13 June 2008

Arte en las Calles de Oaxaca

Protesting the Privatization of PEMEX (This grafitti was promptly painted over with white pain by officials)




30 March 2008

Global food prices rise and famine increases

By Barry Mason
29 March 2008
world's socialist website

The United Nations body World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in global food prices will reduce its ability to feed hungry and malnourished people.

Speaking last month in Rome, where the WFP is based, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “Our ability to reach people is going down just as needs go up.... We are seeing a new face of hunger in which people are being priced out of the food market.... Situations that were previously not urgent—they are now.”

In a press release, the WFP gave a new estimate for the funds needed for its work this year at nearly US$3.5 billion, half a billion more than estimated last year. This money is for approved projects to feed 73 million people in 78 countries throughout the world. It notes that this money is for projected feeding schemes and does not include unforeseen emergencies that may arise.

It also notes that the poorest people on earth will have to spend an increasing portion of their meagre income on food. The WFP warns that these people will be forced to buy less food, or less nutritious food, or rely on outside help.

The countries that will be most affected include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Djibouti, the Gambia, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Senegal, all on the African continent. Also affected will be Haiti, Myanmar (Burma), Yemen and Cuba.

The WFP says amongst the factors pushing food increases are rising oil prices and the increase in demand for food, especially meat, in China and India. This increase in demand is a result of the rapid increase in economic power of these countries.

Weather events linked to climate change have also played a part in the rise in prices. The increasing use of crops for biofuels is another factor at work in the market.

Mark Thirlwell, writing in the Financial Times February 26, provided some data on the scale of the threat to food provision. He pointed out that world food prices have risen by 75 percent since the new millennium with a 20 percent increase last year alone. China’s consumption of meat and soybeans has gone up by 40 percent in the last decade as its economy started to soar.

He points out that whilst in the past, increases in food prices have been alleviated by subsequent increases in production, that may not apply this time.

He argues that the rise in oil prices and subsequent spurt in the production of biofuels will have a long-term impact on food supply. Increasingly, crops will be grown to meet the increased demand for biofuel rather than food.

The fact that food costs represent a bigger proportion of the income for the poor in the so-called undeveloped countries will exacerbate their plight. Thirlwell writes: “While the share of food in the consumption basket of a rich country such as the US is relatively low, at about 10 percent, it averages about 30 percent in China and more than 60 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Those countries that are most vulnerable are the low-income net food importers. Higher food prices add more strain to import bills that have often already been stretched by higher energy prices. Several of the poorest economies fall into this category and are heavily dependent on food aid to meet their needs. But the worldwide volume of such aid has stagnated for the past two decades and, what is worse; the quantity of aid delivered tends to fall as prices rise, given that a large proportion comprises a fixed annual dollar amount.”

He points out that those most at risk will be the urban poor. Whilst in many sub-Saharan Africa countries, a large proportion of the population exist as subsistence farmers, the trend is for the poor to leave the land and head for the burgeoning urban centres.

The drive to switch to crop production for biofuels is having an impact in Africa. Ghana, Benin, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa all have plans to produce crops for biofuel.

A report in the Independent, February 16, explained that a meeting of the African Biodiversity Network had met in South Africa to discuss biofuel production. The article quoted respected Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, who said: “Africa is a wide open continent and the energy industry wants to take advantage... This is a flashback to colonial plantations.”

The article continued; “From the savannahs of West Africa to the rainforests of Congo, the plains of Tanzania and the wilderness of Ethiopia, governments are handing over huge tracts of fertile land to private companies aiming to convert biomass grown on large plantations into liquid fuels for export markets. African leaders like Senegal Abdoulaye Wade are predicting a ‘green revolution’ and looking eagerly to lucrative exports.”

Climate change will also affect crop production in Africa. A recent report from Stanford University predicted a drop of nearly a third in the production of the food staple crop maize as a result of climate change over the next two decades.

A separate study carried out by the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA), which is based in South Africa, states Africa will lose around 4 percent of its cropland over the next 30 years and will have lost around 18 percent by the end of the century.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it will cut the amount of food aid it provides. It blamed the recent sharp increase in commodity prices, which have left it with a US$120 million budget deficit.

