Let’s face it

Humanity has perpetrated the worst of crimes. Humanity has also endured the worst of crimes.

It takes courage and the spirit of a true warrior to be able to see the horror we have suffered and the horror we have created, and then transform it all by the power of our vision. By pure will alone we can transform, but not before we can honestly face what we have done.

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Solidarity

There is a word to guide our actions in the years to come: SOLIDARITY.

Always stand up for the oppressed, no matter who they are.

Always speak up against all injustice.

Always promote a world you want to live in.

Stand up in solidarity with the oppressed.

 

Tania Valentina Parada

 

There emerged out of the rain drains of Zacamil and San Antonio the muchachos, the guerrilla fighters fighting against a right wing military dictatorship, in a last thrust attempting to secure a victory for the people. Tania emerged with them, a communications radio on her back and a rifle in her arms.

Unlikely soldier, she lived with love and laughter in her heart, peaceful and gentle. Yet her gentle, loving soul was infused with an indomitable sense of justice, of heroic ferocity that compelled her to “do something” and to “be active” in the cause of historical change. She died shortly after like many other. A bullet in her head and one in her leg, along with scrapes and abrasions on her legs, suggested a capture, the dragging across the asphalt, and the execution on her knees. It is useless to wonder what her last thoughts were, how she died, and what she did in the last hours of her life; but everyone who knew her believes that she died as she lived, valiantly and heroically. The only thing

I know is what happened three months before she died, the last time I saw her.

It was the first time I could come back to El Salvador after my exile. For the first time since 1985 I was able to travel, no longer constrained by my asylum. A big empty gulf in my heart was being filled up with the green, the heat, the songs of birds, and the hugs of my loving friends and family. But when I went looking for Tania she wasn’t there. She was gone, underground. A university activist, her partner had been captured and disappeared. He didn’t show up to his rendezvous with Tania. She knew her days were counted, that she was now marked. One of those synchronicities that the hand of God writes when developing our destinies put Rodney, Tania’s brother and another of my close friends, back from Germany on his first visit back to El Salvador. He brought me to Tania, to the security house where she hid before going for training in the jungle. We talked a talk worth decades in three hours. We both seemed to know this was our last visit, that she would not survive. There was a moment, silent and pregnant with dreaded knowing, when we looked into the truth of that meeting. I proposed that we promised to meet again in a year, grasping for hope that a promise would turn the tide. This is when this picture was taken, just at that moment, and the Angel of Death to her left blessed her impending passage.

Three months later I got the news. Her memory flooded my waking moments. I remember the first time I saw her, we were both 13. We had both just arrived at Ciudad Satelite, a new urban development for middle class families. She was the eldest of her family, always guiding and defending those weaker than her. Competitive, she challenged me to a race and we arrived together. I ran as fast as I could, and so did she. We remained friends since then. We then sat down to talk about everything and nothing, and she told me then of a fantasy where she is in an accident, unable to move her legs, and with this challenge she would apply the force of her will power and attempt to walk; mind over matter, she felt the force of her Will and imagined a way to move, to go, to do against the heavy forces of dead matter. I couldn’t help to think of this daydream of hers, to conquer matter, to overcome the weight of nature, and to awaken her will. Now, she is dead, and one year later—nine months after she was killed—I saw her in my dream. We walked and we talked. She told me she was still trying to come through, to be, to do, to fulfill. I told her what had happened, and guided her into the clear light of the Sun Absolute, her true nature.

Since then, her name has inspired many. Aside from everyone she touched with her compassion, courage and truth, Tania’s life has inspired non-profit organisms, legislative and advocacy efforts for women, and even the minister of education of El Salvador declared her debt of gratitude to her.

Tania, I see your will and force, eternal friend, trying from the center of your will to move and do even through the minor inconvenience of death. I can say that you are lodged not only in my memory, but also in the very foundation of what I love and value, of that which is the essence of my actions. Your valor impregnated my blood as much as your laughter has marked all my joys.

