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(en) Black Flag #222 - News (part 2 of 2)

From anarcho@geocities.com
Date Mon, 9 Dec 2002 02:47:45 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

No Borders in Strasbourg

The Strasbourg No Border camp during the last week of July was one of a
series of protest camps organised on important international borders.
    Strasbourg was chosen because of the Shengen Information System
computer which is located there, which contains information on all the
known immigrants and asylum seekers in Europe. The camp brought
together three thousand participants from all over Europe, especially
France and Germany. Some people had travelled from Latin America, and
there was a big presence of immigrants mainly from North Africa. The
purpose of the camp was to bring people together for discussion and
action. Every day there were a series of discussions and a
demonstration or action in the town.
    On Wednesday the demonstration was attacked by the police with gas,
charges and rubber bullets. They broke the leg of one protester and
arrested thirty people, one of whom was later sent down for eight
months. The next day the police declared all demonstrations in
Strasbourg illegal, and criminalised any group of more than five people
in the street and any one with a flag or banner and any handing out of
leaflets. After this announcement an atmosphere of fear and panic took
over in the camp for a short while. An immenent police attack was
feared which, given the large numbers of small children and sans
papiers (undocumented people) in the camp, would have been disastrous.
The repression achieved its object to some extent as we had to devote a
lot of time and energy on how to demonstrate without endangering the
camp and how to leave the camp at the end ensuring everyone's safety.
We had up till that point been touring the banlieus (estates) every day
with a bus and music making links with the poor communities of
Strasbourg. After the criminalisation we were asked not to come as the
people feared police repression, so one of the most important aspects
of the camp was stopped. However we continued to demonstrate in
Strasbourg city centre every day with music, street theatre and banner
    Arrests happened continuously and so did solidarity demos; there
were pickets of hundreds of people outside the court and police
station. The support we received from the Strasbourgois on these was
very welcome as people cheered us and abused the police as we were
arrested or forcibly bussed back to the camp. On the last day there
were two demonstrations, one in the centre of Strasbourg and one which
tried to go to the Shengen computer. This march made it perhaps two
hundred yards down the road before being blocked by lines of riot
police, and so detoured into Germany, and went from there to the other
demo by train via the jail. The crowd was again attacked by the police
with gas but there was not the carnage we had been scared of.
    The daily life of the camp - cooking, toilet digging, security -
was organised around a series of barrios with communal kitchens and a
daily meeting. At times the functioning of the camp was in danger of
taking over from all other activity as the amount of work needed was
immense. Political discussions, which had to be translated into five
languages, often started at midnight as people arrived late from the
demos and then had to eat, by which time most people were drunk.
However the experience of collective living and decision making,
experimenting with structures and methods, was inspiring. It was very
different from an action like Genoa where it felt to many people that
all the crucial decisions had been made beforehand and we were passive
consumers of an event. Self organised immigrant groups like MIB
(Immigrants Movement in the Banlieus) from France or Voice from Germany
had been involved in the organising from the start and the human
interaction in the camp was a great experience. Learning and shouting
chants in different languages on the demos made international
solidarity feel like something real instead of a leftie cliché
(although the Black Flag contingent did walk around Germany for hours
shouting 'short people are illegal' due to an unfortunate pronunciation
error). If we are searching for a new tactic for international actions,
this looks like the way to go.


