Zapatismo and the Latin American cycle of struggle

” […] This series of mobilizations that have sprouted throughout Latin America for the past two decades positively indicate that grassroots movements are alive across the region. Many of them are carriers of a new political culture and a new form of political organization, which is reflected in multiple ways and which is different from what we knew in the 1960s and 1970s.

Bases Zapatistas del municipo autonomo Olga Isabel mantendran  el bloqueo permanente por la construccion de la carretera ya que solo es pretexto la construccion del camino para que entre el  ejercito, seguridad piblica y policia municipal senalaron zapatistas al ser entrevistados.
Bases Zapatistas del municipo autonomo Olga Isabel mantendran el bloqueo permanente por la construccion de la carretera ya que solo es pretexto la construccion del camino para que entre el ejercito, seguridad piblica y policia municipal senalaron zapatistas al ser entrevistados.
(Foto: Victor M. Camacho)

Some of the movements, from the Chilean secondary school students and the Zapatista communities, to the Guardians of the Conga Lakes, the Venezuela Settlers’ Movement and the Movimento Livre Passe (MPT) of Brazil, reveal some common characteristics that are worth noting.

The first is the massive and exceptional participation of the youth and of women. As vulnerable victims of capitalist exploitation, their presence revitalizes anti-capitalist struggles because they can be directly involved in the movement. Ultimately, it is they — those who have nothing to lose — who give movements an intransigent radical character.

Secondly, a unique political culture is gaining ground, which the Zapatistas have synthesized in the expression “governing by obeying” (mandar obedeciendo). Those who care for the lakes in Peru — the heirs of peasant patrols (rondas campesinas) – obey their communities. The young activists of the MPL in Brazil make decisions by consensus in order to avoid consolidating a majority, and they explicitly reject the “loudspeaker cars” that union bureaucracies used to impose control on their marches.

Another common feature to these movements is the project of autonomy and horizontality, words that only started being used 20 years ago but which have already been fully incorporated into the political language of those involved in the various struggles. Activists claim autonomy from the state and political parties, as well as horizontality — the collective leadership of the movement rather than that of any individual. For instance, members of the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES, its initials in Spanish) of Chile function horizontally, with a collective leadership and an assembly.

The fourth characteristic is the predominance of flows over structures. The organization adapts itself and is subordinate to the movement; it is not frozen into a structure that conditions the collective with its own separate interests. The collectives that struggle are similar to communities in resistance, in which all run similar risks and where the division of labor is adjusted according to the objectives that the group outlines at every given moment.

In this new layer of organization, it is difficult to distinguish who the leaders are — not because referents and spokespersons do not exist, but rather because the difference between leaders and followers diminishes as the collective leadership of those from below increases. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the new political culture that has been expanding over the course of the past two decades.

Finally, Zapatismo is a political and ethical referent — not so much indicating a direction for these movements, but rather serving as an example from which to take inspiration. Multiple dialogues are taking place among all the various Latin American movements, not in the style of formal and structured gatherings, but as direct exchanges of knowledge and experience between activist networks: precisely the kind of exchange that we need in order to strengthen our struggle against the system.”

[…]

Read the full article at: http://roarmag.org/2013/12/zapatistas-latin-american-movements/

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See also:

* New Forms of Revolution (Part 1): The Lacandona Commune

* EZLN: treinta años del más sensato de los delirios

This is What Solidarity Looks Like: Food Not Bombs, Long Island

“Food Not Bombs on the frontline of hunger: The hunger relief efforts of a small group of dedicated and caring Long Islanders operating on a near-zero budget is eclipsing that of the relief efforts of many well-funded 501-c3 organizations, both in number of people served and in the volume of food distributed” (Quote from Scott Crow)

24hrs with Long Island Food Not Bombs from Sparrow Media on Vimeo.

On this day in history – December 22, 1997: The Acteal Massacre

On This Day: In 1997 armed paramilitary troops with assault rifles entered and attacked the unarmed Tzotzil Maya village of Acteal in Chiapas, Mexico in what has come to be known as the Acteal Massacre. The Tzotzil were attending a prayer meeting when the troops entered the village and massacred 45 people, including pregnant women and children. The paramilitary troops were retaliating against the Zapatista National Liberation Army, whom the Tzotzil had supported.

Mourners in the aftermath of the 1997 Acteal massacre.

Declassified documents reveal the role of the Mexican government and military in this massacre: The documents describe a clandestine network of “human intelligence teams,” created in mid-1994 with approval from then-President Carlos Salinas, working inside Indian communities to gather intelligence information on Zapatista “sympathizers.” In order to promote anti-Zapatista armed groups, the teams provided “training and protection from arrests by law enforcement agencies and military units patrolling the region.”

(Text from: Indigenous People’s Issues & Resources, Facebook)

 

 

“The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

On this day in history, December 4, 1969, Chicago police raided Fred Hampton’s apartment and shot and killed him in his bed. He was just twenty-one years old. Black Panther leader Mark Clark was also killed in the raid. While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that told a very different story: that the FBI, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton.

Via Huffington Post:

‘On December 4th it will be 44 years since a select unit of 14 Chicago Police officers, on special assignment to Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, executed a pre-dawn raid on a west side apartment that left Illinois Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark dead, several other young Panthers wounded, and the seven raid survivors arrested on bogus attempted murder charges. The physical evidence soon exposed the claims of a “shootout” that were made by Hanrahan and his men to be blatant lies, and that the murderous reality was that the police fired nearly 100 shots while the Panthers fired but one.

But those lies were only the first layer of a massive cover-up that was dismantled and exposed over the next eight years — a cover-up designed to suppress the central role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its COINTELPRO program in the assassination.

In the wake of the raid, the Minister of Defense for the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Rush, stood on the steps of the bullet riddled BPP apartment and declared that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were responsible for the raid, but at that time there was no hard proof and it was dismissed by the media as mere rhetoric.

The first documentation that supported Rush’s insightful allegation surfaced in March of 1971 when the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into a small FBI office in Media Pennsylvania and expropriated over 1000 FBI documents. These documents exposed the FBI’s super-secret and profoundly illegal COINTELPRO program and its focus in the 1960s on the black liberation movement and its leaders. Citing the assassinated Malcolm X as an example, Hoover directed all of the Bureau’s Offices to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize” African American organizations and leaders including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Nation of Islam, Martin Luther King, Stokley Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown.

In Chicago, the first major breakthrough came in 1973 when U.S. Attorney James Thompson revealed that Chicago Black Panther Party Chief of Security William O’Neal was a paid informant for the FBI. At that time I was a young lawyer working with my colleagues at the People’s Law Office on a civil rights lawsuit that we had filed on behalf of the Hampton and Clark families and the survivors of the December 4th raid. We quickly subpoenaed the Chicago FBI’s Black Panther Party files and a grand total of 33 documents were produced. However, an honest Assistant U.S. Attorney included in those documents an FBI memorandum that incorporated a detailed floor plan of the interior of the BPP apartment which specifically identified the bed on which Hampton slept. The face of the memo also revealed that the floor plan, together with other important information designed to be utilized in a police raid, was based on information communicated by O’Neal to his FBI control agent who later supplied it to State’s Attorney Hanrahan before the raid.

We then focused on unearthing more details about the FBI’s involvement in the conspiracy, identified the FBI conspirators, joined them as defendants in the lawsuit and sought the Chicago office’s COINTELPRO file in order to establish a direct link between the FBI’s illegal program and the raid. When the Government refused to produce the file and the Judge refused to compel them to do so, we turned to Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations. The Committee, which was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, was investigating rampant abuses by all U.S. Intelligence Agencies, including the FBI. In late 1975 a Church Committee staffer informed us that there were several Chicago documents which definitively established the link. Armed with the content of the still secret documents, we were able to embarrass the Judge, who had privately reviewed the documents and previously declared them irrelevant, into ordering the FBI to produce the file. Among the documents provided were several that revealed the FBI’s efforts to foment violence against Fred Hampton and the Chicago Panthers, and one dated December 3, 1969 that claimed the impending raid as part of the COINTELPRO program.