It is Our Time

It was about ten thousand years ago, more or less, that the big lie was created with the formation of the few major cities. Those who sought to dominate and control got together and created a plan to keep the workers trapped. Producing elements, substances, and thought forms to create a condition in consciousness so that people would remain trapped within the confines of the city and of organized religion—within the bounds of civilization.

They created systems, organizations and the transmission of educational forms; not to impart knowledge and wisdom, but to create in the consciousness of humans artificial barriers on a mass scale to ensure that the consciousness of humanity would remain earthbound for millennia.

Now is the time of the revolution; of the taking what we have, to turn it around and inside out. Now is the time of the waking. Now is the time of the true freedom. Now is the time of the lifting into the space bound era. Now is the time of us of the Star Nation.

Listen to my Toltec Survivor Podcast.

Photography by Sharla Sanchez

I stand too, next to you.

To all the women who are posting “me too”:

I stand with you.

I wanted to say, “me too.”
But it is not the same.
Yes, I too have been a target.
As a child, I could have said “me too.”
Instead, I wanted to be strong.
Pretend it never happened.
Explain it didn’t affect me.
Insist I was strong.

Still, I won’t say “me too.”
As a child I could have.
But I never had to live with it.
My life was not inundated with it,
day after day.

The emotional overwhelm of a couple of years
has been the every breath of so many
of my sisters, my mothers, my friends, my daughters, my lovers.

I felt I’d drown once.
As impotent as I felt then,
it can’t compare.
You battle each moment,
each relationship,
not only to overcome.
To thrive.

I can’t say, “me too.”
I can say, “I stand with you.”

I will fight at your side,
against this toxin that pretends
this is normal and expected.

With you, I say no more
to this false masculinity,
out there in the world
and in here, in this old mind.

I stand with you.
I will fight at your side.

The Embers Whisper Oaths of Fiery Storms

Fifty years ago, a man leans over a small fire. Around him, the night hosts shadows and crickets, and the spirits of the old house are joined by the spirits of the volcanoes and the mange. More spirits arrive, of jungle, bays, and rivers––all to see the sorrow of a simple man burning a small book.

I arrive too, somehow I’m here amidst the spirits and things we don’t know anything about. I was born two years before. I see the burning of a diary. It would be some years after I’d learn about this moment; that this man was my father and that he was burning with this diary an icon for hope for a revolution that burned injustice and the raping of a continent, a revolution that obliterates all borders and artificial differences of race, gender, and creed. He was burning a small document, so that it would be consumed and owned by the fire, secretly and silently sentencing it to be reborn in volcanic fires, to spread fiery seeds into the hearts of the people.

When I was two my father burnt the diary of Ernesto Che Guevara. This day, fifty years ago, he was executed in Bolivia at the orders of a CIA operative. A picture was taken of his corpse, as peasants formed a line to pay their respect. The CIA would later consider this picture to be a big mistake, because the site became a shrine of a martyr in the hearts of the people, and the picture became the wind that blew on the embers of hearts long ago quelled with despair––embers that now whisper oaths of fiery storms.

 

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Out of the gutter they returned.

I liked going to the patio of our house in Zacamil, in San Salvador. It was a small square open patio with a pile of water for washing clothes and dishes. In the center of the patio, there was a rain water drain. This was a time when puberty was announcing itself. I liked going back there to burn things. Fascinated by fire, I liked burning paper, wood, and plastic. I liked seeing the fire and how it changed everything into its essential components, ashes, smoke, heat, and colors. I burned things over the water drain, because it was safe there; but also because the burning material would drip into the gutter and make the hissing noise. One day, I got into burning plastic things, because the plastic would drip slowly, announcing it’s descent with a particular petroleum smell and fall as a fire bundle into the rain water of the gutter, and the colors it emited as it fell transformed itself into the most peculiar hissing sound. The plastic would then take unpredictable shapes with strange colors as it cooled down and became hard and ashy black.

One day, I was telling a friend about this, and wondered aloud where these remnants of my fire went. He told me he knew. Braulio told me that just a couple of kilometers from where we were, walking towards the right of the volcano’s skirt, the Boquerón, was a secret entrance to a tunnel. He claimed that this tunnel went on for a very long time, but eventually was united with other tunnels and all the water drains of the city eventually came to this underground labyrinth.

I asked him to take me there, and he did. Behind the rocks under a hill there was an unattended and unkept square stone, which easily removed revealed the rusty hand rails and the stairs leading down to a dark and damp tunnel. We descended, and walked for a little while, just enough for the light of day to still offer a little visibility. After the first turn, however, some shuffling of feet—rodent perhaps, startled us. It could have been the dripping of water, too. No matter. The fact is that in our minds the sound were the steps of boots. Before we could question whether the steps were vermin or human, natural or otherworldly, we were already running back up to the light of day, and ran more to the safety of asphalt and brick.

Thirteen years later, in 1989, shortly before the first light of the sun fell on the rooftops of the poor barrios of Zacamil and Mexicanos, the greatest number of guerrillas to ever invade the capital city of El Salvador were crawling out of the gutters in the patios of the houses of sympathizers and activists. All over the low income areas of the city of San Salvador, the muchachos, the term given to those fighting for the revolution, initiated the last attempt of an insurrection. The experts in Washington were convinced that the guerrilla was decimated, weak, and in its final throes after twelve years of pouring resources, training, and logistical support to the tune of one million dollars a day in military aid to the repressive and cruel government of El Salvador to suppress the revolution.

Some guerrilla units took position in various points of the lower class areas, while other units took over mansions, hotels, and buildings of the Escalon, the area where the rich live and work. Quite predictably, the guerrillas entrenched in the rich areas were able to hold their positions for days, since the army had to proceed with caution lest a stray bullet caused harm to someone with a well known last name or the property of a powerful family. The poor, however, saw tanks and military aircraft bombing the areas infested with guerrillas and poor people without rich names or influence. They dropped bombs in aleatory fashion all over them, destroying many houses. Most families hid under furniture and rubble, forts of mattresses, refrigerators and debris; waiting for the sound of bombs and bullets to end, for respite or death. I spoke to as many friends and family as I could, impotent and with no light sense of guilt I heard their accounts of terror under the bombing, the uncertainty, the resignation to prayer and the “let it be what God wills” of the gentle unarmed.

Others were ready to fight, and taking up arms joined the guerrillas in a last hope for change. Tania, my dear Tania, was among the units fighting. She had gone to the jungle, to join the revolutionary army just a few month before the insurrection. Maybe she was part of the small units that marched under the earth, through tunnels built over the years that led to the rain gutters all over the city; an underground interconnected series of tunnels that took the muchachos from the hill of Guazapa where the guerrillas had one of the strongest strongholds. They marched at night and emerged from everywhere, silent and hidden like the unexpected and recondite workers of change, like the fluttering of the wings of a butterfly whose ripples unite with other insignificant and hidden ripples to cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.

Out of the gutter came back the fire I had sent away 13 years before, bringing back the colors and smells, the heat and the fervor now grown from fleeting impressions into full dreams of a new and glorious new world.

 

 

Electrocuted and immensely alive.

I was once electrocuted as a teenager.

It’s hard to tell what got me to that space. I was in the 8th grade, impatient to be of service to the revolution. If I only I were in another school, I could have joined one of the youth groups dedicated to organize teenagers to promote the cause, and to provide conscientization tools. If I had gone to a less privileged school, I could have been interacting more with the revolutionary youth. I could have been in rallies and meetings. I could have been on street demonstrations, and eventually help with the barricades, with the taking of radio stations, with the publishing of clandestine newspapers. I could have been helping the revolution, until it was time for me, too, to take up arms and help change the brutal regime of death and injustice.