Amy Barry, an Oxfam spokesperson on trade, quoted in the Observer on March 2, noted: “More and more people are going to be facing food shortages in the future.... Given what is happening due to rising food prices we need to think about the impact this will have on people [in the developing world] who are spending up to 80% of their incomes on food.”

The impact of the economic crisis of the capitalist system will have a devastating affect on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Free Mumia Abu Jamal

16 February 2008

Important Solidarity

Please cut and paste the letter bellow and send it to the address listed to support the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, in collaboration with the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Tribe who are working together towards the goal of removing ancestors from museums & agencies and returning them back to the land where their families buried them. Feel Free to personalize your own version of the letter to express your thoughts on this. This is a crucial act, folks, to begin right-ing many wrongs. Our solidarity is strength.

Los Padres National Forest Headquarters
6755 Hollister Ave
Goleta, CA 93117

Dear Forest Supervisor Hernandez,

The Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, in collaboration with the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Tribe, will make a claim for the return of all the human remains and all associated funerary objects collected from sites CA-Mnt-250 and CA-Mnt-85 per the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. We (person/organization fill in name) are in complete support. The human remains and associated funerary objects were collected from the Los Padres National Forest.

There is no doubt that there are human remains that are still buried on Los Padres National Forest land. Those remains may belong to various tribes associated with land that you manage. Therefore, we recognize the importance of tribes working together towards the goal of removing our ancestors from storage in museums and agencies and returning them back to the land where their families buried them.

We ask for you full support and that your agency repatriates the human remains and grave items as soon as possible.

(your name)

Hesiha manu lex efexe, ma’ali naham laci!
Work for our people, not against them!

No a la Contaminacion!

"Ecoloco", Odesia Burbujas

01 February 2008

Because we will never forget October 2nd

Por que el 2 de Octubre nunca sera borrada de la Historia y menos de nuestras mentes, por que fueron ellos los que murieron por nosotros, por hacerse cumplir nuestras petisiones y hacer cumplir la "Ley" una ley por la que todos los mexicanos y en cualquier parte del mundo lucha, educacion gratuita.

A ellos quienes fueron asesinado por las espaldas sin luz de dia ni de noche que cobardes los berdugos, seran muy fuertes mis palabras pero es que el coraje que traigo clavado aqui en el pecho y en la memoria jamas sera borrada. Como testimonios de ellos decian "nos hecharon el ejercito por que los policias no podian con nosotros"

Bayonetas, camiones y el gobierno fueron los acesinos, nunca han sido castigados los culpables, pero no volvera a repetirse porque estamos aqui ahora mas preparados que nunca con inteligencia y educacion la nueva generacion nuestros hijos.

Porque seguimos en Pie de lucha, y seguiremos recordando a nuestros caidos sea o no la fecha cuando fueron acesinados o desaparecidos hoy 1 de Febrero quiero hacer anfasis de lo acontesido porque un 2 de Octubre nunca jamas sera borrado de nuestra Historia y de nuestra mente.

Out-Flanked: A New War on Terra Arrives with Bush-Lula Ethanol Deal

By Garrett St. James
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
March 19, 2007

Now that the angry masses of demonstrators have gone home, clouds of tear-gas have dispersed and that peculiar “sulfuric odor” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likes to allude to is in the final stages of dissipation, let’s take another look at President George W. Bush’s latest tour of Latin America…

According to the mainstream media, Bush’s week long visit to five separate Latin American nations has been considered at best yet another typically half-assed fast-food episode of Bush diplomacy or a complete failure at its worst. Despite the never ending quagmire of Iraq and the seemingly imminent curtain raising of “Shock and Awe 2” on Iran, the domestically and internationally embattled American President decided it was important to once again head south. On the one hand we were told it was to shore up the Nation’s eroding political and economic influence throughout Latin America, while on the other it was to act as an ideological counter-weight to the ever growing popularity of Hugo Chavez’s Neo-Bolivarian movement.

Unlike the fiasco of “Bush South of the Border Tour ‘05,” “Bush South of the Border Tour ‘07” was going to be different. Gone would be the endless references to the War on Terror and business as usual neo-liberal imperialism mentalities. This tour would be full of compassion and human elevation for the people of the entire Americas. It didn’t matter though.

Everywhere Bush went were angry crowds of demonstrators battling it out with police. The same old same old was happening on the television news and of course street violence always makes great copy! To make things much worse, Bush’s arch-nemesis Hugo Chavez was making an Anti-Imperialist Tour of his own, filling entire football stadiums and public arenas wherever the Venezuelan President spoke. Sadly for Bush it was very clear as to who was winning the hearts and minds of Latin America once again. However, upon a second glance it’s apparent Bush did accomplish a few things and it was quite more than a half-assed success. In fact, it was a spectacular success.

On March 9th, Bush kicked off his “South of the Border ‘07 Tour” in Brazil but I would like to review what he had actually accomplished in the other 4 countries of Uruguay, Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico first…

Uruguay: In a country very few people know about much less heard of, Bush met with President Tabare Vasquez on March 10th. The usual praise and cash was passed around but a door was opened up for Uruguay to begin direct bi-lateral trade with the U.S. With a couple of handshakes and monotonous speeches, the rival Hugo Chavez Mercosur trading block (which includes Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay) had been successfully circumnavigated.

Columbia: On March 11th, Bush traveled to one of the largest receivers of American foreign military and economic aide. Yes, the USA does import a good deal of oil from Columbia but it also imports billions more of illegal narcotics. President Alvaro Uribe was given another cool 600 million because of it. A curious side-event that transpired shortly after the visit was the fine imposed Chiquita Banana Brands International back in Cincinnati, Ohio for paying bribes to right wing paramilitaries back in 2003: a sign that this sort of thing (or for certain unfavorable companies) will no longer be tolerated by the Uribe administration.

Guatemala: Bush only spent 5 hours meeting with a very anxious President Oscar Berger on March 12th. For a country so small both geographically and in political stature, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. What was Senor Berger so nervous about? The continued unhindered “migration” of Guatemala’s extremely impoverished into the United States. Bush no doubt assured President Berger that “the wall” and recent highly publicized crackdowns on illegal immigrants was just for show and Corporate America will continue to value Guatemala’s most valued commodity, CHEAP LABOR. Though it is an unspoken taboo, everyone knows that much of Latin America’s ruling classes are using the United States as a steam valve to alleviate the ever-mounting anger and revolutionary tendencies directed at their respective regimes. The billions of dollars sent back by “the migrants” to their remaining family members also helps.

Mexico: Bush wrapped up his tour by staying a few days visiting newly/nearly elected Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. The secretive but very real North American Union was definitely the supreme topic of importance during the two leaders discussions. Merging the USA along with Canada and Mexico was going to continue on schedule with little regard to the national sovereignties and consent of its peoples. Business is business after all…

Brazil: Bush arrived in South America’s largest and most powerful country following the footsteps of a fresh new highly orchestrated “Green Campaign.” For weeks on end Brazil had been bombarded by heavy doses of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the various evils of environmental pollution. The Amazon needed saving once again and the Brazilians needed to become much more “eco-sensitive” in their day-to-day lives.

For 23 hours the massive metropolis of Sao Paulo was virtually brought to a standstill the day Bush met with President Ignacio “Lula” da Silva. From the very outset, violence erupted along Avenida Paulista between thousands of anti-Bush protesters and Military Policemen clad in riot gear. Slogans were chanted, rocks and bottles were soon thrown and then the police moved into to administer extremely vicious ritualized beatings to whomever was unfortunate enough to be caught during the ensuing hours long melee.

As the well-televised street clashes raged, Bush and Lula were celebrating a new bio-fuels deal between the two countries and drinking champagne. The word of the day was ethanol. An interesting side-event was the same day indictment of the notoriously corrupt Brazilian politician, Paulo Maluf, in New York City. Perhaps his arrest symbolized an act of good faith on the part of the Bush Administration at the bargaining table. Then came the grandiose boasting of “an energy revolution” and “the beginning of a brand new civilization.”

These were no ordinary quotes and it was no ordinary deal, either. Ethanol is not only going to make Lula’s Oligarch buddies very rich but with the help of the United States, Brazil is also going to become very powerful. The ramifications run very deep as well as they are wide. If people begin to think the days of unrestrained First World exploitation upon Latin America are the things of a forgettable past then they are also sadly mistaken. When one begins to look at what actually transpired on March 9th, they’ll begin to realize this was the culmination of a deal at least 30 years in making and could last for another 30 years into the future.

