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News :: Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : War and Militarism
Protesters Greet Calderon: Demand Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples
12 Feb 2008
Cambridge, Massachusetts—A group of protesters unveiled their banners and signs in freezing temperatures last night to greet President of Mexico Felipe Calderon who spoke at Harvard’s JFK Forum. “Boston doesn't appreciate visits from those who violently suppress Indigenous movements and work to create desperate economic conditions that force millions of their citizens to migrate in search of better lives,” read a press release that the Zapatista Bloc circulated previous to the protest. The bloc is formed by a group of local anarchists who value indigenous rights of self-governance, but many other Boston activists were present at the rally as well.
IMG_0035.JPG
At the forum Calderon talked about his plans for investment and privatization of Mexico as a main focus for generating jobs. “The goal is to make Mexico the best place for foreign investment in the world,” he said. As a strong supporter of free trade agreements like NAFTA and Plan Puebla Panama, Calderon wants to develop infrastructure from “coast to coast” and apply a strong hand (ie, through the national armed forces) to accomplish the stability required for foreign investment. “There are a lot of investors who are looking for a safe place to invest,” he said.

Unfortunately, the biggest investor in Mexico, the United States, is seeking to help control of the region by pumping it with a $1.4 billion military aid package over the next three years, to be debated on in the U.S. Congress. Such aid, which includes counterinsurgency training, is said to be to fight the war on drugs, but the U.S.-sponsored militarization of Latin America is well-known for its brutal after effects, particularly among corrupt armed forces.

“If you see dust in the air, don’t mind us, we’re cleaning the house,” said Calderon referring to war on crime in his country. However, critics of Calderon’s short tenure say that his strong-hand tactics will likely overrun the rights of Mexico’s poorest, particularly in indigenous-populated areas in the south. One of the protesters last night, Bryan O’Connell, an Equal Exchange staff member who just came back from visiting Chiapas, was shocked to witness the kind of repressive politics in the region. “Paramilitaries are acting out in the open, particularly in the last 2-3 months,” he said.

An indigenous autonomous region, Chiapas has tried for more than a decade to settle an agreement with the Mexican government to safeguard their rights for self-governance. Zapatistas negate the classic capitalist neoliberal ideals affirming that it is not a sustainable system and would like a chance to practice their own indigenous social values through collective decision-making and a better coexistence with nature.

Yet, the indigenous claim is seen as a threat to the established powers who benefit from absolute control of the region for the exploitation of its natural resources. According to the Zapatista mobilization in Chiapas, four communities were forcefully displaced in August 2007 from the biological reserve they had been set up to protect, Montes Azules en la Selva Lacandona. Since September, members of the Bolon Ajaw community have been threatened and harassed, including the setting of fire of several homes, by the paramilitary force active in the region, the OPDDIC. In December and January, three activists were targeted and shot by members of the same group, two of them (Eliseo Silvano Jiménez and his son Eliseo Silvano Espinoza) were subjected to torture while in detention.

The collision between these two worlds has historically been a violent one, which today is emminent in the show of force in Oaxaca and Chiapas led by Calderon’s military. The indigenous of the Americas have always been seen as a threat to the system, yet the most recent influx of tourism has happened, ironically, because of its people’s unique vision of the world.

In Oaxaca, thousands tried to make proposals for better government—a government less prone to corruption—but have been met consistently with state repression led by the state’s governor Ulises Ruiz. In the past two years many have died and many others remain illegally detained. One such activist who was detained in clashes with the police in Oaxaca last year, David Venegas Reyes “Alebrije”, wrote from jail:

“In Oaxaca, a state whose regions are inhabited by sixteen Indian nations, dispersed in ten thousand communities, a state in which we city dwellers are descendants and heirs to this Mesoamerican Civilization, autonomy is a reality in many towns and villages. It takes the form of self government based on traditional customs and practices. Although it is limited by the government and the political parties and attacked by the same forces, it is possible to observe autonomy in practice in many indigenous and mestizo communities, where it stands as an example of what may be viable for our society as a whole in the future.”