But the Externado de San Jose had no such groups. What we had was an advanced academic program, mixed with the Jesuit mandate to create citizens with a social conscience and a spirit of service to others. We had the dedicated priests who tried hard to teach that Catholic theology was synonymous with social justice. We also had many teachers who were university students and, therefore, quite in touch with the times, with the revolutionary fervor and the need to produce a new human being who lived by rules different than the repressive and oppressive exploitation that history had given us. Of course, we also had very smart students, many of whom were from the richest families of El Salvador, families that were exactly what the repressive and oppressive exploitation salvadorean history had given us.

There were no youth groups in the Externado. No organized resistance. That was for the poor schools, the Instituto, the public schools, and the National University (the U, we called it). What I had in the Externado that connected me to the revolution were the books, the papers, and the discussions with other students and teachers. I had managed to write a play and organize a mural; it was a periodical with political cartoons, editorials, news, and social analysis that was not distributed, but rather pinned inside a glass frame on the wall of one of the hallways of our old building. Students and teachers could read it, stoping on their way to class or office hours. I got two friends to help, and collected articles and opinion pieces from other interested students. I wrote the editorial piece and drew the cartoon. We called it El Pulgarcito, after the story of a Thumbelina sized boy, the size of a thumb (pulgar). It was also the nickname of my country, the smallest of the continent, and one of the most insignificant in the world.

I was impatient for more, though. I wanted to participate and help in the larger process happening outside. There was a revolutionary movement touching every aspect of life: peasants, workers, students, teachers, priests, women, youth, farmers, and artists were all organizing. The movement was social, devotional, political, and armed as well. The people were insurrecting at all levels, and from all sectors there was a clamor for change and social justice. I wanted in. I wanted to serve. So, I talked to my father. He was connected and involved. I told him I had something to ask, that it was serious. We went to the back patio of the house, under the terrace. He sat with me and listened attentively, nodded pensively when I told him I wanted to join the movement. He asked me to wait a little, that he was going to connect me with the right people.

I was too impatient, though. Life was flowing strong and fast, and I didn’t want to stay in place while it all happened outside. I didn’t want to stay frozen in privilege while the land was being covered with revolutionary currents.

I went by myself to the National University. I’d heard that many revolutionary organizations met there in secret. I had explored the grounds before, at a time when the campus had been closed by the military, and the rooms and projects had been all abandoned to entropy and jungle. Now, it was teeming with activity. Men and women walking all over, with books and stethoscopes, beards and glasses. I walked guided by instinct. In that ocean of university students and professors, I saw my older brother walking towards me. We saw each other at the same time. Each surprised to see the other, because he didn’t go that university either. He was a senior in high school, but here he was with two friends I’ve never seen. We greeted each other, almost imperceptibly. “What are you doing here?”, he asked. “Just passing through, visiting friends,” I said. “What are you doing here?”, I asked. “Same,” he responded. “Just passing through.” Neither pushed the matter any further. We both knew. We silently agreed to pretend.

If found what I was looking for. It was a shack behind a mound of earth covered with overgrowth. There were four doors to the long shack, each one leading to a different student organization. They were not university groups. They were part of the high school and junior high student organizations. They met here, hidden from the authorities and spies in their own schools. This was a central hub where a youth organization could coordinate activities across many different schools. I didn’t hesitate, I knew where to go. It was not the largest and most popular MERS. I was instantly attracted to the student branch of the PRTC. There was no reason I could give for this. It was a knowing that came from having seen my life a few times in the past. I simply had seen myself walking through this door before. So, when the door was there in front of my, I walked in.

