imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Spirit of La Magdalena- Fighting Campesinos

by mlm Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2002 at 8:25 AM

.

Reporter's Notebook from Atenco, Mexico

Part 1: The Spirit of La Magdalena

by Luciente and the Atenco Project Writing Group

Revolutionary Worker #1174, November 10, 2002, posted at rwor.org

Earlier this year, I followed the struggle of the campesinos in San Salvador, Atenco for months in La Jornada and other Mexican newspapers. Then in July, their struggle against the Fox government's plans to build an airport on their land finally broke through the international media--and I got my first glimpse of this town in rebellion. It was captivating. I saw images of men and women sharpening their machetes on the pavement. Police cars were toppled over and burned. A Coca Cola trailer was turned on its side to block the road. Coke bottles became Molotov cocktails. Tanks holding 40,000 liters of gasoline were positioned at the bridges to be detonated if the troops tried to enter.





I hadn't seen anything like this erupt in Mexico in recent times. I had a lot of questions, and while their struggle did break through into the mainstream press I wanted to know more. I wanted to learn about this struggle from the people themselves. Why is it that they were determined and willing to do whatever it took to defend their land? A group of us traveled to San Salvador, Atenco in search for answers. This is the first of a four-part report of what we saw and heard in Atenco.





La Ciudad/The City





We arrived in Mexico City in the early morning, blurry eyed from excitement and lack of sleep. After so much anticipation, there we were among the thousands and thousands of people making their way through the streets of one of the most densely populated metropolises in the world.





Under the gray sky of the City, women lined the sidewalks selling quesadillas, tamales, and atole --a thick, sweet, hot drink made of ground maize, milk, cinnamon, and sugar. Children moved busily washing windows, selling chiclets, and shining shoes. Men and women jammed through the doors of the metro. Taxis, buses, and cars moved at a snail's pace through these crowded streets. It's estimated that every day more than 5,000 people arrive in Mexico City in search for work.





As we traveled about 20 miles away from the noise of the City and headed to San Salvador, Atenco, the pace of things slowed down and the gray cement landscape became green.





It was easier to breathe.





Un Municipio en Rebelde/A Rebel Municipality





When the people of Atenco stood up, they broke through the repressive haze that looms over Mexico. At Atenco, we found the town square still vibrating with the echoes of four days of rebellion that shook Mexico and made international news.





" No Aeropuerto " was spray-painted on walls in every direction we looked. Banners from Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, and other states in Mexico hung high from rooftops in solidarity with the struggle of the campesinos. Chunks of concrete used for barricades still sat at the edge of the central plaza. Empty Coca Cola bottles were stacked up high next to a mural that read " Unidad, Organización, y Resistencia para Vencer! La Tierra No Se Vende!" (Unity, Organization, and Resistance to Win! The Land is Not for Sale!"). A row of cars and trucks expropriated from police and other government authorities were parked outside a cultural center renamed after Jose Enrique Espinoza, a campesino who died in police custody after authorities denied him medical attention for his diabetes.





Atenco was still a municipio en rebeldia --a rebel municipality, two weeks after the August 1 victory when the government announced that it would cancel plans for the airport. The mood of the people was still strong and defiant--people walked around with a certain dignity.





El Campamento/The Encampment





The midnight blue sky was barely visible through a collage of dark gray clouds when we first arrived at La Magdalena. La Magdalena was one of the 13 communities in Atenco active in the struggle. It hosted an encampment that served as one of the many local 24-hour organizing and defense headquarters. During July 11-14, camps like this were erected throughout Atenco.





As we looked at the banners that decorated the tent, I tried not to stumble over the charred tires of cars that had been burned in the uprising, pieces of concrete and piles of rocks that had blocked roads, and firewood that lit evening discussions between youth and campesinos.





In July, this encampment beat with a rapid pulse. Campesinos, community members, and students worked together to build barricades to block roads and protect and defend the town from the PFP (the Mexican federal police) and other government authorities. They slept in short shifts along a row of mattresses and blankets donated by people of the town. They made schedules for guarding the area and drank coffee to keep awake for as long as 72 hours. New developments flashed from a small television set propped up on a crate inside the tent.





Sentiments of vigilant resistance were still strong at La Magdalena. The people were eager to share their stories with us. We sat around a long wooden table, illuminated by a bright light bulb hanging across the red and white tent and talked for hours as we shared cafe and bolillos (bread rolls).





The campesinos told us that Vicente Fox and his government never discussed with them the plans to build the airport. The campesinos felt humiliated at the outrageously low price the government offered them for the land. Their anger grew when it became clear that the government planned to take the land by force, despite its historical significance.





Many of the people we spoke with are the descendents of those who fought alongside revolutionary forces in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. We spoke with a 75-year-old ejidatario who has worked his parcel of land for more than 50 years. He told us, "Why don't they just leave our land alone? We were born here, we live here, we had our children here, and we want to die here. We don't want money. I prefer to have a fistful of dirt than a handful of bills. Money comes and goes. But I'll have the land forever. I can proudly tell you that I still have my fistful of dirt. I will have it for as long as I live. I still have it, and we will continue to have it as long as we live."