In January of 1976 we embarked on what would turn out to be the longest civil trial in federal court history. Two months into the trial, O’Neal’s FBI control agent blundered on the witness stand and inadvertently established that the FBI had not produced all of the Chicago Black Panther files, and the Judge, not knowing what was about to happen, ordered that they do so. The next day a shaken Justice Department supervisor wheeled into court shopping carts on which were stacked 200 volumes of FBI BPP files that had been suppressed by the Chicago office since we had first requested them three years before. The Judge commenced a hearing on the FBI’s misconduct and the Government produced several sanitized volumes of documents each day for a month. The produced files contained directives to destroy the Panther’s Breakfast for Children Program and disrupt the distribution of the BPP newspaper, evidence that the charismatic Hampton was a targeted BPP leader, and massive wiretap overhears, including conversations between BPP members and their attorneys.

At the very end of its month long document production, the Government produced O’Neal’s control file. In it was yet another smoking gun — memos to and from FBI headquarters and the Chicago office that requested and approved payment of a $300 bonus to reward O’Neal for the floor plan. According to the memos, O’Neal’s information was of “tremendous value” and, in the words of O’Neal’s COINTELPRO supervisor, made the raid a “success.”

That same month, on April 23, 1976, the Church Committee released its Final Staff Report on the FBI and CIA’s rampant domestic illegalities which included a chapter entitled “The FBI’s Covert Action Plan to Destroy the Black Panther Party.” The chapter concluded by highlighting the Hampton raid as a COINTELPRO operation and quoting from the bonus documents that we had obtained only weeks before.

The Judge, an ardent supporter of the FBI, exonerated the FBI and its Justice Department lawyers of any wrongdoing in suppressing the documents and later dismissed O’Neal and the other FBI defendants from the case. In April of 1979 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a landmark decision, overturned the trial judge, finding that the FBI defendants and their government lawyers “obstructed justice” by suppressing the BPP files. Most significantly, the Court of Appeals also concluded that there was “serious evidence” to support the conclusion that the FBI, Hanrahan, and his men, in planning and executing the raid, had participated in a “conspiracy designed to subvert and eliminate the Black Panther Party and its members,” thereby suppressing a “vital radical Black political organization.” The Court further found there to be substantial evidence that these defendants also participated in a post-raid conspiracy to “cover up evidence” regarding the raid, to “conceal the true character of their pre-raid and raid activities,” to “harass the survivors of the raid,” and to “frustrate any legal redress the survivors might seek.” This decision withstood a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, and stands today as judicial recognition of outrageous Federal and local conspiratorial criminality and cover-up.[…] ‘

Read full article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/g-flint-taylor/the-fbi-cointelpro-progra_b_4375527.html

American Holocaust: When It’s All Over I’ll Still Be Indian (2000)

“The powerful and hard-hitting documentary, American Holocaust, is quite possibly the only film that reveals the link between the Nazi holocaust, which claimed at least 6 million Jews, and the American Holocaust which claimed, according to conservative estimates, 19 million Indigenous People.

It is seldom noted anywhere in fact, be it in textbooks or on the internet, that Hitler studied America’s “Indian policy”, and used it as a model for what he termed “the final solution.”

He wasn’t the only one either. It’s not explicitly mentioned in the film, but it’s well known that members of the National Party government in South Africa studied “the American approach” before they introduced the system of racial apartheid, which lasted from 1948 to 1994. Other fascist regimes, for instance, in South and Central America, studied the same policy.

