they rise, redeem & resist | a weekly roundup
Confronting capital and the State
Chiapas – What is happening right now? As of Sunday, March 20th.
Since 8:37 a.m., reports of high caliber shots fired by armed groups against both civilians have not ceased.
As of 7:42 p.m., armed attacks towards the communities of Tabac and Coco' Aldama. Reported shootings from different points of attack.
8 p.m. They are shooting at houses and cars.
Sources: Humberto Robles and Heriberto Rodríguez.
They rise, redeem and resist
Gloves are off
Direct force, outside the dull compulsion of our present economic conditions, is of course still used1, but “only exceptionally”. It is unfortunate, but unavoidable, to reflect on how preponderant direct force is, when it is inflicted in the territories we cover at taller ahuehuete.
Sporting their spotless, silky gloves, their hands are kept impeccable. This is how the bourgeoisie uses the power of the state to regulate2, mediating the bloody process of accumulation. These are but the mere, catastrophic outcomes of such mediation. In the words of Comandante Pablo Contreras of the EZLN, our brief analysis aims to overcome the superficial character of that infantile, liberal perception «which consists in not going deeper into things; in considering the system as "constant", in stopping before masters and property.»
The economy is not a separate social sphere, governed by its own economic rationality, but just the sum of activities and processes through which social reproduction is organized. These processes are inherently social and historical. We start from a denial of any notion of trans-historical individual economic rationality.
Beyond the concepts of inequality, liberty, right, ritual, asymmetry and progress, we won’t lament the dogmatism of our present-day inability to choose the enactment of equality and freedom; but rather, we prefer to recount these acts of resistance without omitting the painful consequences of opposing the status quo. These consequences are experienced in a quotidian form, and not triumphantly as the fetishized notion of struggles in the periphery assumes, although there are small victories at times too.
It is a useful reminder to avoid exaggerating the powers of the state, «either as antagonist or savior, problem or solution» but instead we should recognize «its desperate roil as its real weakness and subordinate condition. It is not the source of our unfreedom, just the manager thereof3.»
The State is the concentration of bourgeois society, the political form of it. Fortunately, these are as eternal as the relations they express. They are historical and transitory products. What is drama for bourgeois conscience means jubilation in revolutionary thought4!
Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
«This town is full of echoes.
It seems like they are caught in the cracks of the walls, or under the stones.
When you are walking, it seems like they follow your steps. You hear crackling, and laughter. Some laughs are quite old, as though they are tired of laughing. And voices that are worn out from being used so long. You hear all this.
Some day the time will come when these sounds fade away…» weaved the words of Juan Rulfo in reference to Comala, a ghost town populated by spectral phenomena — a scenario eerily similar to Salaverna.
In 1961, Gabriel García Marquez confessed that after writing his first four books and experiencing severe writer’s block, it was Pedro Páramo what opened the gate to the words that flooded One Hundred Years of Solitude. The magical realist claimed, about Pedro Páramo, that he «could recite the whole book, forwards and backwards.»
Jorge Luis Borges deemed Pedro Páramo to be «one of the greatest texts written in any language». Nonetheless, Don Roberto didn’t write about Comala; but he doesn’t have to, he lives it.
We are following up with the case of Don Roberto, the last inhabitant of Salaverna, Zacatecas. Don Beto is facing charges for contesting the expropriation of his home — by none other than Carlos Slim, as summarized in our article: Mine Over Mother.
Don Beto went to court. There, the judge of the municipality, Concepción del Oro, granted the temporary suspension of the criminal proceedings against the rural farmer and his son, Cuauhtémoc de la Rosa.
After hearing the judge's sentence, Roberto de la Rosa, last resident of ghost-town Salaverna, inquired:
"Can I go back to my house now?"
The judge informed Don Beto that “he did not understand his question5”.
Don Roberto asked again if he could return to his home, remarking that Carlos Slim’s mining company had fenced off the area, and he could no longer enter what used to be his residence. Upon hearing this, the judge reminded him that this legal process only had to do with the lawsuit that was being followed against him after he expressed his objections to Slim’s workers; in other words, his unwillingness to be quietly expropriated.
According to the report by El Sol de Zacatecas6,
“the lawyer7 of the mining company requested the defendant, Don Roberto, to be prevented from continuing to publish journalistic notes on this issue.”
The judge “clarified that he could not do that, since such action would attempt against freedom of expression; and declared that the only agreement was that Roberto de la Rosa and his son should not approach the plaintiff for six months. If the condition was met, the process would be closed definitively.”
The hearing took place shortly after a group of neighbors protested outside the courthouse to demand justice for Don Roberto.
Don Roberto de la Rosa has not lived in his house since August of 2021. The property was cracked by the explosions of the mine, and the road to his house has been fenced off.
Carlos Slim, waxing poetic, said in interview: «the artistic part of us all is through architecture». But disregarded his maxim when he cracked, fenced and took over Don Roberto’s home.
