Translating Resistance

Recently, I happened across a news article that unexpectedly sent me drifting more than 15 years into the past. Upon arriving there and sifting through its dusty, neglected contents, I meandered back to the present following the thread of a certain activity that had its origins in that seemingly forgotten corner. Though it spanned years of time and thousands of miles of distance, the recollective detour lasted perhaps 30 seconds. When I came back, I found myself doing the very same act that I’d used to return me to the present: I was translating.

The article in question was about 12 rappers from the collective La Insurgencia who were recently sentenced to two years in prison in Spain for “promoting terrorism” due to lyrics about a now-defunct leftist group. Such a sentence for lyrics is of course absurd, but the Spanish state, especially since passing the Ley Mordaza in 2015, has excelled at zealously targeting political expression which does not reify its own power and image. Another radical hip-hop artist, Pablo Hasel, is currently facing 12 years in prison for the contents of his opinions and songs. Francoism hasn’t gone anywhere, as made clear by events surrounding Catalonia’s push for independence last year, it just wears the cloak of democracy.

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Mexico: Idealized Nature: On Absolutism and Misanthropy

Originally posted on It’s Going Down
From Propagación Anárquica
Translated by Scott Campbell

There is an ever-spreading idealistic, romantic, and superfluous tendency regarding the existence of a pristine, virgin, and idyllic nature that has never been touched by human beings and that must be preserved without having any contact with our species. There are many, many problems and shallow reflections regarding this stance about a pristine and virgin nature.

First of all, we must be aware of the context in which we are currently living: in the Anthropocene, an era in which the industrial human being has caused the greatest changes of the past 300 years. “Climate change has disrupted all ecosystems in the world.” That is to say, the industrial human being, by contaminating the water, earth, and air, has negatively disrupted all the planet’s biomes, that is, there is no pristine, untouched nature left in the entire world. All ecosystems have been touched by climate change.

Now, another issue originating from this Christian idealization and myopic romanticization of virgin nature is the belief that the human being in general, our species in its essence, is inherently ecocidal and destructive of nature, which is entirely false and erroneous.

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Three Members of Indigenous Organization Killed in Ambush in Oaxaca

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

A CODEDI highway blockade in November 2017.

Via Centro de Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

Below is a translation of the most recent statement from the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights (CODEDI) following the ambush and killing of three of their members last night. In the audio interview below, Abraham Ramírez Vázquez, the head of CODEDI and former political prisoner, states the ambush was orchestrated by the judicial police (the armed wing of the state prosecutor’s office) and was ordered by the governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat. For background on CODEDI and its origins in Santiago Xanica, see this article.

The organization CODEDI (Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights) is an autonomous organization that works for the indigenous communities of the Southern Mountains, Central Valleys and Coast of Oaxaca, in solidarity with all just causes. We currently work with 50 communities, creating the dream of living in autonomy through daily practices, with more than 20 years serving the peoples of Oaxaca. We are part of different alliances in the state, country, and world; alliances based in processes of autonomy and struggle. The leader of our organization is Abraham Ramírez Vázquez, an indigenous leader from Santiago Xanica who was imprisoned from 2004 to 2011 by order of former governor José Murat, the father of the current governor.

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Mexico: Letter from Anarchist Prisoner Luis Fernando Sotelo on His Resentencing

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

Editor’s note: Luis Fernando Sotelo was arrested in Mexico City in November 2014 after a protest for the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa. During the demonstration, a Metrobús station and a Metrobús (a rapid transit bus service) were burned. After nearly two years of proceedings, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison in September 2016. Following an appeal, he was resentenced to 13 years. He has since been resentenced again, as he explains below.

Via Ké Huelga
Translated by Scott Campbell

To those who resist the strategies and apparatuses of capitalist power.
To the compañeras of the world who rebel and refuse to accept forms of domination.

Turning my attention to the reciprocity that I believe is the foundation of true revolutionary solidarity, I wish to share a chapter of my life, reflecting even behind the prison bars, here in front of the desks of the judicial system, the arm of the state, where the defense of freedom and justice becomes a monetary exchange.

So I’ll tell you: Here, around midday, without taking me by surprise, I heard the messenger (also a prisoner and in charge of delivering the permits to go see the judges). He shouted my name and I knew then that I would be receiving news from the Fourth Criminal Court, that they had issued a new sentence. I was given the news in the dock of the 32nd Court. I suppose the one who read me the ruling – he didn’t identify himself – was a secretary. I only saw him.

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Cadereyta Prison Riot: Chronicle of a Preannounced Massacre

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

Editor’s note: On October 9th, a riot occurred at the Cadereyta Social Reintegration Center (CERESO), a state prison in Nuevo León, Mexico, in which 18 prisoners were killed and more than 30 wounded.

By Miguel María Vidal, Centro de Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

Callousness kills better than a R15 to silence the cries of protest…”

That Monday…at night while I checked my notifications, I noticed a few that said “something” was happening at the Cadereyta CERESO. That phrase “something is happening” brought up memories of recent tragic events in Monterrey, for example natural disasters, massacres, and riots like the ones that happened previously at the Apodaca CERESO and Topo Chico Prison. Given the evident spread of this rumor, I decided to turn on the television to see the news, in search of corroborating it and being certain about what was happening. On the news programs – on Monday night and Tuesday morning – the first things I heard were statements from authorities who at that moment said it was just a fight among people deprived of freedom. Hours later I would realize that these initial statements were an attempt to dismiss what was actually occurring. Time, valuable time, that could be used to resolve the situation unfolding inside the CERESO.

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Writings Available in Print

Recently, a few pieces of writing I’ve done have become available in printed form. In the interest of propagandizing, I’m sharing them here.


Earlier this year, I wrote two articles for It’s Going Down critiquing the eco-extremist group Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) and their supporters. They caused a bit of an uproar in one corner of the internet and led to numerous other articles, statements, podcasts, and death threats. The two pieces have since been put together in a zine that can be found here.

 



At the end of last year, I conducted a podcast interview with Sofi, an anarchist compañera from Mexico City deeply involved in solidarity work with anarchist prisoners in Mexico. The interview covers a lot of ground, discussing various prisoners, conditions inside Mexican prisons, and the incredible autonomous organizing prisoners and their supporters are carrying out on both the inside and outside. The translated transcript has been made into a zine. Check it out here.

 


Last month, the anthology Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief, edited by Cindy Milstein, was published by AK Press. As they describe it:

We can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively. Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for everyone. Addressing tragedies from Fukushima to Palestine, incarceration to eviction, AIDS crises to border crossings, and racism to rape, the intimate yet tenacious writing in this volume shows that mourning can pry open spaces of contestation and reconstruction, empathy and solidarity.

With each passing day, it feels like a volume such as this is increasingly necessary and urgent. Alongside powerful works addressing a variety of subjects, both inspiring and heartrending, I’m honored to have a few words of my own included that introduce the translation of a letter by Mirtha Luz Pérez Robledo. The letter was written on the one-year anniversary of the murder of her daughter, social justice organizer Nadia Vera. Nadia was killed along with four others in 2015, in all likelihood by the state, in what is known as the Narvarte Massacre. Mirtha’s words weave an aching portrait of personal and collective loss within a context of pervasive injustice and impunity. I encourage readers to pick up a copy of the book in order to engage with them and the other resonant contributions found within.

