Education Repression

The Demarest Factor: The Ethics of U.S. Department of Defense Funding for Academic Research in Mexico

by Simon Sedillo
March 25th, 2009

On October 23, 2006 the Lawrence Journal World or LJ World published an article which silently uncovered a funding scandal within Kansas University, in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2005, the university’s department of geography received at least $500,000 in Department of Defense funds to map communally held indigenous land in the states of San Luis Potosi, and in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As a result of this original story, on November 26th, of 2007 published a feature follow up story on the funding scandal titled “The Road to Hell”, which elaborates on the the potential dangers of this type of militarily funded mapping project. Since the publication of this 2007 article, myself and a growing number of community members and students from both sides of the U.S. Mexico border, have engaged in several extensive investigations into the details of this particular research project. Our growing concern has revolved around, academic ethics violations due to improper transparency with communities about the research funding, and serious U.S. Army violations of Mexican sovereignty, and of indigenous autonomy. Our collective research over the last year has resulted in several key pieces of irrefutable evidence, demonstrating both academic ethics violations, and serious violations of Mexican sovereignty and indigenous autonomy.


Standing With Those Who Fight for Themselves

[ The cover image of this issue was created by Simón P. Sedillo.
It portraits Tonantzin, a mother goddess and lunar deity from Aztec mythology, also known as the “Mother of the Corn.” ]

by Simón Sedillo
Originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of ¡Presente! – newspaper of SOA Watch

Neoliberals believe that somehow they have finally discovered a socially responsible, or socially democratic, way of taking people’s land, labor, and resources by force, for profit.

It’s not possible. This is the myth of neoliberalism. This imposed political economy reduces human beings and natural resources into variables in an economic equation. Every day the human variable in this equation is considered more expendable. Indigenous people, farm workers, women, youth, and poor people everywhere are reduced to variables in this equation. When no longer considered economically viable by the powers that be, communities become economically expendable. If a group of people can be treated as disposable for “not fitting in,” imagine how that group is treated when they organize or resist this imposition. Historically they have been treated as a virus which must be eliminated.

Education Repression

“The Road To Hell”

$500,000 in Department of Defense Funding to Kansas University for Mapping of Communally Held Indigenous Lands in La Huasteca and Oaxaca, Mexico

by Simón Sedillo
November 26th, 2007

$500,000 in Department of Defense funding is being made available to the Department of Geography by the Foreign Military Services Office (FMSO), based out of Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Geography professors Jerome Dobson and Peter Herlihy explicitly acknowledge the security and intelligence ramifications of their project, the Bowman Expeditions, citing the geo-political and cultural effects of the “neo-liberal property regime.” The home of the FMSO, Fort Leavenworth, was the command center of the western front during US expansionism into native lands in the early 1800s as well as the epicenter of the War Departments “control” over native populations after the civil war. Today, the FMSO focuses on emerging and asymmetric threats to the national security of the United States of America, which is a red flag as to their intentions in funding the Bowman Expeditions.

US military intervention in Mexico has seen a steady increase in the last decade, and now is set on a fast track through Plan Mexico, which like Plan Colombia, justifies further military funding for the “war on drugs.” The racist history of colonial rule and territorial occupation continues with a whole new set of conspirators seeking economic gain and academic notoriety. The maps produced by this project are not just of the physical landscape, but rather more intentionally of the cultural resistance to displacement. Through the rhetoric of unbiased science, and geographic exploration, the Bowman expeditions are actively paving in Mexico, the road to hell.


Governor Ulises Ruiz; 6 months of harvesting terror in Oaxaca

Since being sworn into office on the first of January, 2005 Oaxaca, México’s governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has been making good on his promise to “do away with the social problems” (i.e. popular resistance) in the state. Returning to the old, brute tactics of his party, the governor has been utilizing his power to stifle any group or community which opposes his rule. After only two weeks in office, he ordered the arrest of over 150 activists and organizers. In what can be described as a labyrinth of repression, the governor and his party are supporting paramilitaries and their reign of terror throughout the state. Autonomous and rebel communities face the constant threat of violence and death as massacres, brutality and politically motivated detentions have become commonplace.

Members of atx indymedia have been in Oaxaca the last two weeks documenting government support for paramilitaries and the revocation of constitutional rights throughout the state.