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San Salvador Atenco

2,000 Mexican Police Storm Riot Town to Free Hostages

Agence France-Presse 5may2006


San Salvador Atenco — About 2,000 police stormed a suburb of the Mexican capital to free 11 police who were taken hostage in clashes which left one teenager dead.

The special squads fired tear gas and tore down road blocks set up by residents in the town. More than 60 police and scores of protesters were injured and 200 arrested, police and journalists said.

Thirteen-year-old Javier Cortes died reportedly after being hit by a firecracker.

Reporters at the scene said many people were beaten as they were hauled away. There were bloodstains on the street amid the wreckage of burned out cars after the police operation.

"The town is now under control," Wilfrido Robledo, secretary of public security for Mexico state, told AFP.

"We have freed the 11 public officers who were abducted," Humberto Benitez, secretary to the state governor, told W Radio.

Violence erupted on Wednesday in San Salvador Atenco, about 20 kilometers (15 miles) north of Mexico City, when police arrested traders in an illegal flower market.

Police were told to move the traders out of the unofficial flower market and the confrontation quickly deteriorated into pitched battles.

In a night of unrest, demonstrators set cars alight, fought police and beat journalists reporting on the events.

A petrol delivery wagon was used as a barricade and the protesters hurled stones, wooden blocks and firecrackers at police.

Local television filmed the scene of a police officer suffering a severe beating, raising tensions further.

After the boy was killed and 11 police taken hostage Wednesday, security forces returned in force on Thursday to assert control. The protesters released six of the police hostages and the others were freed in the police operation.

Riot squad patrols stormed into houses in the town searching for protest leaders and local residents complained they had employed excessive force.

Resident Margarita Flores said police had laid siege to her house firing tear gas and breaking down windows, to find that there were only women and children inside.

Police said that two young Spaniards and a German were among those detained.

The impoverished town of San Salvador Atenco has a history of radical protests. Four years ago there were violent demonstrations in the town to prevent the expropriation of land to expand Mexico City's international airport.

The head of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army, Subcomandante Marcos, who led an armed uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in 1994, had declared his support for residents in their latest dispute and called for protests Thursday. He said his guerrilla forces were on alert following the unrest.

President Vicente Fox said the violence on Wednesday had been "an attack on the rule of law" in Mexico.

source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/060504/1/40kjy.html 4may2006

In Chiapas, a Response to the Violence Against Atenco

GIOVANNI PROIETTIS / Narco News Bulletin 4may2006

The Struggle of Other Campaign Adherents Against the Police Invasion of their
Rural Communities Inspires a Demonstration and Other Actions in San Cristóbal


SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS — No one had to wait for a reaction to the events in San Salvador Atenco, where a brutal police intervention has just led to a teenage boy’s death, dozens of seriously wounded, and about 100 arrested. In San Cristóbal de las Casas, the city closest to the Zapatistas’ highland bases in Chiapas, adherents to the other campaign — calling themselves the “Other Jovel,” after the indigenous name for the city — held a demonstration on Thursday afternoon in the central Cathedral Plaza.

In a document released to the public and the media, the group reports speaks of “the state and federal governments’ violent actions against the people of San Salvador Atenco, which are now registered among the systematic aggressions against the people of Atenco, starting with the federal government’s attempt to build an international airport there in 2002.”

Four years ago, Atenco’s swinging machetes caught the attention of the world’s press and townspeople were able to halt construction of the airport in Texcoco. This project would have expropriated 4,500 hectares of cultivated land for the ridiculous compensation of six pesos (about 55 cents) pero square meter.

Since then, the farmers of San Salvador Atenco have come to be a living symbol of the popular struggles. They have built an autonomous municipality and adhered to the Other Campaign, strengthening their ties to the Zapatistas. And the state and federal governments have never forgiven this, waiting until now to manifest their aggression.

On May 1, the people of Atenco had once again captured public attention as Subcomandante Marcos’ security escorts in that day’s huge demonstration. One more reason, according to those “from above,” to punish them.

The most offensive thing during this critical situation that is happening less than two months away from the July 2 elections is the behavior of the mass media — printed and electronic — who try to portray the Atenco farmers as “an isolated violent minority.” The media brand the farmers’ solidarity with the Texcoco flower vendors as a “criminal plan” and call for a tough hand against the local people, ignoring the boy murdered by police.

Javier Cortés Santiago, 14, was killed by a tear gas canister shot at his chest. Another boy of 16, according to news sources, is in critical condition. There are also many other farmers and police that were seriously injured.

The true intentions — which can now be seen with total clarity — were to break up the Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Earth by imprisoning its leader Ignacio del Valle (who pushed for dialog while the authorities shut him out) after a brutal beating. Dozens of other farmers from Atenco and nearby areas were jailed along with Ignacio del Valle, guilty of resisting police aggression. Not even the reporters from the pro-government media have been safe in the face of the cops’ ferocity.

The responsibility for this new attack on a popular movement is shared by Texcoco mayor Nazario Gutiérrez (Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD in its Spanish initials), Mexico state governor Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI, Institutional Revolutionary Party), and President Vicente Fox and his administration (National Action Party, PAN).

Upon learning of these events, Delegate Zero suspended the Other Campaign, announcing a Red Alert and the closure of the five Caracoles (Zapatista base communities in Chiapas). He declared the Zapatistas’ solidarity with the Atenco farmers and invited all the adherents to the Other Campaign to fight against this, the latest of countless acts of state violence.

The members of the Other Jovel demanded during their demonstration:

An improvised assembly of about a hundred adherents to the Other Campaign – most of them young people and students – discussed , in the San Cristóbal Cathedral plaza, despite the rain, what forms of struggle to use: roadblocks, an information campaign directed to local media and civil society, or citizen marches involving the entire population.

source: http://www.narconews.com/Issue41/article1767.html 4may2006


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