Brazil’s notorious and brutally oppressive Military Government first introduced ethanol production during the 1970’s as an experiment to find cheaper and more efficient forms of alternative energy. Throughout Brazil’s transformation into a democracy during the 1980’s and up to the turbulence caused by corrupt administrations and market crashes of the 1990’s, the ethanol industry steadily and successfully flourished. By the time President Lula was first inaugurated in January 2003, ethanol was the most commonly used fuel for Brazilian automobiles. For Brazil, the future was looking rosy and, after decades of struggle, the PT (Workers Party) had at long last taken power.

However, almost from the very instant of Lula’s New Year’s Day inauguration things began to get a little strange in the capital, Brasilia. People were surprised by Lula’s new fashionable appearance. Gone were the red tee shirts and blue jeans often worn by the self-made leader of trabalhadoros e campahneiros, only to be replaced by super expensive Italian suits. Oh well, Lula was President after all so he had to look Presidential didn’t he?

People must also remember that Lula was the leader of probably the most radical and powerful political party in the western hemisphere if not in the world. The PT was a tough as nails and well organized coalition comprising labor unions, student groups, land reformers and intellectuals. The traditional ruling oligarchs had a lot to fear and began to brace themselves for the inevitable onslaught of socio-economic reforms sure to follow a PT Presidential victory. The Party of the People had arrived and those gringos up north were definitely going to take notice. So everyone waited, January rolled into February and then March, April, June, July but nothing happened.

There was of course Lula’s highly touted “Zero Fome” program aimed at eliminating the starvation of millions of impoverished Brazilians (Nordestinos) living in the arid North Eastern regions of the country. Upon closer look even this seemed odd considering Lula might have been possibly wasting millions of reais transporting truck loads of rice and beans rather than looking for more pragmatic approaches to arid weather farming. The mass migration of hundreds of thousands of Nordestinos to southern Brazil continued unabated which further eroded and over taxed the already decrepitating social infrastructures of major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. For these particular cities, the already insanely violent crime kept increasing. The Favelas that had absorbed the overwhelming majority of these displaced Nordestinos kept growing and growing. It was obvious to everyone that all of these new migrants were adding to the gross over-population of metropolitan centers. Everything was affected. Everything was falling apart faster and faster. Nothing had really changed except for the worst.

What was also equally strange was Lula’s bizarre approach to international diplomacy. One example was when he quickly went to Libya attempting to open trade agreements between the two countries primarily with oil. Just days later the international pariah Colonel Qadafi became the new darling of the West’s Big Oil Companies which soon moved in to enjoy Libya’s world famous super-lite sweet crude. Then there was the Aristide Coup in Haiti. Lula was more than eager to supply the bulk of UN Peace Keeping forces much to the chagrin of his own government and people. Wasn’t Aristide and Haiti an American problem? Lula insisted and even today Brazilian soldiers are policing the streets of Port au Prince. Odd?

Then came wave after wave of corruption scandals, which have virtually destroyed much of the PT’s political infrastructure. Party Big Wigs and luminaries were falling like rain. It looked as if everyone in the PT was involved in some scandal or another: everyone that is except Lula. In spite of it all, Lula went on to comfortably win another four-year term in office in October of ‘06.

Today Brazil is still South America’s most powerful country. No one including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez can do much without the support of Lula and Brazil. To the casual observer, It looks as if Lula rides the fence between the forces of radical socialist change led by Chavez and neoliberal free market capitalism from the imperialist giant up north. On March 9th, this all changed and Lula, despite what many experts are saying, is definitively now in the so-called neoliberal camp.

Not only will both Brazil and the USA become kings of the new worldwide ethanol fuels industry, but the very company running everything will be the Miami Florida based Inter-American Ethanol Commission. The former Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, and now agri-business tycoon, Roberto Rodrigues, created this newly formed company just last December. Who are his two principle partners? Luis Alberto Moreno from Columbia and Jeb Bush!