Expropriated from his house by the billionaire, Don Roberto was forced to build a hut in his cornfield, where he sleeps. It is reported that some people lend him a room with electricity so that he can charge his cell phone, since the mining company cut off the service in the ghost town that is present-day Salaverna.
When Slim expressed «if you live for others' opinions, you are dead. I don't want to live thinking about how I'll be remembered», he meant it. Ah, the joys of capitalist development, the joys of progress.
On January of the present year, we shared a translation of the II Report of the Caravan for Solidarity and Documentation with the Zapatista Community of Nuevo San Gregorio. To recap, the residents declared:
«They want to do away with our collectivity. They want individualism, to parcel the land for their own interests, to commodify it. For profit – not out of necessity.»
The constant attacks on the Zapatista self-governing territory — and on the original indigenous peoples of Chiapas and other regions — are a continuation of the policies of previous political parties enacted by the PRI, PAN, now disguised as MORENA.
Gloria Muñoz in her column “Those from below8” for La Jornada indicated: Aldama, Chiapas, has been five years under fire.
«The war against the communities has not ceased for more than five years and no one has been able to stop it.
The federal and regional governments permit up to fifteen episodes of gunfire every day, with high caliber bullets, against the population.
These attacks are coming from paramilitary groups from the neighboring municipality of Chenalhó, the cradle of the counterinsurgency.
The 60 hectares in dispute are nothing more than a pretext to continue terrorizing the population.
[…] the negotiation table was useless […] not a single day goes by without a shooting. Anyone passing through the area can hear the bullets […] and when the situation worsens, the [originary communities] have to take refuge in the mountains, carrying their grandparents, their children and whatever they can to sustain themselves.
The children have not gotten used to the gunfire. They are afraid.
They do not play or study in peace. And the women do not want to go out to the fields.
"They are scared”, says another of the interviewees who, like most of the indigenous women in the region, is a weaver and now the economic pillar of her family, “because there are whole weeks when the men cannot go to work.”
Agricultural production has decreased by up to 40 percent. To the terror is added immiseration and, during covid season, the disease has claimed dozens from the communities, unable to leave their homes.»
Armed attacks in the highlands of Chiapas continue, as we have reported. In February alone, 346 assaults by gunfire were registered9.
«We are talking about an open dispute for territorial control,» warns a statement10 recently released as a supplement report to the concerns expressed by the organization Frayba.
The center has repeatedly expressed, «the multiple forms of violence in Chiapas are terrorizing the population, and creating zones of silence where people choose not to denounce the attacks to protect the lives of the survivors, and in fear of retaliation.»
Fright and impunity rise every morning with the chiapaneco sun.
Jalisco & Sonora
While the complicit Mexican State obstructs and furthers their grief, the Mothers Searching for the Forcibly Disappeared communally seek answers.
Eighty-one bodies of forced disappeared victims have been located by the mutual-aid brigades. The number keeps increasing.
The activist Angelica Janeth Armenta Quintero of the collective disappeared on March 10th in Cajeme, Sonora, after she left her home to look for her son, a victim of forced disappearance.
Relatives of Angelica suspect that the defender received a call about the whereabouts of her missing son and went to meet him, but she did not return; a situation that caught their attention, since the organizer is also the mother of another son with a disability, under her complete care until she vanished.
Members of the mutual aid and direct-action group reported the disappearance of the defender on Friday, March 11. However, the Attorney General's Office in Sonora began the search until March 14, in violation of the Alba Protocol for the search of missing women and girls.
Eloxochitlán De Flores Magón, Oaxaca
Heriberto Paredes shared with us last year a curious situation. Unlike the predicted behavior from parents in suburbia, trying to guard the youth from dangerous ideologies, in Eloxochitlán, «the children... well, there is a school named after Ricardo Flores Magón. And the children talk about him, and if you ask them,
"who was Flores Magón"?
"he was an anarchist who fought a lot for the land. He fought a lot for our communities".»
Unfortunately, it is not all butterflies and communization. As the Communal Assembly in Resistance and Solidarity with Political Prisoners of Eloxochitlán stressed:
«One hundred years after the death of Ricardo Flores Magón, his fellow countrymen11 remain imprisoned for political reasons; they have not been sentenced for eight years.
Their trial is marked by a systematic delay caused by the Judicial Power and is also hindered by nepotism and conflict of interest. In the trial, their innocence has already been proven, the fabrication of crimes and evidence against them has already been proven; but corruption and political slogans trample all legal organizations and disregard all the rights of the prisoners. Therefore, based on Article 8112, we ask you, Governor […] for their immediate release.»
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec
Before the Panama Canal’s opening, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec used to be the shortest route for transport between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
The region is spectacularly important, if nature is part of our daily concerns. The isthmus encompasses most of the Zoque Rainforest, an ecological landscape extending across the adjacent states of Veracruz and Chiapas.
It is the largest intact tropical cloud forest in Central America. It is home, as well, to lowland tropical rainforests, tropical dry forests, the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca and the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre del Sur.