Indeed, the same people seeking peace in the region claim that their world does not need to be set against the government’s agenda if such sincerely includes, a unified Mexico in all its diversity.

Calderon’s promises at Harvard’s JFK Forum indeed seemed inclusive of many progressive ideals including universal health care, a safer immigration policy at both the northern and southern borders, low-interest loans for micro businesses, social security for those working in the informal market, better relations with Latin American countries, including Venezuela and Boliva, and an environmental agenda that’s inclusive of the Kyoto Protocol.

Many argue that his ideals of economic growth through free market policies will sweep the most vulnerable in a continent where indigenous peoples have been denied for centuries their right to life, Zapatista-style. It also remains to be seen how civil society in Mexico reacts if NAFTA-plus is implemented. On January 31 as many 300,000 protesters marched the streets of Mexico city to demand a renegotiation of the free trade agreement to guarantee certain trade protections against agricultural items like corn, which can’t compete against the heavily subsidized items flooding from the United States and Canada. Free trade agreements have been known to benefit big companies while undermining local labor and environmental laws. NAFTA has been largely blamed for forced migration to the north and the loss of jobs in rural areas, coupled with an invasion of maquiladoras that compete amongst themselves to offer foreign investors the least restrictions and lowest wages.

“It’s the same speech we’ve heard from PRI and PAN for decades,” complained Gilberto Humar, a recently arrived immigrant from Mexico who was among the protesters at Harvard. He did not believe in Calderon’s promise for jobs because he said that in Sonora, where he is from, jobs have been disappearing since NAFTA took over. He himself was convinced he could not make enough at his local maquiladora, where he left most of his friends, and made his trek up north.

The resistance against “free trade” is coming from all sectors of the Mexican civil society, but it started most definitely in the south. As early as 1994 the Zapatistas declared themselves unilaterally against NAFTA. Their ideals all of a sudden seem closer with Mexico’s hope for their future than Calderon’s vision of the same old Mexico.
See also:
http://chiapas.indymedia.org/
http://lfsc.org/sn_display1.php?row_ID=103
Related stories on this site:
Call for a “Zapatista Bloc” to Greet President Calderón in Boston on 2/11

This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license.

Comments

Great action!
12 Feb 2008
Remember Brad Will!
Great action!
12 Feb 2008
Man, it was cold out today. You folks ROCK!

Stop Plan Mexico!

check out friendsofbradwill.org for action points/targets in congress/current efforts to stop this Bush/Calderon 'security' initiative that would harm activists in Mexico.

La lucha sigue!

Remember Brad Will
Stop Attacking Mexico - APPO get out.
12 Feb 2008
Call for a "Anti - Soros bloc" to greet the APPO bloc

at Harvard university KSG tonight at 6:00 @ the KSG
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/203479/index.php

APPO/Carlyle Group Get Out!

Hands off Mexicos Gold, Gas Oil, Uranium, tourist dollars and markets.

"(The people in Oaxaca) they hate the APPO. They hate
them so much they want to hurt and kill them."- Brian
Conelly ("Sharpie") Boston Indy Media Center

Soros's Carlyle groups moves on Mexico
http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/spiwebsite1.nsf/1ca07340e47a35cd85256efb00700c

"...it will be a long time before the people of Oaxaca
get things moving again and even longer before the
tourists show up in sufficient numbers.
It's sad and the idiots up north who cheer the
"revolution" and know nothing of what's going on or
the price innocent people are paying infuriate me."

"They said that international reporters should listen
to the people because the people want a clean city and
not a pigsty. They claim APPO does not represent
Oaxaca, and according to them, the majority of people
making up the APPO are from Tapachula, Chiapas or from
Guatemala. The two women, merchants in the Central de
Abastos and originally from Juchitán, expressed their
hatred for the teachers union and the APPO. They claim
that union leader Enrique Rueda Pacheco is a muxe (a
transvestite in Zapoteco) and that he has whores
waiting for him in his Juchitec neighborhood mansion
of La Septima, which is actually one of the poorest
neighborhoods comprised mostly of families of
fishermen. They also criticized the leaders of both
Section 22 of the national teachers union and those of
the APPO of corruption. The older of the two ladies
claimed that the last governor of Oaxacan paid APPO
leader Flavio Sosa millions of pesos while she had to
sell products in the market to take care of her
invalid son. "
http://www.narconews.com/Issue43/article2277.html

"I remember when that "Tourist go home" grafitti went
up. APPO's campaign against tourism and their attempt
to shut down the city are turning many citizens of
Oaxaca against them. This strategy has no other
purpose that I can see than to escalate the violence.
My favorite spot for a refresca near the zocalo was
tagged by the APPO and the owner is afraid of
retaliation if she paints over it. When ordinary
people have this much fear, I think it is fair to say
that terrorism is afoot. But the picture in the slide
show that really affected me was the shot of the
freshly painted street. That is the Oaxaca that the
APPO has destroyed."

""Well, of course I don't know who set the fires; it
could have been agents provocatours. I haven't heard
of any public APPO directives to burn cars or
buildings. It could be just a few hotheads like in
america's peaceful protests."

"I suppose it could be Elvis. When people show up with
shopping carts full of gasoline bombs it tends to
indicate a general approval. They aren't sneaking the
gasoline bombs in. No one in the mob is screaming,
"What are you doing?" when the bombs get thrown.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/11/26/18333521.php?show_comments=1

From my apartment I watched as the nitwits tried to
set fire to a bus amid cheering from the other
nitwits."

"The buses, which are used predominantly by the poor
and working class were burned and blockades prevented
buses from getting around town. What had been a single
bus ride became three or four bus rides. Virtually all
the citizens attacked and assaulted were poor or
working class. I suspect the poor have had just about
all the "help" from APPO that they can stand."
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&channel=s&r

"foreigners who own homes in Oaxaca City are willing
to sell it for 10 cents on a Dollar"
http://www.topix.com/forum/mx/ruiz/T2V29IVPSI139FPE0

Many of the indy media reports ive read admit to sever
local dissatisfaction with the appo, their aims and
tactics. Additionally Indy media reports admit that
they are armed with and use guns, fire bombs and
homemade rocket launchers and that they steal
independently owned busses and target local shop keeps
and residents for a seige of Oaxaca. What ive read and
scene points to a seeming hypocrisy in that the appo
actually pays and arms its people to the detriment of
the local populace.

Isnt that clearly contrary to the descriptions of them
here as being popular and nonviolent?

I have not scene any cohesive anti imperialist
analysis for the teachers strike which I understand is
a local ritual and has since been declared over. Have
you?

There is a long history of local labor struggles being
taken over by external interests. This is following
close on the heals of the US regime changes in Iraq,
Haiti, Liberia, Ukraine and with a major campaine
against Sudan in progress.

Does anyone else see the problem with americans
calling for the overthrow of another countries
government?

The over the top US Indy media based overthrow
rhetoric and overtly contradictory portrayals
doesn’t
explain why activists should drop any anti-imperialist
work to engage in destabilizing regime change in a
foreign country that reportedly has the potential for
inciting civil war.

Is there any moral surplus any where in US and western
societies which have been completely corrupted by
imperialism and Zionism and continue to fail to mount
any real resistance to them?

So the APPO sucks but you support it anyways?

Look there are entire branches of US based imperialism
dedicated to rounding up malcontents and otherwise
criminals, feeding them with warm food and
revolutionary or separatist fervor to overthrow
targeted governments.

Why does the USS Indy media have to capsize with the
same game?

Why not look at the big picture?

What is really changing hands now in Mexico?

