The Black Seed of Our Convictions: Words from comrade Gabriela from the underground
The first round is won with a blank paper, its whiteness is intimidating and I think about recent events, over and over… I’m refreshed during the night and the letters come taking control of this small battleground that the paper has become. Still, though I have always been there out of sight, today the words fly, carrying me to you all, because today, on this day which symbolizes so many hardships, I won’t stay in the shadows like usual, like every day since august 14th, 2010.
With this text, my hope is the same thing I’ve longed for since the beginning: discussion. To avoid stagnant conversations with the mirror, to broaden our perspectives and push our own power forward, without remorse, but with a deep critical analysis, without applause, but without silence… and above all, without that easy saying that so many adore, it will not be me contributing to that empty fetish, it won’t be me, it will never be me. Here we are, one year since “operacion salamandra” and its millionaire operation that raided fourteen houses and evicted the oldest squat in the territory dominated by the Chilean state, the Centro Social Okupado y Biblioteca Sacco y Vanzetti. Proud of my story and the process to which we contribute, I don’t look fondly upon the reigning silence, nor the deficiency of the political cause, nor the disloyalty to the convictions that forged and gave life to that space, embodied in concrete, but which contributed to the growth of hundreds of people who today distance themselves and remain silent, as the grandest applause to the game of power. We lost our space of more than eight years and it is certainly no surprise, we knew it would happen. It is the logic evident in a face-to-face confrontation with power, it’s part of the idea of occupation to be a tool of struggle, it’s an ending which is more than a possibility.
The physical space is gone, certainly, but the history of struggle which stems from it is lost only when we are silent. It is lost when those who went there and nurtured its strength retain neither theoretical nor practical capacity, nor the will to cleanse its honor of the humiliations raining down from everywhere. Because certainly, to attack us has become a sport, not only for mercenary prosecutors, the press and its eternal role, but also for the grand spectrum of reformist anarchism and los amarillos who, like always, slander us from their anonymous texts on the internet. To attack “la Sacco” became carte blanche to try to shatter a diffuse spectrum of different anarchist positions, the cost of our convictions and practices prove their point culminating at 6am on August 14th, with the second entry of the force, mistitled “elite”, of investigatory police. But finally, that the world around me falls silent will not silence me, that some have forgotten part of this history will not make me accomodate such amnesia and definitely that the enemy is giant, will only make me grow to overshadow over the jailers’ faces. This tract of struggle did not end with their attacks, their humiliations and their attempts to discredit. Nothing is over and if I put my knee in the ground, it is only to feel the green of the wild natural world that melts my darkened heart, never to surrender, never to ask for compassion…those who have fallen silent, who have forgotten their prisoners of war, have delegated the imprisoned comrades to a singular and familiar realm, those whose solidarity was assimilated into silence, those who “couldn’t do any more” via the clumsy excuse of “also having a life”, ignore that life and struggle are synonyms fused by fire, I don’t live my life under the selfish logic of capital and the question the role of authority in some other realm.
Finally, for me, there is life only when there is the will to struggle against all forms of domination… those who have fallen silent and disappeared… remain silent, remain missing, after a year… will stay behind, far away on the journey and with a little of the winds from our storms, their paper armor will be torn apart, just like their shields devoid of real content and above all, their medallions of fictitious battles that they never dared to fight… without a doubt this has been a difficult time, hostile and painful, but I want to clarify that the pain has not come from the actions of the enemy. That they have attacked us in such a vulgar and agonizing way doesn’t surprise me, since the enemy is without honor and its assaults, although painful, don’t strike a chord in the heart; although they offend, ultimately only feed my convictions and divide those paths inexorably. The real damage comes from the silence, the lack of solidarity, the lies and frozen hearts, it comes from the desolation I’ve sensed that some have had to suffer. It’s clear that the assault of power is not only the police, the courts or the media, it occupies an important moral terrain and and thus to disarm our morale is an essential component of defeating us (and the reportage of “the forgotten house” is a clear example of that).
Demoralized, we won’t dare even glimpse the way out of the conditions we face. And when a silence comes so deep and dark, when it is only the comrades in prison who have anything to say, it is evident that the swamp has trapped our ideas… Not all is broken, certainly, there are those who stay in the street, running through time, will and strength constantly, those who have shouldered a position beyond the dictates of capitalist rationality, which always whispers that it is best to stay locked in our houses or reduced to an essence so tiny we don’t even cast a shadow… this is how I recognize the disgrace and the lies, and I see clearly the emergence of solidarity and these gestures, small or large, public or anonymous, they are treasures buried in the landfill of egos and false words, the poses and the labors of media… solidarity comes as the vehicle that gives continuity to the struggle, that rescues us from forgetfulness and gives us strength when we lose our breath. Real solidarity must surpass specific relationships, spreading as a potent support of those held hostage, disseminating and planting the dark seeds of our lives and positionality against all authority. When we utter the beautiful phrase “in social war, no one is alone”, we allude to a fervent desire for it to be true.
