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The Daily Poetry Movement

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. A poetic declaration of independence and the Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Mararquez interviews Subcomandante Marcos who wrote the poem. It is my hope that more people will begin to see that history has always been told in poetry until they wanted to take history from us. Please read aloud and feel hope! Rise up! Speak up!
"Account of the Events"
Today, the sixth day of the month
of August of the year
nineteen hundred and seventy-nine,
as history forewarned,
the coffee bitter,
the tobacco running out,
the afternoon declining
and everything in place for conspiring
against the shadows and darkness
which obscure the world and its sun,
the below signed appear
in front of me, the patria, in order to
declare the following.
First. - That the below signed
renounce their homes, work,
family and studies and
all the comforts which have been
accumulated in the hands of the few
upon the misery of the many.
Second. - That the below signed
renounce a future,
paid on time, of
individual enjoyment.
Third. - That the below signed
also renounce the shield
of indifference in the face of the suffering
of others and the vainglory of a
place among the powerful.
Fourth. - That the below signed
are prepared for all the sacrifices
necessary in order to fight silently
and without rest in order to make me,
the patria, free and true.
Fifth. - That the below signed
are prepared to suffer persecution,
calumny and torture, and even
to die if it is necessary, in order to achieve
what was noted in the Fourth point.
Sixth. - That I, the patria, will know
to keep your place in history
and to watch over your memory
as they watch over my life.
Seventh. - That the below signed
will leave enough space under their
names so that all honest men
and women may sign this
document, and, when the moment comes,
the entire people shall sign it.
There being nothing left to be said,
and very much to do, the
below signed leave their
blood as example and
their steps as guide.
Valiantly and Respectfully,
Manuel, Salvador, Alfredo, Manolo, Mari'a Luisa,
Soledad, Murcia, Aurora, Gabriel, Ruth, Mario,
Ismael, He'ctor, Toma's Alfonso, Ricardo...
And the signatures will follow
of those who will have to die and
of those who will have to live
fighting, in this
country of sorrowful history
called Mexico,
embraced by the sea and,
soon, with the wind in its favor.


Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, July of 2002.

A Zapatista Reading List

By Gabriel García Márquez & Subcomandante Marcos

The following remarks are excerpted from a longer interview between Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, representing the Mexican magazine Cambio, and the Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos. The full text appeared in Cambio earlier this year.
García Márquez/Cambio: Do you still have time to read in the middle of all this mess?
Marcos: Yes, because if not...what would we do? In the armies that came before us, soldiers took the time to clean their weapons and rally themselves. In this case, our weapons are our words, so we have to depend on our arsenal all the time.
García Márquez/Cambio: Everything you say--in terms of form and content--demonstrates a serious literary background on your part. Where does this come from and how did you achieve it?
Marcos: It has to do with my childhood. In my family, words had a very special value. The way we went out into the world was through language. We didn't learn to read in school but by reading newspapers. My mother and father made us read books that rapidly permitted us to approach new things. Some way or another, we acquired a consciousness of language not as a way of communicating with each other but as a way of building something. As if it were more of a pleasure than a duty or assignment. When the age of catacombs arrives, the word is not highly valued for the intellectual bourgeoisie. It is relegated to a secondary level. It's when we are in the indigenous communities that language is like a catapult. You realize that words fail you to express certain things, and this obliges you to work on your language skills, to go over and over words to arm and disarm them.
García Márquez/Cambio: Couldn't it be the other way around? Couldn't it be this control over language that permits this new era?
Marcos: It's like a blender. You don't know what is thrown in first, and what you end up with is a cocktail.
García Márquez/Cambio: Can we talk about this family?
Marcos: It was a middle-class family. My father, the head of the family, was a rural teacher in the days of [Lázaro] Cárdenas when, according to him, they cut off teachers' ears for being communists. My mother, also a rural teacher, finally moved, and we became a middle-class family, I mean, a family without any real difficulties. All of this in the provinces, where the cultural horizon is the society pages of the local newspaper. The world outside, or the great city, Mexico City, was the great attraction because of its bookstores. Finally, there were book fairs out in the provinces, and there we could get some books. García Márquez, Fuentes, Monsiváis, Vargas Llosa--independently of how he thinks--just to mention a few, they all came through my parents. They made us read them. One Hundred Years of Solitude was meant to explain what the province was in those days, and The Death of Artemio Cruz was to explain what had happened to the Revolution. [Carlos Monsiváis's] Dias de Guardar to explain what was happening to the middle class. To some extent, although naked, our portrait was The City and the Dogs. All those things were there. We were coming out into the world in the same way we were coming to know literature. And this shaped us, I believe. We didn't get to know the world through a newswire but through a novel, an essay or a poem. And this made us very different. This was the looking glass that our parents gave us, as others might use the mass media as a looking glass or just an opaque glass so that no one can see what is going on.
García Márquez/Cambio: Where was Don Quixote in the middle of all these readings?
Marcos: They gave me a beautiful book when I was 12--a hardcover. It was Don Quixote de la Mancha. I had already read it but in these juvenile editions. It was an expensive book, a very special present that I was waiting for. Shakespeare arrived after that. But if I could say the order in which the books arrived, it would first be the "boom" literature of Latin America, then Cervantes, then García Lorca, then there was a time of all poetry. Thus, you [pointing to García Márquez] are partly responsible for this.
García Márquez/Cambio: Did the existen-tialists and Sartre come into all this?
Marcos: No. We arrived late to that. Explicitly existentialist and, before that, revolutionary literature we arrived at already very "molded"--as the orthodox would say. So that by the time we got to Marx and Engels, we were already very contaminated by the sarcasm and humor of literature.
García Márquez/Cambio: There were no readings of political theory?
Marcos: In the first stage, no. From our ABCs we went on to literature and then on to theoretical and political texts about the time we got to high school.
García Márquez/Cambio: Did your schoolmates think you were, or could be, a communist?
Marcos: No, I don't think so. The most they ever said to me was that I was a radish--red on the outside and white on the inside.
García Márquez/Cambio: What are you reading now?
Marcos: I have Don Quixote by the bedside, and I regularly carry around Romancero gitano, by García Lorca. Don Quixote is the best book out there on political theory, followed by Hamlet and Macbeth. There is no better way to understand the tragedy and the comedy of the Mexican political system than Hamlet, Macbeth and Don Quixote. They're much better than any column of political analysis.
García Márquez/Cambio: Do you write by hand or on the computer?
Marcos: On computer. Only on the march I had to write by hand because I had no time to work. I write a rough draft, then another and another. You think I'm joking, but it's like the seventh draft by the time I'm done.
García Márquez/Cambio: What book are you working on?
Marcos: What I was trying to write about was absurd, it was an attempt to explain ourselves to ourselves, which is almost impossible. We have to realize that we are a paradox, because a revolutionary army doesn't propose to seize power... All the paradoxes we have encountered: that we have grown and become strong in a sector completely alienated from cultural channels.
García Márquez/Cambio: If everyone knows who you are, why the ski mask?
Marcos: A bit of leftover coquetry. They don't know who I am, and they don't care. What's in play here is what Subcomandante Marcos is, and not what he was.