The Death Throes of an Empire: Long live Oaxaca! Long live Palestine!

by David Venegas Reyes “alebrije”

The year 2009 is just beginning, and a somber panorama of poverty, repression, authoritarianism, genocidal wars and dispossession menaces the lives of millions of men and women all over the world.

Nothing new, say those who have hardened their hearts to injustice, kept their eyes dry before the suffering of others and their ears deaf to the clamor of those shouting out for justice and freedom.

An exaggeration, say those who only view the world from a narrow TV screen, where day after day they see a pristine world of false hope and glitzy demagoguery, where people defending their territory with rocks in hand are called terrorists or radicals, and those who murder unarmed peoples with bullets, bombs, and missiles are called democrats. In this televised world, covering one’s face and wearing black clothes is a pretext for criminalization, repression and murder with impunity, while bare-faced genocidal rulers stand for democracy and the state of law.

Rage, say those with dignity in our hearts, who in spite of the grief provoked by this brutal injustice, never give up hope.

The neoliberal model that had been gradually yet ferociously imposed on the world and our country in the last twenty years has left behind it a trail of dispossessed peoples, crushed workers’ rights, de facto privatized education with the phantom of religious indoctrination at the door, and needless to say, a series of crimes and repression against peoples who have resisted this neoliberal model that preys on life, culture, and hope.

We have plenty of examples. Our own peoples of Oaxaca in 2006, with 26 of our own Oaxacan brothers and sisters murdered by the killer state of Ulises Ruiz and Vicente Fox. The implacable, genocidal war that the zionist terrorist state of Israel is waging against the unarmed Palestinian people, with more than 1000 of our brothers and sisters murdered by this terrorist state governed by the criminal Ehud Olmert. The murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos in the Greece of the Hypocritical Union of European capitals and the public murder of the African-American Oscar Grant in the new United States of Obama, both at the hand of the police, also show us that even though the colors of parties, governments and rulers may change, the color on the ground is always the same: blood red.

This neoliberal model that the imperialist countries of the world have imposed on the poor countries through blood and fire, but also through electoral processes, political parties, and oligarchic democracies, has eliminated all state intervention for minimal protection of the well-being of the peoples they are supposed to serve and govern. Politicians of the right and the so-called left alike bow down and worship the sacred laws of the free market. Following their logic, the only desirable role of governments in the era of the free market is that of armed gendarmes protecting the interests of the huge transnational companies and corporations that now dominate and regulate the lives of human beings. Hence, the astounding unity among governments emanating from all the political parties when peoples stand up against the dispossession ordered by faceless transnationals. The repression against the people of Atenco and Oaxaca, against the opponents of La Parota Dam in Guerrero, the students at the teacher training schools in Guerrero and Michoacan, the teachers in Morelos, the Zapatista peoples in Chiapas, are a few examples of the unconditional obedience to the giant corporations by the political class composed of all the political parties (PRI, PAN, PRD, PT, Convergencia), even at the cost of repressing their own peoples, the very ones they’re supposed to be governing. But these peoples are an example of the dignified resistance and hope that still live, in spite of everything, in the rebel soul of that deep, untamed Mexico from below, and further below.

Oaxaca is no exception to the historic injustice that our peoples have suffered for more than five hundred years when the imperialist invasion began and, with it, the war of extermination against our peoples, our culture, our languages, our way of life. These wounds that never healed throughout our history are now deepened by the infamous violence and crime of the neoliberal killer government of Ulises Ruiz, which continues to promote the plunder of the territory, forests, water, culture, ground minerals, and even the wind itself by the big foreign transnational corporations in the territories of the original peoples in the entire state ––the city, the mountains, valleys, coasts, jungles, and forests.

