By Mirtha Luz Pérez Robledo
From Somos El Medio
July 28, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
On July 31, 2015, Nadia Vera Pérez, Yesenia Quiroz Alfaro, Mile Virginia Martin, Alejandra Negrete Avilés, and Rubén Espinosa Becerril were murdered in a Mexico City apartment. Nadia, a social justice activist and human rights defender, and Rubén, a photographer and journalist, had both fled Veracruz after receiving death threats for their work. Before her murder, Nadia stated that if anything should happen to her, it would be Javier Duarte who was responsible. Duarte is the governor of Veracruz, renowned for his corruption and human rights abuses, including the deaths of 17 journalists during his rule. The state’s investigation into the murders has been condemned as full of irregularities. Nadia’s mother, Mirtha Luz Pérez Robledo, wrote this on the eve of the one year anniversary of her daughter’s murder.
In self-defense, in defense of memory
When they wrest what we love most from us, the possibility of justice no longer exists.
When the word justice loses meaning, all that remains for us is the defense of Memory, of self-defense.
Originally published by It’s Going Down
By Scott Campbell
With the ongoing teachers’ strike that has morphed into a widespread rebellion, primarily in Oaxaca and Chiapas, we haven’t put together a more general roundup of resistance and repression in Mexico in some time. While that struggle is very much alive and well, the intensity with which it is unfolding has diminished some. This column will first take a look at the past three weeks of that conflict (if you need to get up to speed, check out this piece) and then cover some of the other recent events around the country.
The teachers belonging to the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) have now been on strike for more than two months. Since the massacre by federal and state forces in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca on June 19, in which eleven people were killed, the conflict has taken on an increasingly popular dimension. This has looked like direct actions, marches, material support and expressions of solidarity from across Mexico and beyond, in numbers far too large to recount individually.
By Griselda Sánchez
July 14, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
June 19, 11:09:01pm – Are you ok?? Rumors are spreading here about a curfew. What do you know? Be careful, ok? We’re here if there’s something we can do to help. And in that way, more than 15 people from Mexico City sent me text messages or called to tell me that they were getting messages saying that there was – or would be – a power cut in the city of Oaxaca, that the police had already entered the main square (Zócalo) to remove the teachers who have had an encampment (plantón) there since May 15. I told them that I was listening to Radio Universidad and Radio Tu’un Ñuu Savi and that they weren’t saying these things. It was a very difficult day…In the morning, the State and Federal Police tried to remove the blockade of federal highway 190 maintained by teachers and parents in Nochixtlán. In that police operation nine people were killed by gunfire and there were dozens seriously wounded. For hours in the afternoon, in Hacienda Blanca and Viguera – the entrance to the state capital – two Federal Police helicopters bombarded with tear gas grenades the people who were resisting on the barricades in order to block the path of the police. These helicopters also fired on houses in the neighborhood and on the school where people had set up a first aid site to treat the wounded. My compañeros with independent media went to cover that location while I went to the Zócalo. I arrived in time to witness an informational meeting given by the teachers. The spokespersons informed us of what was happening a few kilometers from here. They indicated where barricades would be put up to protect the plantón, and also asked for calm and to pay no mind to the rumors. They said that moments before a woman passed by shouting: “They’re coming, the police have arrived!” – placing the plantón on alert, which like an anthill began to mobilize. The businesses abruptly shuttered. Some people approached the main table to deliver bags of medication, food, vinegar. It’s true, that afternoon reeked of uncertainty…and uncertainty and rumors are not a good combination because they spread rapidly, penetrating your skin and paralyzing you. That was the state’s strategy: to create fear, weariness, and paralysis.
This piece is longer than the average post. Written in a few sittings over several months, it contains that which I have been attempting to find expression for over the course of nearly a year; an exercise in trying to give coherence to a period of rapid change. It is incomplete and unfixed, as it should be. As I am currently beginning a new endeavor, this seems as good a time as any to post it as a personal trail marker. I don’t expect many people to trudge all the way through, but regardless of how much you read, your feedback is welcomed. As a final introductory thought, I would like to note and problematize my heavy reliance on white men as sources for this piece. While not my conscious intention, it was an end result. This speaks to both my personal and the institutional prejudices that exist when it comes to determining what constitutes knowledge and who is permitted to produce it. Ones I plan to address in my work moving forward.
For about a year, up until recently, I had a regular meditation practice, sitting every morning for 20 to 30 minutes. For the initial part of that year, I met frequently with a teacher who, having spent years in contemplative practice both as a Christian and a Buddhist monk, came to develop his own approach to meditation and spirituality more generally. I am deeply indebted to him, as the way in which he explained spirituality appealed to my then-militantly atheist worldview. His approach helped nudge open the door which I had so emphatically kept shut at all costs, allowing in the slightest of possibilities that perhaps, just perhaps, there was something greater going on and that a reconsideration of my perspective might be merited.
The two of us would have lengthy discussions about life, the universe and everything, never arriving at an answer, 42 or otherwise. A point I kept returning to was where does spirituality leave us regarding social justice and collective liberation? I can concede the benefits to my personal life of meditation, mindfulness, and being in the present moment. I can even appreciate, though philosophically disagree with, ideas such as Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Yet these all seem to be individual, subjective and inward-looking practices that when taken to the extreme encourage a retreat from the world in the name of spirituality. We cannot meditate capitalism out of existence, we must act. He assured me that working for social justice was the natural end result of spirituality as it leads to right action. This assurance did not satisfy me and I asked him to explain it further.
By Simón Sedillo and Niñx Salvaje
Photos by Radio Jenpoj and Estereo Comunal Yeelatoo
July 3, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
In Oaxaca, 12 people were killed by police between June 19 and 26, 2016, while participating in the current rebellion happening in the state. One of those killed was a teacher, the rest were part of the people. Despite the violent repression, a multitude of blockades remain in place throughout the state, be they temporary or permanent. In addition, thousands of men and women, children, young people, elders and entire communities have rallied in support of the teachers, in repudiation of the repression and against the structural reforms and neoliberal policies that threaten communities. In this context, one thing is clear: the struggle in Oaxaca is not just a teachers struggle but belongs to the peoples who for their part are also fighting for life, territory and autonomy. In Oaxaca, the peoples’ resistance does not begin nor end with the teachers: it began centuries ago and the road ahead is long.
By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F.
June 29, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
It has been more than a week since the massacre of June 19, perpetrated by the Mexican state, who gave the order to the Federal Police to retake control of this state. There is still no justice. The toll continues to climb, 12 deaths recorded so far, dozens disappeared and at least 100 wounded by firearms. On top of dealing with the aftermath of the deaths, now the relatives of the dead and wounded are being threatened so they don’t take any legal action. This was reported by lawyers advising the families.
“There is fear because there have already been threats directed towards the families and the prisoners who were arrested. They even arrested twenty people who were in the municipal cemetery digging a grave to bury a family member who passed away on June 18 due to causes unrelated to this situation. They tortured them during transport and they were held in the state police barracks for more than two days and in the end they released them and told them to go, that nothing had happened. Things are not so simple,” said Mariana Arrellanes, a lawyer with Section 22 (of the teachers union) in Oaxaca.