By Anabel Garcia ’14
Abajo y a la izquierda
está el corazón.
Below and to the left
is the heart.
From the central valleys of Oaxaca in the south of what we know as Mexico
7th day of the month of December of 2014
20th year of the fight that the Zapatistas began against oblivion
71st day without our 43 comrades from Ayotzinapa
To my dearest friends
To my dearest professors
To my dearest staff members
To Kenyon and its winter
To those of red blood and a heart loyal to the lefts
Maybe some of you have read the word “Ayotzinapa”1 in the news lately, maybe you have not. I write this letter for those who do not know about the fight happening here in what we call Mexico. But, also for those who know and may wonder what to do as I do every day since September 26th. Notice that even though it is a singular “I” that writes this letter, these times do not longer allow me to write, speak or think in the singular. I will write then as a “we”, a plural that I hope will give strength to the words that follow as it does to every little space that dares to shout: “Ayotzinapa Vive, La Lucha Sigue” / “Ayotzinapa lives, the fight goes on”.
Our Dignified Anger
On September 26th, 43 students were disappeared and 6 people were killed (including 3 students) in the state of Guerrero. These students had gone to Iguala (the capital city of Guerrero) in order to fundraise money so that they might be able attend the protest that takes place every October 2nd in Mexico City for the remembrance of the Tlatelolco’s students’ massacre that occurred in 1968. On their way home, they were attacked and some taken away by police members. All of them studied in the Rural Normal School “Raúl Isidro Burgos” of Ayotzinapa. A Normal School, if you wonder, is a school that trains high school graduates to become teachers. It is the adjective here that makes the difference. “Rural” Normal Schools in Mexico are particularly different from the rest. These have a long-standing history of resistance. Not only were they a result of the Mexican Revolution struggle, but they have also been considered bastions of leftist politics since the 1960s. Why? Many consider that it is because they belong to the working class, los campesinos, those who work from and with the land. I agree. Being the people from below, los de abajo; they do hold a political consciousness of their everyday oppression and continue to fight tirelessly for their freedom unable to be content with an asymmetrical system that just favors those who already are privileged.
For us this dignified anger has become the rebellion needed to seek freedom and autonomy from a state that oppresses and kills us every day.
Educación primero para el hijo del obrero, educación después para el hijo del burgués. /
Education first to the son of the worker, education second to the son of the bourgeois.
Many have wondered: why is it that they went out of their school to fundraise money? Simple, the gov- ernment has been cutting their funding since the 1960s. Their fight, in fact, goes back to those very years. Back then two of the school’s most famous alumni lead guerrilla movements in Guerrero. Today, inspired by the ideals of people like Lucio Cabañas, Genaro Vazquez, Che Guevara, the EZLN, Karl Marx, to mention but a few; they have not ceased to sing the songs of revolution in order to proclaim:
desgraciados los pueblos donde la juventud no haga temblar al mundo y los estudiantes se mantengan sumisos ante el tirano /
unfortunate those peoples where youth doesn’t make the world tremble and where the students continue to be obedient to the tyrant.
This struggle comes out of the anger, the outrage ¬– la indignación –, and the courage to fight for a dignified life. For us this dignified anger has become the rebellion needed to seek freedom and autonomy from a state that oppresses and kills us everyday by killing one of those small “us” that conform the bigger “us” that we call el pueblo / the people. This is why this is not just the fight of the normalistas to find their comrades. It is the fight of those who have being oppressed by the latest government reforms, by the war against drug cartels, by the women’s killings – feminicidios… That is why we shout: ¡Ayotzinapa somos todxs! / We all are Ayotzinapa! Un Ayotzinapa nos habita, an Ayotzinapa lives in us. The call has been to find the Ayotzinapa that has been stolen from us, that ability to reclaim and to fight for those injustices we were unable to see. It is a call to use our dignified anger to change a rotten political system that survives and nurtures itself from the blood of los de abajo, the minority that is an actual social majority / los menos que somos más.
Estudiar, aprender, para el pueblo defender / Study, learn, in order to defend our people
There have been many attempts to explain why Ayotzinapa has been the motor of the increasing protests locally and internationally if the oppression dates from way back. Some say it was the clincher: it reminded us of that massacre in 1968 carried out by the president. A massacre that, after all, we could not or we did not do anything about back then. It made that scar resurface stronger than ever. So we say, we shout, and we cry as we discover in ourselves that the political consciousness of our comrades from Ayotzinapa. It shakes us to the core as we chant: mis padres me dijeron “te vas a estudiar”, pero si hay problemas “te pones a luchar” / my parents told me “go and study”, but if there are troubles “go and fight”. We realize that this may be as well the only time for us to take the chance to change deeply, to light up the darkness in reason and the loneliness in light. To make history so as to free the voices of all of those who have been subjected to the vulnerability of intelligibility. To name the injustices, the silences and all those dreams sown in rebellion.
