<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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“It is You and We Who Must Not Wait for the Conditions to Fight”: Zapatistas in March for Atenco

After the Repression in Texcoco and Atenco, the Other Campaign Marches to Demand Freedom and Justice for the Country's Political Prisoners

By Juan Trujillo
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

May 8, 2007

Mexico City, May 3rd 2006: “We are living a process of change, and everyone has to understand that we should not wait for the conditions to fight… do not forget that Atenco lives and the fight continues, that Oaxaca fights and fights, because Oaxaca lives and lives,” said Amos, an indian Zapatista support base (addressing communities in resistance and Councils of Good Government), to the multitude that made up the political rally in front of the Ministry of the Interior this afternoon, a year after the brutal police repression in San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco.

The peaceful protest carried out by the operatives of counterinsurgency in those two Mexican villages started at 5:10pm on Ángel de la Independencia Reforma avenue, just after the EZLN Sixth Commission, comprising of Comandante Hortensia – who carried her 3 or 4-year-old daughter Lupita (who they call Delegate Five and a Quarter, as her mother holds the fifth position on the list of the seven delegates that left the Chiapas mountains in September to support the fight to free the prisoners), Amos (support base special envoy) and Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos at the forefront of the march with the Peoples Front in Defense of the Earth (FPDT, in its Spanish initials) of Atenco.

Photo: D.R. 2007 Jorge Dan López
The long slow walk that passed through this exclusive avenue of the Mexican capital, returned to weave a multicolored fabric that the deceased Comandanta Ramona would have given to The Other campaign in September 2005. Around 3500 people, members and sympathisers of The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle and this movement, made up of collectives and contingents defending their identity under one flag: freedom of political prisoners and punishment for those intellectually and materially responsible.

“Atenco Lives, the Fight Continues”

The chant “Atenco lives, the fight continues” of the FPDT - who banged their traditional machetes on the asphalt of the avenue – and the Communist Party, echoed in front of the US embassy while, moments later, “political prisoners, freedom!” could be heard as the body of the march approached the Mexican stock exchange.

The different collectives, organisations and individuals presented themselves: the Zapatista Telephonists Collective from Tlacuico, National School of Anthropology and History students (ENAH, in its Spanish initials), the Francisco Villa Popular Front (with quite a large group), students and collectives from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM, in its Spanish initials) with support groups it teaches, the Zapatista heart resistance connecting dignity movement, Xochimilco zapatista, Votan Zapata, Granito de Café, the Smaliyel Cooperative, The Other Campaign Region II of Mexico State, Metropolitan Autonomous University(UAM) students, the Tlaxcala Other Campaign, the Alliance of residents organisations, the Triqui Movement, the family of Alexis Benhumea (who died in Atenco a year ago), the Peoples Front of Tepito collective, the September 19 Victims and Neighbours Union, the Michoacán Other Campaign, diverse collectives, young anarchists, and punks and goths.

Photo: D.R. 2007 Jorge Dan López
Entering Bucarelí Street, encountering a metal fence and soldiers protecting the Ministry of the Interior, rejection of the political class was another vindication of this protest. The presidential elections that ended in electoral fraud and in the demobilization of large social sectors are today what The Other Campaign warned: political climate and the interests of all the political class. That’s why we are crying “Not the PRI, nor the PAN, nor the PRD, The Other Campaign against power!”

And so, as an introdution to the meeting, the first speaker made reference to the injustice suffered by those from Texcoco and Atenco on May 3 and 4. He also made reference to the need for “uniting the entire left to achieve the force, the conscience, and word for everyone,” and to not asking “a minute of silence, but for a life that struggles, and to not ask for a ‘goodbye,’ but, instead, for an ‘until the victory, forever.’”

Trinidad, the Voice of The Peoples Front in Defense of the Earth

Trinidad, wife of FPDT leader Ignacio del Valle, remembered the confrontations between villagers and police. The people shouting, “Fight for the prisoners’ freedom!,” listened intently to foments of Trinidad, and a long message from del Valle to demand justice and punishment for those intellectually and materially responsible for the attack. He reiterated, “let us continue to mobilize ourselves today [three days, May 3-6] to free prisoners from Atenco, the collectives and Oaxaca,” while reminding everyone of the necessity of unity to achieve all these aims. The atmosphere and content of the meeting made reference to that which is today remembered with rage: on May 3 and 4 a counterinsurgency operation moved into Atenco, causing the death of Javier Cortes Santiago and Ollin Alexis Benhumea, multiple illegal detentions, torture, house raids, illegal raids, robberies, removals, isolation of persons under arrest and sexual violations. As for the orders and application of the actions, those involved were: the State governor Enrique Peña Nieto, the security cabinet of ex-president Vicente Fox and the police high command of Wilfrido Robledo Madrid.

On the other hand, the political prisoners of this mexican town sent a letter in which they assured that, “the wounds have not healed” and added that, “a year (of oppression) later, we are not going to rest until justice and the overthrowing of the bad government are done. We fight on, dignified in liberating the country from this fascist system.” Finally, they criticized the performance of the judges, who automatically decree “imprisonment” again and again.

Photo: D.R. 2007 Jorge Dan López
In Atenco, the repressive execution of combat operations was carried out by members of at least three enteties: elements of the third brigade of the Military Police (Ministry of National Defence – San Miguel de los Jagueyes), 700 members of Federal Preventive Police (PFP, in its Spanish initials), 1815 members of the State Security Agency (ASE, in its Spanish initials) and tens of Mexico State local police. The numbers of operatives mixed to result in barbarism and death: 2 dead, 207 illegal detentions (many of them tortured and beaten) and 27 women brutally raped. Justice has been scorned by the authorities of state and federal governments since the days after the attacks to date and the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) have not been accepted.

“A Day We Do Not Forget”

They listened to the words of the political prisoners of Yucatán who were repressed by the police as a result of the protests during the visit of the president of the United States, George W. Bush, to the capital Mérida last April. They insisted on continuing the fight to free all prisoners in the country and asked for punishment of the guilty.

For their part, the declarations of The Other Campaign International (collectives and networks in Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cataluña, Spain, US, Greece, Guatemala, Perú, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay among others) sent messages of solidarity, prisoner support and demands for the punishment of those responsible.

As presenter of the EZLN Sixth Commission, Subcomandante Marcos limited himself to introducing Comandantes Hortensia and Amos, but not before reminding everyone that on May 3 in Texcoco the FPDT took to heart the principle of solidarity in The Other Campaign: “if they mess with one of us, they mess with all of us,” which vindicated the actions and decisions that were made.

Amos explained that, “Through my voice speaks the voice of the true word of our peoples in struggle, and we represent the words of the support bases of the organized towns,” and he dedicated the message to all the towns members and participants of The Other Campaign.

Photo: D.R. 2007 Jorge Dan López
He commented that today “is a day that we won’t forget,” and in no way “will we leave you by yourself [because] we are also Atenco.” He also made a call to never allow another Atenco or another Oaxaca to ever happen again. This envoy of the zapatista communities made special emphasis on solidarity towards the members and the political prisoners, “you are us and we are you” added to the necessity of joining “our forces with sectors of the countryside and the city.”

“We demand immediate freedom. We are representing the EZLN bases and we give our total support to our people of Oaxaca,” [Amos] affirmed forcefully.

On the other hand, he stated in depth a vision that emerges from the rebellious Mayan world: “We are living a process of change and there is for that reason a tomorrow for us… let us unify our fight.” Finally, he said if necessary more roadblocks and support bases from Chiapas would come and he explained that it is not possible to tolerate the situation and intense needs… [that is why] the will of the zapatista men, women, children, young and old need “a new form of human relation,” in order to impel, he concluded with a powerful and firm voice.

The meeting finished at around 8pm with a message from the EZLN military command voiced by Comandanta Hortensia, who assured that what happened in Atenco “filled the Zapatistas with indignation, for which they made us feel like we had been through the contempt ourselves.” She affirmed that the Zapatistas fill them with “courage and rebellion” against the recently committed injustices, and the fact that the motherland is being sold.

“We are the real landlords of the nation. We must defend the land, the water, the rivers and the forests, with rebellion… we are the legitimate owners of this mexican nation,” she firmly reflected.

The commander also made a call to continue the fight for the freedom of prisoners and not to leave them on their own, so that “sooner or later they all get out alive.” Lastly, she said that “we will never betray the life, the blood, of our fallen because we,who fought for and dreamt a new world where many worlds fit have always had our dead, and we must never forget those dead, and we must never sell blood for the crumbs that the bad governments offer… we won’t leave them alone, we must unite in voice to fight for freedom.”

The peaceful march and meeting ended without incident, and no arrests were made by the 400 police assigned by the city government. There were no clashes nor were there any provocations.

Originally published in Spanish May 3

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America