By Efraín Bartolomé

Translated by Kevin Brown

from Issue 20: Landmarks


 

5 JANUARY1

7:41 People look out apprehensively at the street.

The soldiers posted at the school signal that nobody should pass by, and begin rapid mobilizations.

Some women run.

My sister and my wife see them coming.

“Where do we go, for godsakes?”

We open the door for them, and they come in.

People run toward their houses slathered, almost, against the wall.

A man, a boy, two women run passing by.

“So, we better forget about breakfast.”

A plane flies over.

Six Army trucks come up, empty.

The situation calms down a bit.

The women leave.

7:55 No soldiers are seen at town hall, nor at the pharmacy, nor at the Bodas de Plata hotel, but they do seem to be at the Hotel Central.

The ones at the school signal that people can now pass.

Dora goes to the tortilla shop.

8:10 There the soldiers are, atop town hall.

One of them folds a reddish quilt.

8:20 Dora returns.

Reports that they buried Lupe Cabrera in the backyard of his house, because going to the cemetery was physically impossible.

Reports that la Chela, a woman who worked many years for our family, since back in my great-grandmother’s day, laughed on hearing the shoot-out: “It was worse during the revolution.”

8:28 Helicopters. The woman from the corner restaurant went all the way to the marketplace: the corpses are still there. “They’re bloated now.”

I join a group that’s conversing on the corner.

They report that only two people could get to the cemetery for burying Raymundo.

They say Alfonso Cruz is wounded.

Let’s hope to God that’s not true.

The remark alarms us a little.

We agreed to meet him day after tomorrow in Toniná.2

9:35 The use of white flags has become widespread.

The streets are embellished with little flags waving.

Some they’ve made from paper.

Others from plastic bags.

Anyway, the street looks pretty with the white fabrics.

The river of banners is swirling around the tortilla shop.

Lots of soldiers leave the school. They clear it already?

An Army ambulance comes down the street.

The driver and his partner.

Both armed.

10:10 My wife and I decide to go down, a bit apprehensively, to the town center. Arístides and his son will go with us.

Elías Penagos offers us a flag.

10:12 We pass between young and tired soldiers, unrecognizably affable.

The park, deserted, reveals the same disorder from day 2.

We arrive at the church.

Approach the corner that leads down toward the marketplace.

There’re tons of people looking around, in a strange pageant of astonished, pallid facial expressions.

Everyone’s whispering.

So much clothing lying around!

Mismatched garments, bits of fabric, blood stains, broken cables, bullet-ridden houses.

Three bullet-riddled stores: Commercial Hardware, Nichim Agroveterinary, Flores Shoe Shop.

“The guerrillas put up quite a fight here. In these stores and in the empty houses,” says a man in a group contemplating the hundreds of bullet holes, of every caliber, upon these perforated walls.

I hear hushed voices.

Gaze upon the multicolored mess.

Scattered clothing.

Water gushes from broken tanks and runs out into the street.

I linger over that sensation: the sound of running water amid human babbling.

I look at the water tanks perforated by bullets.

The man continues recounting that a gentleman, don Amílcar, confronted the guerrillas from here.

“He was firing shots at them all by himself. And those bastards against him. Till he ran out of ammo, which lasted him only a little while, and he fled through the back yards. He took off running. Who knows where he is, but they didn’t catch him. One thing’s for sure: they busted into his house and destroyed everything. They stayed there. From there they were firing upon the soldiers. And the soldiers upon them, till they drove the guerrillas out. There was a double shoot-out. That’s why the house ended up like that.”

I listen and take notes.

My wife has gone on ahead, taking pictures.

A boy displays his collection of shell casings.

There’re tons of people.

Broken cabling from XEOCH radio:3 a tremendous tangle.

You can smell the stench.

I watch the vultures’ flight.

Lots of rubber boots in a pick-up truck.

The foul odor increases.

We arrive at the marketplace.

A passageway: the multicolored mess: small display tables, pieces of blue, black, orange, red plastic; half-empty soda bottles; bed mats and cartons, all over the floor.

Three tennis shoes.

Pineapple leaves.

A young man, shirtless, dead in a pool of blood.

A dog noses around the blood.

A boot nearby.

People cover their noses, and scare the dog away.

Flies and nausea.

There, further ahead, another body.

I go out and make my way to the corner, toward the local market.

The local market: two rows of cement stalls, where the rebels fortified themselves.

They’d have seemed perfect as trenches.