The Earthquake of Our Struggle for Our 43 Children

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

Via Radio Zapatista
Translated by Scott Campbell

Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, September 26, 2017. – Three years after the forced disappearance of our children, the Fathers and Mothers of the normalistas [teaching college students] remain standing, present in the heart of the homeland to affirm our struggle alongside the families impacted by the earthquake, who in the midst of disaster are also seeking their loved ones. Pain and indignation have united us and in this embrace of solidarity we face a government that does not pay attention to our demands. Since that terrible night of September 26, we have not relented against a government that keeps untouched a pact of impunity with the state perpetrators who colluded with organized crime. Our nights of insomnia and days of uncertainty have marked a new path in our lives; we are now a movement dedicated to fighting the battle to dismantle the historical truth devised by the PGR [Federal Attorney General’s Office] in order to find the whereabouts of our children.

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Mexico: Political Statement from the Autonomous Brigades After the Earthquakes

Originally published on It’s Going Down

Via Noticias de Abajo Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

To the people of Mexico

To the Indigenous Governing Council

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the National and International Sixth

We are individual and collective adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, EZLN and CNI sympathizers and people from below and to the left in solidarity with the suffering of our brothers and sisters, victims of the recent earthquakes and the predatory system that is only death.

As in 1985, those who claim to govern remain totally surpassed by reality. Today their wonderland can’t be seen, not even by them. Meanwhile, we are the ones from below who suffered the consequences of these natural and socio-environmental disasters. Like 32 years ago, today the Mexican people are the ones going into the streets and towns to help, to give what little they have to help the other, the one who suffers, the stranger, the brother. Some who have much contribute much. Among those who have little, they contribute what they can, sometimes everything that is in their hands. Those who have nothing give their heart and offer to serve were needed. They are the ones who fill the streets and coordinate to gather aid and distribute it. Small business owners support by giving food and drink to those who give their time and effort. True hope emerges from these smiles and glances of solidarity.

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Mexico: Solidarity and Self-Organization in Earthquake Aftermath

Originally published on It’s Going Down

On Tuesday, September 19, a powerful earthquake struck central Mexico. With a magnitude of 7.1 on the Richter scale and the epicenter just south of the city of Puebla, it has caused numerous deaths and widespread damage in Mexico City and the neighboring states of Puebla, Morelos and the State of Mexico, along with reports of loss of life and structural damage as far south and west as the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.

Dozens of buildings collapsed in Mexico City alone and at the time of this writing at least 230 people have been reported as killed. The earthquake occurred just hours after a national earthquake drill and commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 quake in which more than 10,000 people were killed. The 1985 tragedy is a seminal moment in modern Mexican history not only for the massive devastation caused but also due to the negligence, corruption and opportunism which marked the government’s response, especially when contrasted with the tremendous mobilization and solidarity of civil society in successfully self-organizing rescue efforts in the face of the state’s abdication of responsibility.

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The Seeds of Anti-Capitalist Revolt Found in Everyday Resistance: A Review of “Guerrillas of Desire”

Originally published by the Institute for Anarchist Studies

Back when I first began selling my labor for a wage in the wasteland of suburbia’s strip malls, I can recall the tedium of stocking shelves, summoning up insincere courtesy in the face of entitled customers and obnoxious bosses, comparing the stacks of money counted at the end of the day with the totals on our paychecks, and feigning adherence to whatever motivational façade management cooked up to mask the reality of our exploitation.

Yet I also remember, much more vividly and fondly, the latent and occasionally eruptive defiance among my co-workers. This included the constant collective complaining about the job, taking more and longer-than-approved breaks, working as little as possible, fudging time sheets, stealing, and the intermittent screaming matches with the boss in the middle of the store. Underpinning all these actions was an unspoken but broadly understood code of silence when it came to such transgressions and, when appropriate, expressions of support for them.

At the time, I didn’t think much about this, it was just how things happened and I’ve encountered similar experiences to varying degrees in every workplace since. Our actions weren’t guided by a political framework nor was there any attempt to organize them in a directed manner. It was more a spontaneous, innate reaction to experiencing the coercion of capitalism. I had cause to reflect upon this anew while reading Kevin Van Meter’s new book, Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, published by AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

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