The Story of Durito and the Defeat of Neo-Liberalism

[This story was written by Subcomandante Marcos for a 10 year-old girl who sent him a drawing.]

April 10, 1994

To: Mariana Moguel:

From: Subcomandante Insurgente marcos

Subcomandante Mariana Moguel:

I greet you with respect and congratulate you for the new rank acquired with your drawing. Permit me to tell you a story which, perhaps, you will understand someday. It is the story of...


I am going to tell you a story that came 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 as I was looking for tobacco to smoke, and could not find any. Suddenly, on one side of my hammock, I saw that a bit of tobacco had fallen and formed a small trail. I followed it to see where my tobacco was, and to see who the hell had taken it and was spilling it. A few meters away, behind a rock, I found a beetle sitting at a small typewriter, reading some papers and smoking a diminutive pipe.

"Ahem, ahem," I said, so that the beetle would notice my presence, but he paid me no heed.

Then I said: "Listen, that tobacco is mine."

The beetle took off his glasses, looked me up and down, and told me, quite irritatedly: "Please, captain, I beg you not to interrupt me. Don't you realize that I am studying?"

I was a bit surprised and was going to give him a kick, but I calmed myself and sat down to one side to wait for him to finish studying. In a little while, he gathered up his papers, put them away in desk, and, chewing his pipe, said to me:

"Well, now, what can I do for you, captain?"

"My tobacco," I responded.

"Your tobacco?" he said to me. "You want me to give you a little?"

I started to get pissed off, but the little beetle handed me the bag of tobacco with its little foot, and added:

"Don't be angry, captain. Please understand that tobacco cannot be found here, and I had to take some of yours."

I calmed myself. I liked the beetle, and I said to him, "Don't worry about it. I have some more over there."

"Hmm," he answered.

"And you, what is your name?" I asked him.

"Nebuchanedzar," he said, and continued, "but my friends call me Durito. You can call me Durito, captain."

I thanked him and asked him what it was that he was studying.

"I'm studying neoliberalism and its strategy of domination for Latin America," he told me.

"And what good is that to a beetle? I asked him.

He replied, very annoyed: "What good is it? I have to know how long your struggle is going to last, and whether you are going to win. In addition, a beetle should care enough to study the situation of the world in which it lives, don't you think, captain?"

"I don't know," I said. "Why do you want to know how long our struggle will last and whether we are going to win?"

"Well, nothing has been understood," he told me, putting on his glasses and lighting his pipe. After exhaling a mouthful of smoke, he continued: "To know how long we beetles are going to have to take care that you do not smash us with your boots."

"Ah!" I said.

"Hmm," he said.

"And to what conclusion have you come in your study?" I asked him.

He took out the papers from the desk and began to leaf through them. "Hmm...hmm," he said every so oftn as he looked through them. After having finished, he looked at my eyes and said, "You are going to win."

"I already knew that," I told him. I added, "But how long will it last?"

"A long time," he said, sighing with resignation.

"I already knew that, too....Don't you know exactly how long?" I asked.

"It cannot be known exactly. We have to take into account many things: the objective conditions, the ripeness 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, captain?"

"Nothing," I answered. "Well, Mr. Durito, I have to go. It was my pleasure to have met you. You may take all of the tobacco that you want, whenever you like."

"Thank you, captain. You can be informal with me if you like." [In Spanish, this is an invitation to use the familiar form of address, tu, instead of the formal usted.]

"Thank you, Durito. I am now going to give orders to my compaņeros that it is prohibited to step on beetles. I hope that helps."

"Thank you, captain. Your order will be of much use to us."

" Whatever happens, take much care, because my young men are very distracted, and they do not always look where they are putting their feet."

"I will do so, captain."

"See you later."

"See you later. Come whenever you like, and we will talk."

"I will," I told him, and went back to the headquarters.

That is all Mariana. I hope to know you personally someday and be able to trade ski masks and drawings. All right.

Vale and other colors, because on the ones that you used, the ink must have run out.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos,

Mountains of the Mexican Southeast, April 1994.