There’s subdued grief on the faces of the people gazing on.

A kind of anguish in their curiosity.

Jackets on the ground.

A wooden rifle, crudely carved, with a piece of hose in the barrel to simulate a muzzle, and a piece of wire rod inside the hose.

More rifles, almost identical.

Lots of rifles.

More or less primitive, but all made of sticks.

Some with oil paint.

Others with tar or shoe polish.

Clothes, pouches with blankets, ropes, backpacks.

The stench increases.

Two dead youngsters, bloating up amid their backpacks, in their black and brown uniforms, with their rubber boots on.

More clothes: brightly-colored shirts.

Tin cups.

A flash light in one of the dead people’s hand.

A stack of bean tortillas.

Plastic bags of pinole.4

Balls of pozol falling out of a backpack that reads RAM ARMY.5

Little plastic bags.

Fifteen feet away from these dead bodies a man opened his stall: took the lock off the storage unit beneath the concrete slab, took out the merchandise, and is selling tomatoes, avocados and potatoes.

And people are buying, because groceries are in short supply.

You can barely walk amid all the stuff lying around.

A bag of Maria cookies and a heap of white tostadas fall from one of the pouches.6

Another dead body.

And another, two stalls away.

And the pile of stuff extends for 50 yards, between the two rows of stalls at this zinc-roofed local market, which boasts the name of former governor González Garrido’s wife.

10:35 Nine helicopters are thumping in the sky.

And on the ground these sardine cans, this barricade of blocks.

And more backpacks, more pozol, more Rayovac batteries, more yellow plastic canteens.

And a stick with a knife at the tip.

And blue-corn tortillas.

Behind the barricade there’s a black briefcase, with bank notes and lots of coins, from back in the old days, which onlookers want to take their chances with.

A cartridge belt, hand made, sewn with a tarp needle, with bullet hoops made from hard plastic.

A man in a yellow T-shirt speaks: “The head honchos left in three trucks, around twelve o’clock. Down there, toward the jungle . . . here’s where they left about 300 of the most fucked up guerillas here. Just for cannon fodder.”

This man’s peace flag is a little white T-shirt, a child’s.

More wooden rifles, carved with a machete.

Here these young bodies remained, as if positioned for sacrifice.

A handle, hard, as if made of sapodilla wood, with a machete tip: this certainly makes an impression: it’s gracefully made, with great care; a solid and terrifying weapon if you were fighting hand to hand.

But . . . what can this handicraft piece do in the face of end-of-century artillery?

I continue forward amid cans of chili peppers, boots and boots and boots and tortillas and plastic.

I cross the street: there’s a man doubled over, dead underneath the wooden stall on the corner.

Among the things scattered about I see a Mauser bayonet from the days of the Mexican Revolution, rusty, detached, with a cord at one end, as if it had been tied to a stick.

And more jackets and jackets and jackets and tin cans and checkered shirts and poor little backpacks and boy’s-sized machete sheathes and a box of Abuelita chocolates with the bars scattered all over the ground.

I imagine these youngsters sewing their cartridge belts of green burlap in a sunny corner of the jungle, under tall trees, on the bank of streams, near the Jataté River, beside their cornfields or on their coffee plantations, following the precise instructions of some guerrilla trainer, most likely urban, most assuredly college-educated, who wants to impose on us, by force of arms, la furiosa esperanza.7

Can one world view be worth a single human life?

A single life which may well be our own?

Be worth the life of this youth with black eyebrows and barely visible peach fuzz, black cheeks, and white teeth in his open mouth where now I see flies, and where maggots are beginning to squirm?

Here he remained, beside his stick rifle which has a small leather pouch so it can be carried.

Beside his backpack and his flash light.

Beside his red bandana and a pack of cigarettes, also red.

And the grim politicians will come spouting their rhetorical language: better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

Pure fraud, one voice will respond.

False dichotomy.

The poet will say, better to live on your feet.

And being on your feet all the time is exhausting.

Sometimes you’re dying to sit down on a rock.

Or on a chair.

Or on a log.

Or to lie down on a bed.

Or on the ground upon the sedge.

And why not: it also makes sense to get down on one’s knees to kiss the thighs of the woman one loves.

Or to honor, each, his god.

And I find myself with my glasses all fogged up, about to cry like a little girl, as Sabines said.8

And my wife now goes on very far ahead, and I have to catch up to her.

10:55 A man asks for help taking an unexploded grenade out of his house. His name’s Moisés Trujillo Morales. They introduce us and he informs me he was my brother Edgar’s elementary school classmate.

