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(en) [caravan99] Re: [pga] Cancun September 10 from Starhawk

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 11 Sep 2003 11:02:58 +0200 (CEST)

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Kyoung Hae Lee is dead. I donıt yet know his story, only that he
came with the Korean workersı contingent. I videoed them forming up
in the march, carrying their proud banners, beating their drums and
bells. They marched up at the front, with the campesinos and the
other workers. When the march reached the police barricade, they
split off, marched up to the fence, and Kyoung Hae Lee took his own
life, stabbing himself in the heart in an act of ritual suicide.
But let me begin in the morning, as we wake and prepare for the
campesino march. "I donıt what to wear," Andy says. "I donıt know
if Iım dressing for a nine kilometer march in the hot sun, or a
police battle." "If the campesinos decide to play it low key and
nonconfrontational" I suggest, "theyıll probably ask to send a
delegation through and they may let them, in which case weıll be
standing around in the sun for hours. If they decide to push
through, weıll have the battle but somehow in either case I doubt
that weıll have the nine kilometer march."

We head down to the Casa de la Cultura where the mood is festive.
Thousands of campesinos are milling around the food tents, a giant
drum circle is underway and students are dancing ecstatically in the
center while old grandmothers look on and smile. We meet up with
the pagan cluster and Rodrigo appears, back from Mexico city just in
time. Kukulcan, the amazing giant puppet feathered serpent God,
with a head of carved styrofoam reproduction of a Mayan sculpture,
covered in silver and copper foil, dances through the streets,
snaking in giant meanders. Chac, the Mayan God of rain, a giant
striding figure painted silver gray, rolls with a more dignified
pace. Contingents of campesinos form up behind their banners, many
wearing their own identifying scarves, the women in their
traditional dresses, white with beautiful embroidery on collars and
hems. They are chanting their chants and songs and clapping along
to the rhythms. The black bloc contingent forms up‹punks in their
ritual black with patches and masks. I see the students Iıve
trained, marching together in their contingent. Our affinity group
joins together behind the Infernal Noise Brigade, under a blue
spiral banner. We are toward the back, as the campesinos have asked
of the internationals.

The march moves out, a beautiful sight. At last we have thousands
of people marching together, filling the streets with a river of

When we get close, Lisa calls me. She tells me that the Koreans
have moved up to the front, and thereıs a rumor that one of them
impaled himself.

There are always so many rumors in actions. I put this one aside.
The march has stopped in front of the police barricade at the
entrance to the hotel zone, at Bonampak. Thereıs a big sculpture in
the center, giant Mayan carved pillars and platforms in a pool of
water. We make our way over to the side of the crowd, where we can
escape if necessary. The Infernal Noise Brigade is playing, and the
Koreans and campesinos are up front, challenging the fence. We can
see it shaking under their assault, but the barricade is reinforced
by big flanges of steel in front and behind, and is hard to tip over
or pull down.

The Infernal Noise Brigade really understand how to work the energy
through music. They are playing an eerie, tonal tune that slowly
builds energy. The fence rocks. We move in warily, but the police
have barricaded themselves behind it and donıt react. There is
shouting and yelling and chanting around us. Iım happy. I can feel
this mass of campesinos and students and all of us putting forth our
power to challenge the barrier, and we are strong.

The agreement all the action groups have made is to respect the
campesinos. The black bloc, the more militant anarchist contingent,
have made themselves padded body armor and shields, but have agreed
not to use them unless the campesinos want them to. Now some word
is given and they move up and begin pulling on another section of
fence. It is one of those perfect moments that sometimes happen in
action: the campesinos on one side, the urban street warriors on
the other, pulling in unison on the barriers. At that moment,
clouds form in a clear sky, the air grows cool, and rain begins to
fall, as if Chac himself were blessing us. Blood has been spilled,
and the voluntary sacrifice has been accepted. The rain is cool and
strong and we raise up our arms and glory in it as the battle goes on.

I see one of Œourı punks from the permaculture village climb the
fence. A police baton crashes down on his head from the other side,
but he seems unhurt. Sticks are flying and then rocks are flying.
Someone lights a fire and burns a giant banner of an American flag
that says "Yankee Go Home!" The police put on their gas masks, and
we fall back. Lisa has no goggles‹I give her mine and rip out my
contact lenses and put my glasses on. Contacts are unsafe with tear
gas, but no goggles fit over my glasses so if its bad I wonıt be
able to see. Rodrigo has no gas protection and I give him my paint
filter as I have a bandanna. The battle in front of us is intensifying.

Skip comes up and tells us that the campesinos want the
rock-throwers to fall back, that they have negotiated a passage
through to the next barrier but canıt go because of the battle in
front of them. I say I will try to find our friends among the
punks, and run forward into the crowd. I spot Loco and Chiwy, and
run up and tell them. They already know. Abby is running around
trying to get people to stop throwing rocks and get. Then the
campesinos bring up a small sound truck. Rafael Allegria from
Honduras, one of the leaders of the campesino organization here,
tries to calm the crowd, asking them to be tranquilo, pacifico. He
tries to get people to sit down but no one wants to do it. I donıt
actually want to do it myself in that situation. Heıs asking for
something too disparate from the wild energy that is raging. The
crowd begins to yell at him to get back, and someone pushes him.
The truck pulls back, and the crowd surges forward. Rocks are
flying and we are eyeing the cops, knowing that if they come out
from behind the barricade they will be angry and likely to break heads.

The Infernal Noise Brigade has gone, and suddenly Iım afraid. "Iım
not sure I want to be here," I say to Andy who is next to me. "the
energy seems..disorganized." Iım not sure how to say what I sense,
just the sense of a lull with no clear direction, lots of scattered,
unfocused power that could turn nasty or dangerous. "Unless we do
something to organize it."

The only thing I can do, really, is drum, and hold the whole scene
in my deep attention to make it more coherent. I begin drumming and
softly chanting.

"What is our desired outcome?" Andy asks. In truth I donıt know. I
would like to see the fence come down, see us enter into that space
and take it back and march to the conference center and tear down
that fortress, too. My mythical mind wants to see the power of the
people surge forward and reclaim this space, wants to believe that
fences and steel bars cannot keep us out. My tactical mind is
saying that even if the fence comes down, we would be entering nine
kilometers of a narrow road between the lagoon and the sea, with no
escape if weıre attacked‹and even if we were allowed to march, itıs
nine kilometers in the blazing sun which came out again as soon as
the rocks started flying.

"I just want to raise enough coherent energy to get a little
clarity," I tell him. Another drummer is a few feet away, and we
join up together, holding a beat that people respond to. I feel
like Iım playing the energy of the crowd as it surges forward and
subsides, and as we drum, many people are working the crowd. The
tension is building and the rocks are flying when a juggler steps
into the space between the crowd and the police. He stands there,
rocks flying around him, tossing his clubs and catching them in
hypnotic patterns, a magician holding back the attack.

Some of the students from the Coordinadora begin slowly edging the
rock throwers back, forming a line and opening space, the juggler in
their midst. A chant begins, "El pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido!"
and then another and another. The crowd pulls back, and the
tension subsides.

The campesinos have moved back across the traffic circle into the
shade, and begin making speeches. Our group sits on the edge of the
fountain, a bit stunned, not sure what weıve just experienced. The
sound track changes again, as a campesino band marches up to the
barricades and around the traffic circle, while the students begin a
game of anarchist soccer in front of the police lines. A mis-aimed
kick, and the ball rolls under the fence. A cops boot nudges it
back out to the field of play.

Hyoung Hae Lee is dead. Now in the evening we know he was a farmer,
a leader in his community, a director of a magazine for farmers and
fishermen, a married man. He came here planning to do this act. He
made a casket which he set on fire in front of the police line. He
killed himself, as farmers all over the world are killing
themselves. Six hundred and fifty farmer suicides in one month
alone, Vandan Shiva said. He killed himself not in despair, but as
an act of power.

His death affects us all deeply. It reminds us that this is not
just carnaval and war games, but deeply serious work. It makes us
question what we are called to give.

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