|English | Español||August 15, 2018 | Issue #41|
Marcos: Either Release All Prisoners from Atenco, Or We All Go to Jail
In Mexico, “The State has Converted Justice into an Expensive Commodity,” Says the Zapatista Subcomandante at the Presidential Mansion
By Bertha Rodríguez Santos
Photos: D.R. 2006 Amber Howard
“No matter the time it takes, no matter the opportunity (an allusion to the electoral process to elect a new president of the Republic, on July 2) that those above decide and impose. No matter if we are many or only a few. No matter if they attack us or praise us. No matter if they understand us and support us, or if they condemn us and persecute us,” he assured.
Marcos announced: “If it’s repression, with whatever excuse from the parties or the media, however they decide to confront our demands for justice, let them start making spaces in the prisons, hospitals, and cemeteries because this is not going to be stopped until all the prisoners of the 3rd and 4th of May are released.”
“Today, like on other occasions, we are called together by suffering. The suffering of seeing our compañeros of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) and other organizations, groups, collectives, families and individuals attacked by the police of the bad governments in San Salvador Atenco. The bad governments of the municipality of Texcoco, of PRD affiliation (of the Democratic Revolution Party-PRD); of the state of Mexico, of PRI extraction (of the Institutional Revolutionary Party-PRI) and the federal government that is headed by the panista (of the National Action Party-PAN) Vicente Fox Quesada,” accused the Zapatista spokesman as he began reading the communiqué by the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.
He indicated that the aggression perpetrated by the police troops against the population was not an operation meant to impose order, but instead “an attack of destruction and annihilation perpetrated with the impunity of those that know how to protect themselves with the law from up above, with the law of the powerful. The law that justifies the murder of a young man, the use of firearms against a defenseless civilian population, the destruction of humble homes, the savage blows against everything that moved, the sexual aggression against women and boys, the arbitrary and indiscriminant detentions. In sum, fascism.”
He questioned the application of the laws and the estado de derecho or “state of law” (a Spanish term referring to a country under the democratic rule of law) in our country, as it is “the same state that has converted justice in an expensive merchandise, whose cost can only be paid by those who have money. This is how we’ve seen Martha Sahagun, of the PAN and the wife of Vicente Fox, buy off judges to cover up the illicit enrichment of her family. And if any one dares to publicly denounce it, the new buying of justice to shut up and punish anyone who speaks the truth. A state under the rule of law that conceals and and covers up legislators who, like Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the PAN, use their political position to aid organized crime.”
Addressing the position that has been assumed by the presidential candidates of the three best known parties about the police repression, Marco attacked the presidential candidates, referring again to the State of Law: “The same state that not only permits but also promotes the use of national resources so that the PAN inverts in the business of selling public posts and inflation of the polls, like they do with this mental midget with dictatorial aspirations, Felipe Calderon.”
“The same state of law,” he continued, “that gives legal privileges to the political arm of organized crime, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and to that fallen gangster Robert Madrazo.”
“The same state of law that conceals the institutionalized corruption called the Party of the Democratic Revolution-PRD that feeds and nourishes the same tricksters as always, the campaign of Andrés Manual López Obrador.”
It should be mentioned that the presidential aspirants from the PAN and from the PRI applaud the use of force against the people of Texcoco and Atenco, while those from the PRD, have limited themselves to condemn violence “wherever it comes from,” without taking into consideration the conditions that generate the confrontation. “As if the violence of the townspeople were comparable to that of the police,” Marcos distinguished.
On the other hand, the Zapatista spokesman commented that the government’s posture of asking for “proof” of human rights violations of the townspeople that were brutally assaulted by different police forces reveals the worthlessness of the population in the eyes of the government.
“It doesn’t matter to them what happens down below, they find out through the media and they run to look for image assessments to make the calculation of the impact that it will have on the polls…” he said.
He added that today “we are brought together by the indignation and the anger that is provoked by knowing that, for those from up above, women are the spoils of war promised beforehand to the troops of ‘order.’ The aggression that our compañeras received and continue to receive for the simple fact of being women. The desire not just to beat them and detain them, but also humiliate them, rape them, and destroy them morally.”
He argued that this aggression represents a message, not only for the women of Atenco, but also for all the women of Mexico in struggle. In the country’s current economic and political system, “all these women are the spoils paid to those who impose by force that which cannot be sustained through reason.”
In this way, the system sees women as subjects that can “either surrender themselves to a great deal of disgrace, mistreatment, sexual aggression and rape, or be obligated to this surrender with the legal use of violence. This is the choice that those from up above offer to all the humble and simple women from below,” said Marcos. Later, his voice breaking, he asked, “who can pride themselves on applauding this as a symbol of democratic modernity in our country? Who can be honest and remain silent before such cruelty?
“Who, as a woman, as a human being, in Mexico or in anywhere in the world, can know the meaning of being a woman in San Salvador Atenco, in the state of Mexico, the 3rd and 4th of May, 2006, and go on not doing anything, and simply continue bearing their own humiliation, dressing up as destiny and bad luck that has become a curse?
“Who can know all this and take the microphone, the camera, the computer, the platform, the table, the bus, the pencil, the tool of work in the countryside or in the city, the book, the notebook, the toy, turn on the radio or the television, read the newspaper or a magazine, and not see and not hear or, even worse, see and hear and think that maybe they deserved it. ‘Those who are forced to be students, workers, indigenous; those who are ordered not to become representatives, senators, governors, functionaries, businessmen. In the end, those who are women.”
“What woman in Mexico, no matter her ideas, can honestly keep quiet? What youth, older person, child, man or woman, can know what it means to be one or the other in Atenco the 3rd and 4th of May and remain immobilized?