He knows our family well, and we’re pleased to meet him.

He introduces us to his son.

Is very worried because “that thing fell in his back yard. And there are family members around.”

10:57 This is the manhole they escaped through. There’s hardly room for one man but it’s miraculously positioned here: allows for crossing the street without being seen and one can follow along the stream bed (here it’s now waste water) and reach the open field, the big river, the hill, and salvation.

Arístides’ young son calls us over to a recently plastered construction site.

Still has no floor: there’s leftover framework and mortar on the unlevel ground.

We peek inside: a naked corpse, with its eyes half open, upon a framework table.

There’s a jar of Nescafé, a big bag of cement mix, a container of juice.

And on the recently plastered wall, like a brutal red refulgence three feet long, the splattered blood.

We walk about this outer ring of recent construction.

In the small gullies that skirt the street, there’s a long series of holes; niches in which a squatting man can fit, like defenses, like small trenches where the rebels took cover, from here all the way to the marketplace.

There’re more than a hundred similar niches: the majority are shaped just for the body on the tall grass.

We arrive at don Enrique Solórzano’s house: five burned cars (only the blackened frames remain) and two more autos with bullet-ridden glass.

Behind the broken windows you can see the disorder, the destruction.

There’re six dead bodies at the street entrance, bloated, as if about to burst.

Black with decomposition.

There’s one with a cap on, his face completely blackened, his red bandana tied at the neck, the heavy-duty brown shirt over a blue T-shirt with white buttons, the pants black and the boots yellow, shiny, new.

“He’d just stolen them from Calzamoda,” an onlooker says.

There’s a big blood stain on his left knee.

He’s got one arm raised, bent, with three fingers cocked and the index finger pointing at his head, like an expressive gesture.

And that face of such intense blackness.

He probably died face down.

Gravity collected the blood in his face and, long afterward, they turned him over.

This would explain that gangrene blackness.

Yet another: half his face was destroyed; isn’t there, doesn’t exist; in that half hollowed-out as if with a big spoon, the color white contrasts with the intense black of the other part.

At ten yards, the face in black and white seems like a harlequin.

At five yards you can discern the cavity, the missing half, extremely white.

From here, a yard away, the white seems to be roiling.

And is roiling.

It’s a bunch of maggots.

And this slow worm all along the soul .9

More batteries close to the dead bodies.

Boxes of matches

I stop to look at that hand-made holster, those heaps of plastic, those jumbles of clothing, that slew of medications spilling out of a small backpack, those boy’s-size machetes.

Rifle cases, also hand-made.

And here, very near the dead bodies, extremely scrawny, the feet sticking up, the sharp beak, the long tail feathers, the plumage exceptionally black in the dust: a dead crow.

A bullet stopped it in flight.

“Injun and raven, the law demands its life be taken,” a racist refrain from the not too distant past used to go.

We take the road that leads to the cattle-breeders’ association: very bullet-ridden but not burnt: at least not the building, nor the thatched roof: just furniture, saddles, ropes, stationery.

Sad calm.

We make our way toward the cemetery and toward the IMSS clinic.10

The death stench follows.

We pass by don Uvelio Rosales’ house.

Indeed, they killed him: there’s the black mourning cloth, on the pink wall of his house.

We express our condolences to his oldest son.

He tells us:

“The shot entered his back and came out his chest. A bullet hole this big. When we went to seek help burying him, the soldiers detained us. They herded us into a truck, blindfolded us, took us up there by the highway and put us face down on the ground. Me, I showed my driver license but, rotten luck!, they find a damn quetzal on me,11 one of those little souvenirs they give you when you travel. You’re Guatemalan, you bastard!, they were telling me. No, here’s my driver license, you can ask my boss, we were going to ask for help burying my father because they killed him. And they didn’t believe me. My little brother, they made him sing the national anthem, good thing he didn’t forget it from nervousness! That way, they let us go. We buried my father here in the yard. Since my brother-in-law’s a carpenter, he made the coffin. We’ll see whether or not they want us to dig him up later.”

And Jesús Rosales continues:

“They killed Lampo Trujillo, too. Well, he was a little bit sick in the head. Since he really liked to sing, he used to come often. That night he was here keeping vigil over my father, all by himself. He left late, seems he was going to stay over at don Enrique Escandón’s house. But, as he was passing the cemetery gate, they put a bullet in him. There he lay. The guy they used to call el Chesco, they killed him too. El Chémber’s son-in-law.12 Him they got for running over to his nephew’s house to bum a cigarette. He died of a bad habit.”

