Insumisión: Strike!

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Originally posted to It’s Going Down. Esta nota también está disponible en español en la página El Enemigo Común.
By Scott Campbell

The last edition of Insumisión started with news of the national teachers strike in Mexico and that’s where we’ll kick things off here. It’s been an intense fifteen days since the National Coordinating Body of Education Workers (CNTE) began an indefinite strike on May 15, primarily against plans by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to implement neoliberal reforms to the country’s education system.

Since being selected as president in 2012, Peña Nieto has attempted to privatize and standardize the Mexican education system, along with instituting policies to disempower Latin America’s largest union, the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), and its dissident and more radical faction, the CNTE. In 2013, the CNTE mobilized its base to fight back against similar reform efforts. An article I wrote then gives some context to the developments occurring now, as well as clarifying the distinctions between the SNTE, the CNTE, and their relationships to the state.

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Insumisión: Reclaiming Life in a Panorama of Death

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Originally posted on It’s Going Down
By Scott Campbell

As the violence and repression instigated, permitted and perpetrated by the Mexican State continues to grow, it can become overwhelming to summarize it in these pages in a way that does justice to the victims and survivors of state terror and impunity. Yet as the grim tallies multiply and impact more and more lives, so does the clarity that what the state offers even in its best moments is no solution at all, and from that point resistance flourishes. The sparks of refusal and defiance despite the odds ignite around the country, making meaning out of that which seems so senseless, breathing reclaimed life into a panorama of death. As América del Valle of Atenco said earlier this month, “Even with everything they did to us, we don’t come here today as martyrs. We don’t come to cry…We’ve come here to say NO!” Lxs insumxs. Let’s see what they’ve been up to over the past two weeks.

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Insumisión: Battles Lines Are Drawn in the Face of the Looming Storm

13010838_866729443454452_903784783579646203_nOriginally posted to It’s Going Down
By Scott Campbell

Happy May Day! Around Mexico today numerous marches will be held, primarily organized by the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) and its more radical tendency, the National Education Workers Coordinating Body (CNTE). A few of the demonstrations are listed on It’s Going Down’s roundup of May Day actions. These marches are usually large, as the teachers union requires their members to show up. That extra incentive probably isn’t needed this year, as the teachers are fed up with the state’s repression and attacks on public education. The CNTE has already announced an indefinite national strike for May 15, and as a warm- up held the largest march in its 37-year history in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas on April 22. Stretching more than three miles with 100,000 participants, the march was in response to the repression faced by teachers there the week before. While the CNTE base has consistently demonstrated its militancy, the leadership remains stuck in the politics of respectability, as demonstrated during the April 22 march when they ordered that “no one should commit acts of vandalism and that anyone caught would be detained; that no one would be masked or cover their face.” The gap between the two seems likely only to widen as the union’s actions intensify.

When it comes to teachers and protests, fresh on everyone’s mind is Ayotzinapa. When it comes to a relentless dedication to preserving impunity at all costs, the Mexican state is quite impressive. This was on full display last week as the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) sent by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) released its final 600-page report in a four-hour press conference on April 24. The GIEI’s mandate was cut short by the CIDH following the Mexican government’s consistent harassment, subterfuge and non-cooperation. “The experts assured that the authorities have not followed key lines of investigation, evidence has been manipulated, obstructed and investigative work rejected, officials that would have participated in the disappearance protected, and alleged suspects tortured to obtain confessions that support the government’s version.” The details are too expansive to explore here, but the short version is that the GIEI found the students were under surveillance, the attack on them was recorded and coordinated among local and state police and the army, and that the head of the Criminal Investigations Agency (akin to the FBI in the US) had a personal role in manipulating evidence and illegally detaining and torturing someone who later “confessed” to involvement in the disappearance.

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Insumisión: The State Responds with Force

xochicuautlaOriginally posted to It’s Going Down.
By Scott Campbell

Several victories for social movements in Mexico were recounted in the Insumisión posted on March 17. This edition focuses on the state’s response, which in the first part of April has been expressed through two of the state’s inherent qualities: force and coercion.

One of the victories mentioned was that of the Otomí community of San Francisco Xochicuautla in the State of Mexico. After years of organizing, in February a court suspended the expropriation decree issued by the federal government for a highway to be built through their forest and town. The community celebrated, but in a case of foreshadowing, said they would not rest until the entire highway project was canceled. The state emphatically made clear that the project was still on, when on April 11th it besieged and invaded the town with 800 to 1,000 riot police. In complete disregard for the court ruling, the police escorted in heavy machinery belonging to Grupo Higa (the owner of which is a close friend of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto), that began clearing land for the highway and also demolished the home of one of the movement’s leaders. The solidarity extended to Xochicuautla was powerful and immediate, which included the Zapatistas and the National Indigenous Congress issuing a “Maximum Alert” both for Xochicuautla and Ostula in Michoacán, due to an ambush against the Community Police of that autonomous Nahua community, which killed one. This seemed to catch the state off-guard, as on April 13 they ordered the construction be stopped and promised to pay for the damages. But they also said they would be leaving a number of state police nearby to guard the machinery in the meantime. In response, the community has organized 24-hour patrols in case of renewed construction, and the situation remains tense.

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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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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.

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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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Oaxaca, the fight for the air

Originally posted on El Enemigo Común

radio-oaxacaBy Jaime Quintana Guerrero
January 20, 2016
Desinformémonos
Translated by Scott Campbell

Bi, in the Binnizaá or Zapotec language, means “air”, means “spirit.” “For us, air not only represents life, it also carries loved ones who have died. When one dies, their spirit becomes air and returns to the people.”

The struggles against the wind farms that abound throughout the state also, then, contain this element: “They want to change the path of the wind, of the air, of our spirits, of our loved ones.”

Carlos Martínez Fuentes, a member of Radio Totopo in Juchitán, Oaxaca, is the one who explained the above. Radio Totopo, with its nine years transmitting together with the spirits in the air, also belongs to the Popular Assembly of the Juchitecan People.

The emergence of the radio was a result of sheer necessity. On the one hand, as a tool in the resistance struggle to Plan Puebla Panama, which includes the wind farm system being put into place between those two locations.

As well, because the tradition of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca (as with most) is oral. The radio fits perfectly, then. “In Oaxaca, 16 different languages are spoken. The indigenous oral tradition is the key reason behind the existence of community radio stations and community assemblies, their main supporters,” explains José Juan Cárdenas, member of the Integral Community Communication organization.

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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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We walk together with you!

Originally posted on El Enemigo Común.

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Last April 30, Miguel Ángel Peralta, a member of the Community Assembly of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, was arrested at his workplace in Mexico City by plainclothes agents without an arrest warrant. He was held incommunicado for 20 hours before being presented at the Tlaxiaco prison in the state of Oaxaca. On the ride down, he was beaten and threatened.

Since 2010, Miguel has struggled alongside other members of the Community Assembly against the imposition of the illegitimate Mayor Manuel Zepeda Cortes, who rejected the council members elected according to traditions and customs and set up his own government, bringing a reign of terror, plunder and injustice to Eloxochitlan.

On August 10 2012, Miguel’s father Pedro Peralta was kidnapped, tortured, seriously wounded and locked up in the Cuicatlán prison, where he is still held as a political prisoner for having struggled against the tyranny of the Zepeda Cortés regime.

Miguel and 34 other comrades are charged with the deaths of two people who died in a confrontation on December 14, 2014, between Assembly members and followers of ex Mayor Manuel Zepeda Cortes in Eloxochitlán. Six comrades received bullet wounds in the fray. Eight of the 34 have been arrested and are now unjustly held in the Ixcotel prison, just outside Oaxaca City. Miguel and two other comrades are being held in a 2 x 2 meter punishment cell in Tlaxiaco. On the 20th day of his imprisonment, he wrote the following letter:

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