“Who can listen and not feel the same rage and indignation? –Not us, not us, not in the Other Campaign,” he said.
He assured that in response to “the long journey of terror in San Salvador Atenco” the Zapatistas and the adherents of the Other Campaign will not remain “either indifferent or quiet.” He warned that if to “those from above” suffering does not matter, “here below, we won’t forgive or forget.”
Marcos considered that the feelings of rage, pain and indignation in Mexico caused by the repression in Texcoco and Atenco will be channeled into organization. “We have just begun, we won’t be stopped,” he indicated.
Since the detention of members of the People’s Front in the Defense of the Land (FPDT) — who defended the flower vendors from being violently displaced by the police of Texcoco, in the state of Mexico — and of members of social organizations in solidarity with both groups, as well as families distanced from the conflict whose only offence was to be a part of the town’s population, the exact number of prisoners have been imprecise.
During the meeting that took place this May 12, it was reported that during the armed operations that the municipal, state and federal police carried out, a total of 207 arrests were registered. On May 3 there were 101 arrested; of them, 22 were women and 79 men. On May 4 the police made 106 arrests (29 women and 77 men). Of these, five were deported (four women and one man).
Of these, authorities have dropped charges against 17 people. Eight of those have already been released and the rest (nine) are facing a bureaucratic process. Thus, according to this data, 190 remain behind bars.
Of all the prisoners, 145 are eligible for bail but 28 face different charges which impede their release.
Laura Elsa, mother of jailed university student Ivan Torres (also member of The Fifth Brigade, La Kinta Brigada, a collective that does social and autonomous work in San Luis Potosí and in Mexico City), reported that recently the director of the jail in Santiaguito, where the majority of the detainees are held, summoned those prisoners that would be released with bail, notifying them that the government would pay the total sum of that bail. Even so, she said, the prisoners chose to remain behind bars until everyone is released.
Before the multitude that marched through the main avenues of the Mexican capital despite the heavy rain which soaked protestors at the beginning of the protest, the mother of the detained youth spoke of moments of distress and terror that “a score of mothers and fathers” suffered, who cried over the detention of their children.
She said that through television they had seen the cruel way the police beat their children, but never did they imagine “the terror that they lived being transferred to the prison of Santiaguito, the terror that they lived in Atenco during those hours… never did we imagine the terror of the raped compañeras, the terror of our sons and daughters.”
She said that despite the manipulation of information that the mass media are printing, which presents the movement as the only guilty party of the confrontation, “the support has been growing. Today my heart is becoming small seeing so many people in support. My heart is full of happiness and hope because I know that what our companeros have lived through will be avenged.”
For her part, Hortencia, a young woman from the FPDT, read a communiqué from her organization which among other things pointed out that “the police arrived with the order to kill, the only thing we did was defend ourselves. They entered our houses to attack us, to plant a wave of fear.”
She said that nine days after the brutal police aggression, the population confronts a process of recuperation “from that terror.”
She pointed out the fact that in prison, the detained have been resisting the governmental repression through hunger strikes. “We will continue being the same rebel people even in the hands of the enemy,” she said.
The FPDT blames the said repression on the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, on the state governor, Enrique Pena Nieto, and on the municipal governments of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco “because they don’t know how to defend their people.”
In the communiqué the members of the campesino front demand the immediate release of all the political prisoners of the FPDT. They reject the authority of PRI governor Enrique Pena Nieto, calling him a “murderer and rapist” and demanding he be put on trial.
At the same time, they demand the dismissal of police commanders of Ecatepec, Chalco, Texcoco, and Chiconcuac — all involved in the violent aggression. Additionally they demand the imprisonment of the officers that attacked and raped the detained men and women, a stop to the persecution and kidnapping of social fighters, the cancellation of the arrest warrants against FPDT leaders, and the release of all political prisoners in the country.
Through a prerecorded message, América del Valle, daughter of imprisoned leader Ignacio del Valle, classified the government as “rapist, murderer, jailer and liar.” In Viena, she said, President Fox is assuring that his government respects human rights, while the people of Atenco suffer the results of the “brutal repression” directed against its population.
At 4pm, in front of Bucareli street and the Department of the Interior building, the student contingents from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Autonomous Metropolitan University, the National Polytechnic Institute, the National Pedagogical University, the University of Chapingo, the UNAM’s Science and Humanities Academies, the National School of Anthropology and History, indigenous women (among them the Mazahua Movement in Defense of Water and the Lucha Triqui Movement) and members of “sex/gender dissidence,” among other adherents to the Other Campaign, began to organize themselves to begin the march.
Old and new forms of protest were demonstrated today. The theater actor Juan Diaz hung by his feet from a tree to express his indignation at the recent occurrences and to demand the liberation of all the prisoners.
In this march the machetes came out to shine once again. Since 2001, when the townspeople of Atenco lead a fierce struggle against the construction of an international airport, the campesinos have carried this work tool as a symbol of resistance and struggle.
Since the movement succeeded in stopping the Fox plan to construct an airport on the lands of the campesinos, the members of the FPDT have traveled to other spaces where there are popular resistances similar their own, “to give spirits, they arrive, sing songs and go.”
During the illegal searches carried out by the police the past 4th of May in the houses of Atenco, many people were brutally beaten for the simple fact of having a machete in the house. As is well known, all Mexican campesinos have a machete in the house.
One day after the aggression, during the march which occurred in solidarity with the people of Atenco, the machetes stayed at home, but have now returned to the streets. The campesinos of Atenco retook the machetes as a symbol of the new campesino struggle that now goes beyond. In today’s protest not only did the steel machetes shine, but many also marched with machetes, crying out for liberty, justice, education and democracy.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism