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Joaquin Cienfuegos: Live from the Struggle in Mexico – Days 1 and 2

by edit or Tuesday, Jun. 20, 2006 at 9:31 AM

The following is a correspondence from Joaquin Cienfuegos, traveling throughout Mexico reporting on the struggles on the streets, the anarchist movement, the Other Campaign, the Zapatista’s, and the over all radical climate that is building. More updates to come. All messages are free for broad distribution and will be sent across the net. Please forward, and let this be an inspiration to a growing movement in North America towards internationalism.

The following are the first two report-backs combined into one.

Report from Mexico City DF 6-16-06

by Joaquin Cienfuegos

I arrived in Mexico City at 6:00 AM (4:00 AM Pacific Coast Time). When I arrived to El Zocalo (or Downtown Mexico City) signs and banners stood out in the town square for support of the EZLN and La Otra Campana/Other Campaign. Banners read, "Vivan los Zapatistas/Long live the Zapatistas" and "Free Political Prisoners in San Salvador Atenco."

In the evening, I attended an event at the Centro Social Libertario-Ricardo Flores Magon. They held a speaking engagement for 2 organizers and writers from the Basque Region in Spain. One of the speakers, Juan Ibarrondo, mainly spoke about the libertarian science fiction novel he recently wrote entitled "Retazos de la Red," which was also the name of the event. The Centro Social Libertario - Ricardo Flores Magon is a social space on the way to becoming a community center that is run by a collective Colectivo Autonomo Magonista that is linked up with other collectives and organizations in Oaxaca under the Alianza Magonista Zapatista. The event was a forum presentation by the speakers followed by group discussion.

The novel gave a criticism of science and technology, because this was the cause of an apocalyptic event due to global warming because of science and technology. The topic of the discussion was based on the destruction of the environment due to the direction of capitalism. The main speaker, Juan Ibarrondo, also talked about his post-leftist view on production and factories, or what they say, "the abolition of work." At the same time he gave a criticism of Green-Anarchists, or Anarcho-Primitivists, (as white and American), because of their belief that there needed to be a human holocaust. Primitivists believe that human beings are the cause of the destruction to the environment, not capitalism, so humanity needs to be wiped out (except for the primitivists of course because their idea and their way of life will save themselves and anybody that follows them). He also criticized dogmatic anarchists who say that to have an identity or to own your identity is death. That position disregards indigenous struggles where their fight for liberation is also upholding their identities as indigenous people. In the discussion there was some talk of the struggle in the Basque region in Spain. A woman asked if there was much participation of women, the other speaker answered (which reminded some of the movement in the US), "They’re not that involved because they’re not comfortable with how these groups work."

I did disagree with some of the Utopian arguments made by the speaker, who spoke of this future Utopia -- that will come about on its own without the need for organization, collective - class struggle, and revolution. The discussion was pretty lively but there was no talk of organizing, just a focus on ideas around a Utopia, the collective and the individual, Kropotkin, and Bakunin. I participated in the discussion and posed a question to the main speaker, Juan Ibarrondo. I introduced myself and mentioned I was visiting from Los Angeles, CA. I talked about my political position as an Anarcho-Communist, and my view on the importance of the ecology but also strategizing and organizing in communities. How the problem is not technology or science, but the monopoly by the capitalists of technology. If humanity had direct control of the means of technology and production (and if they’re conscious) they would use technology for the benefit of humanity not profit as done under capitalism. I also asked him about his idea about the abolition of work and the anarcho-communist position of building the institutions and structures that will replace the capitalist system, their social relationships and its oppression. He answered that his criticism is for the position that factories don’t make people and individuals. There was also intellectual discussion following this by the members of the collective space. While this anarchist event didn’t really interest me much, I did get a chance to connect and meet with the compas from the Centro Social Libertario.

The compas filled me in on what events were coming up in Mexico City and which I should attend. We talked about the Other Campaign, and my collective organizing work in Los Angeles where I talked about Cop Watch LA, what we do and how we want to participate in the process of building autonomy, self-determination and the self-defense of our communities. I talked about what is going on with La Otra Campana organizing in Los Angeles. I talked about my experience with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern California Anarchist Federation. They told me about their efforts to build something similar throughout Mexico. I talked about my criticisms of the anarchist movement in the US and the privileged leading it and building an organization of the oppressed that come from these oppressed communities. The comrades have edit a newspaper entitled Autonomia, and also work to edit with the Alianza Magonista Zapatista newspaper entitled, Viva Tierra y Libertad. It was great meating with the Colectivo Autonomo Magonista, and they said they will connect me to what is going on in Mexico in terms of the Other Campaign (which they’re adherents to, and so is Cop Watch Los Angeles) and the libertarian-anarchist movement throughout Mexico. I will continue to build a relationship with these compas who also wanted to participate in the speaking tour of the Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magon, where they can present a view of the entire struggle in Oaxaca not just one of an organization.

en lucha,

Joaquin Cienfuegos


Report from Mexico City DF 06-17-06

By Joaquin Cienfuegos

Today I had more of a chance to walk and talk to people, especially the people who seem to have some support for the movement being built within the Other Campaign. There is a general feeling from a lot of people that they are tired of all the political parties; they want to seek freedom from their rule. A lot of people see them all falling soon.

In the early afternoon I attended the Chopo Cultural Tianguis. The Chopo has been around for 25 years and has been a place where young people in Mexico City can come together, hang out, buy their clothes, their music, and get whatever resources they need for their lifestyle. There are vendors for graffiti writers, punks, metal heads, artists, skaters. At the end of all the vendors there is usually music. El Chopo happens every Saturday. Today there was an emo band that was playing, and I got a chance to talk to some of the people who were vendoring. Some gave me their contact information to go to their house so they can hook me up with some music. I talked to some of them about politics, and they all anticipated the fall of the Mexican government.

