Interview with Freed 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 José Antonio Arreola, a former political prisoner released after serving more than three years of a seven-year sentence based on trumped-up charges. He is a member of the autonomous Indigenous Citizens’ Council of Nahuatzen, a P’urhépecha community in Michoacán. A previous interview with José Antonio can be read here.

After more than three years in prison, you won your freedom on February 9, when the Supreme Court ordered your immediate release. Congratulations on this victory. How are you doing? How does it feel to be back home?

I feel very happy, I feel very glad to now be with my children, with my wife, with all my family there in my community of Nahuatzen.

For those who are unfamiliar with your case, can you share some background on the struggle in Nahuatzen and the events that led to your political imprisonment?

The reason why I ended up in prison, being a political prisoner, is because of the following. In 2015, Nahuatzen rose up against the insecurity that the municipal government had been causing since its inception. An insecurity throughout the entire community. The residents, when they saw that organized crime came for some compañeros and took one of them, got together. We all gathered in the main square in our community and decided at that moment that the plan to follow was to meet with the entire municipal government in the municipal president’s office and to be able to ask for information about our compañero. The situation ended, thank God, with us recovering our compañero.

We called for a plebiscite through a statement read through the public address system in our community, where each person was asked to voluntarily come and sign sheets of paper with their name and a copy of their ID. I can tell you that nearly 5,000 signatures were collected out of the 5,000 photocopies. That is why, in 2017, we won a ruling from the Supreme Court, order 035, which resolved that we are an Indigenous community, that gave us our autonomy, our self-government, our self-determination. Subsequently, we filed another lawsuit to obtain the resources directed to our community, which was also granted to us by the Supreme Court through the Toluca regional court.

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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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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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Rebellion, Autonomy, and Communal Self-Government in the Indigenous Municipality of Cherán, Michoacán

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

La versión en español de este podcast y la transcripción se puede encontrar aquí.

On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, IGD contributor Scott Campbell interviews Yunuen Torres, a community member from the autonomous P’urhépecha municipality of Cherán, Michoacán. More than nine years ago, on April 15, 2011, the residents of Cherán rose up and removed from their community illegal loggers linked to cartels, the municipal authorities, and the police. In the time since, they created an autonomous communal government where political power rests in the hands of the community and that has been designed to meet the needs of the more than 20,000 inhabitants of Cherán.

The conversation discusses the uprising and its context, how the communal government was formed and how it functions, the changes and challenges experienced in the community as a result of nine years of autonomy, as well as how Cherán is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and what lessons and inspiration the community’s struggle may offer to other struggles and social movements in other locations.

The interview was conducted in Spanish and rerecorded in English. Many thanks to the comrade who offered their voice for this recording. The two music tracks included in this podcast are both from Cherán. The first is by Colectivo Aho and the second composed by music teacher Mario López and performed by the young musicians of the Banda Sinfónica Infantil y Juvenil Cherán K’eri. A transcript of the interview can be found below.

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The Femicidal State

Originally published on It’s Going Down

By Celia Guerrero, Pie de Página
Translated by Scott Campbell

I want to pause and think about the correct words and also recognize the linguistic paralysis produced by the maelstrom of femicidal violence. Because this is not the first time the tsunami of immediacy has removed the possibility of stopping to reflect on the importance of choosing the words with which we form our discourse. And, I assume, I am not the only one who in the urgency to speak cannot even name what or how much it hurts while I try to reflect more deeply on what we are living through.

Among the feminist reflections sparked by the atrocious femicide of Ingrid Escamilla, there is one that barely resonates and is worth lifting up: we face the abandonment of being citizens of a femicidal state to which we continue to confer our security despite it repeatedly proving itself to be the very perpetrator of violence against women and the propagator of hatred against women.

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Indigenous Nahua Community Removes Politician, Forms Self-Government to Defend its River

Originally posted on El Enemigo Común and It’s Going Down

On January 19, the Indigenous Nahua community of Zacatepec, Puebla, removed its mayor and replaced him with a Council of Elders in response to his failure to stop a toxic drainage system that is part of the Mexican government’s neoliberal Morelos Integral Project. Shortly thereafter, on January 24, Miguel López Vega, the community’s representative to the National Indigenous Congress and its Indigenous Governing Council, was detained moments after delivering official notice of this action to the state government, setting off protests and highway blockades that won his release five days later. The following day, January 30, the municipal government temporarily suspended construction of the drainage system. The below article and photos by Daliri Oropeza for Pie de Página and translated by Scott Campbell documents the assembly to remove the mayor and create a self-government.