Now if people really begin to consider all the strange goings on emanating out of Brasilia from the Lula administration and the history of ethanol bio-fuels in general, things begin to make a lot more sense. Why was nothing of any importance done to stem the human tide of Nordestinos heading south year after year? Why would Lula turn his back on his Leftist past and do nothing to reform the crushing grip the oligarchs still have on the Brazilian economy? Why was the PT systematically gutted with scandal after scandal? Why was Lula so eager to commit troops after the anti-Aristide Coup in Haiti? Why was Lula running around “liberating” oil markets from previously pariah regimes like Libya and later Angola? Don’t forget that green and eco-friendly “Save the Amazon” campaign, either. Finally, what does the new ethanol bio-fuels pact between Brazil and the USA (Bush Family) really mean?

The answers are that the newly displaced Nordestino populations will make excellent slave labor for the expected ethanol producing sugarcane fields and sugar processing mills. The oligarchs as usual will be running and profiting from the enterprise. The PT has been effectively neutralized to keep anyone from getting in the way. Haiti is where the processed sugarcane will be refined into the new E10 ethanol based fuels which can be readily consumed by the American auto owners soon to be weaned off of fossil fuels coming out of the Middle East and Venezuela for starters. Lula has been an active agent promoting Big Oil’s interest in emerging third world markets and petroleum fields.

The Brazilian Amazon looks like the perfect place to plant ever larger sugarcane crops for the soon to be exponentially growing worldwide ethanol demand. Brazil plans on doubling its ethanol production in five years to 30 billion liters. They’ll eventually have to quadruple this number once serious American ethanol consumption begins. In less than twenty years 300 billion liters are planned to be produced to feed other world markets such as China and India. Serious acreage is going to be needed to pull this off and take a big guess as to where this acreage can be found?

Finally, the Bush Family is re-diversifying its worldwide energy investments. Perhaps the sheiks of the Mid-East aren’t going to be such good close friends in the years to come? The Brazilian Oligarchs look much more interesting? Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. The Bush Family has recently bought massive amounts of real estate in nearby Paraguay’s Chaco Region: an excellent geographical area to reside if you’re also interested in other energy industries and markets such as natural gas and hydroelectric Power. In the North it’s Bolivia, to the South is Argentina, to the West are Chile and Peru and to the East is Brazil. Well done.

Of course many people aren’t going to like these new arrangements. Lula and his eventual predecessors will have to continue to sell the idea that destroying much of Brazil’s world famous nature preserves is in the best interest of it’s economy. Bush (Hillary Clinton???) will have to convince the American Congress to strike down the unfair protectionist tariffs concerning Brazilian ethanol. Both Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska are strongly backed by the fledgling American ethanol industry that supports these tariffs. It’s very interesting if you consider that both men are now running for President.

What does this all mean for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his visions of Neo-Bolivarism throughout Latin America? He too is being out-flanked like the rest of us. Eventually the United States is going to become less and less dependent upon his oil in the years to come. What about the Middle East? Everyone has been so distracted by what is going on over there that many of us have failed to notice what is going on below our noses.

Most of us know very well that the continued exploitation and needless deaths of thousands of people are going to continue in South America if Bush and friends are allowed to get away with this out-flanking maneuver: A new war on terra. Nothing ever changes with these guys…

***We read this article a while ago on the show, but I recently found it online again and wanted us to redirect focus and prayer to this region. Let the light of our awareness and consciousness shine upon this region to prevent any corruption and oppression from getting out of hand.

30 January 2008

Abir's Garden & Combatants for Peace.

TODAY! Go check it out....

Bassam Aramin & Elik Elhanan
Wednesday January 30 7:30 p.m.
Vets Hall Room 23, 826 Front Street, Santa Cruz

Combatants for Peace was founded by former Israeli and Palestinian fighters who no longer see each other as enemies. They forswear violence and advocate an end to the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank & Gaza Strip.

On January, 2007, Palestinian girls were walking home from school in East Jerusalem. Israeli Border Police firing rubber bullets wounded killed 10-year old Abir Aramin, Bassam's daughter. Combatants for Peace has joined other Palestinian, Israeli and International peace & human rights organizations to memorialize Abir to build ABIR'S
GARDEN on the grounds of her school for her classmates to gather, play, and heal.

Elhanan & Aramin are part of a national speaking tour, one year after Abir was fatally wounded. Bassam's wife Salwa and daughter Areen will be present. Suggested donation $5-$10 sliding-scale (no one turned away for lack of funds). Proceeds benefit Abir's Garden & Combatants for Peace.

For more information and to and support the Abir's
Garden Project go to http://www.RebuildingAlliance.org.

Gabriela Leon Exhibit at UCSC

This exhibition is a multi-media artistic response to the popular revolt and resistance that unfolded in Oaxaca in 2006 and the first traveling solo exhibition outside of Mexico for artist Gabriela León. Some of the elements of the exhibition will consist of a "barricade dress" made of barbed-wire, tire treads and mattress springs found amidst the detritus; a video projection of the artist wearing the dress walking among protesters and police; a sound installation that evokes the voices of the crowds; and tarps inspired by the temporary living structures during the lengthy protest.
Gabriela spoke at the opening of her event and posed a question that presents itself to her; 'what is the role of an artist during times of social conflict and injustice?' "It is impossible not to be affected by a situation that goes over and beyond one's limit of tolerance, confusion, frustration, euphoric hope or anxious despair. My response to the Oaxaquenan conflict was to walk peacefully with my dog wearing a dress made from the evidence of the social awakening repressed with violence."
Leon contextualized her art with the chronology of escalating violence and repression in Oaxaca. By the time Leon walked through the Zocalo on a Sunday of November 19th 2006, the people of Oaxaca had been attacked during peaceful protests with tear gas and guns, shootings had been taking place during the night, the military and PFP had taken over the State, a group of women peacefully and remarkably took control of local radio and television stations to break through the media black-out, the dialogs between the teachers union, the government and APPO were going nowhere, a demonstration of thousands of people walked from Oaxaca to Mexico City, students were kidnapped, 21 members of APPO went on a hunger strike, Indymedia journalist Brad Will had been shot, Vicente Fox had ordered the intervention of the federal police, whom illegally attacked the University and escalated their violence. After the infamous attacks of November 2nd, human rights organizations announced that 98 people were declared disappeared for politically motivated reasons, 93 people were jailed, 109 wounded and 15 dead. On November 18th (one day before the art demonstration of Gabriela Leon) a woman was raped by members of the Federal Police in the Zocalo.
"These were very emotion times", Leon expressed and began to re-address her originally posed question, "I found myself responding in unconscious ways, not having any particular idea in mind. I started collecting random objects from the barricades, the streets, from the demonstrations. I gathered ashes and soot from the burned-out tires, wires from the burned mattresses used to keep the protesters warm and safe during the night. I was interested in these objects because the barricades represented outposts of peoples' hopes and resistance, whereas the police and paramilitary barricades reflected the magnitude and scale of state power. Forming in my mind was a general idea that the leading history of this struggle, no matter what the final outcome, needed to be captured and preserved and not sanitized into oblivion."

Senson Gallery
Porter College, UC Santa Cruz
Exhibition: January 29 - March 8, 2008
Tuesday-Saturday noon to 5:00PM.
* Admission is free and parking is free on Saturdays.
For further information please call 831/459-3606.