Noted even less frequently, Canada’s “Aboriginal policy” was also closely examined for its psychological properties. America always took the more ‘wide-open’ approach, for example, by decimating the Buffalo to get rid of a primary food source, by introducing pox blankets, and by giving $1 rewards to settlers in return for scalps of Indigenous Men, women, and children, among many, many other horrendous acts. Canada, on the other hand, was more bureaucratic about it. They used what I like to call “the gentleman’s touch”, because instead of extinguishment, Canada sought to “remove the Indian from the Man” and the Women and the Child, through a long-term, and very specific program of internal breakdown and replacement – call it “assimilation”. America had it’s own assimilation program, but Canada was far more technical about it.

Perhaps these points would have been more closely examined in American Holocaust if the film had been completed. The film’s director, Joanelle Romero, says she’s been turned down from all sources of funding since she began putting it together in 1995.

Perhaps it’s just not “good business” to invest in something that tells so much truth? In any event, Romero produced a shortened, 29-minute version of the film in 2001, with the hope of encouraging new funders so she could complete American Holocaust. Eight years on, Romero is still looking for funds.

American Holocaust may never become the 90-minute documentary Romero hoped to create, to help expose the most substantial act of genocide that the world has ever seen… one that continues even as you read these words. ”

Guantánamo Bay’s last British resident: we are treated like animals

Guantanamo hunger striker being force fed
(Click image to watch animated video)

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo Bay – where he has been incarcerated for the past eleven years despite protests from the British government – has spoken from his prison cell for the first time.

“Tell the world the truth … Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace – or tell the world the truth. Let the world hear what’s happening,” Aamer told CBS’s 60 Minutes show.

Aamer added: “You cannot walk even half a metre without being chained. Is that a human being? That’s the treatment of an animal.” […]

Read the full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/18/guantanamo-bay-british-resident

Vikki Law: Resisting Gender Violence Without Cops or Prisons

“While citing the important work of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence, Law argues that “today, abuse is treated as an individual pathology rather than a broader social issue rooted in centuries of patriarchy and misogyny. Viewing abuse as an individual problem has meant that the solution becomes intervening in and punishing individual abusers without looking at the overall conditions that allow abuse to go unchallenged and also allows the state to begin to co-opt concerns about gendered violence.”

Furthermore, “the threat of imprisonment does not deter abuse; it simply drives it further underground. Remember that there are many forms of abuse and violence, and not all are illegal. It also sets up a false dichotomy in which the survivor has to choose between personal safety and criminalizing and/or imprisoning a loved one. Arrest and imprisonment does not reduce, let alone prevent, violence. Building structures and networks to address the lack of options and resources available to women is more effective. Challenging patriarchy and male supremacy is a much more effective solution, although it is not one that funders and the state want to see,” says Law.

In our new video interview, Law builds upon her earlier prison abolitionist critique by discussing practical alternatives for effectively confronting gender violence without using the prison system. She cites many success stories where women, not wanting to work with the police, instead collectively organized in an autonomous fashion. Law stresses that at the foundation of these anti-violence projects is the idea that gender violence needs to be a seen as a community issue, as opposed to simply being a problem for the individual to deal with.

One group spotlighted, Sistah II Sistah/Hermana a Hermana, in New York City, was formed to confront both interpersonal violence and state violence. They formed discussion groups where experiences are shared and the women collectively decide what tactics and strategies to employ. In one instance, they confronted an ex-boyfriend, who was stalking a member of the group, by going to his workplace, where they demanded he stop and successfully enlisted the support of his employer and co-workers.

Self-defense advocacy and training is another tactic employed by many of the groups cited by Law. For example, in the 1970s, two feminist martial artists founded Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA), later renamed the Center for Anti-Violence Education in the 1980s. Along with teaching practical self defense techniques at sliding-scale classes, Law emphasizes that the Center also focused on the larger picture of how violence “holds different types of oppressions together,” resulting in a complex situation for poor women of color.”

See also: The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist Communities (INCITE!)