We are Invincible. We Cannot,
We do not Deserve to Lose
[La Jornada 2/7]
February 2, 1994
To Mr. Gaspar Morquecho Escamilla, Tiempo newspaper, San Cristóbal de las Casas:
I have just recently received your undated letter. At the same time, I am reading a newspaper in which you and other noble people are accused of being “spokespeople for the EZLN” or “Zapatistas.” Problems. If you would like to know where these denunciations and threats come from, look in the directories of the ranchers’ associations and you will find much cloth to cut. Well, passing on to another subject, and since this is about memories, I hope that you have finally been sent the mix of drunken crudeness with which you tried to interview us that beautiful first day of January.
Perhaps all of you do not remember it well, but that time the one who was interviewed was you, because you would ask a question and then would answer it yourself. I do not know whether you would have been able to take anything coherent for the newspaper out of that monologue of questions and answers about the surprise and fear that took over the ancient capital of the state of Chiapas on the first day of the year. We were many, that day, who burned our bridges that early morning on the first of the year and assumed that onerous path of the ski mask wrapped around our faces. There were many of us who took that step of no return, knowing full well that the end that awaited us was probably death and improbably to see triumph.
Taking power? No, something far more difficult: a new world. Nothing is left for us, we have left everything behind. And we have no regrets. Our path continues to be firm, in spite the fact that they are now seeking thousands of grotesque green masks in order to annihilate us. However, Mr. Morquecho, it turns out that we have long known, and not without pain, that we had to become strong with the death of those who fell by our sides, dying from bullets, and yes, with honor, but always dying. We had to shield our ears, Mr. Morquecho, in order to endure seeing compan~eros of many years in the mountains, their bodies sewn with bullets and torn by grenades, mortars, and rockets, their bodies with hands tied and the mercy blows to their heads, to be able to see and touch their blood, our blood, Mr. Morquecho, flowing brown in the streets of Ocosingo, of Las Margaritas, on the earth of Rancho Nuevo, in the mountains of San Cristóbal, and in the plantations of Altamirano.
And understand us, Mr. Morquecho, that in the middle of that blood, of those shots, of those grenades, of those tanks, of those machine-gunning helicopters and those planes throwing their explosive darts, understand the simple truth: We are invincible… We cannot lose… We do not deserve to lose. But as we say here, our work is this: to fight and to die so that others can live better lives, much better than the ones that were ours to die. It is our work, yes, but not yours. So therefore please be careful. The fascist beast is bitter and directs its attacks at the most defenseless.
Of the accusations being made against you and the entire team of noble and honest people who deliver (because the technical conditions of producing a newspaper must make it a real birth) that standard of impartiality and truth that carries the name of Tiempo, I want to say several things:
The authentic heroism of Tiempo does not come from putting out a newspaper with Fred Flintstone’s equipment. It comes from, in a cultural environment so closed and absurd as San Cristóbal’s, giving voice to those who have nothing (now we have arms). It comes from defying, in four pages, the powerful men of commerce and land who have their goods in the city. It comes from not submitting to blackmail and intimidation to obligate them to publish a lie, or to neglect to publish a truth. It comes from, in the middle of that asphyxiating cultural atmosphere that sews up its own mediocre self-reflection, seeking fresh and lively air, actually democratic, in order to clean the streets and the minds of Jovel. It comes from when the Indians came down from the mountain (note: before the first of January) to the city, not to sell, not to buy, but rather to ask that someone listen, but finding only closed ears and doors; one door was always open, had been open for some time by a group of non-Indians who put up a sign that said the same thing: Tiempo. After passing that door, those Indians that today enrage the world with their audacity of refusing to die without dignity, found someone who would listen, which was already plenty, and they found someone who would put those Indian voices in ink on paper and with the heading Tiempo, which was before and is even more so now, heroic.
It turns out, Mr. Morquecho, that heroism and valor are not to be found only behind a rifle and a ski mask, but they are also in front of a typewriter when the zeal of truth animates the hands that type. I find out now that they accuse all of you of being “Zapatistas.” If stating the truth and seeking justice is being a “Zapatista,” then we are millions. They should bring more soldiers. But, when the police and inquisitors come to intimidate you, tell them the truth, Mr. Morquecho. Tell them that you simply raised your voice to warn everyone that if changes were not made in the unjust relations of daily oppression, the Indians were going to rise up. Tell them that you simply recommended seeking other paths to follow, legal and peaceful, for those who surround the cities of all of Chiapas (and Mexico, don’t believe Salinas who says the problem is local) with desperation. Tell them that you, with other honest professionals (a true rarity), doctors, reporters, and lawyers, searched for support wherever it was in order to force economic, educational, and cultural projects that would relieve the death that was being sewn in the Indigenous communities.
Tell them the truth, Mr. Morquecho. Tell them you always searched for a peaceful and just, dignified and true way. Tell them the truth, Mr. Morquecho. But, please Mr. Morquecho, don’t tell them that which you and I know happened to you, don’t tell them what your heart murmurs to your ear in the anxiety and commotion of day and night, don’t tell them that which wants to leave your lips when you talk and hands when you write, don’t tell them the thought that keeps on growing, first in the breast, and keeps on rising gradually to the head as soon as the year passes and advances its pace through mountains and ravines, don’t tell them what you now want to shout: “I am not a Zapatista! But after this first of January… I would like to be one!”
Greet, if it is possible for you, that man named Amado Avendan~o. Tell him that I haven’t forgotten his cold blood when, that happy morning (when less for us) of the first day of our triumphal entrance “into the First World,” I notified you that it wouldn’t be advisable for you to approach to talk with me and you told me: “I am doing my job.” Taking advantage of the trip, greet Concepción Villafuerte [editor of El Tiempo], whose integrity and courage to write we greet with joy when the improbable link arrives and brings the newspaper.
Greet all those of that periodical which not only deserves better machinery but also the regards of all the honest journalists of the world. Greet those professionals of Chiltak who sacrifice the desire for money and commodity to work with and for those who have nothing. Tell all of them (from Tiempo and from Chiltak) that if those who rule today had half the moral stature that you have, neither rifles nor ski masks, or blood in the mountains south of San Cristóbal, or in Rancho Nuevo or in Ocosingo or in Las Margaritas or in Altamirano would have been necessary. And perhaps, instead of writing to you now beneath the harassment of planes and helicopters, with the cold numbing my hands but hopefully not my heart, we would be speaking, you and I, with no more of a barrier than a couple of beers between us. The world already would not be the world but something better, and better for all.
Certainly, if the truth were to come out (God wouldn’t want it to, but it might), I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, so it would actually be: “with no more of a barrier than a beer (yours, without offending) and a soda (mine) between us.”
Health and a great affectionate hug. And, please, learn to put the date on your letters, although history passes so rapidly that, I think, it would be better to include the time.
Ten p.m., it’s cold and the noise of the airplane that flies above, menacing, until it almost seems to coo.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Insurgent Subcommander Marcos