26 January 2008

The Color Red & Why the Zapatistas Are Preparing for War

Subcomandante Marcos got everyone’s attention when he presented "Feeling Red: The Calendar and Geography of War" at a symposium in honor of the late Andrés Aubry in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Marcos announced that they (the EZLN) would not be attending conferences, encuentros or giving interviews for a “good while.” He
said the Zapatista communities are surrounded by military camps and paramilitaries and are preparing for the war which they see coming. "Those of us who have made war know how to recognize the paths by which it is prepared and brought near," Marcos In May 2007, Mexico’s federal government expropriated 14 thousand hectares of land (approximately 35,580 acres) in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas. Somewhat suspiciously, it did not announce exactly where these lands were located, but, nevertheless, asserted “ecological concerns” as its reason. A Chiapas non-governmental organization (NGO), Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste (Woods of the People of the Southeast), filed a freedom of information request to find out
exactly where the expropriated lands were located. Woods of the People finally received the information it requested and La Jornada published an article regarding the specifics of that information in October 2007. (http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2007/10/22/index.php?section= politica&article= 010n1pol)
It is important to remember that, as a result of the expropriation decree, state and federal police violently evicted several indigenous communities from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in an August 18, 2007 surprise attack. Residents of 2 communities, San Manuel and El Buen Samaritano, were forced at gunpoint to get into helicopters. They were then removed from their homes, which were ransacked and
burned; all their belongings damaged or stolen. Six (male) heads of family were taken to El Amate prison, while at least 33 women, small children and youths were held in a former brothel. Some of those removed at gunpoint were Zapatista support bases, others were members of ARIC-Independent and/or ARIC UU.
The expropriated lands consist of eight sections. One section borders on Amador Hernández, which some may remember for its brave and prolonged resistance to the Army in 1999. At the time of that standoff, Subcomandante Marcos said the region was rich in oil. The entire area of eight sections has a wealth of biodiversity, forests containing precious woods, unparalleled natural beauty and an abundant supply of uncontaminated fresh water in the form of white water rivers, natural springs and aquifers. It also has many Other Campaign supporters, both Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas.
As well as one section inside the Montes Azules, the expropriated area includes some of the area outside of the Montes Azules in the region of Las Cañadas (the Canyons) and affects the “26 ejidos legalized in 1989.” In order to fully appreciate the significance of this information, a little history of the region is helpful.
Sometime between 1950 and 1960, an exodus of indigenous people into the sparsely settled Cañadas of the Lacandón Jungle began. Some went in order to establish new settlements and escape the extremely harsh life of exploitation as peons on the fincas (estates). Others were no longer needed on the fincas as land use changed from cash crops to cattle ranching, a less labor intensive business. The lowly-paid farm workers were turned loose without land, money or homes. They went in search of land on which to settle and grow their food. The new Jungle settlements founded by the colonists began to apply for ejido title to their lands under Article 27 of the new Mexican Constitution. Eventually, some obtained title to the lands they had settled. Others were not so fortunate because the process of
obtaining title was often backlogged for many years in government red tape and bureaucracy.
The settlers faced incredible obstacles. Most were subsistence farmers. There were few schools and no health care services. The new communities had no electricity or safe drinking water, no sewage disposal. The region had few roads, and those which existed were deeply rutted dirt trails, making access to nearby cities where they
could sell their cash crops and purchase their supplies extremely difficult. In other words, the settlers were impoverished and ignored by the federal and state governments in so far as those governments did not extend public services to them.
Then, in 1972, Mexican president Luis Echeverría granted 1,517,372.8 acres (614,321 hectáreas) of land to a small group of indigenous people (66 families), who he called Lacandóns, living in the heart of the Jungle. The 1972 Presidential Decree created a legal entity known today as “the Lacandón Community.” There were several practical effects of this decree on the communities of the Cañadas: 1) 26 well-
established communities fell inside the limits of the “Lacandon Community,” thereby placing their land tenure at risk and making them vulnerable to eviction; and 2) it closed off the possibility of future expansion by the next generation of inhabitants of the Cañadas. The Jungle was no longer open to further settlement. The consequences of this decree were not lost on the youth of the Cañadas. While their fathers may have a piece of land to farm now, the sons had nowhere they could go to acquire land for themselves when they married and had their own families to feed.
In response to both the presidential decree and in order to collectively overcome the economic obstacles they faced, on December 14, 1975, the settlers in the Cañadas to the east of Ocosingo, formed the Union of Ejidos Quiptic Ta Lecubtesel (United for Our Strength, in Tzeltal). Quiptic’s demands were: 1) regularization (legalization) of land tenancy; 2) opposition to taxes imposed by the government for
services they did not provide; and 3) opposition to fines for planting their milpa (cornfield) or cutting firewood for cooking. The first demand and that which united Quiptic from the beginning was to legalize ownership of “the 26 communities” established before the Lacandón Community was created and which fell inside its boundaries. Quiptic maintained a militant stance despite wanting to work with
government programs and advisors to commercialize their products and obtain credit. The reason for the militancy was the precarious tenancy of “the 26 communities” affected by the presidential Decree of the Lacandon Community, over which hung the threat of eviction.
Quiptic later joined together with campesino organizations from other regions of the Jungle (Altamirano and Las Margaritas) to form the Union of Unions (UU). After a UU split, the grouping to which the former Quiptic belonged eventually formed the Rural Association of Collective Interest (ARIC, its initials in Spanish), which achieved the legalization of “the 26 communities” as ejidos in 1989. By that
time, many of ARIC’s members were also clandestine members of the EZLN. Throughout its different formations and political splits, the issue of “the 26 communities” always held those from the Cañadas east of Ocosingo together.
Now, according to the report in La Jornada, the federal government has expropriated lands which 15 of those 26 communities use and work. Currently, several indigenous organizations, including the EZLN and the various ARIC and UU groupings, inhabit the lands involved. The expropriation is a direct provocation to the EZLN, as well as to the campesino organizations that struggled for many years to legally own
and work these lands. It raises the threat of more violent evictions like those of San Manuel and Buen Samaritano.
In our conversations with residents of the Cañadas, we learned that government agents are visiting the region and making known government intentions to expel communities pursuant to the May 2007 decree. One of our sources told us that this is like waving a red flag in front of a bull and, consequently, that the region’s residents and their social organizations are uniting to fight against the government’s plan to evict them.
Indeed, not long after these interviews, a press release appeared on
the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center’s web page, denouncing the expropriation and reporting on a meeting in Amador Hernández of 640 delegates from the communities and organizations throughout the Cañadas.
The idea of uniting the different organizations to which campesinos of this region belong was one motive behind the Other Campaign. One of our interviews addressed this question and what we learned is that the Other Campaign has been remarkably successful in this regard, at least in the Cañadas. It has provided an opportunity for the campesino organizations which do not want to lose their identity by joining the EZLN to work together with the EZLN on issues of common
concern throughout the region, a ray of hope in what could otherwise be seen as a gloomy “prewar” atmosphere. When asked why Marcos said that they were preparing for war, one of the compañeros answered by saying: “If we prepare for war well enough, there may not be a war.”

