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(en) Defenstrator #21 - Not for Rent! Uprising in Atenco - By mcmike

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.defenestrator.org/)
Date Thu, 26 Dec 2002 05:10:56 -0500 (EST)

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

On October 2, Mexican President Vincente Fox
announced an official government decree which approve
plans for the creation of a six-runway, 2.3 billion dollar
international airport, in the municipalities of Texcoco
and San Salvador Atenco, located just 20 miles outside
Mexico City, The proposed airport plans would destroy
5000 hectares of San Salvador Atenco farmland. Leaving
the campesinos, many who have worked the lands for two
generations, in a desperate situation. Under the proposed
plan 4.375 families would be forced off ....

This is the first, in a new
regular section, that we at the Defenestrator hope
to use as a means of more consciously
documenting and celebrating the transformational
movements, and movement, people across the
planet create, struggle for, and sustain. Not For
Rent! is a project within the Defenestrator project
that finds its inspiration in autonomous social
movements and acts of creativity and struggle from
across the world. To be No For Rent! is to reject
the empty promises of the dollar, of all illegitimate
authority. It is to ignore convention, to reroute our
own courses. It is to tell the boss, the cop, the
landowner, the judge- that were taking back what's
ours. To be Not For Rent! is to transform the world
around us through our own hands, heads, and

Hopefully this project will highlight and explore
creativity and spirit of revolt and resistance in our
world and the inspiring and igniting lives and
movements that exist in all parts of the world
which are not spoken of or celebrated in the media.
Stories and accounts which find themselves,
because of their own self-determination, to be in
direct conflict with mainstream media interests.

In order for this Not For Rent! section to thrive, we
need your help! This section also doubles as a
continuing call out for submissions! Whether your
moved by the Mexican farmers who told the
government and its big businesses to piss off on
their plans to build a multinational-multibillion
dollar airport on their traditional farmlands (like this
issues focus)! Or you've come across an example
down the block, across town, and on the other side
of the world of people reclaiming their own lives let
us know! You can contact us at
mcmike@defenestrator.org or mcmike c/o
Defenestrator po box ..........phila. pa. 19143

NotForRent! NotForRent! NotForRent!
NotForRent! NotForRent! NotForRent!

Atenco Attacks Back! On October 2, Mexican
President Vincente Fox announced an official
government decree which approve plans for the
creation of a six-runway, 2.3 billion dollar
international airport, in the municipalities of
Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco, located just 20
miles outside Mexico City, The proposed airport
plans would destroy 5000 hectares of San Salvador
Atenco farmland. Leaving the campesinos, many
who have worked the lands for two generations, in
a desperate situation. Under the proposed plan
4.375 families would be forced off lands held
communally by Indigenous Nahau communities
since the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In an
address to the campesinos, President Fox assured
the farmers of their incredible luck and good
fortune. Fox assured them that they had, in fact,
"won the lottery" and that the new airport would
provide many jobs for the community. As such an
expensive airport would need plenty of janitors and
security guards. This `good will' expressed to the
farmers, included an incredibly small payment of
between 7 and 25 pesos per square meter of land
that the airport would seize. This has to been
looked at in the context of what the proposed
airport offered the Mexican economy. Both from
the point of view of the struggling farmers and the
already harsh economic conditions surrounding
their labor, as well as the billions of dollars the
business class would make on construction alone.
And, there is of course the larger picture, as the
proposed airport has been seen by many as one of
the first concrete steps in implementing the Plan
Puebbla-Panama (PPP). Plan Puebla-Panama
represents the next step in capitalist globalization,
pushing deeper into Latin American countries.
Fox`s plan to modernize Southern Mexico and
Central America to increase competitiveness in the
global economy rests heavily upon it. PPP is the
next step in a line of neo-liberal programs and
literally paves the way for the Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), which would extend the
North American Free Trade Agreement to all the
Americas. security. But unlocked for, and
underestimated, the communities which would be
immediately affected by the plans of the
multinational corporations and international
financing institutions backing the new airport,
spoke loudly against the airport. Protests and
marches were quickly organized at the grassroots
level to halt all plans on the airports construction.
Behind banners such as `The peasants of today are
combative and we have stood up to fight against
the airport. We represent rebel dignity" the
campesinos mounted a large movement
challenging the authority of the governments
attempt to take their lands. It is also worth noting
that the term `rebel dignity' is also a phrase used
often by the Zapatistas. Who in 1994 rose up
against the government, as they fought for the
recognition and respect of indigenous rights and
lands, and succeeded in establishing autonomously
controlled communities throughout Chiapas.. The
similarities between the Zapatista struggle, and the
struggles faced by the campesinos of Atentco must
also be seen as a part of the continued global
resistance to the extenuation of global capitalism.
The refusal to recognize and cooperate with the
plans of governments, multinational corporations,
and international financing agencies like the World
and I.M.F. places both movements side by side.
Also the struggle for land is a key factor in both
Atenco and Chiapas. In 1994 key articles of the
Mexican constitution which dealt with land
victories won by indigenous and campesinos after
the Mexican revolution in 1910 were threatened,
adding to the fires of discontent for the Zapatistas.
In Atenco the farmers made clear their refusal to
give up their land at any price from the moment the
airport plan was revealed to the public. " Not for 7
pesos as square meter, nor for 700 pesos.." Atenco
spokesperson David Pajaro stated. So while Fox
frames the debate with a simplified economic
settlement, the campesinos themselves fight to
retain a way of life "Atenco is the struggle of
culture against so-called progress," wrote Jaime
Aviles for La Jornada. Both through legal means
like the filling of appeals to the Superior Court of
Justice, as well as direct action protests, the
farmers attempted to make their voices heard
despite the silence of the mainstream media
sources. The daily marches and public events
organized by the communal farmers caught only
the faintest of media attention, and less from the
Fox government. The media insisted on covering
only the official government position, making the
case as to how `fortunate' the farmers were in
actuality, with the `generous' economic
compensations and job possibilities the government
had offered. The farmers themselves had continued
organizing and outreaching with the rest of civil
society and the image of the masked horseback
farmers marching and carrying their machetes, not
as weapons, but as symbols of their work on the
land, began filtering out of the area. On July 11,
2002 nine months after the initial plans were
revealed, and after nine months of constant protest,
the government announced the affirmation to go
ahead and appropriate the communal lands for
construction of the airport. That same day at a
demonstration against the announcement, and a
speech made by the local state governor, a caravan
of farmers were attacked by a federal police teargas,
clubs, and live ammunition were used against the
farmers seriously injuring many and resulting in
the arrest of several people, two of whom were
suspected "leaders' of the movement. One of the
attacked protesters, Jose Enrique Espinoza Juarez,
would die two weeks later as a result of the assault.
As a result of the police attacks, Atenco rose up
against the state and fought back against the police
forces, destroyed police vehicles and took 14
federal officials hostage. Thousands of army and
police descended upon the town as the farmers
raised barricades, and built roadblocks in and out of
town. Now with images of flashing machetes being
wielded against police, and of barricades in the
streets, the media eye had no choice but pay
attention. Answering with an utter criminalization
of the movement. As the standoff continued for the
three days, between the 12th and the 14th of July,
the machete and the barricade became images
which the media attempted to portray as the
criminal nature of the farmers struggle. Despite the
near total media blackout excluding the police and
governments statements on the conflict, solidarity
began to appear. Students from the National
Autonomous University of Mexico formed `peace
corridors' to interfere with police attacks on the
barricades. And other sectors of civil society, other
campesino groups, trade unions, anarchists, and
activists came to the call. Over the next couple of
days supporters in nearby areas began to take direct
action in solidarity with the farmers behind the
barricades. The national highway was blocked with
stolen, torched police cars as well as a Coca-Cola
truck. Support demonstrations were organized and
international solidarity was called for. It was no
longer possible to keep the discussion silenced and
the government began to dialogue with the
farmers, offers of a greater share of money for the
lands was offered as a possibility. The farmers
however repeated again that they would not sell
their lands for any amount, and insisted that the
government must forget its plans. On July 14th,
after negotiations, the captured officials were
released back to the police. The arrested
campesinos also were released and soon the
barricades were brought down. It took the
government another three weeks before the
decision to abandon the airport project was publicly
announced. The first days of August saw the
campesinos celebrating their victory over the
governments plan, and looking forwards to possibly
continuing the self-managed government councils
that they had set up during the struggle. The
possibility of Atenco becoming the first
autonomous community, outside the Zapatista held
communities in the South of Mexico, has brought
much attention. "The people of Atenco will be the
ones to decide how they want to organize
themselves, and it should be an autonomous
Ignacio Del Valle who was involved in the

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