Starting around 10 o’clock in the morning on Sunday, December 13, the main plaza in San Salvador Atenco started to fill up with young people of all ages ready to move their bodies to the sounds of jarocho, trova, hip hop, reggae and, more than anything ska, ska, and ska! These festivities marked the end of a successful tour to spread information and build support for the 12 political prisoners and 2 politically pursued people from Atenco. They also marked the beginning of a new stage in the campaign to bring them home in 2010.
Comrades came from Oaxaca, Monterrey and several other states and countries, including Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and the United States joined in the campaign to learn more about it while enjoying the vibrant rhythms, hot or cool, of the trova from Chile, Cuban music with Radio Son, son jarocho with Los Cojolites of Veracruz, intense songs of Vicente Cayo and hip hop soul by the Chilean singer Moyenei. A lot of people also came mainly to hear some of the best-known bands in Mexico ––Panteón Rococó, Los de Abajo, Los Guanabana and the Cyberpachukote Sound System. Some already knew a lot and others just a little about the defense of these lands and the price paid for it, but everybody knew where they were headed and nobody has missed out on the fact that the word “Atenco” means “resistance.” Even though there was some impatience over the time spent reading statements, the rebellious spirit of the music was contagious, as was the solidarity shown by Roco, Odisea, “el Oso”, Dr. Shenka, and other musicians who got everyone jumping while they shouted out for the freedom of the prisoners and called on the crowd to express their feelings for Calderón and other known tyrants.
The same hands that fixed and served the rice, beans, chicharrones in green sauce, tortillas, and jamaica punch all day long, were waving in the air to a ska beat that night. Just in case Enrique Peña Nieto, Wilfredo Robledo Madrid and the rest of the state killers, rapists and torturers think they’ve stamped out the love of life and rebellious spirit of San Salvador Atenco, they’re sadly mistaken.
Reading from a statement by the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), Trinidad Ramirez del Valle said: “On this tour, we visited the states of Chiapas, Veracruz, Jalisco, Baja California, San Luis Potosí, Guerrero, Morelos, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Puebla, Michoacán and Oaxaca. We held 93 events that consisted of marches, meetings, forums, workshops, conferences, festivals, rallies, video-debates, and protests. On this tour, we met with 119 sister solidarity organizations, and gave 26 radio and television interviews.” The statement describes the situation of violence and repression in the country, the criminalization of the social movements, the growing militarization, and the increase in poverty, “intensified by the economic crisis generated by neoliberal policies geared towards the concentration of wealth in the hands of the political-economic class in power.” It also emphasizes that this crisis has moved “the people and its organizations to mobilize and generate consciousness in the population to speak out and make a message of hope and dignity visible in order to change the reality that Felipe Calderón, Enrique Peña Nieto, Ulises Ruíz, Juan Sabines and many more try to maintain so they can keep on exploiting, dispossessing and oppressing us.” The statement warns that government still plans to build the airport and is now sending agents from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) to buy up lands under the pretext of an ecological recovery project, but says the lands are NOT for sale.
Compañera Trini thanked the Committee for Freedom and Justice for Atenco, Youth in Alternative Resistance (JRA), Women without Fear, and Advisory Services for Peace (SERAPAZ) for helping to organize the Festival and gave special recognition to Roco and recently released political prisoner Jacobo Silva Nogales, awarding them machetes and bandanas.
In an interview, Heriberto Salas of the FPDT talked about the main accomplishments of the tour: “The most important thing was building ties with other struggles in different parts of the county, a way for us to add force to our own struggle and others as well. Everywhere we went, we proposed a 6 point program.” These points consisted of the formation of a coordinating group, network, or meeting of support for the prisoners; the adoption of a prisoner for the purpose of sending letters to him since communications are very important in helping people withstand prison; fundraising every 6 months; a coordinated action in 2010 to commemorate May 3 and 4 on the fourth year of imprisonment; efforts to enlist more organizations in the cause; and lastly, appearing in person or writing letters to pressure the Department of Internal Affairs to gain transfers for the prisoners in Altiplano and to pressure the Judicial Branch to release them.
Heriberto pointed out that “in addition to strengthening the ties that we already had with some comrades, we also met other groups who are in resistance against the theft of their lands, resources, and jobs in many towns and cities throughout the country. We showed our solidarity with these real struggles that are going on right now with our presence and our actions.”
This was evident at the beginning of the tour in Chiapas, “the heart of resistance in the country,” where the FPDT met with Las Abejas of Acteal and the Good Government Councils of Los Altos and Oventic. They said: “Solidarity is the caress of the peoples, the premise that moves us forward. Without it, we wouldn’t be capable of being here. You have shown us that struggle is the only road that brings us together as sisters and brothers, and so, following your example, we’ve come back to find you once again, because if this weren’t possible we wouldn’t have the strength to continue. Without your struggle this world wouldn’t be better than it was before. Thanks to you, we can shout out to the world that hope has a brown face and a rebellious smile, that your struggle is the mirror that we look into. That’s why we’re here with you, looking into each others’ eyes, our mirrors. Brothers and sisters Zapatistas, we want you to know that in you we find the breath of life that keeps us going, that Zapatismo has marked the road we’re traveling”. In San Cristobal, representatives of the FPDT participated in a meeting on political prisoners along with representatives of Voces Inocentes, the Voz del Amate, the ejidos of Mitzitón and San Sebastián Bachajón, the FNLS and the MOCRI. In Tonalá, they marched with the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas in support of the civil resistance to paying electricity bills.
Other solidarity actions included a protest at the Monument of the Miner in Taxco in support of the miners who have been on strike for more than two years, demanding a wage increase, better working conditions, and job safety. In Atoyac, the travelers marched with the Campesina Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS) to the city’s zocalo, where they placed a wreath of flowers on the monument to Lucio Cabañas and formed an honor guard with their machetes raised high. At a march in Tlapa, they showed their solidarity with the opposition to La Parota dam and reservoir, and also with the students at the rural teacher training schools and the indigenous communities of the Montaña region who have suffered government repression.
In their tour through Oaxaca, where UBISORT paramilitaries prevented them from entering San Juan Copala, the FPDT showed their solidarity with the struggles of many communities and participated in the march to demand justice for the brutal repression in 2006: “Today, November 25, we remember with rage and courage how the people of Oaxaca were the targets of a massacre committed by a murderer just like Enrique Peña Nieto ––Ulises Ruiz, who has gone down in history as one of the cruelest governors in Mexico ….Today we’re here as part of the Campaign for Justice and Freedom for Atenco, “12 Prisoners, 12 States”; we’re here in the last state of the tour, and we chose this honorable people because of the ties of sister and brotherhood that exist between our struggles….”
Compañero Heriberto stressed that the immediate task is to achieve freedom for the political prisoners, not only of Atenco, but of the country and the world. “This is a political issue that can’t be reduced to a legal matter,” he said. “The courts are closing the road to us, little by little, but we’re counting on the force of the civil society to open it. What’s needed is political mobilization to get the prisoners out of prison. The year 2010 offers us a chance to make deep changes in Mexico and we’re going to do that through peaceful, civil struggle.”
The Committee of Freedom and Justice for Atenco alerts us that “during 2010, a decision will be made on the final petition for judicial relief that the 12 political prisoners have filed.” The Committee calls “on one and all to strengthen our initiative that seeks only freedom and justice. This is the time for organization; this is the time for mobilization. LET’S ALL FIGHT FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE POLITICAL PRISONERS IN 2010. Let’s participate, one and all, in the National Campaign for Freedom and Justice for Atenco.”
This post is also available in: Spanish