April 10th, 1994
Subcomandanta Mariana Moguel:
I greet you with respect and congratulate you for the new grade that you acquired with your drawing. Allow me to tell you a story that, maybe, one day you will understand. It is the story of…
I’m going to tell you a story that happened to me the other day. It is the story of a small beetle who wears glasses and smokes a pipe. I met him one day that I was looking for my tobacco to smoke and didn’t find it. Suddenly, on one side of my hammock I saw that a bit of tobacco had fallen and that it formed a little line. I went and followed it to see where my tobacco was and find out who the hell had taken it and was spilling it. A few meters away and behind a rock I ran into a beetle sitting at a small desk, reading some papers and smoking a tiny pipe.
-Ahem, ahem –I said so that the beetle would notice my presence, but he did not pay attention to me.
So I told him:
-Hey, that tobacco is mine.
The beetle took off his glasses, looked at me from top to bottom, and told me very angrily:
-Please, capitán, I beg you not to interrupt me. Do you not realize that I am studying?
I was a bit surprised and was going to give him a kick, but I calmed down and sat at his side to wait for him to finish studying. After a short while he gathered his papers, put them in the desk and, nibbling at his pipe, told me:
-Well, now then. What can I do for you, capitán?
-My tobacco –I responded.
-Your tobacco? –he told me.- Do you want me to give you a little?
I started to get pissed off, but the little beetle reached out with his foot to give me the bag of tobacco and added:
-Don’t get angry, capitán. Please understand that here one cannot get tobacco and I had to take a bit of yours.
I calmed down. I liked the beetle and told him:
-Don’t worry. Over there I have more.
-Hmm –he answered.
-And, what is your name? –I asked him.
-Nebuchadnezzar –he said, and continued- but my friends call me Durito. You can call me Durito, capitán.
I thanked him for his consideration and asked him what it was that he was studying.
-I study about neoliberalism and its strategy of domination for Latin America –he answered.
-And of what use is that to a beetle- I asked him.
And he responded very angrily: “What do you mean of what use? I have to know how long your struggle is going to last and if you are going to win or not. In addition, a beetle must concern himself with studying the situation of the world in which he lives, do you not think so capitán?
-I don’t know –I told him.- But for what do you want to know how long our struggle is going to last and if we are going to win or not?
-Well, nothing has been understood –he told me putting on his glasses and lighting his pipe. After taking a puff of smoke he continued:
-To know how long us beetles are going to be making sure that you are not going to squash us with your boots.
-Ah! –I said.
-Hmm –he said.
-And to what conclusion have you arrived in your study? –I asked him.
He took out his papers from the desk and began to leaf through them.
-Hmm… hmm –he kept saying while he reviewed them.
After he finished doing it, he looked me in the eye and told me:
-You are going to win.
-I already knew that –I told him. And I added: -But how long is it going to take?
-A long time –he told me sighing with resignation.
-I also already knew that… Do you not know exactly how long? –I asked.
-It cannot be known with precision. One must take many things into account: the objective conditions, the maturity of the subjective conditions, the correlation of forces, the crisis of imperialism, the crisis of socialism, etcetera, etcetera.
-Hmm –I said.
-What are you thinking about, capitán?
-About nothing –I answered.- Well Mr. Durito, I must withdraw. It was a great pleasure to meet you. Please know that you may take all the tobacco you want whenever you like.
-Thank you, capitán. You can use tú with me if you like –he told me.
-Thank you Durito. Now I am going to give the order to my compañeros that stepping on beetles is prohibited. I hope that helps.
-Thank you, capitán, your order will be of great use to us.
-However it may be, be very careful because my guys are very distracted and do not always look where they put their feet.
-That’s what I’ll do, capitán.
-See you later.
-See you later. Come whenever you like and we’ll chat.
-That’s what I’ll do- I said, and I withdrew for the military quarters.
That’s all Mariana, I hope to meet you personally one day and be able to exchange balaclavas and drawings. Vale.
Cheers and other colors, because with those that you used the paint must have run out.
Supcomandante insurgente Marcos
Mountains of the Mexican southeast.
English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.
 Previously, Durito and Marcos had been using the more formal second-person singular pronoun, “Usted.” Durito switches to “tú,” while Marcos continues to use “Usted.”