By Heriberto Salas and Salvador Díaz
On May 3, 2006, the sun rose with a dark stain around the Belisario Dominguez market in Texcoco: the state and local police had posted a guard around the spot where flower growers had sold their flowers for as long as we can remember. The Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), which had participated in a dialogue with Enrique Peña Nieto’s government had counseled and defended the flower growers. The day before, the state government had promised them and the FPDT that they would withdraw their police forces.
At 6 o’clock in the morning, when we met up with men, women, and children carrying baby’s breath, chrysanthemums, and spikenards, joined in their chants, and helped them set up their stands on the curb, we never imagined that we would go through some of the cruelest, most ferocious and heartless repression unleashed in the contemporary history of Mexico.
Yet the flower growers, the FPDT, and the people fell into a shameless trap of the so-called “golden boy,” who in fact is a true Caligula or “golden tyrant,” Enrique Peña Nieto, supported by then prosti-president Vicente Fox Quezada, and the complicity of the PRD lapdogs of Texcoco, all defenders of a barbarous State whose enemies are the most defenseless people.
As everyone knows, the outcome of the repression of May 3 and 4 was two comrades murdered, Javier Cortés and Alexis Benhumea; 207 arrested, including 47 women; and dozens of people wounded, pursued, and disappeared. But that wasn’t all. Our small community, San Salvador Atenco, like the Gaza Strip, Tikrit, or Kabul, was militarily occupied by thousands of vicious police who crudely profaned the peaceful streets of our beloved land just as they raped our comrades, sisters, daughters, and relatives on the road to the Santiaguito prison in those dreadful days.
They were like hordes of beasts who stopped at nothing to bring their brutality down on everyone. Consider the images: A Mazahua indigenous woman covering her legs as she was viciously beaten by the killers; an elderly paraplegic dragged by two buzzards in uniform; a dog beaten by a policeman; 10, 15, 20, 30 police monstrously beating a committed Zapatista militant; warrantless house searches; an elderly woman crying because her three sons were carried away; a barefoot Atenco man forced to his knees in the middle of a new Tlatelolco Plaza de las Tres Culturas; hooligans climbing up on top of the church and searching water tanks for Zapatista militants and Atenco community people. These are the indisputable testimonies that will never be erased from the memory of Mexican people.
From there on…a journey through hell. From the persecution of militants to the torturous process of winning the freedom of our prisoners. From our initial denunciation of the outrageous violation of the supposed State of Law and the smashing of our individual guarantees to the interminable trials with all its delays. The government and its front men have twisted the laws with the same impunity that existed during the Inquisition, charging us with crimes that we never committed, issuing arrest warrants for our most visible comrades, and subjecting our peoples to close-up, unyielding police vigilance. The names of those responsible for the military occupation by the federal and state police are well known: Vicente Fox, Enrique Peña Nieto, ex Director of the State Security Agency (ASE) Wilfrido Robledo Madrid, current Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, then State Attorney Abel Villicaña, ex Under Secretary of National Security Miguel Angel Yunes, among others.
Along this thorny path, we’ve relied on the support and solidarity of the Zapatista comrades of the Other Campaign, who have shown their goodwill and courage from the very beginning in the camp outside the prisons where our comrades have been held. Other workers, farmers, indigenous, popular, and even international organizations have also walked along beside us in this heroic effort. But of special importance is the honorable role played by the group of lawyers who have advised us all through the trials as we’ve fought against an invisible enemy embedded in the institutions of the State itself, one that plays by the same rules and exhibits all the official aberrations and inconsistencies. This united effort has made it possible to get most of our prisoners out of jail.
Needless to say, this State violence responds to the same logic of the finance capital that rules the world. It’s the same violence used on all five continents to snatch peoples’ natural resources from them, from oil to water, corn to rice, mines to forests, rivers to seas, in other words, to seize the wealth of the whole planet.
This war declared on the peoples of the world struggling to conserve their natural resources has reached our town Atenco, because we’ve defended our territory, and the communities in Chiapas who struggle against oblivion; the peoples of Oaxaca, for autonomy; the people of Guerrero, for their rivers and mountains; the peoples of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas, against the predatory mining companies –all of these places where levels of organization and social consciousness have gained such force that they’ve become a real danger to the government and the transnational companies.
This, and no other, was the main reason for the State offensive against the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land: a high level of organization. A triumphant social movement that was not absorbed by the political parties, a radical, horizontal, anti-establisment, solidarity organization that grew along with its social demands, going beyond the initial struggle in defense of the land.
So an intricate network of relationships was woven along with other movements in the country and other parts of the world. But it reached its peak with the bond formed with the Zapatista movement and the Front’s adherence to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Selfa and The Other Campaign. The April 25, 2006 visit to Atenco by the Sixth Commission headed by Subcomandante Marcos was tremendous. The tie between macheteros and zapatistas put the government on alert. And the answer came a week later with the attempt to pulverize the FPDT.
Today the federal and state governments of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto are still holding twelve of our kidnapped comrades, nine of them in the Molino de Flores prison in Texcoco, with sentences of 31 years, 10 months, and 15 days, and three others in the maximum security Altiplano prison at Almoloya, State of Mexico, two of them sentenced to 67 years in prison (Felipe Alvarez and Héctor Galindo), and one, Ignacio del Valle sentenced to 112 years, accused of being the intellectual author of the events of May 3 and 4. The federal and state governments have relied on the complicity of all the political parties and all the institutions of justice in the country, and even though the Supreme Court found in their investigation that the authorities did indeed commit Crimes against Humanity, it didn’t identify the responsible parties and instead, absolved them.
Faced with this ignominious exoneration on February 12, 2009, by the devious Ministers of Calderon’s Supreme Court, which allows presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and his accomplices to maintain their impunity, the FPDT along with human rights and independent organizations, have drawn many outstanding personalities like Eduardo Galeano, Bishop Samuel Ruíz, Manu Chao, and Adolfo Gilly into a current aimed at building the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco, whose aims are the same as those upheld in 2002, when we defeated the expropriation decree––the incorporation of the civil society into the struggle, now oriented towards winning the freedom of our brothers held prisoner and the strict application of the law against those who massacred our people.
In support of these demands on the third anniversary of this attempt against the people of Atenco, we call on all national and international social and political organizations to join in the demand for the freedom of the political prisoners of Mexico and the world on May 3 and 4.
This post is also available in: Spanish