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Posts Tagged ‘Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano’

Between Light and Shadow: the last words of Subcomandante Marcos

In Decolonization, Geography/ Spatial Justice, The Revolution on May 26, 2014 at 4:44 PM

 

EZLNDelivering his “last words” on May 24th, 2014—more than 20 years after the Zapatistas first launched their counteroffensive against NAFTA-mediated neoliberalism—Subcomandante Marcos was indelibly poetic and forceful. I’m sure numerous articles analyzing the Zapatista spokesperson are forthcoming (not to mention the numerous misnomers, equivocations, and otherwise hostile corporate interpretations), but I couldn’t resist the urge to share his powerful speech. In it, he runs through themes of primal importance to revolutionary struggles today, as pertinent to indigenous survival as to the larger preservation of humanity.

Talking in the aftermath of the murder of Galeano, a Zapatista teacher killed by a state-infiltrated farm workers collective (Central Independiente de Obreros Agrícolas y Campesinos Histórica, or CIOAC-H), he conjures up themes of memories, dreams, illusions, and holograms to discuss what is imminent in the struggle of La Realidad (“The Reality”), the telltale site of the murder. Speaking to the pain and rage of the loss of Galeano (as well as the loss of twenty years of Zapatista insurgency, and 500 years of indigenous resistance), his last words will likely leave an imprint as powerful as those of fallen revolutionaries like Malcolm X or Huey Newton.

Except that Subcomandante Marcos is an illusion. A hologram. A strategic fabrication. A spokesman placed before the media, a play of light and shade.

Speaking towards an audience of alternative media reporters, he talks about how indigenous leaders in Chiapas decided to construct the personage that became Subcomandante Marcos [self-translated; original transcript here; audio here]:

 

“Just days [after the initial uprising in January 1994], with the blood of our fallen still fresh along city streets, we realized that those on the outside didn’t see us. 

Accustomed to looking down on the indigenous, they didn’t look up to see us.

Accustomed to seeing us humiliated, their heart didn’t understand our dignified rebellion.

They focused, instead, on the only mestizo wearing a balaclava.

Our chiefs then said:“They only see things on their own level, as small as they are. Let’s put someone on their level so that they can see him and, through him, they can see us.”

Thus began a complex maneuver of distraction: a magic trick that was terrible and marvelous; a mischievous move the indigenous heart that we are: the indigenous wisdom defied modernity in one of its strongholds: the media.Thus began the construction of the character named “Marcos”.

I ask you to follow me in this reasoning:

Suppose there is another way neutralize a criminal. For example, creating his murder weapon; making him believe it is effective; order him to construct, on the basis of its effectiveness, his entire plan so that, in the moment in which he prepares to shoot it, the “weapon” turns back to what it always was: an illusion.

The entire system, but especially its media, play a game of building reputations only to destroy them if they don’t bend to their designs.

Their power resided (now no longer, as they’ve been displaced by social networks) in deciding who and what existed in the moment in which they chose who named and who silenced.

Anyway, do not pay me much attention, for as has been demonstrated in these 20 years, I know nothing of mass media.

The fact is that the SupMarcos went from being a spokesperson to being a distraction.

If the path of war–that is, of death–had taken us 10 years; that of life took longer and required more effort, not to mention blood.

Because, believe it or not, it is easier to die than to live.”

 

In speaking to the power of story-telling, illusions, and the violent coercive power of the statist, corporate media, Marcos—the hologram spokesman of the Zapatistas—deepens the linkage between hegemony (ideology) and material reality.

Undoubtedly, the media has long played an important role in projecting images and representations of the Zapatistas and their struggle against neoliberalism and State violence; many have even suggested that the survival of the indigenous rebellion in Chiapas necessitated something of a spectator “global civil society” (including its alternative media) to keep eyes on the State. Today, social media platforms are recent entrants to the mix of representation, helping project the voices of countless indigenous freedom fighters from Chiapas and beyond.

And at the crossroads of “vague geographies,” cyberspace, historical memory, and trans-generational story-telling, there arises in the physical death of Galeano the symbolic death of Marcos. The insurgency has decided that Marcos, the iconic image of the EZLN, had become obsolete:

“…we realized that there was now a generation that could look at us upfront, that could listen to us and speak to us without waiting for a guide or leadership, nor wanting submission nor following.

 Marcos, the personage, was no longer necessary.

The new stage in the Zapatista struggle was ready.”

 In its stead shall thrive the resurrected Subcomandante Galeano, who states after Marcos disappears: “Ah, so that’s why they said that when I’d be reborn, I would do so in the collective.”

Between Light and Shadow, Fantasy and Reality. A comrade dead, another resurrected.  ¡Pa’rriba Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano!

Voten Galeano Vive

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