Under the guise of promoting development, welfare, and jobs programs, transnationals that traffic in energy, water, mining, tourism, and trade are sharpening their fangs to dispossess Oaxacan peoples of all their territories and resources, no matter what the cost. On the Isthmus of Tehuantepec it’s the wind energy generation project, in the towns of the Sierra Sur and Mixteca it’s the mega mining project, in the territory of the Chontal peoples of the Isthmus it’s the Huatulco freeway project, in the riverside and coastal towns it’s the real estate projects of transnational tourism, in the territory of the urban Indians of the city of Oaxaca it’s rapacious businesses like Chedraui that raze the last trees surrounded by cement to bury our roots, and in the territory of the coastal towns it’s the construction of the Paso de la Reina hydroelectric dam.

Today, almost three years after the beginning of the APPO movement in 2006, Victor Hugo Martinez Toledo and Miguel Angel Garcia are still in prison simply for rising up along with their people for justice, freedom, peace, and dignity. But they’re not the only political prisoners held by the bad government in our state. Pedro Castillo Aragon has been in prison for six years, and the twelve political prisoners from the Zapotec town of San Agustin Loxicha for thirteen years. Their names are Agustín Luna Valencia, Eleuterio Hernández García, Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, Urbano Ruiz Cruz, Cirilo Ambrosio Antonio, Abraham García Ramírez, Fortino Enríquez Hernández, Ricardo Martínez Enríquez, Justino Hernández José, Estanislao Martínez Santiago, Mario Ambrosio Martínez and Zacarías P. García López. Also, the three political prisoners from the Zapotec town of Santiago Xanica ––Abraham Ramírez Vázquez, Noel García Cruz, and Juventino García Cruz––; the three political prisoners from the Zapotec town Guevea de Humboldt ––Amado Castro López, Nicasio Zaragoza Quintana and Edmundo Espinosa Guzmán––; and a political prisoner from the Zapotec town of San Blas Atempa ––José Luis Sánchez Gómez–– have all spent several years in prison. And many other prisoners are now punished in the jails of the evil government, not only for being poor, but for refusing to lie down and die of hunger.

The world economic crisis that began last year in the heart of capitalist imperialism, the United States, but which rapidly spread through most of the globalized world where the dogmas of faith in neoliberalism have been imposed, are now harshening the already harsh situation of hunger and injustice of the peoples of the world, but are also demonstrating the failure of the neoliberal model. The same corporations that formerly demanded the disappearance of the state in the face of the speculative, free-market pillage guiding the economy and the fate of the nations of the world, now come demanding the multibillion dollar intervention of the governments of all countries to save them from the catastrophe of their own excesses.

This is the backdrop of the macabre, yet encouraging spectacle of the irreparable downfall of the imperialist hegemony of the United States: a monster in its death throes waging genocidal wars against the peoples of the world that resist its ambition. While many imperialist states (the European Union, China, Russia) get ready to replace it or reposition themselves in a new-world multi-imperialist order, peoples all over the world are rising up again and again, and each time a little stronger, against the oppression of governments, capital, and totalitarian states, in a quest for justice, freedom, peace, and dignity.

At this point, the peoples of Oaxaca that joined our paths of struggle and resistance in 2006 in the movement of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, are on the unfathomable threshold of social change.

And so it’s our fortune to be here at the crossroads of history, on this road of no return in the history of humanity, on the border that can’t possibly be concrete between the old world that’s falling to pieces and the new world that’s emerging on its ruins. A new world order and a new society will surely emerge from this historic juncture; the meaning of this new society depends on the struggle and organization fashioned by those of us from below and further below, we who for centuries and generations have only been masses for the politicians, cannon fodder, numbers in electoral processes, percentages on the poverty indexes, and anonymous crosses in forgotten graveyards.

This year, 2009, is just beginning, and the hunger of the body will be tremendous. May our hunger and thirst for justice and freedom of spirit be even greater. There is hope. Yes. But not on the TV screens, not through governments or politicians, or political parties. It’s in ourselves, in deepest Mexico, in Oaxaca de Magon.

David Venegas Reyes “alebrije”


January 16, 2009, Oaxaca de Magon, City of resistance