We say goodbye.

Continue walking.

A gentleman comes along from Pequeñeces, aunt Julia uncle José Trujillo’s once beautiful ranch, later inherited by Chus, dead a few years since.

The man comes with his buddy.

They tell us that a guerrilla girl entered their house.

She changed clothes and told them that she had to get to Pamalá.

That in Patihuitz and Campo Alegre 2,000 guerrillas are gathered, ready to retake the town.

His buddy speaks:

“I have a truck and make trips down that way. Yesterday, the guerrillas took my truck from me in San Quintín. I came on foot all the way from down there. Those bastards won’t be long now. We want to warn the feds, because those guys said they’re coming in for the kill.”

The men go downtown.

We continue toward the cemetery.

Pass by the house where Chesco’s blood still remains.

On arriving almost at the bridge over the little creek situated just before the burial ground, they show us a hole in the pavement: a hole the size of a small plate.

“A bomb fell here,” the kid showing it to us says.

“Must have been a grenade,” Arístides says.

We’re looking at this when a gentleman comes out his door asking us if we’re reporters.

Me they see writing, and Guadalupe with her camera.

We make it clear to him that no, we’re not reporters, just private citizens.

Introduce ourselves.

He invites us to see the state his house was left in.

We enter the patio.

He’s a schoolteacher and also a gas distributor in town.

Shows us a truck with tanks full of gas.

Next a Nissan wagon, to the right of a Volkswagen.

Four paces ahead the hole from another grenade, in the center of the patio.

It’s just like the one from the street.

But its violent aftermath is here, on one side of the wagon: we can see the four flat tires, and we count 34 perfectly visible holes.

“The wagon saved us. If it wasn’t here, all the shrapnel hits the truck. And once the gas exploded, this would’ve been hell.”

I see the fanning out of holes on the Nissan’s doors.

Think of a falling honeycomb: on impact the wasps fly out.

So with the grenade: it falls and lets fly its lethal red wasps.

Some flew high: pierced the truck’s exhaust pipes, above the tanks of gas.

The Volkswagen also reveals holes.

The idea quickly occurs that the grenade could have fallen between the vehicles and the house. . . .

I approach the truck: It’s tires are punctured, too!

We go out.

Jorge the schoolteacher shows us his metal entry gate: a bullet pierced a tube.

We arrive at the cemetery. Four trucks full of soldiers go down the beltway. Toward the southeastern ranches. Toward Toniná.

The cemetery manager appears: his name’s Genaro.

Says they buried ten in a mass grave.

“Since they couldn’t get in over here, they opened up a hole in the wall on that side. The hole’s still there.”

The soldiers.

Another grenade fell here: a cement peephole.

Lupe Pimienta lives next to the cemetery; she’s Arístides’ godmother.

They greet and she reports.

The soldiers made the hole.

“Because guerrillas were shooting over here.”

And she points to a house opposite the cemetery: there’s a trench of blocks on the roof.

Suddenly the street seems to have emptied.

No one’s there.

We want to reach the clinic, 50 yards away, but nobody’s there.

And farther along, nobody.

We return with a strange feeling.

12:05 Back at the corner; we head straight to the church.

We see, now, a few people.

We get within two blocks of the plaza.

On the corner, at Jorge Ordóñez’ house, we run into Antonino and Armando Cruz, Alfonso’s relatives: cousin and brother, respectively.

–What happened to Alfonso? –we ask– Is it true he’s injured?

Antonino shakes his head.

His eyes are filling with tears.

–He left us. Today at 6:20 in the morning.

Armando leaves Jorge’s house.

Condolences.

Heartache.

The field hands, ranchers with sunburnt skin and rough hands, shed their manly tears.

Now, day after tomorrow, we won’t see Alfonso in Toniná.

Never again.

Someone says, in the street, that the General Prosecutor’s Office arrived.13 The Federal Judicial Police.

12:28 We’ve returned home.

Before that, we stopped by to express our condolences to Alfonso’s parents.

There, in the living room, the casket surrounded by four votive candles and flowers.

The mother cries, inconsolable.

There’s worry and heartache.

Where to bury him?

Paperwork needs to be done, and there are no authorities in town.

Not even the mayor peeks his head in. “He’s hiding beneath his wife’s skirt,” somebody said, a while back, in the marketplace: when people were showing concern because the corpses haven’t been collected and an epidemic can break out.

