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New forms of struggle are creating
their own masks and are forging their silences


Mexico, 1998

Above and below: masks and silence

Part IV. The masks and the silences of those from below

Communique from Subcommander Marcos
Chiapas, Mexico

Translated from the Spanish by Irlandesa for Nuevo Amanecer Press.
Original communique published in Mexico in La Jornada.

IV. The masks and the silences of those from below

"The night will pass,
The waters can spit,
They can shoot the sparrows,
They can burn the verses.
They can cut down the sweet iris,
They can break the song and throw it into a swamp.
But this night will pass."

- Manuel Scorza

The neoliberal model requires, for its maintenance and growth, the perpetration of a crime that is realized through millions of small and large crimes, and the State is in charge of collecting, in cash and efficiently, from the victims of those from below.

For this complicated (and useless) scheme, which serves as the stage for the death of the political system, to function, it is necessary to distribute large numbers of masks and silences for those from below. Anonymity, desperation, bitterness, apathy, impotence, resignation, skepticism, isolation and cynicism, are offered with full hands to be consumed by millions of Mexican men and women who barely survive in this country. Appearing to be free of charge, the silences and the masks which arrive from above to those from below tend to end up being very costly. The losses are exorbitant, but they are not measured in monetary terms, rather in human ones.

The masks of anonymity and isolation, which the frantic globalization tries to impose on men and women in all of Mexico, do not hide the singularity of every being, but rather the very real nightmare of the struggle of those from below. The daily injustice which the system inflicts on the Mexicans dilutes its impact precisely by the great multiplication of its crimes: a dismissal over here, a rape over there, an unjust imprisonment there, a robbery further over there, a political disappearance on that side, a fraud on this side, hunger and misery shut away between four walls of any over there. Victims anonymous and isolated by the system, millions of Mexicans lose (in the neoliberal alchemy that converts its exploitation by an exponential secret) the opportunity to rebel against the nightmare that isolates them in terror, because it is anonymous in the aggression which it perpetrates.

And the masks are accompanied by other masks, apathy and cynicism wants to multiply among those from below. It tries to unite "nothing matters to me" with "only I am important to me, and so what," and in this way the power will accomplish one of its primary objectives: impose immobility and hamper brotherhood.

Then the silences come. That of the bitterness against everyone or no one, which is unleashed against anything within its reach. That of the impotence of feeling oneself to be too small in front of an overwhelming, inaccessable and, nonetheless, omnipresent machine. That of the desperation of seeing oneself and knowing oneself to be alone, without the slightest suspicion that things could be better tomorrow. That of the resignation that assumes the inevitability of injustice and the role of victim while the murderer covers his face, becoming real in the boss, the police, the man, the mestizo, the thief, the neighbor, the other-always-the-other.

And the silence of fury explodes at any moment, a silence which accumulates and grows in situations that are absurd, unexpected, incomprehensible: the man with the woman, the gang with any passerby, the worker with the worker, the indigenous with the indigenous, the one with the other, the fury with the fury.

New forms of struggle are creating their own masks and are forging their silences. Little by little the honorable mask of resistance grows and multiplies, the "I will not leave," the "I will not surrender," the "I continue fighting," the "I will not give in," the "come on!" Behind the same mask of anonymity, the indigenous, workers, campesinos, housewives, neighbors, unionists, students, teachers, Christians, retired persons, disabled persons, drivers, shopkeepers, activists from political and social organizations, women, youth, children and old persons, all those who discover each other day by day, who resist by staying-like-this-as-if-nothing-hand-spring-and now-for-not-have-to-leave-have-to-fight-and-organize-and-turn-everything-up side-down-and-remake-it-new-and-it-is-not-true-that-we-are-few-and-it-is-not-true-that-we-are-weak-and-it-is-not-true-that-we-always-lose-and-it-is-no t-true-that-this-and-it-is-not-true-that-the other-and-get-lost-man-and-now-you're-going-to-see-and-it-is-not-true-that-it-is-not-true-and-no-and-why-not-and-no-and-why-yes-and-n-and-now-no-NO-NO W NO...

And a terrible silence walks with and arises from the resistance: the silence which accuses and points.

Forward to Part V. The seven victims of the new government strategy in Chiapas

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