<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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"It could be that he has died... but it could be that he has not"

"Trying to understand is a form of respect. Yes, Don Amado respected us."

By Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Zapatista Army of National Liberation

May 2, 2004

Zapatista Army of National Liberation
April, 2004

To whom it may concern:

The afternoon was growing dark. That is, it had already gone. The news, in the resounding voice of the radio transmitter, sounded, just barely, like a broken branch in the almost-night of this Zapatista April. As if the interference had quieted for an instant, at precisely the moment that, from the other side of the speaker, the voice said, “Don Amado has died.”

So they told me that Don Amado had died. Could be.

But for the news of his death, it could be that Don Amado had already died, and that what I heard had not been a broken branch just as April turns the calendar’s corner into the next year. But if it had been a broken branch that I heard, then I would have been able to think that perhaps Don Amado had not died, and that he had only turned that corner, and that though we will not see him now, in the coming year he will appear again.

We first knew of Don Amado, and then we saw him.

We knew him by his voice. He was a colleague out of the pages of time, as if hung on a wall. And we, then hidden because we were showing ourselves, approached that temporal wall and touched its heart, that is, its voice. We saw that we were seen by that voice. Not what we were then, not what we are now, but inside our house of pain and suffering; our heart.

When we, hiding, showed ourselves, we saw him. It was already mid-morning on the first of January, 1994. He arrived with a scarf, his glasses, some kind of coat or jacket (I don’t remember well) and a little notebook. He asked some questions. Wrote something down. I asked him: “Don Amado?” I don’t remember what he answered. He hardly talked. But his gaze saw many things. In that gaze was not the death sentence that many gave us, so generously, in those first hours; there was neither condemnation nor approval. In his gaze, there was something, as if… as if he was trying to understand. The times that I met him again, he still had that gaze. Trying to understand is a form of respect. Yes, Don Amado respected us.

And it was mutual. Or is. Because it could be that he has died. But it could be that he has not.

After that, after the news of the broken branch, the night dragged on, as it rarely does. As if it was getting longer – not to stretch itself, but rather to cover all the corners, including those that dwell within us.

The other day… I don’t remember if that day was a short or long time ago. Time (Tiempo), I mean, the calendar, usually tricks us. But I was telling you that the other day, in one of the towns, a shed fell down. Soon, there was nothing left but a pile of poles, boards, and dogs sniffing about.

Old Antonio approached, a hammer and a machete in his hands, contemplated the wreckage, and said, “this little house was already old, and now all that is left is its history, that time of enduring and fighting.” Old Antonio accepted the lighter I offered him to light his cigarette and continued: “That’s how it is when one dies, nothing is left, only the history of what one did and what one left undone… each person’s time.”

If it really is true that he died, Don Amado left us without his house, and all we have left is his history. But Don Amado had, or has, a problem from which not all of us suffer. In place of a heart he had a house, at times disguised as a newspaper suspended in time (Tiempo), or as a leaf (Foja), or as a shadow government, or as a storyteller.

And in his house, that is to say, his heart, Don Amado had opened the doors and windows long ago to those who are the color of the earth, and with them shared his roof, his gaze, his ear and his word.

I am told that Don Amado has died. Could be. Or it could be that no, he has not died. I wonder…

It could be that his heart, that is to say, his house, now has no roof for us, now does not watch us through the window; that now we do not enter through its door nor sit at its table while outside there is rain, cold, sun, clouds. Or it could be that no, he has not died, and that, past that corner, his house – that is to say, his heart – is still there, making that racket that some call “life.”

The simple truth is that I don’t know if he died or not, but I do know that his history, his time, is here, with us, with those who entered his house because he opened the door to us, and that he did it because yes, he wanted to. Because there are hearts so big they beat only when they are with others.

That was how Don Amado was… or, how he is…. The simple truth is, I don’t know… Death – maybe yes… maybe no….

That is why this morning I have only taken a broken branch from the ground, and planted it alongside my shed. Not because I think it will sprout again, but because it is a signal, so that Don Amado knows, when he comes back to round that corner, that he has a heart with us, which is, as we say here, a “house.”

Vale, Don Amado. Health to you, and welcome.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
México, April, 2004, 20 and 10

PS: As if we had not finished a hug, so shall we leave it for now… as if the silence is waiting… do you hear it?

The Communiqué

Communiqué of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

April 2004

To the family and friends of don Amado Avendaño Figueroa:
To the people of México:
To the people of the world:

Brothers and Sisters:

With much pain we have learned of the passing of Señor Amado Avendaño Figueroa, a social fighter and a journalist from Chiapas, which is to say, he was a Mexican.

Don Amado was an attentive and respectful ear toward the pain of the Chiapas indigenous even before the war against oblivion began. Together with doña Concepción Villafuerte, and with those who produced the newspaper “Tiempo,” he listened when most were deaf and he looked when many were blind.

That’s why, from the public start of our uprising, we selected his newspaper as the media through which our word would become known. It wasn’t because he or those with whom he collaborated were in agreement with us. It was because they were in agreement with telling the truth. A while later, don Amado ran for governor of the state of Chiapas. He was robbed of his victory by an election fraud, but he remained in rebellion and in his time he elaborated the proposal for a new State Constitution for Chiapas, the same that we have adopted. During his term, and after, he continued following the Zapatista struggle with respect and attention.

With the passing of don Amado, México loses a significant fighter, Chiapas one of its best sons, the indigenous peoples a brother, and the Zapatistas a friend.

To don Amado… a long life…

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
México, April 2004, 20 and 10

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