At the same time, in what seems like a different world, I was also following a mystical path. It was the 8th grade and my soul wanted a lot more than masses and confessions. I needed to experience in my own flesh that spirit and awakening others were content to read about. I wasn’t satisfied with the promise of heaven, nor was I scared of hell. Traditional religions no longer had an appeal to me, and the material world was not enough. I went on my own, to study and practice. In the 8th grade, I was studying western esotericism, hypnosis, parapsychology, and magick.

The spiritual fires were fanned within me. I couldn’t just remain placid and settled in the occurrences of life. I couldn’t follow the reasonable program: be a good student of a good school, choose a profession, get a family, make a living, follow a religion, and train good children to be good citizens.

I yearned for liberation, both in the historical world outside and in the innermost sanctum of the soul. The revolutionary fires were fanned outside and inside. Liberation and evolution were stirring the depths of my soul.

The many worlds I had to inhabit were for the most part kept from colliding, but one day they all seemed to lead to this specific moment, when the chamber where I was became solid, when I didn’t know how I had been caught in this current of time. I wasn’t sure what lead to this, but I was here now, being electrocuted. There was a minute instant, when the current begun to flow through me that I remembered having taking a misstep. I remembered this moment, right when the current is about to flow and trap me there, when I know I was free and flowing but now I am falling into an oh-so-solid reality of matter and life. I knew that this moment before the electro-magnetic current overflows my nervous system, was the exact same moment I experienced before I was born, before my essential self was fused with my human nervous system and life as an individual begun in this planet, in this particular historical moment in this particular country. I had been here before, and here I was again, and again. Sometimes I was experiencing this before reincarnating, sometimes with my hands extended as the Man in the Cross while high voltage is passed through by someone or something behind me I cannot see, attempting here to freeze hope, stop the flow of life, stunt liberty, and crush the seeds of love. But there was nothing I could do now to avoid being trapped in this current of bioelectricity, nothing to do to escape. The only option now was to ride out these currents of light and life.

When electricity begins to flow through the waters of my brain, everything else freezes. Every nerve in this body was created to conduct electricity, to conduct subtle currents of magnetic and psychic energy, to carry information from one part of the body to another.

This nervous system that was created with very subtle wires––with very small and delicate rivers of energy and light, was designed to carry through it the most beautiful impressions of light, depth, sound, touch; the loving caress of the Beloved; the brutal gentleness of the sunset; the wind coming down from the volcano; the smell of spring in a tropical land.

This nervous system, designed to carry beauty and pain is, in this moment of electrocution, only able to carry high voltage, freezing everything in place, not allowing a single thought to be transmitted to the body; not admitting even the movement of lips and tongue to ask for help. There is just the freezing energy, and the movement––the swaying back and forth of a body that is being cooked alive, immensely alive.

 

 

 

Mama Spider

It is said somewhere that he mother spider, when the hunting has not gone well even after building the perfect tapestry of a thick, sturdy, heavy and sticky cobweb, she still manages to feed her children. They wait, somewhere unseen and protected. She walks towards the center. She lays down. She wraps herself up with her own string. Once she is completely covered, the way she would bind a fly, she taps on her web. She taps a signal designed to tell the children that there is game. The tinny little children come running. They need to feed this night or they won’t survive. They come to the mother and they begin to devour her, not knowing it is their mother. Thinking it is just an insect, just another nurturing bundle, they open her up. They go inside her belly and eat her from the inside out, devouring her completely.

Her sacrifice allows the children to grow into adulthood, to live one more night so they can go and hunt. So they can go and have other little children who would devour their mother.

Mama spider. Mama spider.

Weaving and forming. Teaching and feeding.

Out of your bowels we ate.

Out of your spirit we grew;

to hunt one more day,

and tomorrow.

So was the spirit of my mother, even when I did not see her.

From the depth of her corpse, I grew and came out.

The ladies of fate always seemed to be weaving a strange web around my mother: strange happenings, magical, astonishing and weird. A teacher in a school for poor children, she took it upon herself to help a child who reminded her of my younger brother. She didn’t know why she felt compelled to take him under her wing, to buy him a pair of shoes, to bring groceries to his mother. It was pure compassion, or motherly love springing from unknown currents in her soul. She wanted to take care of him and protect him. She brought this little boy to play with us. We took an instant liking to him. I took him outside to play soccer, to meet my friends, to talk, to be one of us. With his confused eyes full of wonderment and restrained joy, this boy joined us for a moment in our lives. A few months later he disappeared from our lives. He became a ghost, a shadow, a memory––like so many people in El Salvador, never knowing why, where, or when they went.

Years later, my father was in exile. Death squads came after him, and he managed to escape. One day, my mother was coming out of the school for rich kids where she was also teaching (she always worked at a rich school for the money, and at a poor school for the government pension). She was about to get into her car, when two cars with tinted windows blocked her in front and behind, and men with dark glasses came to her with even darker motives. They told her, “Ma’am, you’re coming with us.”

Those simple words filled her spine with a chill. She knew what was coming next. She knew. She could almost experience the ride in the back of their car. She could almost feel the boots on her face. She could predict the raping and the flame. She knew the cutting of the nipples. She knew the breaking of the teeth. She knew of the brutal interrogation of “Where is he?,” “What else do you know?,” and “Where are the others?” She knew the longing for death. She knew it was all coming to an end. She knew what followed. That time line was flowing right in front of her, and she was just about to be carried away in its current.

Her body paralyzed, she couldn’t move. It was just the coldness of certain death for her. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t react.

She only could say, “Me?”

“Yes ma’am, you’re coming with us now.”

Once again she repeated, “Me?” and the “Come with us” was the only answer, with a hand grabbing her by one arm, leading her to a sequence of events that were long ago written, and nothing at this moment––nothing, no one––could come to her rescue.

She was in that space where we found ourselves so many times in that jungle, when reality had become so hard, so heavy, that no escape is possible. No light, no hope, no brilliance seemed to exist, just the pulling into heavy hardness. This was the harshness of reality. And here she was, knowing that all she could do now was to follow this thread.

At this moment, at this exact moment, the driver of the car in front comes out. Dark glasses. From some remote whisper of awareness, she felt she recognized him. One day, a year or two before this, she went to the house of the little boy she had taken under her nurturing love–because he looked like my brother perhaps, or compelled by unknown oceanic depths. She had come to see the mother of the little boy that day, a year or two ago. She brought the child’s mother some food, shoes, shirts, love and compassion. When she was leaving, the father was approaching the house. The father of the illegitimate boy, in a suit and dark glasses said to her “Ma’am, I know what you’ve been doing for my son and I want to thank you for everything. For the love you’ve given him.” It was a brief encounter. She left. He went. And here he was now, again, same dark glasses and suit, driving a car for men of money and death, looking at the woman that was about to die under torture. There he was, telling the other men: “That’s not her. We’ve got the wrong one. Lets go.”

They left, and the specter of death vanished, and the lightness of being filled the flesh of my mother; tears coming out, of pain and joy; but more than anything, tears for having recognized the silver and red threads of the tapestry being woven by fortune.

And, as she tells the tale, the magic of the Kindly Ladies becomes entrenched in our consciousness, and our words. And so the mother spider weaves a thread. A chance meeting one day, a voice heard another day… moving… changing… Creating a knot here, a thread there. And so it went, this tapestry of light. My mother, always silent; always absent; always inside her cocoon of happenings; always surrounding us as we devoured her. Always giving. Always threading. Whispering. Silent. But providing the legs and the thread and the moving.

 

http://thetelling.libsyn.com/the-kindly-ladies-mama-spiders-invisible-story

 

Juancito

How I loved coming out of my house in Zacamil at the hour of dusk to the calm of the setting sun and the illuminated volcano towering over the rooftops of the rows of small houses of many colors competing with the colors of the sky—a competition destined to fade into the dark starry sky without a winner. How I loved sitting near the almond tree with its big green leaves that seemed to dole out their night dew slowly and steadily throughout the night, and talking to Juancito and the small cadre of friends who congregated to laugh and marvel as the stars blinked at us and shared the mantle of mystery that kept them cozy and distinct above.

There was Juancito, my older next door neighbor, with a name that fits his loving gentle light that poured though a face that seemed as smart as it was bright with idealistic youth, a round face with thin lips and wide almond eyes that smiled easily. He must have been 17 and I 10, and the others came and went through many evenings of what my older brother called bullshit conversations—useless and devoid of the adrenal flavor of fútbol

“Juancito” was previously published in this anthology.

and fights, of fashion and girls. Far removed from the expectations of our age and situation, we talked and marveled about the nature of the stars, the silent unknown around us, science, history, and the heart of humanity. We delved into topics that to this day grip my heart of hearts. Juancito shared with us his marvel for life, his hopes for a world free and true, his vision of a human race mature and just, and his enthusiasm for science and the future.

 

I was alone with him one night, leaning against my father’s car in the parking lot above the row of houses of our neighborhood, after the other friends congregated around “El Chele” Medrano, the feared dad of a pretty girl who had been my playmate since I was 3, to hear him speak of sex and whores and why Jesus really sweated blood with Mary Magdalene in the desert. Juancito and I stayed apart, pondering hard on the infinite nature of the universe and the relentless nature of its laws, and came to that point where the mind wakes up into a sense of timelessness and ceases to be his mind or my mind, and it becomes a book of ideas that said that, out of the infinite number of solar systems, there had to be others with life like ours, or even life unlike ours but conscious and alive. The mind speculated that any mind which wakes up to the realization of its universality would wonder, perhaps at that very moment, if there was perhaps another mind pondering the same question about the existence of other minds like this one that is thinking right now; and just like that, we looked up to the night sky and realized that, at this very fleetingly eternal moment, another child like Juancito and me was looking up towards the infinite space above him and wondered about us. The mind who wonders seemed to breach the dark gulf separating one from another, and there was just the wonderment of having, for a moment, touched another.

After this and other conversations of religion, politics, philosophy and things, life took over, and I lived the life for me, and he went on to his revolutionary calling. I overheard once that conversation when his aunt, the nurse, the one who took him in her home and once saved me from the toys I had shoved into my nose to see how far my hole went. It was that conversation where the mother figure tells him to be careful, that he is taking too many risks, that he could end up dead or tortured, that he should study and prepare himself for a good future and a good family, that he is smart and good and therefore must not throw everything away, that “be careful and think of us who love you and will miss you,” and that the revolution he is struggling for will never happen and is all a farce and everyone is for himself and more good can be done by staying in school and raising a family. Yes, I heard that conversation, and I heard his response, loving and kind as when he talked to me, and just as full of splendor were his words when he told his aunt that what we are doing, this our thing, is not for us, that we will never see the benefits of our work, that it was for the future of humanity and that others in distant times will live the life that is right and just and good. This is not for me, not for us. It is for the future of humanity.

That was the last I heard of him. Juancito became a “disappeared”—a victim of a repressive paramilitary government for whom Juancito was a terrorist, a public enemy, the disease of the world coming from outside to disrupt their world of possessions and private wealth and the rule of arms. Juancito disappeared and was never, ever found. His happy, tender voice full of hope and smiles was never heard again.

There is a silent void where you used to be. I called you “Juancito” when you were older than me, and I call you “Juancito” now that I am older and you are still a very young man. It hurts, Juancito, to know you gone, to intuit you tortured and killed. I have kept our talks in my most intimate abode, and once in a while I look across the gulf of time and space and I see your face looking up into my eyes with a wide-eyed child next to you, wondering if I see you and if I am also thinking about you and know that there is another out there in this limitless, free, and revolutionary vastness.

 

Click here to watch Koyote read “Juancito”