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(en) Mexico, LA anarchist Joaquin Cienfuegos: Report on Atenco Mexico 6/20 - 6/24]

Date Fri, 30 Jun 2006 06:46:32 +0300

How the Movement in Atenco was born:
In more than ten thousand acres of land, in Chimalbacan, Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl,
in the municipality of Texcoco (in the towns of Santa Cruz, San Felipe, Tocuila,
Magdalena Panoaya, San Andres), in the municipality of Atenco (in the towns of
Colonia Francisco I. Madero, San Salvador, Acuexcomac, Nexquipayac, Istapa,
Santa Rosa), Ecatepec, on October 21, 2001 the government expropriated their
land. From this day on, the people started organizing in the Frente de Pueblos
en Defensa de la Tierra, with the founders Ignacio del Valle (who is detained
in a maximum security prison) and his daughter America del Valle (who is
clandestine). All of the people organizing were farmers and their families.

Before they had formed the Frente they had a small organization, but
through the struggle against the expropriation of their lands they won
the solidarity of more people from their community, from indigenous
people, and from other communities. At this point they mobilized, and
from that moment there was police repression as well. They started
investigating the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de La Tierra, and who
they were.

The PRIstas who live within these communities have different interests
than the farmers and the majority of people. They were the ones
principally who started contacting the authorities. They would give
information on who were the leaders, what they did, how they did it, and
who participated to the enforcers of the government and their
intelligence. At that time the PRI was in power in the state of Mexico
and have remained in charge of the state of Mexico.

The Frente is made up of its members, its supporters, and its
sympathizers. Then you have those in the community who are neutral, and
then you have the PRIstas who are the minority. The majority of the
community are farmers. All the Frente had to do to call on the community
was to release three bottle rockets in the air, which is the call on the
people. The people`s own consciousness as Atenquenses made them join in
on the fight, according to a compa from the FPDT (Frente de Pueblos en
Defensa de la Tierra), and their hatred for the police. Their symbol of
the Machete was born, because that was the tool of work as farmers and
peasants, and that´s going to be their symbol forever.

A compañero from the Frente tells the story of their struggle, "First
the community organized in their community, and they closed and retook
their highway. Then we mobilized in the city of Mexico. People got
involved and youth joined in because of their parents and their
families. In November, we had a huge march on horseback, with bicycles,
and in cars. This is when we first got repressed by the police, on the
way to the march. They hit horses so people fell from them, they hit us
with batons, and shot tear gas." They continued to march and to defend
themselves, and sent the first message to the government that they
weren’t going to let themselves get beaten down and stopped. There was a
split in the media, some supported, and even said, "They needed to
manifest and defend themselves, was the government expecting them to
give the police roses?" From then on, there was always a police presence
at their marches, riot police, traffic police and so on. They also had a
successful march in Toluca, the capital.

They always upheld self-defense of the people, but they also didn´t
romanticize violence, they recognize that there´s a difference. They
were tired of letting themselves get beaten up.

There was a year of protests and demonstrations. The governor of the
state of Mexico was Arturo Montier. He was preparing to go visit Alcoma,
and on a Thursday, July 11, 2002 (a date everyone from the FPDT
remembers), there was a demonstration against the governor. On a bridge
there was a very bloody confrontation between the police and the
demonstrators. The police hid under the bridge and came out to attack
the march. People were beaten, tear gassed, and shot at with live
ammunition. Ignacio was hit with a tear gas canister on the head, and
two people were shot in the ankle. Women and men were detained. This was
all preplanned by the police, because they knew of the activities of the
FPDT beforehand (who have infiltrators in their organization as well,
who give information to the police). There were state police and plain
clothes police who attacked the march.

People who resisted were able to get away and back to Atenco. They
called on Atenco by sending out the three bottle rockets in the air. On
this day the people of Atenco shut down the road and highway in Atenco.
The media started calling them, Los Macheteros, and they´re proud to be
that. From that day there were political prisoners. People got away from
the police at the march by hiding in people´s houses and ejidos, some
were turned in but many of them got away. Ignacio del Valle was taken to
a hospital, the police dragged him out of the hospital, beat, tortured
him, and detained him. One compañera was able to get away by changing
herself into a nurses uniform.

It came down to taking up drastic strategies to saving themselves and
the prisoners detained. They held police as hostages in their center
until they released the political prisoners. They had the civility of
not beating, torturing, or raping the police that they held captive,
whereas the police and the state do not. There was more state
repression, they surrounded all of the periphery of Atenco, and shut
down all entrances of Atenco. All of the state owned media was against
them, but they had to do this because they had no other choice. At this
point they got the support that the media did not give them, from social
movement organizations, students, progressive lawyers with economic
resources, food, and moral support. This to me always seems a better
strategy than relying on the state owned corporate media for support who
never will stand with the people because they are tools of the
government to control people by disinforming the public. We have to rely
on our strengths and create solidarity with other communities and
organizations to minimize our weaknesses. The movement in Atenco was
able to defeat the government on this occasion. The political prisoners
were freed and they didn´t build an airport.

Atenco Today:

When the attack on Atenco happened on May 4th, the media also supported
the police, and promoted the people defending themselves as the problem.
The police beat independent photographers and tried to take their
cameras as the corporate media exploited the insecurities of people.
They kept repeating the images of demonstrators beating a cop in self
defense. They didn´t show the massacre that happened by the police in
Atenco. They didn´t talk about the people who were killed, Javier Cortes
and Alexis Benhemua. The only people who investigated were an
independent human rights organization, Miguel Agustin PRODH.

