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(en) US, Phoenix Anarchists and O'odham youth protest Toxic Waste

Date Wed, 18 Oct 2006 09:28:13 +0200

IndigenousOn October 12, 2006, Indigenous People’s Day,
members from 7 valley groups stood outside of the Mexican
consulate in Phoenix to say "No!" to a proposed chemical waste
dump to be located outside the O’odham sacred village of
Quitovac, in Mexico. The site would potentially treat and separate
up to 45,000 tons of hazardous waste materials annually, including
asbestos, organochlorides, and waste sludge from industries. The
project, just a few miles south of the border, has been conducted
with no involvement of the Indigenous O'odham communities.
There were approximately 25 protesters, and three detectives from
the Phoenix PD, who were seen talking with two individuals the
police later identified as employees of the US State Department.
There were no arrests or injuries. The Phoenix Anarchist Coalition
has been working with local indigenous activists for the last month,
building relationship and solidarity in struggle. PAC will continue to
work with the amazing activists from the O'odham Youth Collective,
the Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment, and the Yoeme
Youth Alliance, and lend a hand in the continuing fight for native
land, human rights, and autonomy.

audio: wav file (4.6 mebibytes)

Phoenix Anarchist Coalition - 0:00 - 6:15
Kevin from the O'odham Youth Collective - 6:22 - 9:40
Miguel from Yoeme Youth Alliance - 9:41 - 11:48
Lori from Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment - 11:49 -
Chris from Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment - 16:25 -

Text from Phoenix Anarchist Coalition's Statement of Solidarity -


Today Phoenix Anarchist Coalition is grateful for the opportunity to
stand up in solidarity with O’odham community activists in
opposing construction of a toxic waste dump near Quitovac.
Quitovac is an ancient lagoon in the Sonoran Desert south of the
US-Mexican border. This oasis fed by natural artesian springs is the
only drinkable water in 25 miles, and so it’s not surprising that
this lagoon has been continuously inhabited by humans for
thousands of years. Many of them were the ancestors of the Tohono
O’odham of today. The oasis at Quitovac provides habitat for a
richly bio-diverse community of plants and animals as well. Quitovac
is also a site that is sacred to the O’odham religious tradition,
the location of their summer ceremonies for renewal. The proposed
toxic waste dump is by no means the first desecration of this
O’odham holy place- from corrupt Mexican government
surveyors taking away nearby Tohono O’odham winter fields
and giving them to land speculators, to the demolition of much of
the physical structure of the oasis to make room for an aborted
development scheme, to the gold mine that continues to poison
nearby residents with cyanide. Nor is O’odham resistance to
land grabs by outside adventurers new. Indeed, their tradition of
opposition to being colonized dates back at least 350 years.

So how are things different now? For one thing, Mexico is a failing
nation-state. The nationalist legacy that the Mexican government
inherited from bygone conquistador empires is now crumbling.
Throughout its claimed territory, campesinos, urban workers, and
indigenous nations are making common cause against their
common enemy- the Federales from Mexico City. They aren’t
necessarily putting their faith in electoral politics, either. No, they are
simply reclaiming the power over their own lives that had been taken
away. Indigenous tribes are taking back the lands their ancestors
lived on. Workers are fed up with union padrones who until now
have sold workers’ surrender to their friends in the employing
classes over empanadas and margaritas at the country club. As a
result, workers in factories are creating their own grassroots labor
unions to oppose the graft of the government- and
business-sanctioned “official” unions. The people of Oaxaca
have taken community matters into their own hands in open popular
assemblies. All over Mexico, people are saying no more! Enough
already! We will no longer trade our lives and our dreams for
so-called populism and pseudo-socialist rhetoric! Mexico’s
governing classes have made too many compromises with U.S. and
world business interests at the expense of the common people of

We are waking up as well. We are becoming increasingly aware of
our power as people when we stand together in solidarity. In the past
Phoenix anarchists have been honored to join with the Colorado
American Indian Movement to celebrate our kinship as human
beings and to oppose Denver’s extremely distasteful annual
parade in memory of Columbus, the genocidal sociopath. And today
we in the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition think that Quitovac is worth
standing up for. The world industrial economy is jeopardizing the
careful ecological balance that sustains all life on Earth. That being
the case, how can we afford to let the business profiteers cause so
much harm to a way of life that demonstrates how humans can live
in balance, and even in abundance, in the harshest of natural
environments? At one time, all our ancestors were indigenous to
somewhere, until conquerors came, murdering whole cultures and
violently forcing people off their land. Then they sought to
consolidate their conquests by stripping human meaning away from
the people’s own lives and the Earth on which they lived, instead
placing the source of human meaning in the sky after you die. That
is how the conquest of the indigenous happened all over the world,
and that is how it continues to happen today. While we can’t all
be indigenous, we can recognize that we are all family, and, if we are
to survive, we must re-learn to live in balance with the Earth and
with each other.

And that is why we must stand up and speak in defense of Quitovac.
Things being as they are in Mexico, this is a great opportunity to
build alliances in a way that promises the possibility of re-making
Mexican society in accordance with the values of freedom, dignity,
justice, and equality. For twelve years, the Zapatistas of Chiapas
have inspired all of Mexico and even the whole world. In that same
spirit, we are now deeply inspired by the O’odham and other
indigenous communities whenever they stand up for their land, the
integrity of their sacred sites, and their rights to self-determination.
Through solidarity with them, we hope to halt and reverse the
damage being done by the conqueror/settler life-way to the Earth
and its people, ourselves included.

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