Alfonso leaves behind a widow and children.

Last year he was very happy with his ranch’s thatch roof.

Had a small restaurant for the tourists that visit Toniná.

The archaeological site is located in the vicinity of his ranch.

That’s why he and Antonino were working as caretakers of the site, employed by the INAH.14

We’ve returned home through empty streets.

We would stop at every corner, take out the white flag, wave it around, then move on.

The air charged by high tension.

13:25 I’m writing in the garden.

Beneath the daggers of light slashing through the foliage.

A dazzling yellow bird atop a medlar tree: three yards away from me.

But it still reeks of death.

And there’s no water.

And I have a strong urge to cry.

I go up to the bedroom.

My wife comes in.

Hugs me and cries intensely for several minutes.

Her crying gives me strength: protecting her breaks through my defenselessness.

I think of ranchers’ hands, owners and workers: hands like earth, full of cracks, of tough calluses, accustomed to the machete, to the long hoe, to the pickax, to the hatchet; to making support beams, to driving fence posts, to gathering bundles of firewood, to splitting ocote pine; to planting cornfields, beans, squash, chili peppers; hands almost animal: more human for that very reason.

And I think about the well-groomed hands of the declarers, the signers of manifestos, of the innumerable lackeys.

14:43 Two military planes scissor through the sky.

15:21 Three helicopters, two camouflaged and one white, land in INI territory.15

The sun lights up the deserted town.

15:56 I go out to take the sad sun on the upper patio: cold sun.

16:05 A gunshot, more or less nearby, over by the highway.

16:52 I think about the little backpacks of green sackcloth, sewn with crude stitching.

And about the scabs, the puddles, the lines of dried blood, the dark color of the corpses.

I think about the naked man, with his eyes open, on the plank full of dried mortar, with his halo of blood, at the construction site.

17:53 A lazy afternoon goes by.

Icy air, even though there’s sun.

Not a soul in the street.

The notebook, the ink pen, my urge to keep on writing, have all run out.

19:23 I backslide: Edgar treats me to a new notebook.

Three bombshells to the southeast.

The afternoon passed by in a tense atmosphere, beneath the splendidly blue sky.

The family’s afraid.

My wife’s been crying.

There’s fear, grief, profound sadness.

Anxiety must be calling upon my children, although I warned them the telephone could be cut off.

The two Pablos are thinking of leaving for Palenque tomorrow, but aunt Maga doesn’t want to.

It’s a bit risky, but the Red Cross has extended a bridge of protection for those who want to skip town.

The route they think of taking to get to San Cristóbal is Palenque-Teapa-Pichucalco-La Tijera-San Cristóbal.

Lots of people will be leaving.

Especially those who came to spend the holidays with their family.

But many people will be taking their families with them.

My parents flat out reject the idea of leaving.

“This is our home and if it’s our fate to die here, well so be it,” my mother pronounced a while ago, at the suggestion of going to San Cristóbal or to Mexico City.

She’s right.

And she’s passionate.

We’ll stay here.

The silence we perceived on returning from the cemetery was not unreal: news of the 2,000 guerrillas in Patihuitz, Pamalá and Campo Alegre had spread all over town.

That must have been why people disappeared from the streets.

At this point, I can say we were scared at the cemetery, faced with the suddenly deserted scene.

A while ago a man passed through the street and said the dead bodies were now gathered up.

Dora and her family will once again sleep here.

Her house is up the way, across the palm tree patio.

It wasn’t just me: the wind is carrying, at times, gusts of death stench.

Night has fallen.

Once again there are stars.

Very cold.

23:15 An image has haunted me: when day is done, at the markets a great quantity of garbage remains amid the stalls: spoilage of lettuce, cabbage, carrots, radishes, fruit, rotten or bruised tomatoes, leafy greens with yellowish or brown spots. That’s how the local market looked at a distance of 50 yards. Closer to, the image became clearer in such a way as to perturb soul: they were human bodies, bloody remains, broken bodies, black boots, green pants, little brown sweaters, dried blood, pools with black parts and deep red blood clots.

And that smell of slaughter that had attracted flies, dogs, vultures.

And reporters who will belch forth carrion tomorrow.

