Uprising in Mexico state; Zapatistas on “red alert” again

Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), speaking in Mexico City’s historic Tlatelolco Plaza May 3, stated that the Zapatistas are officially going on “red alert” in response to violence in San Salvador Atenco, a village in the state of Mexico which has declared as a Zapatista-style “autonomous municipality.” (Notimex, May 3) Later that night, six of 14 state and federal police officers detained by Atenco’s rebel authorities, the Frente de Pueblos Unidos en Defensa de la Tierra, were released. News reports said they had been severely beaten. (APRO, May 4)

The violence in Atenco began when police attempted to arrest roadside flower vendors May 3. A protest by the vendors erupted into a clash between machete-wielding campesinos and riot police, leaving one 14-year-old boy dead, some 100 peasants arrested, and several police taken hostage to demand the release of arrested protesters. The main road to Atenco, just north of Mexico City, was shut by barricades of burning tires. Protesters also reportedly lobbed petrol bombs. Fifty police officers were injured, 11 seriously, said state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto. (Reuters, May 4)

Repression was also reported at the Mayday march in Oaxaca City, where three journalists with the Narco News online service were arrested. (Narco News, May 1) They were freed two days later, apparently without any charges filed against them. (Narco News, May 3)

“We are going to overthrow it!”

Marcos addressed the Mayday march in Mexico City, where he told a huge crowd in the Zocalo, the city’s central plaza: “We have decided to unite all our struggles—not to change, but to overthrow the government. We are going to overthrow it!” (APRO, May 1)

At a students’ march in the Zocalo the following day, Marcos urged Mexico’s workers to seize the means of production just as peasants are seizing the land. “We are going to get rid of the banks and the bankers, the industrialists and the big owners, we are going to get rid of the government and the evil politicians, and we are going to take it for ourselves.” (El Universal, May 2)

Four days earlier, Marcos held a meeting at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan with protesters who opposed the building of a Wal-Mart (known in the nation as Walmex) within sight of the ruins. Machete-wielding campesinos from San Salvador Atenco also attended the meeting. The Atenco campesinos fought a successful battle in 2002 against a proposed airport project, forcing its cancellation, while the anti-Walmex protesters were unsuccessful in blocking the Teotihuacan store, which opened in 2004. (El Universal, April 26)

La Parota Dam will mean “war”

A week before that, in Agua Caliente, Guerrero state, Marcos met with members of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the Parota Dam (CECOP). Three CECOP members have been assassinated since they launched their campaign to oppose expropriation of their lands for the federal hydro-dam complpex. Marcos warned President Vicente Fox that if the Mexican army attacks the communities that support CECOP, it will be considered an aggression against the EZLN. He declared “they will only be able to build the dam with a war in the Mexican southeast.” (Narco News, April 20)

Marcos pointed out that the hydro project would destroy 42,000 acres and 36,000 communities, displacing 25,000 people. The question of La Parota dam was recently analyzed by the Latin American Water Court, an environmental justice organization, which recommended suspending construction. (Prensa Latina, April 17)

All sources online at the Chiapas95 archive.

More accounts and photos of the Zapatista tour are online at El Kilombo Intergalactico

See our last reports on San Salvador Atenco, Guerrero and La Parota Dam.

See our last posts on Mexico and the Zapatista tour.