The Deer Dancer by Gary Winters. Sunbelt Books, Pub. 184 pp. Hardcover. $16.95. ISBN: 9780916251000
I glanced toward the dock. “There they are.”
A man smoking a pipe and a dark-haired Tzotzil woman waited on the wooden planks. She stood about four feet tall, dressed in a traditional rainbow embroidered blouse with ribbons and ruffles. I poled the boat to them and they stepped aboard.
I eased into the channel. “This is Conchita.”
Marcos nodded. “Good idea to bring the women and the lemonade. Just a few friends on a little outing.” He unscrewed the cap and poured the juice into the glasses.
I let the boat drift in the placid water. “Conchita knows why we’re here.”
Marcos smiled. “My date is Comandanta Ramona of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, the General Command of the National Army of Liberation.”
Comandanta Ramona smiled at the astonished look on Conchita’s face. Conchita tried to be cool. “I watched you on television. You wore a black ski-mask when you spoke to the Chamber of Deputies.”
Ramona pressed her hand to her side. “You see only what we want to show.”
Marcos looked at me. “She has kidney cancer.”
Ramona’s dark eyes burned with pain. “The army is everywhere. They have Apache helicopters and M-16 rifles from the United States. We need LAW rocket launchers. Means Light Antitank Weapon. It can penetrate armor plating upt to three-quarters of an inch. It’s good for one shot.” She leaned back and relaxed. “Until we get them our own faces are our best disguise.”
Talk like that coming from such a delicate woman. Conchita stared at her without smiling.
Marcos held his glass up. “Salud, my friends.” He took a drink and let his shoulders drop. He turned to me, not waiting around for any more small talk. “I hear President Zorro is backing down on his pledge to investigate the sins of previous governments.”
“My meeting with him yesterday wasn’t encouraging, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to drop the investigation. He’s going to submit the truth bill to the Chamber of Deputies in September.
“I’m on the Truth Commission because I’m an Indian and the youngest member of the group. He doesn’t want it to look like the same old politicians. The problem is most of the old politicos are trying to cover the areas where they feel vulnerable instead of doing anything useful.”
Comandanta Ramona stared at me for a second. “How vulnerable did the Indians feel when they were murdered in church?”
The list of government abuses flashed through my mind. The 1968 massacre of students demonstrating for their rights in Mexico City. The leftists that disappeared in the 1970s after being taken by the army. Waste of time to go back any further into the seven-decade rule of the PRI.
My voice sounded flat. “Zorro is trying to get a citizens commission to examine some past events. He says a broad investigation wouldn’t work.”
For a moment Ramona sat still. Then she turned so she could look at us straight on. “The spokesman for the Democratic Revolution Party says, ‘There can be no transition to democracy in Mexico until those events of the past which have been hidden, are cleaned up.’ Then he goes home to a dinner party cooked by servants at his house in Las Lomas.”
Marcos frowned. “He’s called the spokesman because he can say things without saying anything.”
I drank my lemonade and lowered my head, having trouble getting the words out. “Zorro says he thinks people in Mexico are more interested in jobs, having something to eat, having their kids in school, having a health care system, and if we keep digging up the past that will never happen.”
Conchita tried to give Ramona a steady look. “The world recession is holding Mexico back. President Zorro says we should be praying to the Virgin of Guadelupe our economy will make a comeback.”
Ramona spoke to Marcos in an Indian dialect. I caught a few phrases. “In other words, he changes the subject. Look, we’re at war. In a guerilla war you hit and run. Travel light. You live with what you can carry. There’s killing, sure, but not government murder.”
Marcos didn’t say anything right away. watching boats gliding by, making light ripples on the water. “What about assassination? Executing senators the way they killed the Indians? When they’re all together in one room
“President Zorro goes to his nice office while the army chases us in the mountains. Then he tells farmers in Chiapas to change their ways. Modernize, he says, after NAFTA has forced more than six million farmers and farm workers to leave their farms.”
Marcos shook his head. “Sure, modernize while their children starve to death so agribusiness and corporations can run their empires all the way into Central America.”