 


1 On Wednesday, in another Chiapas village, outraged townspeople ambush, bind and beat six rebel fighters, eventually turning them over to the Mexican Army. The road from Ocosingo to the Chiapas state capital is blocked off. 5,000 army soldiers in tanks and other armored vehicles converge on San Cristóbal, engaging EZLN forces with planes and helicopters along the highway that leads to Ocosingo. The Mexican Army recaptures Ocosingo, including the radio station. EZLN forces continue firing on federal troops.

2 Toniná is a pre-Columbian archaeological site and ruined city of the Maya civilization located . . . some 13 km (8.1 mi) east of the town of Ocosingo. . . . Toniná is located at an altitude of 2,600 to 3,000 ft. above sea level in the Chiapas highlands of southern Mexico, some 40 miles south of the contemporary Maya city of Palenque, Toniná’s greatest rival throughout its recorded history.

3 XEOCH-AM es una estación de radio localizada en Ocosingo, Chiapas, México. . . . Se identifica como K’in Radio. K’in en lengua tzeltal significa “fiesta”. Forma parte del grupo de radiodifusoras del Sistema Chiapaneco de Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía.

4 Pinole is a Spanish translation of an Aztec word for a coarse flour made from ground toasted maize kernels, often in a mixture with a variety of herbs and ground seeds, which can be eaten by itself or be used as the base for a beverage. In southeastern Mexico and in Central America this food and beverage is known as pinol or pinolillo, considered the national beverage of Nicaragua.

5 «Pozol», in Chiapas, is the name given to a refreshing drink made from corn meal dissolved in water and seasoned with salt and green chilies. It is served cold, and is very much appreciated at midday when the heat is oppressive.

6 There is a type of cookie in México called the “Maria” or collectively “Galletas Marías” that is almost considered to be a staple in the Mexican diet. The first solid food that Mexican babies eat is often a Galleta María dipped in milk.

7 Reference to Cuban poet Heberto Padilla’s poem “Sobre los heroes,” from his prize-winning collection Fuera del juego (Out of the Game). At once celebrated and castigated, Padilla was imprisoned by Fidel Castro’s State Security forces in 1971. Sages, Padilla wrote, “Modifican a su modo el terror/Y al final nos imponen/la furiosa esperanza” (Fuera del juego 25) (“Modify terror in their own way/ and at last impose upon us/furious hope”).

8 Jaime Sabines Gutiérrez (March 25, 1926 – March 19, 1999) was a Mexican contemporary poet. Known as “the sniper of Literature”, as he formed part of a group that transformed literature into reality, he wrote ten volumes of poetry, and his work has been translated into more than twelve languages. His writings chronicle the experience of everyday people in places such as the street, hospital, and playground. . . . [I]n 1995, his selected poems, Pieces of Shadow (trans. W.S. Merwin), was brought out in a bilingual edition by Papeles Privados; and in 2004 Exile Editions (Toronto, Canada) published a bilingual volume of three early Sabines books, Adam and Eve & Weekly Diary and Poems in Prose (trans. Colin Carberry). Octavio Paz considered him “one of the greatest contemporary poets of . . . [the Spanish] language.”

9 Reference to the Jaime Sabines poem “Algo sobre la muerte del Mayor Sabines”.

10 Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social=Mexican Social Security Institute.

11 quetzal, a Guatemalan monetary unit

12 Author’s note: “El Chémber” . . . es el nombre familiar de alguien llamado “Rosemberg”.

13 The Attorney General of Mexico (Procurador General de la República), head of the Office of the General Prosecutor (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and the Federal Public Ministry (Ministerio Público de la Federación), an institution belonging to the Federal Government’s executive branch that is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes.

14 Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History) is a Mexican federal government bureau established in 1939 to guarantee the research, preservation, protection, and promotion of the prehistoric, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and paleontological heritage of Mexico.

15 Instituto Nacional Indigenista (INI), Mexico’s (defunct) government agency for indigenous people.


Efraín Bartolomé work is featured in the major anthologies of his generation, and his poems have been translated into ten languages. He received the 1998 Chiapas Arts Prize, the highest honor the Chiapas State Government grants its artists.

Kevin Brown’s writing has appeared widely, including in the Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, the Threepenny Review, and the Washington Post Bookworld. Excerpts from his ongoing translation into English of Efraín Bartolomé’s Ocosingo War Diary have appeared in Asymptote, The Brooklyn Rail, eXchanges, and Metamorphoses. Calypso Editions will publish the complete translation in 2014.

Original text: Efraín Bartolomé, Ocosingo: diario de guerra y algunas voces. Mexico City: Editorial Joaquin Mortiz, 1995.

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