Translating Resistance

Recently, I happened across a news article that unexpectedly sent me drifting more than 15 years into the past. Upon arriving there and sifting through its dusty, neglected contents, I meandered back to the present following the thread of a certain activity that had its origins in that seemingly forgotten corner. Though it spanned years of time and thousands of miles of distance, the recollective detour lasted perhaps 30 seconds. When I came back, I found myself doing the very same act that I’d used to return me to the present: I was translating.

The article in question was about 12 rappers from the collective La Insurgencia who were recently sentenced to two years in prison in Spain for “promoting terrorism” due to lyrics about a now-defunct leftist group. Such a sentence for lyrics is of course absurd, but the Spanish state, especially since passing the Ley Mordaza in 2015, has excelled at zealously targeting political expression which does not reify its own power and image. Another radical hip-hop artist, Pablo Hasel, is currently facing 12 years in prison for the contents of his opinions and songs. Francoism hasn’t gone anywhere, as made clear by events surrounding Catalonia’s push for independence last year, it just wears the cloak of democracy.

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Mexico: Idealized Nature: On Absolutism and Misanthropy

Originally posted on It’s Going Down
From Propagación Anárquica
Translated by Scott Campbell

There is an ever-spreading idealistic, romantic, and superfluous tendency regarding the existence of a pristine, virgin, and idyllic nature that has never been touched by human beings and that must be preserved without having any contact with our species. There are many, many problems and shallow reflections regarding this stance about a pristine and virgin nature.

First of all, we must be aware of the context in which we are currently living: in the Anthropocene, an era in which the industrial human being has caused the greatest changes of the past 300 years. “Climate change has disrupted all ecosystems in the world.” That is to say, the industrial human being, by contaminating the water, earth, and air, has negatively disrupted all the planet’s biomes, that is, there is no pristine, untouched nature left in the entire world. All ecosystems have been touched by climate change.

Now, another issue originating from this Christian idealization and myopic romanticization of virgin nature is the belief that the human being in general, our species in its essence, is inherently ecocidal and destructive of nature, which is entirely false and erroneous.

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Three Members of Indigenous Organization Killed in Ambush in Oaxaca

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

A CODEDI highway blockade in November 2017.

Via Centro de Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

Below is a translation of the most recent statement from the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights (CODEDI) following the ambush and killing of three of their members last night. In the audio interview below, Abraham Ramírez Vázquez, the head of CODEDI and former political prisoner, states the ambush was orchestrated by the judicial police (the armed wing of the state prosecutor’s office) and was ordered by the governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat. For background on CODEDI and its origins in Santiago Xanica, see this article.

The organization CODEDI (Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights) is an autonomous organization that works for the indigenous communities of the Southern Mountains, Central Valleys and Coast of Oaxaca, in solidarity with all just causes. We currently work with 50 communities, creating the dream of living in autonomy through daily practices, with more than 20 years serving the peoples of Oaxaca. We are part of different alliances in the state, country, and world; alliances based in processes of autonomy and struggle. The leader of our organization is Abraham Ramírez Vázquez, an indigenous leader from Santiago Xanica who was imprisoned from 2004 to 2011 by order of former governor José Murat, the father of the current governor.

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Mexico: Letter from Anarchist Prisoner Luis Fernando Sotelo on His Resentencing

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

Editor’s note: Luis Fernando Sotelo was arrested in Mexico City in November 2014 after a protest for the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa. During the demonstration, a Metrobús station and a Metrobús (a rapid transit bus service) were burned. After nearly two years of proceedings, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison in September 2016. Following an appeal, he was resentenced to 13 years. He has since been resentenced again, as he explains below.

Via Ké Huelga
Translated by Scott Campbell

To those who resist the strategies and apparatuses of capitalist power.
To the compañeras of the world who rebel and refuse to accept forms of domination.

Turning my attention to the reciprocity that I believe is the foundation of true revolutionary solidarity, I wish to share a chapter of my life, reflecting even behind the prison bars, here in front of the desks of the judicial system, the arm of the state, where the defense of freedom and justice becomes a monetary exchange.

So I’ll tell you: Here, around midday, without taking me by surprise, I heard the messenger (also a prisoner and in charge of delivering the permits to go see the judges). He shouted my name and I knew then that I would be receiving news from the Fourth Criminal Court, that they had issued a new sentence. I was given the news in the dock of the 32nd Court. I suppose the one who read me the ruling – he didn’t identify himself – was a secretary. I only saw him.