The prisoners are being held for kidnapping, attacks on media, and
organized crime. The political prisoners have been on hunger strike
since they were detained. None of the cops have been punished for THEIR
organized crime on the people of Atenco. They said they didn´t carry
weapons, that Alexis was killed by the Frente.

"The prisoners have proof of what was done to them, the police don´t
have proof of what they say we did."

"The government is scared, because they knew that the Other Campaign is
a success. We were connecting with everyone and all social organizations
from the left and the bottom, and everyone who was anti-party,
anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist."

-From political prisoners being detained

In Texcoco, a day before the attack, the state government said that the
flower vendors could sell, and they made an accord with the FPDT. When
the day came, the police blocked the flower vendors again, so the
vendors along with the FPDT, who were doing security for them, marched
in Texcoco. The police attacked them and they defended themselves. The
police shot rubber bullets, tear gas, mace, and projectiles that knocked
people unconscious. They detained the organizers of that march, and the
people in Atenco shut down their highway and held two local police
hostage. The community of Atenco tried dialogue before the police came
into Atenco. In an interview the human rights organization Agustin PRODH
did with 3 state policemen who had confessed that the orders from the
top were, "beat anything that moves."

The Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra, is an action based
organization. They say that they´re not there to get the media
attention, but they are there to take action and to liberate Atenco and
the political prisoners.

(I will report on Atenco later next week when I return to Mexico City /

Note: In the next three days I spent time with my family in Michoacan,
Mexico who I hadn´t seen in years. It was great to see them and share
stories and hardships. We have different levels of misery on both sides
of the border but neither of us are living well off. They shared with me
stories of work, and attempts crossing to the other side of la linea,
and what they had to go through. It was good seeing them.

Report from Oaxaca, Mexico 06-23-06 and 06-24-06

I entered the City of Oaxaca in the afternoon. The first thing that was
visible was the graffiti and the wheat pasting that was anti-government,
anarchist, and anti-governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. A police station was
covered in Anarchist A´s.

I met with comrades from the OIDHO, Organizaciones Indias por los
Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca (Indian Organizations for the Human Rights of
Oaxaca) who are part of the Alianza Magonista Zapatista (Magonista
Zapatista Alliance). The next day they took me to their encampment at
the Zocalo where teachers have been fighting and struggling for the last
couple of weeks.

The teachers union, Seccion 22, has recuperated the Zocalo for the last
couple of days demanding an end to the privatization of education (that
would make it only accessible to the rich where as of now it´s free and
accessible to anyone). Their new demand has been that the PRIsta (member
of the Partido Revolucionario Institutonal / Institutional Revolutionary
Party) governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, resigns.

On June 14, 2006, 40,000 teachers in the Zocalo were attacked by the
police at 4 AM. Five thousand police entered the Zocalo, burning back
packs, tents, food, and supplies that belonged to the teachers. They
attacked the people who were camping, which were the 40,000 teachers and
500,000 people who supported them. To this day there is an uncertainty
of how many people were killed, but a child and a teacher is certain.
There are people who have been disapappeared, meaning they were taken by
the police and no one knows where they are and if they are alive.

After the police attacked, the teachers and the popular movement in
support defended themselves with sticks, rocks, and whatever they could
pick up from the street. El OIDHO was there, and one of the comrades was
telling me what happened. When the police detained 12 teachers inside
the police quarters, the teachers held 8 cops in detention inside the
teacher encampment (with sticks and rocks). The teachers were able to
negotiate the release of the teachers, and they released the cops. There
were hundreds of injured on the side of the teachers and on the side of
the police.

The police destroyed the pirate radio station of the teacher encampment,
so youth from the university (Universidad Autonoma de Benito Juarez en
Oaxaca) retook the radio station at the university to inform the public
over the struggle of the teachers.

The support for the teachers and the anti-government sentiment is in the
majority today in Oaxaca. The reason why the struggle has been
successful has been because they have popular support. There were
500,000 people who joined in at the encampment who aren´t teachers.

The state still tried to repress the encampment by shooting rubber
bullets, tear gas and by beating people. They shot tear gas canisters
from aboard helicopters (that the state own media uses as well to report
on PRI organized marches in support for Ulises). They broke into the
ExPalace and shot rubber bullets from windows they broke from the second
floor. However, the people outnumbered the police.


Today en El Zocalo, a social organization, El Frente Amplio de
Liberacion Popular (The Broad Front for Popular Liberation) distributed
some food for the teachers and people who were in support of the
struggle there.

The organizations involved are, Seccion 22 (the teacher´s union), PUNCN
(Promotora Por La Unidad Nacional Contra el Neoliberalismo / Promoter
for the National Unity Against Neoliberalism which OIDHO and the Alianza
Magonista Zapatista is part of), FSODO (Frente Sindicato de
Organizaciones Democraticas de Oaxaca / Syndicate Front for the
Democratic Organizations of Oaxaca made up of unions throughout Oaxaca
in solidarity), Padre de Familia (Father of the Family), students, the
community, and people. These organizations and individuals have
organized mega-marches in the City of Oaxaca, and a fourth mega-march is
in planning. Today there was also a popular assembly of the different
regions of Oaxaca in the city, which the Alianza Magonista Zapatista
took part of.

The atmosphere in Oaxaca today is of rebellion and there’s a wanting for
liberation of bad governments, and a wanting for self-determination and

(I will continue to report on Oaxaca in the next couple of days).

En lucha,

Joaquin Cienfuegos
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