21 January 2008

18 January 2008

ATOM tha Immortal, Lyrics to "Los Pobres"

It happens somewhere on a bus in Lima
When you begin to see the world isn't gold
When you behold a seven year old dancing for change with no parents
And realize the world isn't shocked at her appearance
Matter of fact, you wouldn't reach for change yourself
Cause you're a selfish bastard with your Amerikan wealth
And you look down upon the downtrodden withdrawn
From the neo-liberal economic system you spawned
On..the shores of Latin American maps
Like NAFTA caused the Mexican economic collapse
These are facts
That you don't know
..So you go off
When they cross deserts looking for livelihoods that they lost
But..if it were you, you would be here too
How can you blame a family that's trying to work for food
And feed their kids' faces
Racists need to recognize
That Amerika survives on the labor that we provide.

How can you call yourself a man
How can you call us the immigrant when you're living in our ancestral land
This bloods buried in every river, valley and moutaintop
...Thousands of years before you ever came to Plymouth Rock
This is the story of our people
Who built the city of Macchu Piccu
And the temples of Chitzen Itza
Historical legacy that ain't related to you
So you fear the word "Aztlan" cause you know that it's true
Our people were murdered
...Sons were turned into slaves
And still today we work for minimum wage
In a capitalistic system that exploits to survive
Atom, reporting live from Anahuac, the occupied.

La Lucha sera larga y dificil
Pero la continuaremos is how I feel
Cause the struggle is our obligation
If you ain't fighting for, well then you're holding back your people some more
We need to move forward
First we need to chill with the beef
Like being trapped inside a slaughterhouse with frozen meat
..It's counter-productive
We need to make change
But you can't when you're living off your mom at your age
Education is key
..So how're you gonna make moves
When you can't add, read, subtract or pay dues
Gotta finance our own campaigns to make change
And buy up our own politicians like brand-names
Amerika the Whore, concerned with only wealth
Turns away the poor, whenever they knock on her door
..This song is dedicated to my people
Every field laborer, Zapatista soldier and campesino.
-Atom tha Immorta

Nazca Lines of Peru (music by ATOM tha Immortal)