Insumisión: Winning Freedom, Building Autonomy

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

San-Quintín.Foto-tomada-de-rexiste.org_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.

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“I was born to be free” – Nestora Salgado

Originally posted on El Enemigo Común.

nestora-salgado-rifle-prison-releaseTranslator’s note: 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, just days after the below essay was published. 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 and addressed as commander, 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 Peoples Front in Defense of the Land from Atenco, those resisting the construction of the 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.”

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Insumisión: Victories Don’t Slow the Struggle

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

femicide-ecatepec-mexicoIn the past two weeks, social movements in Mexico racked up significant victories while continuing to organize in the face of constant state repression. Detractors will point to the several successes won in the courts as examples of the reasonableness and functionality of a democratic government. Those on the ground know that it was not due to a wise and benevolent judiciary that they won, but through years of organization, mobilization and struggle that forced the state’s hand. Even in victory they remain on guard, knowing that the state cannot be trusted and these battles are part of a larger war. That war rages daily as neoliberal capitalism, racism and patriarchy continue to plunder the peoples and territories of Mexico and beyond.

Readers may have heard of the assassination of indigenous land and water defender Berta Cáceres in Honduras on March 3. Wounded during the attack was Gustavo Castro Soto, a member of Otros Mundos from Chiapas. Fearing for his safety, he attempted to leave Honduras only to be detained by authorities and ordered to remain in the country for 30 days. A few days later on March 14 movements around Mexico participated in the International Day of Action Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers. The Chiapan Front in Defense of Water, Land and Life held an action in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, while the Mexican Movement of those Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER) released a map documenting the 40 people from Mexico to Colombia killed since 2005 for organizing against dam construction. The map quickly became outdated the following day when Nelson García, a member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) – the same group Berta Cáceres belonged to – was assassinated.

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Insumisión: Resistance and Repression in Mexico

Originally posted on It’s Going Down, below is the first entry of what will be a regular column I’m writing for that site, providing new and analysis of social movements and struggles in Mexico. Esta nota también está disponible en español en El Enemigo Común.

unam-che-yorch-barricadas

Welcome to the first edition of “Insumisión,” a new regular column here on It’s Going Down, bringing you news and analysis from social movements and struggles in the territory referred to as Mexico. Let’s get started.

As readers of It’s Going Down might already be aware, in Mexico City last Wednesday, Yorch, a member of Okupa Che, was kidnapped by police in the latest round of repression to face the autonomous, anti-authoritarian space on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, held since the 1999-2000 student strike. Police planted a backpack full of drugs on Yorch, who is now captive in a federal prison in Sonora. The morning after the arrest, compañerxs blockaded access to UNAM with burning dumpsters, and Molotov cocktails were unleashed on the UNAM Campus Security offices and patrol cars. The clamor to evict Okupa Che has steadily grown since Yorch’s arrest. Okupa Che released a statement, calling for solidarity and for people to be on alert to respond to any eviction attempt. Anarchist political prisoner Fernando Bárcenas (who received acts of solidarity from Tijuana to Bloomington earlier this year) sent an open letter in solidarity with Yorch, which reads in part:

It is not my intention to send a message of sympathy or pity, on the contrary, I intend to send a message of war, insurrectionary love and solidarity…In the streets or in the jail, we have to do nothing more than keep moving forward until all are free…Although along the way we stumble upon death…Unconditional and revolutionary solidarity with compa Yorch, prisoner of war…

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Elections in Mexico: Close the streets, open the way

A bus serves as a barricade in the historic city center of Oaxaca.

A bus serves as a barricade in the historic city center of Oaxaca.

On Sunday, June 7, midterm elections were held in Mexico. Well, the state attempted to hold elections. As it turns out, the people of Mexico weren’t having it. A vast majority – 71 percent in a poll I saw – did not believe that the elections would be fair. With rampant vote-buying, candidates with documented links to cartels, party-affiliated candidates running as independents, political assassinations, and an ongoing climate of impunity, massacres, terror and voracious capitalism, not many are enthusiastic about the direction Mexico is going in.

As well, the family members of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa Teaching School in Guerrero called for the elections to be boycotted unless the students were returned alive. Their argument being that a government which murders and disappears students, then criminalizes those demanding their return, and has known links to drug cartels is not to be trusted nor is capable of holding free and fair elections. The CNTE, the more militant wing of the national teachers union, joined onto the call, furious – among other things – with government moves to privatize education and introduce standardization and quotas.

The call to boycott elections turned into efforts to impede the elections from happening. Over the past week, especially in the southern rural, indigenous and poor states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, teachers and their supporters seized National Electoral Institute (INE) offices, burning voter rolls and hundreds of thousands of ballots. In Oaxaca, teachers also blockaded the airport and seized an oil refinery and gas stations around the state, dispensing gas for free.

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