). Nonetheless, adept at learning from all sides - even from his critics and opponents - LÃ³pez Obrador has withstood the media onslaughts, and he carefully measures out his words and silences.
He has also discovered something which has escaped all the "political analysts," to wit, that slander campaigns in the media reach a maximal point, and, once past that point, they become, without wanting to, unwitting advertising campaigns.
While his detractors were concentrating their efforts on the press, LÃ³pez Obrador turned to that ancient corporative structure of the PRI in the Federal District, and he "reoriented" it with added value: the incorporation of the Popular Urban Movement, which once upon a time made the gentlemen of money tremble, and which today stands in line, docilely, for a candidacy which, just look, does not arrive.
Patiently waiting, there is a Roman scales in the seat of Power. On one of the little plates is the Presidency of Mexico. The other is empty. Those who want to buy the position of federal executive must put something of equal or greater weight in the little plate.
If Jorge CastaÃ±eda G. put solidarity with Cuba and the entire Mexican foreign policy on the scales, Marta SahagÃºn de Fox the force of the reactionary clergy and La Coyota FernÃ¡ndez de Cevallos the power of drug trafficking, LÃ³pez Obrador has placed the largest city in the world on the plate.
The power which really matters in modern politics, the power of money, has not yet decided. But not because it is vacillating. It is because it is still reckoning its sums...
The cloud continues its flight. Down below, the Guerrero development can be seen. There, on August 3, 1911, the maestro Manuel EsperÃ³n was born. He not only created the song "I Will Not Return," but he also produced many of Pedro Infante's (and Jorge Negrete's) best songs, among them "Amorcito CorazÃ³n," which is still whistled in carpentry shops in Mexico City. Along with Enrique Granados, Ernesto CortÃ¡zar and Octavio Paz, the maestro Manuel EsperÃ³n composed the music for a film which was produced in 1943 by Aguila Films and Oscar Dancigers, directed by Jaime Salvador, and starred Jorge Negrete, MarÃa Elena MÃ¡rquez, Julio Villarreal, Frederico PiÃ±eiro, Miguel Angel FreÃs and Felipe Montoya. The title? "The Rebel."
With that title, and a debt of honor satisfied, cloud and stone raise up in order to draw near other parts of Mexico City.
This city presents an illusion. It appears to be inhabited by broken-down automobiles, by sterile shopping centers, by news programs that are torn between lies and facile scandal (although sometimes they are combined), by television programs which reward the ridiculous on primetime, by swift convoys replete with bodyguards transporting officials or magnates who are not going anywhere, but who are moving because they believe it is necessary to remind the city that they exist.
Mexico City. A multitude of cities in transit to other cities (at their own, and always external, rate). A city which has lost its capacity for being astonished in the face of cynicism and corruption. A city which is, nonetheless, caught in a state of undress by the dawn. A city which everyone has wanted to tame, to domesticate, to kill. And which nonetheless continues rebel, indomitable, unpredictable. Because this city has the virtue of being a light sleeper. And it wakes up quickly if its own, or a distant, misfortune clouds the days and nights which illusions conceal.
But now, at this hour of the dawn, it appears empty...
Where are those who make it run? Where are those who nurture it, give it light, color, rhythm, life?
Where are the brothers and sisters who, generously and unconditionally, turn their hearts and eyes to those who, like them, are the color of the earth? Where are those who, in March of 2001, heard in the ZÃ³calo that "Do not allow another dawn to break without that flag having a place for those of us who are the color of the earth."
Where is the rebel city in solidarity?
Where the social movements which incorporate and shelter the resistances and rebellions which emerge all over from the Mexico of below?
Where are the humble people who, having little, give everything to the one who needs it?
The cloud looks and the stone looks. They look and, looking, they find. Scattered and fragmented, not because that is their fate, but because that is how they are born, rebellion and resistance are sheltered in those who, being below, do not matter to those who are above.
They find it difficult to get their bearings, but, looking above and looking below, stone and cloud are learning to distinguish between the lights and the mere reflections provided by a puddle of dirty water.
That still pale light, for example, is going to great efforts to build an alternative culture which is, by definition, critical, and which is constructing its questions with ingenuity and imagination. And their colors are many. From the rainbow which, sometimes in clerical garb, is demanding not only free sexual preference, but also the right to be without masks or closets. To those who join Machete and Art in order to give voice and ear to the marginalized. To those cultural groups and spaces which, outside official circuits, are exercising the old and forgotten right to learn and to teach, enjoying and coexisting, like in that auditorium where Alicia contemplates us through the looking glass.
It is night now in the city.
On a corner, an anonymous voice is proclaiming: "In the beginning there was the word, and the word was made Word and, in order to make the world run better, the Word was made...rock and roll," and then, for lack of a guitar, the orator frets his gum with his teeth, and now one can distinctly make out that tune which goes "Papa was a rolling stone." And, swinging their hips with a rhythm that would be loved at any table-dance, cloud and stone continue, "like a rolling stone," to seek and find more lights.
There, constantly escaping from schemes and budgets, the young are making their dress, their dance and their speech a continuous '"performance" that repeats rebellion. And there are the Goths, the street, the punks, the skins, the metalheads, the skaters, the ravers, the rockers, the many names with which the young clothe themselves. And in that way they are defending an identity which is stolen from them by a society which criminalizes, even more than their clothing or the cut or color of their hair, their age.
And, speaking of youth and of rebellion, there are the lights of the UNAM, the UAM, the ENAH, the Poli, the UPN. How hurt they are, how wounded. Forgotten, yes, but not defeated. Hardly a "Wait for me man I swear no way because it's just rotten oranges, and take a break, and if you've got the coin, get a sandwich and a drink and give it to the compaÃ±eros and I'd like to speak and the table just kidding, and it's passed without any motions and it's incredible but everyone seems to be listening and then a young person without rebellion is like, how can I tell you man?...um, like a dance without music?...like a sandwich without ham?...like a table without an assembly?...like a flyer without a cause to give it life?...like a rally without banners?...or better yet, like a book with no one to read it, to underline it, to summarize it-and-personally-critique-maximum-two-pages-your-name-and-number-on-top-and-now-we're-going-or-we're-coming-to-page-69-because-everyone-his-way-or-what...?"
The young people, who are recyclable garbage for the system during every election. The young people, who carry their distrust as IDs. The young people, who refuse to buy a life with the false coin of cynicism. The young people, fodder for jail, for raids, for beatings, for rapes, for contempt, for humiliation, for lies, for death. The irreverent young people, uncompromising...invincible as long as they do not forget that a young person without rebellion is...what can I say, bro?...
The early morning advances, and the unclad city begins enrobing itself in the modest apparel of the street vendors.
Determined to build an honest way of life, small shopkeepers in the streets and the markets must not only put up with the police and the inspectors. But also with the large shopping centers which, knowing that the vendors' merchandise is better in quality and price, are employing all their resources in order to eliminate them and to drive them into indigence or crime.
There one can see Viana, which, of course, does not sell the most cheaply. Further along is Wal-Mart, SeÃ±ora SahagÃºn's accomplice in deceiving consumers. In addition to robbing them through the prices and the quality of their products, Wal-Mart is snatching centavos from those who fall into their nets. The propaganda says that those centavos (which turn into millions as the days and clients accumulate) are for education, but they are, in fact, for the Let's Go Mexico Foundation, that Super-Department of State led by Marta SahagÃºn de Fox.
Between the big shopping centers and the little corner stores, it is the little corner shops and grocers which are better and cheaper (and much more honest).
If cloud and stone have any memory of what solidarity is with the unknown in misfortune, it is among the poorest and most persecuted people in this city. Stall holders, taxi drivers, truckers, prostitutes, waitpersons, fighters (for free struggle and for life), criers and boxers, fire-swallowers/clowns/corner windshield cleaners, homosexuals, transvestites, transsexuals, sellers of ice cream, sandwiches, hot dogs, milkshakes-a-pecan-one-please-I-won't-charge-you-today-who-knows-madame-sir-just-this-once-I'm-offering-you-this-opportunity-take-it-10-pens-10-import-quality-just-10-pesitos-next-stop-station-Indians-greens-tiruri...
Why, at the hour of need, is it the ones who have the least who give the most? When hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes paint the earth of the humble with misery in any part of Mexico, it is the poorest people who stand in line at the collection places in order to donate the rice, beans, oil and salt which they are undoubtedly lacking at their own table. While in the charity telethons, the powerful are handing out checks with many zeros and no dignity.
The humble give what they have, stone and cloud reflect, and the powerful give what is left over, what is in their way, what is already used, the expired, the unusable.
The stone walks. The cloud flies. How many cities concealed by this city! How many of them have the dignity which the powerful lack!
And how many cities within this city are plotting and greasing the wheels of crime! But we shall be visiting them tomorrow. They are undoubtedly concealing more than they reveal...
(To be continued)
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January of 2003.