He talked proudly of their struggle. "We have the satisfaction of having defeated the government. We can say `we hit them hard'--this is positive. We can still hear the children play and sing, `This machete cuts through skin, don't come near me pinche granadero [riot police].' Imagine 6- and 8-year-old kids who already have this idea. What would happen [in the future] if they faced an invasion like this one? They would also rebel. A lot of us old people are going to die, but behind us are all the youth."





During the uprising it was difficult for vehicles to enter the area. Traffic was jammed for days. But this didn't hold back a couple hundred UNAM students who unloaded from buses and arrived in Atenco on foot. They spent several days in Atenco on guard. Many remained there for weeks after the uprising in case there was a backlash against the campesinos by the government.





In the thick of the struggle, there was a powerful fusion between the experience, knowledge, and determination of the UNAM youth and the campesinos. They spent many days and nights learning from each other.





The students learned about the culture and history of the campesinos in Atenco and what it's like to work the fields. The campesinos learned about things like philosophy and struggles of people around the world. The UNAM students active in the strike against the privatization of the university also shared some lessons about how to defend themselves and fight back against the police.





A student from UNAM who lives in Atenco--a daughter of campesinos from Puebla--said, "I think that we were learning how to work collectively. There had been thinking where everyone thought for themselves individually. Here people are learning how to apply our knowledge, not with an individualist goal, but a collective one."





Susana is one of the people in the community who initiated the idea of erecting a camp in La Magdalena. She remembers that Atenco used to be a town in strong support of the PAN--one of the main bourgeois parties in Mexico and Vicente Fox's party. Many people voted for Fox for president in 2000. She laughed as she told us that during the elections, candidates promised them the sun and the moon. She says that now things are different.





Times are changing and so are the people. Los de abajo --the people at the bottom--are finally saying, "Basta! Hasta aqui!" ("Enough! No More!") They refuse to believe the same lies from the government any more.





The other women in the camp echoed Susana's indignation as she spoke about the anger and humiliation the campesinos felt when they heard the announcement that their communal lands would be paved over for airplanes to land. Some women have inherited parcels of land, but even the women who don't own any land said, "We are willing to do whatever it takes."





"The time has come to say, `No more!' " Susana said. "The time has come for us to defend ourselves. We are willing to do whatever it takes. Now is not the time for women to have their heads bowed down. Now is the time that women are almost the same as men. Before we were considered less because we were women. Not now."





She looked back at the days she spent with her father, learning how to work the fields: "We would all help my father. We helped with what we could and he taught us how to grow corn and beans. He would tell us, `It doesn't matter if you're a son or a daughter. For me you are all equal because you all work in the fields.' "





Susana can't imagine leaving her life to move to the city to work in factories. She admits that working the land is difficult, but it's something that provides them with sustenance. "I don't think it's right that they just came in and offered us money for our land. Money is like candy, you suck on it for a little while and then it's gone. Not the land.





"As long as god gives us life we'll have our piece of land. The land is ours. The government doesn't work it. We do."





La Celebración/The Celebration





On the day we arrived, the afternoon was sunny in the plaza. Things were unusually quiet and calm. Women sold bright yellow flores de calabasa from small carts. Horses pulled big carts stacked with long stems of alfalfa to feed livestock. The basketball court in the courtyard was empty, and there were only a few people gathered at the town auditorium decorated with colorful murals of Zapata, revolutionaries on horses, and other images of the 1910 Revolution.





The people who usually fill the plaza were at a fiesta nearby, celebrating their victory against the government.





As we walked into the fiesta we saw groups of people gathered around long tables eating and exchanging "war stories" from July 11. A man's smile stretched from ear to ear and his eyes lit up as he talked about how it only takes minutes to get a fired-up people into motion. He described a scene from the July uprising: One minute a Coca Cola truck drives into town. The next minute the driver is nowhere to be seen. In another minute the truck is unloaded and turned on its side to barricade the road. Everyone laughed as someone said, " Coca Cola siempre presente en los mas grandes eventos !"--making fun of the posters that appear at soccer games, concerts, and other big public events that say, "Always Coca Cola!"





At every table and along every corner of the dance floor people laughed and danced. In between dances a 9-year-old boy ran to the stage and stretched his arm as high as he could, waved his machete, and chanted, " Tierra si! Aviones no !" " Ni hoteles! Ni aviones! La tierra da frijoles !" ("Land yes! Airplanes no!" "No hotels! No airplanes! The land gives us beans!") Thunderous cheers rose up from the crowd.





The expressions on the faces of the people in Atenco were strong and unapologetic, but also friendly and welcoming. Their voices and stories poured out with a tremendous force.





At the end of that day and in the days that followed, everyone we spoke with in Atenco--12-year- olds, women, campesinos, students, and old people--said that the struggle brought them together and strengthened their respect for each other and their love for the land.





We told people that we'd grown up in the city and had never really been to the countryside. The next day people arranged to take us on a tour of the fields so we could see how they work their land and what they grow.

























Report this post as:

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy