Breaking the Curse of Forgotten Places

On the Ground Analysis and Reflections from the Comunitario Movement in Michoacán, Mexico

Comunitario y barricada By Simón Sedillo

The first successful strategy for community based self-defense against the Knights Templar cartel in Michoacán came about on April 15th, 2011 in the indigenous Purépecha community of Cherán, Michoacán.  The implications of the success of this original uprising against the Knights Templar and the narco-government are immeasurable; however, what is evident today is that the strategy has spread contagiously throughout the state and has now even inspired non-indigenous mestizo communities to replicate it.  Since February of 2013 a variety of communities, both indigenous and mestizo, have risen up in arms, evicted municipal police from their municipalities, have evicted the Knights Templar cartel from their territories, and have begun to engage in self-governing strategies founded upon a consensus-based general assembly model.  Most non-indigenous mestizo communities in the state of Michoacán have been known to be racist towards indigenous peoples and communities of the state.  To now see these mestizo communities exercise indigenous strategies for community liberation is truly historic and ground breaking.

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Education students radicalize their actions in Oaxaca

ceneo-students-oaxacaBy Santiago Navarro F.
Agencia SubVersiones
March 17, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

After nearly a month of protests, members of the Oaxaca State Coordinating Body of Education Students (CENEO) have radicalized their actions. On February 3, they presented a list of 21 demands to educational authorities, not one of which has been resolved.

The protests have included: marches, blockades of streets and main thoroughfares, the taking of toll booths to allow motorists to pass freely, the commandeering of public buses – which they use to transport themselves – as well as of trucks carrying goods from multinational corporations, whose products have been distributed to people nearby and to those waiting for their sick relatives outside of public hospitals.

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Community leader Nestora Salgado’s life behind bars

nestora-salgado By Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Desinformemonos
March 17, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

Day and night, Nestora Salgado García inhabits a dark world of artificial light. Fifteen days pass without seeing a ray of sunlight. She has no physical contact with anyone, she is only allowed a hug and cannot touch her daughter or her sister when they visit. Not even the guards speak to her. Instead of the four hours every 12 days for visits that she has the right to, after her family members pass the ordeal of security checks, they are left with only two and a half hours. She doesn’t have the recommended medication for the spinal problem she has suffered from for 12 years. In prison, Nestora lives in punishment for her bravery.

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Yakiri is free, but now fears for the lives of herself and her family

Yakiri Libre By Anayeli Garcia Martínez
Cimacnoticias
March 6, 2014

Smiling, nervous and discreet, Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart was released yesterday from the Women’s Rehabilitation Center in Tepepan, minutes before 10 pm, after spending almost three months in prison after being accused of killing Miguel Angel Ramirez Anaya, who raped and attempted to kill her on December 9th.

Along with her parents, Marina Beltrán and José Luis Rubio, and surrounded by a makeshift line of activists who tried to prevent the approaching cluster of cameras, the young woman gave her first statement to the press to thank people, who from the start, believed she was the victim of rape and fought back to save her life.

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Gunmen attack assembly in Álvaro Obregón

Fuera de la Barra Santa Teresa By Scott Campbell

For more than a year, the indigenous Binnizá community of Álvaro Obregón, in the Isthmus of Oaxaca, have defended their lands against the imposition of a wind park by the multinational Spanish firm Mareña Renovables. As part of that struggle, “the community became aware that the parties and political leaders have only used them for political and personal ends.” In August of 2013, the community held an assembly and decided to return to the traditional indigenous usos y costumbres form of governance, where community leaders are selected via general assembly, without the participation of political parties.

With 1,236 people participating, the general assembly to select the community’s leaders was held on December 8, 2013. Yet on February 8, 2014, Saúl Vicente Vázquez, the Municipal President of Juchitán, which includes Álvaro Obregón, announced that new elections, involving political parties, would be held in Álvaro Obregón on March 2, ignoring the popular and expressed will of the people. Ironically, Vicente Vázquez until recently served as an expert on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

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Tierra Caliente: The freedom we have now, we haven’t had in twelve years

x carolina

barricada1-los-reues2 In the first days of February I was able to get a close-up view of some aspects of the people’s uprising against organized crime in the state of Michoacán. In a visit that took me through parts of Tierra Caliente, the Meseta P’urhépecha and the Sierra Madre del Sur with other independent media journalists from SubVersiones, it became clear that people live better in the towns freed from the control of the Knights Templar organized crime cartel and that the Citizen Self-Defense Councils, better known as the community police or simply self-defense groups, are going right ahead with their move to take over one community, town or city after another. At the barricades and in the towns, people were also enthusiastic about following their own agenda, regardless of whatever plans the State might have, and going on to organize People’s Councils like the ones formed in Chinicuila and Coalcomán so that people can make decisions about how they want to live from now on and avoid possible traps frequently pointed out by observers: becoming part of a paramilitarization strategy of the State, becoming yet another cartel, or ending up under the control of the Army or the Federal Police.

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