But thinking those words doesn’t make them a reality. Reality is modified, changed, and subject to intervention by deeds and often those deeds are more bitter and solitary than what one desires for revolutionary fraternity. To carry on does not imply lying around basking in lamentation and agonizing over it, to the contrary, because only through identifying and understanding the mistakes and obstacles can we begin to overcome, because it is volition which overturns it. Masking the pain only serves to intensify it and to fall into the fetishism of a life of struggle, without pain or betrayal. What is certain is that, all too often, comrades are alone and slapped in the face again and again, roaming without a place to sleep and confronted with these hired demons in complete isolation. Often, these comrades have no one to talk to, no clothes to change into, no one to speak about their situation, often they are slandered without the chance to defend themselves and the silence is only interrupted by the echo of infamy. And this happens because instead of rolling up their sleeves, organizing, creating and unifying forces, some prefer to march in circles or hide in fear. Since they don’t understand the role that is played by everyone and the vital importance of concrete gestures, they maintain the amnesia that devours those comrades kidnapped, injured, who fled or escaped. While some divide these comrades into one or the other level or category, capital advances, grows, deepens.
In social war, no one is alone, this is my wish and it is toward that that I orient my real contrubutions… and this was the reason for the scourge of August 14th. I understand that, beyond words, the difficulty has been for the comrades held hostage by the “bombs cases” to establish a common understanding of struggle, beyond the obvious that is the requirement of freedom. Part of the nonsense of this repressive operation is the diverse spectrum of positions and those differences are not only discursive but also in the realm of everyday life. I think about how much it’s cost and their words about it seem very sincere, honest and redeemable. You have come to a common understanding, but I am apart from it and, unable to participate in any collective discussion, so I am left to deal with my position personally. To clarify, I do not intend to disregard anyone and much less to ignore anyone’s efforts and strengths, but we have differences and I want to express them respectfully. Again, not to invalidate anyone’s labor who has remained behind those refforts these last 12 months. The “operación salamandra” and even more, the whole investigation of the “bombs cases” and the parades of prosecutors with basically a vendetta, to me is not a montaje. From my point of view, referring to the discourse of the montaje empty of revolutionary sentiment that could be our political assertion with respect to the attack of august 14th, 2010. What happened that day? Or rather, what caused that power play? A montaje is almost a random act, like a meteorite suddenly falling on you, a one in a million possibility… is that what happened? Did we just wake up one morning and suddenly the civilized world of capital hated us uncontrollably? Were we surprised by the violent entry of the tactical response units? My answer is no to all of the above.
For me there is an abysmal difference between a montaje which might very well happen to the grocer on the corner (a good friend) and a dantesque operation in terms of the massive investment that amounted only to hints for years until coming to our public thrashing in the city square, because this was the “operación salamandra”, in democratic and modern terms, a beating in prívate and later the public display of our lives for general ridicule. The new Roman circus, a poorer and more Christian version, but the same show. The montajes exist, there’s no question about that, they have occurred and still occur in a systemic manner, carried out by squads of police or orchestrated from the offices of some prosecutor anxious for fame and power. They exist, undoubtedly, but this is not the case, not for me. The “bombs case” is an investigation whose juridico-policial edges are motivated by vengeance, persecution of the function of ideas and ways of life. This is the operación salamandra and the case in general, a judicial vengeance, executed by order of the highest spheres of the State.
Revenge leads to infamy, lies and crudeness to the extreme, including when power knows that the monster it has created is senseless, it goes on and does everything to nourish their fictitious strength, like the pathetic report on channel 7 within days of the attack. Strictly speaking, all that happened before and after August 14th couldn’t happen to just anyone, it is an attack with a root clear and defined and its origin can be found in the positions that we take in our lives, the solidarities that we express and the complicit silences we decide not to keep. If I had been lost in my own world, if I had forgotten the prisoners, the struggles of others around the world, if I had closed my eyes, covered my ears and shut my mouth, if I had joined some political party believing that with them I would help the poor out of their misery, you can be sure that none of this would ever have happened to me. But I – we – did not choose that course, we freely chose autonomy and embodied mutual aid and explained ourselves openly, each with their own way and in their own environment, aiming with every step to break the invisible chains with which capital and power tie you to their world of luxury and ecstasy and transcience.
