While it emerges in the midst of tragic and difficult circumstances, I am excited for the release of the anthology Deciding for Ourselves: The Promise of Direct Democracy, edited by Cindy Milstein and to which I contributed the chapter “The Bonfires of Autonomy in Cherán.” As we make our way through this time of loss and uncertainty and begin to think about what comes next, I hope it may offer some insight and inspiration.
It’s now available for a short time on a “Pay What You Can” basis from AK Press.
As the book description reads, “A better world through self-determination and self-governance is not only achievable. It is already happening in urban and rural communities around the world.” This is what Deciding for Ourselves dives into, a theme that couldn’t feel more pressing and necessary.
My contribution looks at the indigenous P’urhépecha municipality of Cherán, located in Michoacán, Mexico. For the past nine years, Cherán has operated under a form of autonomous communal government after a popular uprising removed cartels, local police, politicians and political parties from the area. While the story of the rebellion and its immediate aftermath have been well documented, the chapter takes an in-depth look at how the communal government functions and meets the daily needs of Cherán’s residents, why the government took the form that it did, and how life has changed and is experienced in a place where community and government are woven into a shared communal fabric.
If mutual aid, solidarity, autonomy, self-determination and collective liberation are ideas that interest or resonate with you, this book is worth picking up. And at up to 75% off, it’s a great deal that also helps support an independent radical publisher.
Originally posted on It’s Going Down.
We’ll start this look at the past two weeks in Mexico with some good news: people getting free. After seventeen months in prison and following a national and international campaign for her release, political prisoner Nestora Salgado was released from Tepepan prison in Mexico City on March 18. The commander of the Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero, Salgado was charged with three counts of kidnapping. When those charges were dismissed, the state filed three more charges for kidnapping, theft and murder. Again, those charges were dismissed for lack of evidence. Upon exiting the prison, she was received by dozens of community police officers from Olinalá and other towns in Guerrero. Handed a rifle, she said, “We are going to keep struggling so they don’t keep repressing us. If this is needed [raising the rifle], then this is where we will go, but we won’t allow them to keep trampling on us.” At a press conference later in the day, she committed herself to fighting for the freedom of Mexico’s 500 political prisoners, in particular those jailed for carrying out their duties as community police. Joined by members from the People’s Front in Defense of the Land from Atenco, those resisting the construction of La Parota dam in Guerrero, and family members of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, she led the count from 1 to 43. “I don’t represent any political party,” she said. “I only fight for my people. Sometimes they ask me if I’m afraid. And yes, I’m afraid, but I’ll die fighting for our people’s dignity. It doesn’t matter what I have to do, I am going to win freedom for our prisoners. I will be present in all of the struggles, as long as they need me.” She is calling for international mobilizations and actions on April 10, the anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, to demand freedom for Mexico’s political prisoners.