Evicted Okupa Chanti Ollin Calls for Solidarity

Chanti Ollin, a well-known okupa and autonomous cultural center in the gentrified financial district of Mexico City, was violently evicted on November 22nd, 2016. 800 riot police, 2 helicopters, and an armored car executed the operation, illegally breaking into the building and detaining 26 individuals without so much as a judicial order. This eviction takes place against the backdrop of Mexico City’s new constitution, which seeks to privatize land and resources, increase the surplus value that governments extract from property, and suppress any political or cultural activity that disrupts this profit-making program.

This week, members of Chanti Ollin are calling for those who stand in solidarity across the globe to deliver the following statement to the nearest Mexican Embassy, either in person or by e-mail. Find your embassy’s e-mail address here.

Demands include the restitution of the property to the collectives that use it, and the closure of the open cases against individuals detained during the eviction.

Photo: Chanti Ollin

December 14, 2016

To the authorities of the Mexican Embassy in [_______]

To the Secretary of Government of the City of Mexico, Patricia Mercado

To the Chief of Government of the City of Mexico, Miguel Angel Mancera

On the dawn of November 22, 2016, the autonomous space Chanti Ollin, located at 424 Melchor Ocampo, in the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood of Mexico City, was violently raided by 800 riot police, 2 helicopters, and an armored car. Authorities acting without any judicial order carried out the eviction of Chanti Ollin and the illegal detention of 26 individuals who were in the property at the time.

Chanti Ollin (House in Motion) is a community of Arts and Trades that has over the past 13 years transformed this abandoned building into a site of self-determined and self-sustaining resistance, promoting the transmission of knowledge and developing anti-capitalist practices of communication, creation, and defense of the land.

This eviction is part of a process of the elitization of cities that is being executed by governments across the globe, in which the allocation of territories to large-scale investors favors their monopolistic expansion. Within this plan, real estate agencies carry out the fundamental function of usurpation and re-allocation.

After being released from detention, the community of Chanti Ollin has responded to this situation by establishing a Cultural Barricade outside of the building from which they were evicted. This barricade features artistic activities that are open to the public and linked to neighboring community organizations and autonomous spaces that are also suffering the dispossession of their territories, as is the case in Pedregales of Coyoacán, a community that is defending one of the last natural springs in Mexico City in the face of the construction of a large building that would contaminate their water.

The harassment has been constant: public security and plainclothes officers patrol the barricade 24 hours a day, taking photos and controlling the movements of those in the camp. One comrade remains in jail, while two others face warrants for their arrest. This all forms part of a program to criminalize social struggle and put an end to movements and collectives that seek social change.

The 5 floors of Chanti Olin were home to individuals and collectives that co-existed and co-created in diverse areas, including:

  • Workshop for pedal-powered machines and eco-technologies
  • An instrument-making workshop
  • Music room adapted as a recording studio
  • Independent media laboratory with community radio and television
  • Community kitchen and artisanal bakery
  • Temazcal (ceremonial sweat lodge) and an alter to our ancestors
  • Theatre forum with its own itinerant cast, the Ollin Company
  • People’s Library
  • Graphics and silkscreening workshop; workshops for mask-making, bookbinding, sewing, weaving, and leather crafting
  • Center for physical training and circus performance
  • Laboratory for herbal medicine and bodywork
  • A community garden with medicinal and edible plants and the cultivation of spirulina

During the eviction police forces stole electronic equipment, computers, cameras, musical instruments, and tools under the watch of the evicted individuals. Subsequently the building was boarded up and sealed, leaving all of the workshops’ materials and tools inside.

In the face of these events, we stand in solidarity with the community of Chanti Ollin to present the following demands:

  1. The closure of the open cases against the 26 individuals who were detained during the eviction (Case CI-FEDAPUR/A/UI-1C/D/00423/11-2016).
  2. The cessation of the judicial processes and arrest warrants against all implicated individuals.
  3. An end to the campaign of political persecution and criminalization against members of Chanti Ollin.
  4. The restitution of Chanti Ollin’s workspace.
  5. The restitution of the materials and tools that were seized, as well as compensation for any object stolen and/or destroyed during the eviction.

We oppose every criminal act that governments carry out against social and cultural movements in an abuse of their power.

We defend the right to develop freely and to make decisions about our territorial and spiritual sovereignty as well as our food sovereignty.

We reject the criminalization of social protest and stand for the appropriation and creation of more autonomous cultural spaces.

The following signatories join the community of Chanti Ollin in urging the fulfillment of the aforementioned demands: