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(en) Mexico, Police Terrorize San Salvador Atenco, At least 2 Dead, 50 Injured, More than 200 Jailed

Date Fri, 12 May 2006 20:15:14 +0300

Here is a factual summary taken from various Mexican news sources of
what happened / is happening in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico.
The conflict began on Wednesday, May 3, when flower vendors from San
Salvador Atenco attempted to sell flowers in the nearby community of
Texcoco at the site of a planned WalMart megamall. Police brutally
displaced the vendors, beating many people in the process. In
response, the Atenco-based Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT,
for its initials in Spanish) mobilized protests, which were brutally
repressed by police. News reports indicate police killed at least two
Atenco residents, including a 14-year-old boy, and at least 50 or
more are injured, some of them critically. Eleven police were
detained by Atenco residents who demanded an end to the repression
and the release of prisoners in exchange for the release of the
detained police. Instead of negotiating an exchange, the Federal
Preventative Police (antiriot police) entered Atenco during the early
morning hours of Thursday, May 4, declared a state of siege, and
began a house to house search for the detained police, severely
beating and arresting Atenco residents.
The bloody results of the police terror on May 4 was: 275 people
held in a jail or a hospital (Enlace Zapatista report, May 5). This
includes women and children of different ages. Several are still
considered disappeared or unaccounted for. At least 5 are chained to
hospital beds as prisoners. An autopsy revealed that the 14 year-old
boy was shot by the police. Another Atenco resident died after
police cracked his head open. Many of the leaders of the FPDT were
arrested when police searched their homes without warrants, directed
by a masked informant. Townspeople recognized the informant's voice
as he directed police. Three of the top leaders of the FPDT are in a
maximum security prison, charged with kidnapping.
Five foreign citizens were deported from Mexico, at least three of
them women. They told stories of police sexual abuse and rape of
detained women. Twenty four women have now filed complaints with
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission.
The May 11 edition of La Jornada reported that 172 people have been
formally charged and will stand trial. However, the judge threw out
the original charge of conspiracy, a very serious charge which would
prevent them from being released on bond. Now, 144 people are charged
with attacks on roads, a lesser offense for which they can bail out
if they can come up with approximately 24 thousand pesos (around
$2,000 dollars). Charges against another 17 were completely
dismissed. However, 28 remain in prison charged with kidnapping for
the detention of police on May 3, including the FPDT leaders Ignacio
del Valle, his son César del Valle and Felipe Alvarez.

Zapatistas Declare Red Alert: Marcos Changes Plans
San Salvador Atenco is an autonomous (self-governing) community a
little to the east of Mexico City and is an adherent to the Other
Campaign. On April 26, just one week before the police rampage,
Subcomandante Marcos entered Atenco on horseback as part of the Other
Campaign's tour. He received a tumultuous welcome, as residents
pledged to assist the Other Campaign with the strength of their numbers.
Upon learning of the police-initiated disturbances, the Zapatistas
suspended the Other Campaign's schedule of events, declared a Red
Alert throughout their Chiapas communities, and called on adherents
of the Other Campaign to mobilize in support of Atenco residents.
This means that the published schedule for the Other Campaign has
been superseded by the emergency in Atenco. Subcomandante Marcos said
he will remain in Mexico City until all the Atenco prisoners are
released. In other words, the Zapatistas take the attack on Atenco
as a direct attack against the Other Campaign!
Subcomandante Marcos called for peaceful protests beginning May 4,
including blocking roads, marches and educational forums. Marcos
himself led a march from Mexico City to Atenco on May 6. During his
appearance in Atenco, he lashed out at the misrepresentation of
events by Mexico's corporate media. (A NarcoNews report identifies
deliberate misrepresentation by two Los Angeles Times reporters.)

"Pay Back"
It appears that the police were just waiting for the right excuse
and the okay from above to smash San Salvador Atenco, in particular
the FPDT. Its recent history provides a clue to the motive for the
excessive police violence against a campesino (peasant farmer)
On October 21, 2001, the community learned that 70% of its land had
been expropriated by the federal government of Vicente Fox Quesada in
order to build a new international airport complex in Texcoco. In
response, it formed the FPDT to oppose the Fox administration's plan
to build the airport on their communally owned lands. After a year of
vigorous protests, remembered around the world for the sound of their
machetes clanging together in Mexico City's Zócalo, the government
canceled its plans, much to the dismay of anxious investors. The
community has remained highly organized ever since. Atenco is famous
for its militant, machete wielding protesters who now participate in
popular mobilizations across central Mexico, including those
protesting a WalMart store near the archaeological site of
Teotihuacán (close to Atenco). For the past week, members of the
FPDT accompanied the Other Campaign during its travels through the
state of Mexico and also in Mexico City on May 1, providing security
for Subcomandante Marcos.
Those who had planned to invest in the multiple properties belonging
to the airport complex were extremely upset by the government's
decision to cancel the airport and the expropriation of land once
claimed by eminent domain. This was to be a multibillion dollar
project and a key piece of infrastructure needed to support expanded
"free trade." The Fox government was severely criticized as being
"weak." The impression that most Mexicans and internationals had was
that Atenco's residents had backed the federal government down. Many
analysts think that the excessive police brutality was "pay back" for
the 2002 victory, the FPDT's continued militance and its important
role in the Other Campaign.

Mary Ann Tenuto-Sanchez May 11, 2006

"May the heart beat where it, in fact, does,
that is, on the left."
-Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, July of 2005.

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