Neither Dead nor Defeated: Anarchism and the Memory of Ricardo Flores Magón

Originally published on It’s Going Down.


Lee esta entrevista en español aquí.

On November 21, 2022, one hundred years after his death, anarchists gathered at the tomb of Ricardo Flores Magón in Mexico City, where clashes ensued with members of the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM), leaving several compañerxs injured. In December, IGD contributor Scott Campbell interviewed Jaime, one of the anarchists present that day. The interview covers not only the events of November 21, but the life and legacy of Ricardo Flores Magón, the state’s attempts to recuperate his memory, and more.

How would you like to introduce yourself?

My name is Jaime. I’ll be speaking on behalf of those who took part in the action [on November 21], but which is not a collective. 

Can you speak to the importance of Ricardo Flores Magón? Who was he, what is the significance of his work and legacy?

Ricardo Flores Magón was an anarchist, born in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, in 1873, and who, at a very early age, became aware of the political and economic situation in Mexico at that time. He had contact with anarchist and libertarian ideas; he read Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta. As well, his Indigenous Mazatec origin and the practices of Indigenous communities, such as solidarity and mutual aid, had a large influence on the formation of his thought and ideology. From a very young age, he began to fight, to combat, to organize against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, which brought him persecution and repression. He, along with his brothers Jesús and Enrique, and people such as Juan Sarabia and others, founded a newspaper in 1900, called Regeneración, through the distribution of which a network of liberal groups was created that over the years evolved into an insurrectional network.

In 1905, the Regeneración group left Mexico for exile in the United States. By then, Ricardo Flores Magón and others had been imprisoned, had been persecuted, the Regeneración printing press had been confiscated, so they considered it unsustainable to continue the struggle in Mexico and went to the United States and settled in California. In 1905, they created the Organizing Junta of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM), which is the political organization that guided or gave form to this organizational network. By 1906, it became an insurrectional network that encouraged and fomented armed uprisings in different parts of the country, primarily in Veracruz, in Chihuahua, in Acayucan, in Las Vacas, and so on. That is to say, Ricardo Flores Magón and others, such as Librado Rivera, Margarita Ortega, Jacinto Palomares, in short, a series of individuals, began to fight the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, but not to put an end to it and just install someone else as president.

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Seven Indigenous political prisoners from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón launch hunger strike

By Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, Desinformémonos
Translated by Scott Campbell, On Mastodon

Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón | Desinformémonos. The demand for the freedom of the seven Mazateco political prisoners was the focus of the international event organized to mark the 100th anniversary of the death in prison of Ricardo Flores Magón, an anarchist precursor of the Mexican Revolution who questioned power until his death, which occurred on November 21, 1922 in a U.S. prison. The revolutionary was born in Eloxochitlán, Oaxaca, and here, after a series of commemorative acts organized by the community, it was announced that the prisoners – held in three different prisons – will remain on hunger strike until governor-elect Salomón Jara Cruz opens a dialogue with their relatives to facilitate their release.

In a letter sent from the prisons of Villa de Etla, Taniveth, and Cuicatlán, Oaxaca, Jaime Betanzos, Fernando Gavito, Alfredo Bolaños, Omar Hugo Morales, Herminio Monfil, Isaías Gallardo and Francisco Durán recalled that the federal government recognized them as political prisoners in December 2018. At that time, they noted, “it was recognized that we are Indigenous people whose rights have been violated and that crimes were fabricated against us.”

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Observers withdraw from Zapatista territory after increase in violence

Originally published on Avispa Midia.

By Jeny Pascacio
Translated by Scott Campbell

Five observers from the Civil Observation Brigades (BriCO) withdrew from the Tzotzil community of Nuevo San Gregorio, Chiapas, due to lack of security guarantees and the intensification of attacks against this Zapatista territory.

The attacks appear to be coming from people from the San Gregorio ejido, Ranchería San Andrés Puerto Rico, Ranchería Duraznal, and Ranchería Rancho Alegre—four villages in the area—who are trying to displace the Zapatistas and take their territory.  

The attacks began in 2019 and have not let up since then, according to the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba). As a result, the BriCo camp was set up in the community on March 3, 2021.

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“Autonomy is Everything”: Interview with Indigenous Political Prisoner José Antonio Arreola of Nahuatzen

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

La versión original de esta entrevista en español puede encontrarse aquí.

The following is an interview with Indigenous political prisoner José Antonio Arreola Jiménez, one of three political prisoners from the P’urhépecha community of Nahuatzen, Michoacán, currently serving seven-year sentences based on trumped-up charges. The interview was conducted in late November by IGD contributor Scott Campbell.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself?

Yes, my name is José Antonio Arreola Jiménez. I’m from the Indigenous community of Nahuatzen, Michoacán. Nahuatzen is an Indigenous community nestled in the heart of the Meseta Purépecha. I have my wife and five children.

Can you share with us some details about Nahuatzen, its struggle, and your role in that struggle?

The struggle in Nahuatzen began in 2015, when the last municipal president was imposed on us by the state government, by [then-governor] Silvano Aureoles Conejo. Then, this Miguel Prado Morales, which is his name, arrived with more than twenty or thirty armed individuals from outside the community, claiming to be his private police, his bodyguard. We, as community members, thought this was bad, because within the town there is no need to bring weapons, we’re not people who fight, we’re not armed people. We’re working people, peaceful people. So that was, more than anything else, the main issue.

Then, one day we asked for a meeting with the municipal president, which was granted, and we told him that we wanted his police to leave the community of Nahuatzen. It turns out that he said yes, but later on he didn’t want to. The next day, he summoned us in front of his police, and we were attacked by them, his entire family, the entire town government. So, there was a revolt, there was a conflict, there were people who had their heads cracked open and people who were beaten. But at that moment, the community decided to hold a meeting, a general assembly, and to remove recognition of the town government. So, in a public meeting in the main plaza, we held this assembly.

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Oaxaca: Launch of the Campaign: “It’s Not Development – It’s Dispossession!”

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

The following is a statement from the Oaxacan Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory, translated by Scott Campbell, regarding the launch of a new permanent campaign against extractivist, neoliberal megaprojects.

Launch of the Campaign: “It’s Not Development – It’s Dispossession!”

We, the communities and organizations that have joined together since 2019 as the Oaxacan Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory, today, November 20, 2021, on the 111th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, declare the following:

Thanks to the long struggles of our ancestors against the conquistadores, colonizers and invaders who for centuries tried to dispossess us of everything that gives us life and sustenance, the First Peoples of Oaxaca still retain our communal and ejidal lands, as well as our territories and autonomy as communities and municipalities. We are still here as Afro-Mexican, Amuzgo, Binizaa, Chatino, Chinanteco, Chocholteco, Chontal, Cuicateco, Ikoots, Ixcateco, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Tacuate, Triqui, Zapoteco y Zoque peoples, and all the men, women, and others who have their blood in our veins and maintain their culture in our daily lives. We inhabit and work our ancestral territories, developing our own forms of knowledge and at the same time enriching the world with them, in a reciprocal and respectful manner. Thanks to this connection to territory, Oaxaca and all of Mexico has great cultural and ecological richness and diversity that those who seek to harm us so often boast about.

The peoples of Mexico today commemorate the invaluable struggle of our general Emiliano Zapata, speaker of the Nahuatl language and son of the people of Morelos, and our immortal Ricardo Flores Magón, Oaxacan and son of the Mazateco people, who together with thousands of Mexicans gave their lives for justice and for a dignified life for the peasants, the workers, the dispossessed, the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.

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In times of climate crisis, the future is a territory to defend

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

The following is the manifesto of the recently launched #FuturosIndígenas initiative being organized in so-called Mexico and beyond. Translated by Scott Campbell.

In the midst of this electoral drought, a network of narratives of resistance is born. Facing a climate crisis that threatens our future on the planet, that puts our lives and territories at risk, representatives from more than 20 Indigenous peoples are organizing to confront this emergency. To reforest minds, to indigenize hearts.

We are defending territory, our way of being and existing; we are uniting efforts and hearts through communicative actions and the creation of narratives in defense of life. We name ourselves Kiliwa, Cucapá, Nahua, Acolhua, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ñu Savi, Hñatho, Amuzga, Purépecha, Ayuuk, Afro-descendant, Zapoteca, Popoluca, Maya, K’iche’, Wayuu, Zoque and germinate as #FuturosIndígenas [#IndigenousFutures].

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Indigenous Women Begin Hunger Strike Demanding Freedom for Political Prisoners in Oaxaca

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

The following piece by Erika Lozano, published by Desinformémonos and translated by Scott Campbell, discusses the hunger strike started by women from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, demanding the release of seven political prisoners from the community.

Mazatec women encamped in front of the Federal Judiciary Council in Mexico City to demand the release of their relatives after seven years in prison. Argelia Betanzos, Bertha Reynosa and Carmela Bonfil, from Eloxochitlán, Oaxaca, demanded a meeting with the president of the council, Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea.

“What brings us here is desperation, since the innocence of our family members has been proven by legal evidence, as has the fabrication of the crimes of which they are accused,” explained Betanzos during an interview. She is the daughter of prisoner Jaime Betanzos Fuentes, and she started a hunger strike on Tuesday, May 25, stating she will not leave until she has an answer. She also denounced that “using the pandemic as a pretext,” there has been no progress in the case on the part of Oaxacan authorities.

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To Dismantle a Gas Pipeline and Sell it as Scrap Metal: A Story of Yaqui Women

The following article, translated partially by me from the Spanish version on Pie de Página, looks at the women-led struggle against the passing of a U.S. company’s gas pipeline through Yaqui territory in so-called Mexico. It also touches on the case of Yaqui political prisoner Fidencio Aldama, serving a 15+ year sentence related to resistance to the pipeline. For more information on Fidencio, visit fidencioaldama.org.

Text: Daliri Oropeza and Reyna Haydee Ramirez
Photos: Daliri Oropeza

The gas pipeline was already a foregone conclusion, at least that’s what the company, the subsidiary, and the government of Sonora thought. They were wrong. Yaqui women narrate how they have stopped this project.

Loma de Bácum, Sonora: A gigantic metal pipe can be seen at the bottom of a hole in the earth. The family of Carmen García look into the hole which was dug by the people of Loma de Bácum to remove the gas pipeline.

The people used an excavator they seized from the company IEnova, affiliate of the United States transnational, Sempra Energy. The company was building the gas pipeline without the approval of those who live there. A consultation was never carried out. So, after an assembly, the entire community went to where the pipeline was being laid. There, they excavated and cut out with a blowtorch nearly ten kilometers of pipeline, which they then took to Ciudad Obregón to sell as scrap metal.

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Tobi, Anarchist Compañero from the Biblioteca Social Reconstruir, Passes Away

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

A translated statement from Noticias de Abajo and the Biblioteca Social Reconstruir (Social Reconstruction Library – an anarchist library and social space in Mexico City), on the passing of longtime anarchist organizer Tobi.

“…when I die, my friends may write on my grave: Here lies a dreamer, and my enemies: Here lies a madman. But there will be no one who dares engrave these words: Here lies a coward and traitor to his ideas.” – Ricardo Flores Magón

On January 10, 2021, we learned of the passing of anarchist compañero Tobi, one of those responsible for continuing the Biblioteca Social Reconstruir after the loss of Ricardo Mestre. Tobi was a social activist from the punk and anarchist movements who participated actively in the spreading and promotion of anarchist ideals.

We are sharing a message circulated by the Library regarding this moment of mourning for the worldwide anarchist movement, as well as video clips from “Workshopping Anarchy,” a project held at the Alicia Cultural Multiforum with the participation of the Library and other allies, in order to remember the feeling-thinking (sentipensar) of our dear friend Tobi.

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The Unexpected Consequences of Anarchy in relation to Feminism in Mexico

Originally published on It’s Going Down.

The following article, written by Afinidades Conspirativas and translated by Scott Campbell, examines the recent wave of feminist protests and actions throughout Mexico and the role of anarchism amidst these mobilizations. All footnotes and photo captions are from the original Spanish version, which can be found as a PDF here.

After this article was written, it came to light that those involved in the occupation of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in particular the Okupa Black Bloc, are trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERF). IGD condemns the transphobic politics of those involved in the Not One Less Okupa. Given the scope and analysis of the article, we have decided to leave it up and encourage readers to keep this information in mind when reading the piece.

“You’re a big shot, drawing on my painting…I hope your action fixes everything”
José Manuel Núñez A., painter of the Madero portrait[1]

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution”
Emma Goldman

“If we can’t be violent, it’s not our revolution”
Manada de lobxs [Pack of wolves]

The multiplicity of forms that anarchisms have taken in recent decades leads us to reexamine the tendencies and strategies that are reconfiguring themselves or emerging from these forms, as well as their influences on other struggles. Here it is necessary to distinguish a principle held among anarchisms that sets them apart from the liberal or leftist groups that are assumed to be anarchist. We could define this principle as an ethic that, created from an individuality in common, becomes an affront to any form of hierarchical power. As such, to understand anarchism today as an ideology would be a myopia that allows for the development of aberrations such as “anarchocapitalism” or an understanding of Zapatismo and of many forms of feminism as anarchist. Thinking about the latter, it would be worth remembering Emma Goldman, who ranted against the suffragettes of her time (the first wave of feminism), based on the understanding that freedom could not be achieved at the ballot box. Today’s feminisms are very diverse: there are the reformists with sympathy for the State, with authoritarian and essentialist views about the body; as well as others that are completely liberal, united under the banner of lacking a convincing critique against power; but also among them are some that come together under an anarchist ethic.

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