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Cadereyta Prison Riot: Chronicle of a Preannounced Massacre

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

Editor’s note: On October 9th, a riot occurred at the Cadereyta Social Reintegration Center (CERESO), a state prison in Nuevo León, Mexico, in which 18 prisoners were killed and more than 30 wounded.

By Miguel María Vidal, Centro de Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

Callousness kills better than a R15 to silence the cries of protest…”

That Monday…at night while I checked my notifications, I noticed a few that said “something” was happening at the Cadereyta CERESO. That phrase “something is happening” brought up memories of recent tragic events in Monterrey, for example natural disasters, massacres, and riots like the ones that happened previously at the Apodaca CERESO and Topo Chico Prison. Given the evident spread of this rumor, I decided to turn on the television to see the news, in search of corroborating it and being certain about what was happening. On the news programs – on Monday night and Tuesday morning – the first things I heard were statements from authorities who at that moment said it was just a fight among people deprived of freedom. Hours later I would realize that these initial statements were an attempt to dismiss what was actually occurring. Time, valuable time, that could be used to resolve the situation unfolding inside the CERESO.

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Writings Available in Print

Recently, a few pieces of writing I’ve done have become available in printed form. In the interest of propagandizing, I’m sharing them here.

Earlier this year, I wrote two articles for It’s Going Down critiquing the eco-extremist group Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) and their supporters. They caused a bit of an uproar in one corner of the internet and led to numerous other articles, statements, podcasts, and death threats. The two pieces have since been put together in a zine that can be found here.


At the end of last year, I conducted a podcast interview with Sofi, an anarchist compañera from Mexico City deeply involved in solidarity work with anarchist prisoners in Mexico. The interview covers a lot of ground, discussing various prisoners, conditions inside Mexican prisons, and the incredible autonomous organizing prisoners and their supporters are carrying out on both the inside and outside. The translated transcript has been made into a zine. Check it out here.


Last month, the anthology Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief, edited by Cindy Milstein, was published by AK Press. As they describe it:

We can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively. Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for everyone. Addressing tragedies from Fukushima to Palestine, incarceration to eviction, AIDS crises to border crossings, and racism to rape, the intimate yet tenacious writing in this volume shows that mourning can pry open spaces of contestation and reconstruction, empathy and solidarity.

With each passing day, it feels like a volume such as this is increasingly necessary and urgent. Alongside powerful works addressing a variety of subjects, both inspiring and heartrending, I’m honored to have a few words of my own included that introduce the translation of a letter by Mirtha Luz Pérez Robledo. The letter was written on the one-year anniversary of the murder of her daughter, social justice organizer Nadia Vera. Nadia was killed along with four others in 2015, in all likelihood by the state, in what is known as the Narvarte Massacre. Mirtha’s words weave an aching portrait of personal and collective loss within a context of pervasive injustice and impunity. I encourage readers to pick up a copy of the book in order to engage with them and the other resonant contributions found within.

State of Mexico Manifesto: The Burning Voice of Those Who Resist on the Periphery

Somos el medio
Translated by Scott Campbell

April 10, 2017

Today we say: Enough!

Beyond the last metro station the buses depart for the end of the world…

We are from that horseshoe that surrounds Mexico City; that blankets it, gives it food, water and air to live.

We are the ones who work in the big corporations, in the gentrified and commercially valuable neighborhoods; who clean homes, offices, who make food sprout from the fields.

We are those people whose right to walk is an obligation and the bicycle a source of work; who see half our lives ground away in the guts of public transportation.

We are those who live behind the contaminated river, among massacred trees and under an enormous haze of filth.

We are those who are offered egg shells as homes and shopping malls as the only place to expand the spirit.

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IGDCAST: Anarchist Organizing and Solidarity Inside and Outside of Mexican Prisons


Originally published to It’s Going Down
Translated by Scott Campbell
Download and Listen Here

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.

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Mexico: Teacher and Community Police Leader Disappeared and Murdered


Originally posted on It’s Going Down
From Desinformémonos
Translated by Scott Campbell

Chilpancingo, Guerrero | According to local press reports, the body of teacher Irineo Salmerón Dircio was found the morning of November 25. The teacher and coordinator of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC-PC) was kidnapped by an armed group on November 23.

According to state press reports, one of the two bodies found in bags near the community of Amate Amarillo in the municipality of Chilapa de Álvarez belonged to the coordinator of the CRAC-PC, who had been kidnapped by an armed group the previous Wednesday.

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Update and Letters from Anarchist Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Mexico


Mexico: Anarchist Prisoners End Hunger Strike but Remain Fasting
From Anarchist Black Cross – Mexico
Translated by Scott Campbell

Day 15 of the anarchist prisoners’ hunger strike.

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.

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