A Natural Predator
Naturally, it too has a bloodthirsty predator, more prevalent as of lately.
The Salina Cruz-Coatzacoalcos Interoceanic Corridor is one of the largest proposed mega-projects, connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean by a rail line between two ports.
«Mexico is an alternative to connect the hydrocarbons produced in the Gulf of Mexico with the Asian markets» lists the proposal addressed to private foreign investors considering the prospective profitability of originary people’s land expropriation.
«Travel time to the Chiba Port in Japan via the Panama Canal is calculated at 25 days. Travel time via the Istmo de Tehuantepec is estimated at 17 days.
This implies that shipping hydrocarbons to Asia via the Istmo de Tehuantepec is 32% faster…»
This also implies soil erosion, excessive use of water, natural resources, the disappearance of forests, jungles, and mangroves; the destruction of soil, air, and water pollution, as well as the extinction of autonomous ways of life and organization for the originary communities. But hey, shipping hydrocarbons to Asia in only seventeen days! One had to be a fool not to see the benefits for humanity, and what this represents for all humankind!
Sweet bureaucratic zombies
An assembly was held on March 14, 2021. It was presided over by the Mayor13.
It became clear within the assembly that the signatures of 45 community members14, one who died in 2020, were forged according to the meeting’s minutes.
Regardless, the electoral rights of the deceased and those whose signatures had been forged handed over 400 hectares of common use for the capitalist development. Since then, the area has been under surveillance by the community members, burning any machinery that is seen in the open.
The militarization of the Isthmus, to impose the inter-oceanic corridor, as well as the illegal occupation of the originary communities’ lands shared in common is imposed against the will of the Binnizá community.
The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the plundering concealed by the disguises of mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline mega-projects.
This extractivist infrastructure threatens the land and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus, who, as the EZLN described15, are classified as:
the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.
The bourgeois word16 describes the project, however, as beneficial, for “economic zones will be created to attract private sector investment along with a guarantee of the supply of energy, water, digital connectivity and other basic inputs to meet the needs of businesses and the working population17.”
Capital always knows best, even better than the people themselves.
Saturday was on fire
On Saturday, the communitarian assemblies in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory set up a road blockade at kilometer 185 of the Pan-American Highway protesting a presidential visit.
They released a statement, expressing: “in the context of the presidential visit of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which the media has announced as the second day of a tour without protests or opposition, the Community Assembly of Puente Madera and sympathizers, we state from the road blockade that:
«We strongly oppose the industrialization and dispossession of our lands of Common Use, as well as the industrialization of the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
We express our total rejection of the Interoceanic Corridor Mega-project, which implies the surrender of this strip of land, historically inhabited and built by the indigenous peoples, to national and international capitalist interests.
It is time to leave half-measures behind and clearly state that the development and progress of the State are only polite and condescending ways of referring to the ETHNOCIDE that is projected against the peoples that inhabit this isthmus strip.
On the centenary of the assassination of the anarchist and indigenous Mazateco Ricardo Flores Magón we reiterate that «it is not the rebels who create the problems of the world, it is the problems of the world that create the rebels... Rebellion is life, submission is death!»
Long live the Zapotec indigenous peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec!
Political parties, get out of our communities. And let's start walking the collective will and self-determination of the people!»
Solidarity with the resistance!
To the surprise of many non-racialized Westerners still advocating the bourgeois path of communicative rationality.
Marx, Karl. Chapter Twenty-Eight: Bloody Legislation Against the Expropriated, from the End of the 15th Century. Forcing Down of Wages by Acts of Parliament.
Joshua Clover. The Political Economy of Tactics. Verso, March 2022.
Last Clover quote of the month, we promise .
Note from the editor: If Joshua Clover wanted us to stop citing him, he should stop writing good essays. It’s his fault, this is on him. What are we to do, not quote him?
Must have been a highly philosophical question, we suppose.
Progress! Freedom! Civilization!
Fabres, Sare. AvispaMidia. Chiapas: En Aldama se registran 346 ataques solo en febrero. March, 2022.
These data were gathered by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (CDH Frayba), which points out that the increase in violence is occurring while the government "continues to pretend the situation is under control", as reported by AvispaMidia.
Francisco Durán Ortíz, Jaime Betanzos Fuentes, Herminio Monfil Avendaño, Fernando Gavito Martínez, Alfredo Bolaños Pacheco, Omar Hugo Morales Álvarez and Isaías Gallardo Álvarez.
Sections I, II, and XXVIII of the Political Constitution of the Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca.
of San Blas Atempa, Antonio Morales Toledo.
of Puente Madera and of Inocencio Morales de la Paz.
“The participating companies are Ferro Maz, Comsa, Construcciones Urales in conjunction with Regiomontana de Construcción y Servicios, La Peninsular Compañía Constructora, in consortium with Caltia and Grupo SEF.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrowest portion of Mexico and North America in general, separating the Pacific Ocean from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.”
According to the worms inside the skull of a publication called Opportimes.