This is a special IGDCAST with Sofi, an anarchist compañera from Mexico City who is deeply involved in a variety of solidarity and organizing efforts with anarchist prisoners in Mexico. The audio interview is in Spanish, while below is an English transcription, along with two song MP3s you can download separately. If you want to see more in depth reporting on what is happening in Mexico, be sure to support our Mexico trip fundraiser.
We start off this episode with a recorded greeting from the Cimarrón Collective in North Prison in Mexico City. Then Sofi discusses the persecution and repression facing the anarchist movement in Mexico City as well as a review of the situation of four anarchist prisoners currently being held by the Mexican state. We look at the corruption, exploitation and neglect that occurs in Mexican prisons and what compañeros on the inside are doing to fight back. In particular, there is a focus on the Cimarrón Collective, a formation started by anarchist prisoner Fernando Bárcenas that has autonomously reclaimed space inside the North Prison and self-manages a variety of initiatives. For listeners, perhaps the most intriguing one will be their punk band, Commando Cimarrón. A couple of their songs are included in the podcast.
The interview then wraps up with discussion of a proposed amnesty for prisoners being put forward by “leftist” political parties in the Mexico City government and the response of our anarchist compañeros. Lastly, there are suggestions for how the struggle for their freedom can be supported from outside of Mexico. Throughout this post, we include links for more information, primarily in English, and photos of some of the art produced during workshops organized by the Cimarrón Collective.
Following a calamitous event such as the election of Donald Trump, the first reactions are often visceral. Those who view it positively gloat and interpret it as greater permission to act according to their more base impulses, seen in the increase in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racistattacks since November 8. Those who view it negatively experience a kind of shock and anger. In an attempt to process the unexpected, those emotions frequently are vented in the form of projection, utilizing shame and blame in an attempt to shore up a challenged worldview. Social media exacerbates this by permitting us all to become unfiltered pundits, clicking the “post” button to bestow legitimacy upon any thought that may pop into our heads or trying to acquire social capital by presenting oneself as the holder of the correct analysis.
I’m of course of the opinion that Trump’s election is a negative occurrence. The thousands who have been militantly taking the streets all around the United States are an encouraging sign, especially heartening are the youth, disenfranchised by this system yet perhaps the most at risk from it, organizing walkouts of their schools. The immediate and spontaneous rejection shown in the streets establishes an important oppositional framework for the long road that lies ahead and serves as a way to communicate to one another, to those most at-risk under a Trump regime, and to the rest of the world that the fight back is already underway. But as we are all aware, street actions are never enough. From an anarchist perspective, this moment calls for reflection along with action. In my view, I see three main tasks: a) problematizing electoral politics; b) understanding Trump’s victory; and, c) planning for the long haul.
It’s been several weeks since the last Insumisión. Apologies for the break, but now we’re back at it and as always there’s a lot of ground to cover. Before diving in, I’d like to share that in the next couple of months, an It’s Going Down contributor will be spending a chunk of time in Mexico with the goal of producing lots of original content. If you value the work we do here at IGD and would like to see it continue to grow, please consider contributing to the trip fundraiser or making a donation in general. We also recently published a call for translators to help put out even more content from Mexico. If you’re interested, get in touch! And now let’s take a look at the latest from Mexico…
After two weeks on hunger strike, due to the health of some and in order to avoid serious complications, anarchist prisoners Fernando Bárcenas, Luis Fernando Sotelo and Abraham Cortés, as well as activist Jesse Montaño, have decided to continue their collective struggle inside the prison with indefinite fasts and have ended the hunger strike.
We are reposting the text signed by Fernando Bárcenas.
Forty-eight years after the Tlatelolco massacre we continue demanding justice for the murdered, disappeared, persecuted, tortured, defamed, and imprisoned, as even though the killers and masterminds have not been tried and punished, those compañeros who fell in the militant struggle remain present in the popular and social struggles today as part of our memory, solidarity, guidance, dignity, strength, inspiration, rage and courage. Today, no one doubts that IT WAS THE MEXICAN STATE who planned and carried out that mass murder, just as it did with the disappearance of 43 teaching college students on September 26, 2014, as from Tlatelolco to Ayotzinapa one can trace a historical continuity that affirms the totalitarian character of the state that today we can characterize as “narco and terrorist.”
During a press conference on September 28, anarchist prisoners announced the beginning of an indefinite hunger strike. They are compañeros Fernando Bárcenas and Abraham Cortés, prisoners in North Prison, Luis Fernando Sotelo, prisoner in South Prison in Mexico City, and Miguel Peralta, prisoner in Cuicatlán Prison in Oaxaca. The strike is in rejection of the 33 year and five month sentence given to Luis Fernando Sotelo, to mark three years since the arrest of compañero Abraham Cortés on October 2, 2013, and in solidarity with the prison strike underway in the United States against the exploitation of prisoners’ labor and in support of the revolts against the killings of African-Americans by police in the U.S.
The three compas in Mexico City have gone on hunger strike, while Miguel will go on fasts.
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.
In the context of the most recent acts of repression and violence that have arisen in the country, as different anarchist collectives and individuals we have decided to show solidarity by going into the streets and carrying out various actions in the different parts of the country that are suffering the brunt of the state, and resisted with the people.
Our rage cannot be contained by police bullets, by the State’s jails, by the media’s lies. Our dead will not be forgotten, their combative spirit has spread so that we may take justice into our hands.
Nochixtlán and Oaxaca resisted as the Isthmus region has resisted, demonstrating to the powerful that we don’t fear them, that we will confront them, we will defeat them; in the cold Mixteca the frontline has not been neglected. In spite of the pain that invades the people, they know the worst way to remember those who died in battle is to abandon the war.