Nine months of direct action and community solidarity by peasant
farmers have stopped the government plan to build the new Mexico City
airport on their land.  This is an incredible victory for people power
over big business and the state.
    The struggle culminated in July with a virtual insurrection in
Atenco and 3 other towns.  Over 4 days thousands of peasants and
supporters blockaded highways and used machetes and molotovs to defy
over 10,000 police.  The insurgents captured and held 19 government
officials and police hostage, in a successful bid to free their own
prisoners. The price of victory was high however - police violence
killed local man Enrique Espinoza Juarez, who died from injuries
sustained on 11th July.
    On 7th August president Fox issued a decree cancelling the previous
government decrees expropriating the peasants' land.  A week later,
machetes aloft, the peasants marched victoriously through Mexico City.
Chanting 'Atenco lives, the struggle continues", they demanded that all
charges and arrest warrants be dropped against those facing legal
action from the struggle, and declared that they would fight on against
the Plan Puebla Panama and in solidarity with all just causes of the
people in Mexico.
Ever since October 2001 the peasant farmers and inhabitants of the area
around San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco have been resisting the
governments efforts to compulsorily purchase 10,000 acres of their land
for the new airport.  All attempts by the state to even start
preliminary work for the airport have been stopped by community direct
action.  The machetes of the peasants - carried proudly aloft on all
their demos and actions - have become a symbol of resistance.
Solidarity has been developed with striking students and workers,
Zapatista supporters and many other groups.
    The struggle erupted on 11 July 2002. At least 1000 riot police
attacked a 100-strong peasants' march.  30 peasants were injured and 19
disappeared, possibly arrested.
    Clashes escalated as the community mobilised itself.  Hundreds,
then thousands, took to the streets and blockaded the roads.  The towns
of San Salvador Atenco, Acuexcomac, Magdalena Panoaya and Tocuila were
in revolt, with around 3,500 locals on the streets.
    300 peasants stormed the sub office of the Attorney General in
Texcoco and took 7 employees hostage, including the Assistant Attorney
General.  Soon the peasants held 19 officials, including at least 3
police. They demanded their own prisoners be set free in exchange for
the officials being released.
    By the afternoon of 11th July 10,000 police, including military
police, were surrounding the area as the peasants fortified their
defences.  3 police cars were burnt and 3 Coca Cola tractor trailers
seized to be used along with police vehicles in the barricades.  As
night fell the locals were digging trenches around the occupied areas.
    Over the next 4 days the revolt continued as resisters blockaded
highways in the area, and were joined by supporters from around Mexico.
On 14 July the government released the 11 jailed peasants, and the
following day the government officials and police were released
unharmed.  The government conceded that plans for the airport may have
to be modified or even cancelled.
The government defeat was complete when an announcement by President
Fox on 1st August was confirmed on 7th August by the official
cancellation of the decrees to expropriate the peasants' land.
The peasants' victory march through Mexico City on 14th August showed
their determination to continue the fight.  We will maintain a constant
struggle for the absolute liberty of the peasants facing charges and we
demand an end to the legal threats against the members of the Front of
Peoples in Defence of the Land, they declared.  They demanded
compensation for the family of  Enrique Espinoza Juarez, murdered by
the police.
    The peasants see their battle as part of a bigger picture.  They
declared their opposition to the Plan Puebla Panama, and the drive
towards a Free Trade Agreement for all the Americas. The Plan Puebla
Panama, backed by the Mexican, US and Central American governments,
aims to "develop" the area from Puebla in south central Mexico down to
Panama, forcing peasants off the land into sweatshops, plundering
natural resources and exploiting the indigenous and other poor local
    The inspiring message from the courageous peasant people who have
defeated the might of the Mexican state is "Let us be clear that the
Front of Peoples in Defence of the Land will act in solidarity with all
just causes which defend the dignity of the people of Mexico. There is
no doubt that our struggle will be unbreakable in the face of all
aggression against our rights."

Argentina: The struggle continues

The process of working class self-organisation continues.
    Links are being made across the country and across organisations.
For example, more than eight hundred delegates attended the First
National Conference of Plants and Factories Occupied and In Struggle on
Saturday, August 24 organised by the Bloque Piquetero Nacional
(National Picketeers' Bloc) and the Movimiento Independiente de
Jubilados y Desocupados (Independent Movement of Pensioners and
Unemployed). The delegates came from factories, trade unions, shop
steward committees and popular assemblies and met in the plant of the
Grissinópoli company, occupied by its workers.
    The Conference approved a resolution on the expropriation of the
machinery, buildings and capital of the companies and their handing
over to their workers. Self-management is already being practised in a
wide range of workplaces (including supermarkets, mines, clinics,
transport, metal works, printshops), all across the country. Some have
occupied their workplaces and ran them for more than 10 months. A
national march in support of the occupied factories was agreed for
September 10, as was the active participation in the roadblocks of the
Picketeers. It was also agreed that delegates from the occupied
factories attend the next National Assembly of employed and unemployed
     As we argued in the last issue of Black Flag, the need to co-
ordinate struggles and solidarity was an essential next step. This has
started. As one group of workers put it, "We share the motto: if they
attack one, they attack all of us." Equally as important, the Argentine
workers are showing a healthy distrust of hierarchy. Delegates are
returning to their factories to discuss in assemblies the proposals for
the Second National Meeting. Self-management is replacing government.
As predicted, the call for occupying workplaces and placing them under
workers' self-management has been raised and put into practice.
    Elsewhere, the neighbourhood assemblies have been developing
collective solutions to the crisis in housing in the form of
"assemblies okupas." The assemblies have taken the initiative,
reclaiming unused but habitable spaces. By guaranteeing the right to
the ceiling, it replaces property rights with use rights, putting it at
the service of the community. The occupations are run collectively.
When the police ask the squatters who is in charge, the assembly
invariably answers "we are all people in charge."
    The popular assemblies are also collectively resisting attempts at
evictions, be it housing or factories.
    Slowly but surely, the people of Argentina are creating an
alternative to the State and capi

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