Gold mines, Uranium, Oil and Gas, Billions in tourist
income. Mexico has nationalized resources that are
coveted by US Europe based capitalists.

Who wants a piece of that action?
Who wants to shut it down?

Remember war is only the second most profitable
business with engineering economic collapse thru
currency flight followed by ownership consolidation
being a far superior first.

Of course killing economies and scooping everything up
from under the wreckage requires a upfront investment.

The APPO co opted the traditional teachers strike and
forced the city into a shut down to provoke an authoritarian reaction that was exploitable for an international agenda.

They were armed and paid and shipped in truck loads of
drug addicts and street criminals to lay siege to
Oaxaca to destroy the tourist economy and do a regime
overthrow of the local government.

The much heralded graffiti art they are renouned for
in NY-Boston Anarchist and Hillel house circles
amounted to FUs spray painted on locally owned
independent hotels.

Some hotel owners were more than economically
destroyed they were assassinated.

Major NY private equity vultures such as Carlyle group
are moving on Mexicos tourist trade, resources and the
unions and national ownership of them.

Once again Indy media has fallen in love with a NY
money peoples franchised revolution.

NYC Mexican consulate bombed
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2007/10/367429.shtml?discuss

Stop attacking Mexico/Oaxaca, Burma,
Pakistan/Musharaf, Sudan/Darfur, China, Palestine/Hamas.

Stop attacking China!

Hillel house out of Mexico !
.
Just a small correction
13 Feb 2008
The bloc was form by Anarchist also Communist and Socialists ,people have the wrong idea always that a blac bloc forms only of anarchist, is wrong blac blocs all over the world are form of radical far left components from all tendencies. In this case it was mixed like it should be hopefully there will be more of this.
In solidarity
http://www.dailyradical.org
See also:
http://www.dailyradical.org
Las lecciones de la visita de Felipe Calderon a la Universidad de Harvard
13 Feb 2008
La disertacion del presidente mexicano Felipe Calderon del lunes 11 de febrero en la Escuela de Gobierno Kennedy de Harvad no tenia titulo. Las entradas fueron por sorteo previa inscripcion entre el 1ro. y el 7 de febrero. Ya a las 5:30 de la tarde la fila de los que querian escuchar al presidente se extendia por mas de una cuadra. El evento estaba programada para comenzar a las 6:30pm. Dos o tres pancartas de fanaticos antiimigrantes estaban presentes. Pero a eso de las 6pm por las calles de Cambridge resonaron los tambores y las consignas de los jovenes anarquistas lidereados por la organizacion Movimiento Antiautoriario de Boston (con una sigla inglesa muy sonora, BAAM). Alli fueron recibidos por las diferentes organizaciones que llamaron a la protesta entre ellos Accion Global de Massachusetts, la Coalicion Primero de Mayo de Boston, la Sociedad Sacco y Vanzetti, el Partido Socialista, la Alianza Socialista, la IWW, la Red Antifascista/Anticapitalista,y la Red Anti-autoritaria del Noreste... [leer mas]
See also:
http://lfsc.org/sn_display1.php?row_ID=103
Plan Mexico Is Planned Repression
04 Mar 2008
March 3rd, 2008 - Building Bridges writes: President Bush announced a $500 million/year security cooperation plan with Mexico, the Merida Initiative or Plan Mexico. This is increasingly being used to militarize the Mexican state to counter grassroots organizing and protesting.

listen to audio:
http://elenemigocomun.net/1462
More from Calderon at Harvard
06 Mar 2008
caldercops.jpg
#file_1#
Pictures of the late portion of the event down by the Kennedy School. APPO, EZLN, and the anarcho-syndicalists all had their banners out. More pictures at "the guy by the door".:

http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/fensterm/2008/02/12/felipe-calderon-visits-/
See also:
http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/fensterm/2008/02/12/felipe-calderon-visits-ksg-amnesty-international-admonishes/