4 abr. 2009

Se equivoca el fuego / The fire blunders

It's quite probable that one of the reasons why Eduardo Galeano will be visiting Mani during his literary tour in Yucatan has to do with this wonderful piece he wrote years ago in his book “Memoria del Fuego” Los nacimientos (named Genesis in its English edition). When I come to think about how I first got in contact with Galeano's writing style, this immediately springs to mind as the first text that I ever read of him.


Mani has become a symbol for those involved in the defence and continuation of the legacy of the Maya people. This is where a vast amount of the literature, science and art of the Post-Classic Maya was destroyed and it remains as a scar in the historic memory of Yucatan.


These days Mani is however a place where one of the most interesting and innovative attempts at renewing and transforming the lives of the Maya is happening. This is precisely the Escuela de Agricultura Ecologica "U Yits Ka'an", where Galeano will be speaking to Maya and other Yucatecans about literature, politics and history.
Here I present you with the text, first in Spanish, and then in English.
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1562
Maní
Se equivoca el fuego

Fray Diego de Landa arroja a las llamas, uno tras otro, los libros de los mayas.

El inquisidor maldice a Satanás y el fuego crepita y devora. Alrededor del quemadero, los herejes aúllan cabeza abajo. Colgados de los pies, desollados a latigazos, los indios reciben baños de cera hirviente mientras crecen las llamaradas y crujen los libros, como quejándose.

Esta noche se convierten en cenizas ocho siglos de literatura maya. En estos largos pliegos de papel de corteza, hablaban los signos y las imágenes: contaban los trabajos y los días, los sueños y las guerras de un pueblo nacido antes que Cristo. Con pinceles de cerdas de Jabalí, los sabedores de cosas habían pintado estos libros alumbrados, alumbradores, para que los nietos de los nietos no fueran ciegos y supieran verse y ver la historia de los suyos, para que conocieran el movimiento de las estrellas, la frecuencia de los eclipses y las profecías de los dioses, y para que pudieran llamar a las lluvias y a las buenas cosechas de maíz.

Al centro, el inquisidor quema los libros. En torno de la hoguera inmensa, castiga a los lectores. Mientras tanto, los autores, artistas-sacerdotes muertos hace años o hace siglos, beben chocolate a la fresca sombra del primer árbol del mundo. Ellos están en paz, porque han muerto sabiendo que la memoria no se incendia. ¿Acaso no se cantará y se danzará, por los tiempos de los tiempos, lo que ellos habían pintado?

Cuando le queman sus casitas de papel, la memoria encuentra refugio en las bocas que cantan las glorias de los hombres y los dioses, cantares que de gente en gente quedan, y en los cuerpos que danzan al son de los troncos huecos, los caparazones de tortuga y las flautas de caña.

The Fire Blunders

Fray Diego de Landa throws into the flames, one after the other, the books of the Mayas.

The inquisitor curses Satan, and the fire crackles and devours. Around the incinerator, heretics howl with their heads down. Hung by the feet, flayed with whips, Indians are doused with boiling wax as the fire flares up and the books snap, as if complaining.

Tonight, eight centuries of Mayan literature turn to ashes. On those long sheets of bark paper, signs and images spoke: They told of work done and days spent, of the dreams and the wars of a people before Christ. With hog-bristle brushes, the knowers of things had painted these illuminated, illuminating books so that the grandchildren’s grandchildren should not be blind, should know how to see themselves and see the history of their folk, so they should know the movements of the stars, the frequency of eclipses and prophecies of the gods and so they could call for rains and good corn harvests.

In the center, the inquisitor burns the books. Around the huge bonfire, he chastises the readers. Meanwhile, the authors, artist-priests dead years or centuries ago, drink chocolate in the fresh shade of the first tree of the world. They are at peace, because they died knowing that memory cannot be burned. Will not what they painted be sung and danced through the times of the times?

When its little paper houses are burned, memory finds refuge in mouths that sing the glories of men and of gods, songs that stay on from people to people and in bodies that dance to the sound of hollow trunks, tortoise shells, and reed flutes.
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1 abr. 2009

Galeano en Yucatán

Eduardo Galeano, periodista y escritor uruguayo, nació en Montevideo en 1940. Fue Jefe de redacción del semanario "Marcha" y Director del diario "Época", y en Buenos Aires dirigió la revista "Crisis". A raíz de la dictadura militar uruguaya, desde 1973 vivió exiliado en Argentina y en la costa catalana; regresó a Montevideo en 1985, donde vive hasta ahora.

"Galeano comete, sin remordimientos, la violación de las fronteras que separan los géneros literarios. A lo largo de una obra donde confluyen la narración y el ensayo, la poesía y la crónica, sus libros recogen las voces del alma y de la calle y ofrecen una síntesis de la realidad y su memoria". Galeano es un parteaguas en la historia de América Latina; los datos y las articulaciones que realiza iluminan vastas zonas escondidas y su mirada nos ofrece una perspectiva cargada de sensibilidad, de conciencia y de compromiso.

Es autor de más de 15 libros, entre ellos Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina, la trilogía Memorias del Fuego, Días y Noches de Amor y de Guerra, El Fútbol a Sol y a Sombra, El Libro de los Abrazos, La Escuela del Mundo Al Revés, Bocas del tiempo y, el más reciente, Espejos.


Para información adicional:

Pbro. Atilano Ceballos Loeza, por la Escuela de Agricultura Ecológica de Maní: 999-242-0566

Olga Moguel Pereyra, por el Foro Amaro: 999-947-8817

Texto e imagen tomados del Servicio Informativo del Equipo Indignación

31 ene. 2009

Maaya t'aano'ob (Mayan voices) in movement

While taking a break from dissertation writing I would like to comment and recommend this interesting work by a young filmaker from my hometown, Ticul. His name is Jaime Magaña Caamal and he is a member of the Turix Collective, a project of Yoochel Kaaj, a community video organization based in Merida.
In this work Jaime showcases the voices and thoughts of Oxkutzcab people with regard to international migration. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people from Oxkutzcab and its hinterland have migrated to the U.S., mainly to San Francisco and Oregon.
Some of these local voices talk of this migration as an inevitable future for their children and other young people in Oxkutzcab.
Since most of the local population make a living out of agriculture-related activities (either growing or selling local produce in the town marketplace, which is the largest agriculture centre of Yucatan outside Merida), they cannot help but being pessimistic about their economic future. Prices of agriculture and livestock products have steadily fallen since the 1990s. In spite of being Oxkutzcab the main trade centre for many rural localities of the three states of the Peninsula, it is precisely from this economically dynamic town that the majority of Maya-speaking migrants in the U.S. have originated.
The testimony of one market stallholder and citrus plot owner (2:33) is particularly telling. In Yucatec Maya, he presents his case: citrus prices are low and production costs high. That's why, he says, many people think: "It would better to go abroad if only to earn a little more" (2:58).
These voices speak too of how local professional people don't take the Maya-speaking peasants' problems seriously and how they offer them little help. That's how one Mestiza woman interprets her experience with a local doctor (3:12) who when her son got injured in the field told her with a blank face that he should take on a new job. She explains that this is the only activity that her son was qualified to do and that more support was needed, which she didn't get in the end.
An ex-migrant who worked in Oakland (3:59) comments how it was the desire of building his own house which encouraged him to migrate. Again, the Mestiza woman tells us that not all of those who go to the U.S. come back. Some of them die "on the other side". Some of those who go won't necessarily find prosperity as the man with the cowboy hat explains (4:55). And their debts would remain unpaid. The documentary finishes with a blessing and good wishes to all of those who decide to migrate in the quest for a better life.
Still pictures of Oxkutzcab, its market and its people highlight the sense of movement and dynamism of these Maaya t'aano'ob (Mayan voices).