It was the state / Fue el Estado:
Pienso, luego me desaparecen / I think, therefore they disappear me
There have been debates all over Mexico asking whether or not this could be called a state crime. Some say it is the nature of the state to oppress people, that in fact it is a structure doomed to failure because it has been imposed. The normalization of the violence it exerts over every single person is the most frightening example. Others believe it is not; rather it is the result of a strong and organized crime that continues to ter- rorize the country. This makes the government’s fight against drug dealers and organized crime even more urgent. Surely, it is easy to guess who adheres to what opinion. The former is the expression of those people who are not willing to resign themselves with the money that the Mexican government can pay for the loss of a loved life, the life of a son. The families of the 43 disappeared and the comrades that survived the police attack believe, like the Zapatistas, that the government is a bad government. Why? It does not care for the life of those it considers obstacles. At the end of the day, those losses are but collateral damage. That is why they do not believe in reforms, because the entire political system is rotten.
Nowadays, the organized crime is the very essence of the state. The Mexican state is ready to kill anyone who dares to think and question its ways anytime any day. It knows its crimes will not be punished because in its kingdom nobody dares to defy it. The normalistas alive are aware of this and know that once their mo- mentum is gone they will be killed. Omar García, one of the spokespersons of the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa has already declared: “I am a dead man”. He knows his fate even if they do win: that is no other but state violence making itself present. How do we face this terror? Calling the state an abstract entity will certainly not help the struggle, which is why it has been helpful to recognize that the state is the government, the neighbor that hits his wife, the exploited maquiladora workers, the student convinced that a grade is more important than consciousness raising, the child confined to gender stereotypes by society, the grand- father that thinks age constrains his actions when is his tired voice shouting with the youth in the streets all we ever wanted…
The students’ movement:
Mandar obedeciendo / To order while obeying
Maybe they have not read him, but the normalistas recall the words of Raimon Panikkar when they recognize that the littler we are, the more insignificant and incapable we feel; the truer and –paradoxically– the freer and more real we are. We do not carry with the responsibility of the whole world. We are not the Atlas-god that has to hold the entire universe because otherwise the whole world would sink. We are not the “good ones”, conscious of the situation, and the rest the “bad ones”, egotistical who just seek their own benefit. We are not the saviors of the world. If we do not overcome a certain messianic sense, we will not go very far. This is what we are trying to build little by little in different places around here, but also around the world: let’s not dare to forget Palestine or Rojava.
The Zapatistas say we learn as we walk, but most importantly they believe in a particular sort of leader- ship: mandar obedeciendo. To order while obeying is to understand that we can only speak once we have listened carefully to everyone else, it is also to know that everyone has the right to order only after having obeyed, it is to learn how to build horizontal structures where nobody holds more power than somebody else. This is what a lot of students’ assemblies are trying to achieve. Every place is different that is why the answer is always plural. There is neither one master plan to follow nor a leader that tells us what to do and that is precisely the appeal of it. The decisions taken at every assembly are never born out of one or two people, initiative is precious but any attempt to show off is rapidly called out. We repeat: we do not seek a leader; we are trying to build community. Today we show our solidarity with Ayotzinapa, but our actions must continue. This is not a one-block race, it is a marathon and of that we are all aware. What do we want? It is an answer being built every day at every protest and every assembly. The students, the youth, today feel an overwhelming responsibility and commitment to construct alternatives, to think differently, to be fearless and to dare to change. We await the wonders yet to be born, we hope to spread our seeds and that our roots from now on only become stronger.
To order while obeying is to understand that we can only speak once we have listened carefully to everyone else.
“We care about your word, your rebellion, your resistance”
We have responded with: #FueelEstado (#Itwasthestate). But also with #YaMeCansé (#I’vehadenough / #EnoughIamTired) just like Jesús Murillo Karam, the Attorney General of Mexico, declared a month ago after a conference where he presented his ambiguous findings. We said we too are tired of a narco-state, of corrupt politicians, of disappeared students, of parents without their children, of the decapitated, of our political prisoners… We have responded to the president’s insolence demanding his renounce: #Renun- ciaEPN (#RenounceEnriquePeñaNieto). We have responded to his inability to sympathize: #YaSuperenlo (#GetOverIt) with a #SúperaloEPN y renuncia (#GetOverItEPN and quit).
“It was the state” said in huge white letters all over Mexico City’s main square. They are right. Never again a Mexico without the victims of the state. Never again a Mexico without us –like the normalistas have said, like the Zapatistas, like the indigenous peoples.
From the Zapatistas we have learned to create our own times and spaces for which we need no calen- dars. We have also learned that the times of the leaders were invented by those above, los de arriba. It is only with a well-informed heart that we can confront what lies ahead. We will continue to shout from north to south, from east to west: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43. JUSTICE!
Those who die for life cannot be called dead /
Los que mueren por la vida, no pueden llamarse muertos
“There, on the outside, they are talking and arguing
and making allegations over violence or non-violence, ignoring the fact that there is violence on most people’s tables every day. Violence walks with them to work and to school,
goes home with them, sleeps with them,
and without consideration for age, race, gender, language, or culture, makes a nightmare out of their dreams and realities”
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés – EZLN
VIVOS SE LOS LLEVARON, VIVOS LOS QUEREMOS
ALIVE THEY TOOK THEM, ALIVE WE WANT THEM!!
This article first appeared in print in The Kenyon Observer on December 17, 2014.