fran ilich on Tue, 8 Apr 2003 17:58:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> bombs over the embassy.

Bombs over the Embassy
by Fran Ilich

What started for me and my fiancee (the mexican cyberfeminist Cindy
Flores) as a warm sunny sunday, where we didn't have any plans beyond
enjoying a viennese cofee at Café Snob (a nice family place at the
turistic Zona Rosa in Mexico City) soon became something completely

As most members of the U.S. Department of Art and Technology will
acknowledge, war has become thru the years, a simple matter of 'bussiness
as usual' for our government. So at first I thought war woudln't get in
the way of me enjoying a nice and warm sunday. But it did.

Before arriving to the Café, we stopped briefly at a newsstand to buy a
couple of magazines, as a sunday without something refreshing to read is
not a sunday. But we couldn't get that far into the magazines: no Cahiers
Du Cinema or El País Semanal, because we couldn't look past the familiar
gore tabloids wich the mexican working class loves so much. There was
blood and body parts all over: iraqi kids mutilated, people crying in
despair, meanwhile i was thinking of heading to Café Snob with my fiancee.

War was spitted at our face, and so we decided coffee was completely out
of the question. We changed direction into the embassy where we knew a
demonstration against war was scheduled.

As the appointment I was given by The Secretary, Mr. Randall M. Packer
himself, is Under Secretary for Free Cultural Distribution and the
Disintegration of Borders and Boundaries, I knew this was going to be a
sunday under official duty, something which doesnt happen often, but which
under the circumstances our staff has to endure, as our mission is to
spread art as a a weapon to break free from ignorance. Our mission has
always been freedom, and fighting for freedom has never been an easy task.
This is something every soldier knows in his heart.

Upon arriving to Paseo de la Reforma (one of the main avenues in the
cosmopolitan city of Mexico) we saw the whole crowd. Multitudes. We didn't
knew what to think, as young demonstrators, the kind which has always been
passionate, vital, engaged, where throwing stones to the Embassy of the
U.S, which fortunately was protected by a shield of metal fences and
mexican police officers in full combat suit, as is expected and customary
in such ocasions according to diplomatic relations.

I must point also to the coincidence -and i don't know if i should remark
the word coincidence- that the U.S. Embassy is right next to the statue of
the Independence Angel. I wonder if this fact is an example of
chaos-osmosis at work, or the result of a rigourous planification of our
remarkable urbanists working at the foreign service? I believe this fact
is of extreme importance and shouldn't pass up as a simple colorful
detail. Personally i don't believe this is a coincidence, and in the worst
case scenario, i'm sure this is a perfect example of God's perpetual
engagement in earthly issues.

The demonstration as far as I could see, was divided in 2 groups or
(sub-manifestations): those who belonged to the group of pacifism and
strongly believe in the need of legitimal credibility, and those who
couldn't care less and chose to simply use as their discourse the
historical human weapon of preference: the stone. I find this very
relevant as we could see depicted 2 societys at battle: the tribal, which
oppose indistrialization and globalization, visibly choosing the side of
historical primitivism which usually belongs to the indigenous resistances
prior to their colonization. And... And the other group which i believe
needs no introduction.

Here i would like to pinpoint and go back to tabloids and how the mexican
industry has an evident fear of technology in all its incarnations. In
every cover we see a casualty of humanity in the everlasting war against
technology, it can be either a massive car accident or killings with
automatic machine guns (as if their real cause would be to record the
ongoing battle beetween humanity and technology) or as in this case, the
depicting of deaths and massacres which our american news sources would
never show, because our professionals are aware of the semantic power
which we lose upon showing this images. Freedom and civilization have a
price and showing this images could be contraproductive. But mexican
society works in another direction because their history belongs to the
tradition of the defeated, and so this media usually spreads the fear of
technology, as mexican experience teachs them they aren nothing but
servants of the industrial revolution.

And so going back to the stones over the embassy, Cindy and I decided to
stand there, talk to the revolting people so they would see a smile at the
government they where opposing with stones, showing them we believe in
words and dialog, and so we where standing on their side to give them
strength to assure that mexican troops wouldn't smash them.

This people strongly believed organizations like the UN had lost all
credibilty and in the process decided not to play along or smile to the
official american representation in Mexico. They took a symbolic action:

And so the pacifists who where correct and nice people, fled in order to
keep clean their family name in order not to be confused with the
demonstrators who opposed the war with a symbolic parabolic shower of

The pacifists fled because they thought there was no use staying. But I
stayed. We stayed. Because there was a boundary to be dissolved, like the
one which divides pacifism from pacification. But more so, a specific one:
the border beetween the gesture of symbolic action (throwing stones) and
the gesture of symbolic multitudinary quietness. The question posed was
clearly if the people must stand outside in the streets with their hands
crossed as troops kill each other and at the same taking the life of
innocent people in an illegal war?

I believe our county has always been a nation of bold active engaged
citizens. And so I stayed without ever throwing a stone, meanwhile the
mexian officers sprayed lacrimogen gas and fired a few shots off their
guns. It didn't took long before symbolic violence morphed into drum beats
and dances against police... The news helicopters of course wheren't
there, they only appear when a bank is robbed, not when humanity is at

And i was there as a peaceful observer, looking for new approaches to
dialog. Completely aware that our Department has a big challenge in our
hands, the chance of finding peace thru artistic means...

Bauds not bombs.

Nos vemos en el futuro.

Fran Ilich, Under Secretary for Free Cultural Distribution and the
Disintegration of Borders and Boundaries US Department of Art and

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