The Other Campaign Takes Over Juárez-El Paso International Bridge in Solidarity with Oaxaca
US Police Attempt to Intimidate Protesters
By Karla Garza
November 4, 2006
To the cry of “Oaxaca is not a military barracks, get the army out,” hundreds of people, led by Subcomandante Marcos, took over the Lerdo de Tejada international bridge, which connects Ciudad Juárez to El Paso, Texas.
Around 10 o’clock in the morning, members of the Other Campaign, surrounded by a large police contingent, arrived at the site to speak out against the government of Ulises Ruiz and the repression being carried out against the people of Oaxaca.
They advanced to the highest part of the bridge while members of “the Other Campaign on the Other Side” did the same on the other side, chanting in chorus, “we are a people without borders.”
Today we have come here to unite the struggles of the south with the struggles of the north,” said a representative from the Union of People on the Border, “here on the border, there are people resisting the exploitation, and the wall of death, because we are not criminals or terrorists, we are working people. We want them to leave the border knowing that we will not give up, that we will continue fighting for land, liberty and justice.”
Together, members of organizations such as the Association of Migrant Workers, the Mexico Solidarity Network, the Chicano/Chicana Student Movement of Aztlán and the Neighborhood Justice Movement announced that they would a construct barricade on the bridge, just like the hundreds of barricades with which the people of Oaxaca are continuing to give the world a lesson in dignity. A barricade like those that have now come to symbolize the struggle that “created an echo that whipped the winds up into a hurricane.”
María Eugenia López, a student from El Paso, then spoke: “I am originally from Oaxaca, my family is one of the many that has been exiled by the government. But we are in the struggle because my people have taught me that the struggle exists everywhere.”
Also present were members of Indymedia New York, “where there have been many tears shed by the friends of Brad Will.” They came to say, “we have lost our brother. In his last moments he was on the ground with the people of Oaxaca. Brad risked his life so that the injustices and repression would be known. Brad lost his life helping to build a dream. While we are mourning his death, we also celebrate his life and the decision he made.”
The day was also dedicated to demanding the return of political prisoners who have “disappeared.” Mr. Ernesto Ontiveros, father of Víctor Hugo Ontiveros Gómez, spoke on behalf of the families of the disappeared, saying his son was “one of the 196 who have disappeared since 1993 for knowing about government collusion with drug traffickers. There are 196 known to have disappeared, and more whose names have not been registered out of fear. We spoke with Zedillo, and got nothing, then with Fox and again got nothing, no one has surfaced, either dead or alive.”
Delegate Zero was next to speak, and he said, “We have come here to symbolically close this international bridge in solidarity with the people of Oaxaca and also to protest a series of injustices that we have seen here in Ciudad Juárez, throughout the state of Chihuahua, and along the entire northern border, which we have traversed from Tijuana to arrive here.”
While the Zapatista spokesperson was speaking, a contingent from Homeland Security joined armed police and police in riot gear on the Texas side of the bridge and a Customs & Border Patrol helicopter hovered low above the bridge in a clear act of intimidation. The helicopter would hover above the group of Homeland Security officials and police and then circle around them as protesters directed their words of opposition upwards and Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos continued:
“We have seen that the wall the Bush Administration is building with the cooperation of the Fox Administration is only a wall to kill our people; as the wall of the river and the wall of the desert are joining together, now there is this wall. Our compatriots who are crossing over to work, not to do anything bad, are being treated as if they were terrorists. We have also seen, here, in Ciudad Juárez that there is no justice, as young women are killed and nobody is found guilty and it is beginning to seem more and more that the governments of Juárez and Chihuahua are complicit in this.
“We have come here to tell Oaxaca that its people are not alone,” he reiterated, “we have come here to tell them that Chihuahua, Juárez, El Paso, the entire country and even Texas stand with them in their struggle.
“As the Other Campaign we do not recognize this border; we consider our compañeros on the other side of the border to be part of Mexico, part of us, our own blood. And our struggle does not even recognize that helicopter or this line or that flag up above. We recognize that Mexico does not start here on this line but rather much deeper, where each one of our compatriots is struggling and working.
“Compañeros and compañeras from the other side, there is no other side, it is one and the same. Those who are on the other side are those who are in that helicopter and in the White House and together, from below, we are going to make them all fall. This is what we are proposing, that in our country, which does not recognize this border, things are run from below.”
He also informed the crowd of the actions of the EZLN in Chiapas and the Other Campaign in other states: “Our Zapatista compañeros are now confirming that the highways are closed in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in Comitán, in Altamirano and in Palenque; transport in Chiapas is currently impossible because the Zapatistas are blocking the highways in support of Oaxaca. We also know that highways and major streets are being blocked in the state of Morelos and in the Federal District (Mexico City) and this is our way of telling Fox to stop his lies, to stop playing tricks on the people.”
“We came to say this and I hope that it is heard as far away as Oaxaca,” Delegate Zero concluded, as participants began using sacks to set up a barricade right along “the line” of the border.
Article originally published November 2 in Spanish
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