I had a chance today to visit El Museo de Fida Kahlo in Coyoacan, Mexico. This part of the city seemed to be more for tourists, where there were more cafes and had more of an artsy crowd. The museum was great. As for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, they were great artists, but they were into old ideas and were very eclectic. Frida Kahlo seemed to be into Marx, Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and Trotsky (even though she didn’t have a picture of him on her wall).

Throughout the day I met people who had tables set up in support of the EZLN and La Otra Campaña. I had a chance to talk to some of them, and mentioned that I was from Los Angeles. Many people had already heard about the struggle in the South Central Farm in Los Angeles and were asking questions about it, I will try to get them some information in Spanish (if people can also send me updates of what is going on and information on the farm in Spanish, that would be great).

In the evening I hooked up with people at the Centro Social Libertario-Ricardo Flores Magon and el Colectivo Autonomo Magonista (CAMA). They were holding an asemblea popular or an assembly of anarchists from all over the City of Mexico. There were different trends from Mexico City, anarco-punks, Magonistas, anarco-comunistas, and anarco-feministas. They read the notes on the last assembly that they had, where the discussion was around the role of anarchists within the Other Campaign (there are disagreements with the groups involved, for example the Communist Party of Mexico and their position that they are the vanguard party of the proletariat and their upholding of Stalin). Other points from the last assembly included, knowing our objectives as anarchists before we jump on board of anything, criticism of Subcomandante Marcos´ protagonism, and some anarchists thought that there shouldn’t be a division between the adherents and those who aren’t adherents to La Otra Campaña. The points of unity or principles of unity that they came up with were: Autonomy, Horizontalism, Self-Organization (autogestion), and Direct-Democracy.

In the assembly of today the discussion was more focused around a national encuentro of anarchists in Mexico City that will happen closer to elections in Mexico. The discussion was focused around a proposal of building a national federation, and/or a much more solid organization of the different collectives of anarchists throughout Mexico. The anarchists of Mexico City would propose this at the encuentro to the anarchists of Mexico. They would organize around the unity of anarchism and around people who identify themselves as anarchists. The encuentro will be held for two days, one will be for the Aderentes de La Otra Campaña (adherents of the Other Campaign), and the other day will be open for all anarchists whether they’re aderentes or not. There was also discussion of security for the encuentro and acknowledging that they’re living in a super-repressive atmosphere in Mexico right now (that anarchists are suffering from as well as anybody rebelling, resisting, organizing, and fighting).

The idea of building a federation nationally, but connecting with people internationally, was something that everybody consensed on. There is an urgency in Mexico in general, but as well as anarchists and libertarian socialists in particular, to build a movement nationally. Anarchists in Mexico feel that regardless of which party wins, building a strategy, find tactics based on which party wins, The PAN are Francoists or Neo-Francoists who persecuted anarchists in Spain, the PRD has also repressed anarchist contingents in Mexico DF. I was able to share some of my own experience in Los Angeles in this discussion, but also I let people know that they know the situation and the conditions in Mexico and I know the ones in my communities (ultimately they’re going to do what they feel is best for themselves, as a visitor I can only give my experience in my community and create a space so we can learn from each other’s struggle) which are much different at this point. I talked about my experience within the Southern California Anarchist Federation and the Los Angeles Chapter, and how it failed because the unity was around anarchism, and there were some political differences, and a divide between those who were serious about a revolutionary organization and those who wanted an anarchist network. I also acknowledged as another compa at the meeting did, that it’s important to keep on trying if you fail once, to keep on learning from experience. I mentioned how this is what also happened with us, the collectives and projects still exist and we’re still organizing, and working closely with people we have more unity with politically and strategically. I talked about the project that I´m working with now and how we want to participate in the process of building self-organization (autogestión), autonomy, self-determination, and the self-defense of our communities. The people within that organization, along with others, are also building a specifically revolutionary, anti-imperialist, horizontal, solid organization (federation, but the structure is still being discussed) made up of people who come from oppressed communities and the oppressed themselves (I gave my opinion also and my critique of the anarchist scene in the US and how it is made up in the majority with people with privilege white, middle-class/upper-middle class, males where we feel the oppressed need their autonomy because our ideas and our urgency to free is much greater but where we can support from privileged communities who are also organizing and fighting for their own liberation). We discussed organizing in communities workplaces, and schools. We then discussed the anarchists role within popular social movements in particular the Other Campaign (which has become a movement on the national level with support internationally from people who are building in other communities, regions, and countries).

There was a question asked about what are the social movements that anarchists support in the US or the ones we work in within the US. I could only talk to the ones that I´ve been involved with recently. I talked about Cop Watch, what we do, and what is our goal, and why feel that we need to organize for autonomy, self-determination, and self-defense within our communities. I talked about our involvement at the South Central Farm (some people had heard about it already). I also talked about the immigrant rights movement and the marches that took place in Los Angeles recently. Also I wanted to offer our solidarity, and my position that the best solidarity we can offer for the people of the world is a revolution and building a revolutionary movement in the US (that is connected to people fighting internationally) because this country is responsible for the suffering of people around the world and the people in oppressed communities within the US.

En lucha,

Joaquin Cienfuegos

P.S. people thought my last name Cienfuegos, :] was great, we talked about Camilo Cienfuegos from Cuba and his libertarian ideas.

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