While forming lines, residents of the Nahua community of Santa María Zacatepec look at one another. They smile. They check who is in each line, which one is the longest.

Facing the threat of a toxic drainage system emptying into the Metlapanapa River, they have decided to practice self-determination and choose their own government according to their own internal system.

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Life, Respect and Word: Chronicle of the Second Zapatista Gathering of Women Who Struggle

Originally posted on El Enemigo Común and It’s Going Down.

Originally published in Spanish by Radio Zapatista and translated by Scott Campbell. Additional photos, along with audios, can be found with the original text.

Text, audios and photos by all of us.

We dreamed “that the patriarchy burned” and that it was possible to inhabit spaces free of cruelty. For a long time, we graffitied it, theorized it, protested for it, and proposed it. We then came to shout this dream in a territory free of femicides. Here we cried it and wailed it. Here we sang it, danced it, cared for it in this valley of organization and work. From December 26 – 29, 2019, the Zapatista women sheltered us in their collective and rebellious lap to clothe us in dignity inside the seedbed carrying the name of Commander Ramona, who died 14 years ago. Walking in her footprints, in those of Susana and of all the founding mothers of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, we arrived at this gathering that never should have been. Violence against women, the topic of discussion at this international gathering, should have decreased if the systemic conditions of parity and equity we enacted as a result of feminist debates were enough. But they aren’t. These autonomous and self-managed Zapatista rebel islands, that have multiplied in the past year, resist within a rough sea of generalized violence that led to 38,000 murders in 2019 in a Mexico that doesn’t work. That same violence impacts billions of people, particularly women, boys and girls, as explained by the some 4,000 women who came from 49 countries that also don’t work.

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Four years without justice “in this country that is no longer ours”

A few words of introduction:

Four years ago, on July 31, 2015, five lives were taken in a Mexico City apartment. They were Nadia Vera Pérez, Yesenia Quiroz Alfaro, Mile Virginia Martín, Olivia Alejandra Negrete Avilés, and Rubén Espinosa Becerril. Their torture and execution-style killings received international attention, in particular because Nadia Vera, a social justice organizer and human rights defender, and Rubén Espinosa, a photojournalist, had fled to Mexico City from Veracruz following attacks and death threats due to their work. Before her murder, Nadia stated that should anything happen to her, it would be Javier Duarte who was responsible. Duarte was then governor of Veracruz and is now serving a nine-year sentence for corruption after he fled the country and was extradited from Guatemala. During his rule, widespread human rights abuses were the norm, including the assassination of journalists and political opponents.

While a few people have been detained for the murders, the state’s investigation has been egregiously irregular, incompetent, and disrespectful to the victims and their families. Over the course of four years, it has offered a variety of narratives – from a robbery gone bad to a cartel settling of accounts – yet, unsurprisingly, has assiduously avoided investigating the most likely scenario, that it was an extrajudicial assassination ordered and organized by state actors.

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Torture, Tears, and Desperation in Mexico’s Migrant Jails

Originally posted on It’s Going Down


By Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano
Translated by Scott Campbell

“‘You’re going to die! Sign your deportation and go back to your country!’ was what I heard as I struggled to recover from the asthma attack I suffered in the migrant detention center. I felt cornered by the guard and considered doing it, but remembering the problems that led me to leave my country, I dropped the idea.”

Lizzi is one of 51,607 people detained in Mexico by the National Migration Institute (INM) during the first four months of 2019. She was detained for 45 days, during which time she says she suffered physical and psychological torture. “We felt like we were in a jail, it was horrible! I had two asthma attacks inside. When we came back from the doctor, another guard asked me, “And you want to ask for refuge? Do you know you’ll be locked up for three to six months?”

A few meters from Pakal’ Ná park, near the train tracks in Palenque where hundreds of migrants meet to share their stories, the young, twenty-year-old mother recalls her painful experience. She left Honduras because she had problems with her son’s father, who belonged to one of the gangs. After years of abuse and threats, one day she decided to flee with her son to the United States to start a new life.

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