Most those involved in the force of this case (except for a certain delirious insect) at one point or another assumed a life path in which they expressed solidarity as a form of struggle. To visit the revolutionary prisoner, defend them publicly, arrange activities and antagonistic discussion around the ways of life that power posits as normal, this in itself is an act of revolt. To open a space and nurture its library, collectivize books, begin activity in solidarity with others, away from the logic of profit and accumulation, this is not a “normal” life and it will put a price on your head and a target on your back. The prosecutors use arguments of gunpowder and explosives to give them an aceptable legal standing, but what is certain and undeniable is that there are neither guns nor explosives in our occupied social centers or in our homes.
There isn’t a single photo or video that connects us to any act of explosives, nor a digital trail or any DNA evidence… there’s nothing… what there is, all the prosecutors have so zealously presented as proof is our antiauthoritarian and anarchist politics. Anarchist life unnerves them, autonomous groups, who grow and thrive on the margins and against government implements of control, they are hatefully undesirable and must be attacked, ideally in the most civically acceptable form, but ultimately swept from the country-estate that the powerful construct to their specifications. This is the investigation of the “bombs cases”, it is the gunning down of the most visible faces of a landscape that challenges the imposed order, a straightforward inquiry that focuses its efforts and ammunition at all those who under various circumstances have refused to settle into silence.
The inclusion in this roundup of the names of former political prisoners, who fought within and against the prisons, is clearly intended to demonstrate to whoever sees, what will happen if you don’t refuse to internalize power and its formations. And to defame us, affirming that they are our rulers, who we admire and follow like blind soldiers, is already a theoretical disaster, pathetic like the argument of “informal leaders”, a ridiculous attempt to lend some legitimacy to the stupidity that passes for research. To say montaje is to say between the lines that I have nothing to do with the investigation… and of course I do, but not with the bombs, only with the ideas/practices that refuse the State, its powers and organizational forms, this is what is monstrous in the long run, that power attacks us for what we have written and expressed openly.
Definitive and sharp, this case will be the best propaganda for why to be against the State, it is proof to whoever sees it, of how the laws are only an instrument with which they give an appearance of “justice” to the assaults which only serve to maintain their privileges and the society that secures them. The courts, law enforcement and the press have a defined role in this setup to maintain the vertical state of social organization, they are not independent or apart from special interests, this is the belief that has been instilled, for which people hold out hope that there will be a petition to turn to when injustice looms all around them… they pretend that they will be able to go to court, the police or at their failure the press with their role of the “watchdog”… but they are only the same lackeys in different clothes, all in the service of the same logic: power.
The press has not only targeted us and defamed us over the years, with hundreds of reports, where we go from being outcast youth to the incarnation of terror; one of the exalted journalists who for months shot off reports sparing no insult, today is a superb protected witness, paid by the state to keep vilifying (where are you hiding, Mark Frick?). No independence, no neutrality, all part of the same service of authority… I’m telling you, the operación salamandra and its tentacles are nothing more than revenge on the part of the State for being who we are and refusing to be silent, intended as an exemplary punishment and a lesson in submission. And today, one year later, I haven’t forgotten the faces I saw for the last time, the smiles, my brother’s drawings, the hugs, the conversations, the songs, the projects and activities, my feline family and the mischievous puppy, I haven’t forgotten the faces of those who, even having left, remain here with me, I haven’t forgotten any of my comrades… in these days of so much hardship and pain, my greatest gift is to tell you, comrades, brothers and sisters, that I keep fighting, full of courage and love and in open rebellion. Onward as before, onward always, nothing is over…
And like the best of fools, I take on the enemy and put no price on life. Tortuguita, a strong embrace for you, you’re not a hero or a martyr, I echo those anonymous words, a comrade is hurt and at the police’s hands, this is motive enough to show solidarity… that your shell is rebuilt and your strength nourishes all of us who don’t leave you adrift… strength, so much strength. In memory of Rene Salfate, ex political prisoner who left this earth last july 19th, that his name is never forgotten. And while some insult that comrade’s life, manipulate and try to erase his memory, I still cry: Honor to comrade Mauricio Morales! Honor to his life and his desire for freedom!, because honor has nothing to do with military ceremonies, because I won’t give up on him or his memory, because I rise in defense of his memory and those of the values and spirit he forged in his life.
Gabriela, del Clan de la Selva Negra.
p.s. las x son para ti, so you don’t forget our conversations and our laughter…
p.p.s. have you heard my laughter in the recent education protests?? I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and onward we go, stronger every day…
Translator’s note: the word montaje, which literally means “assemblage” or “fabrication”, is used in this context to refer to political cases like the bombs case, and might be very roughly translated as “setup” or something similar – however, especially for the purposes of a text which directly interrogates the implications of the term, the decision was made here to leave it unaltered.