Friday, March 27, 2009

Movements, Bearers of the New World

A panel at the World Festival of Dignified Rage -> I'm pretty sure this is Adolfo Gilly, a zapatista rep (duh), zapatista compañera Everilda moderating, Mónica Baltodano, and Oscar Olivera

There have been way too few English-language reportbacks from the first World Festival of Dignified Rage, which took place for 11 days in three locations in Mexico over New Years. Here's one from a compa in Cali and the new issue of Left Turn Magazine provides a few snippets from speeches at the Festival as well.

Below is one such speech by the wonderful Raúl Zibechi whose work is still woefully under-available in English (check out his bio at the bottom of the piece). This is our second collaboration with the Boston Interpreters Collective and is a translation of a partial transcript of Zibechi's speech. To listen to the complete audio of the speech (in Spanish) go here. It's well worth it as you'll also get a chance to hear his powerful denunciation of South America's left governments' participation in the occupation of Haiti as well as an incredibly extensive list of the movements he so articulately and concisely describes below - Enjoy!

The Movements, Bearers of the New World
by Raúl Zibechi*
(Short version of the text read at the Festival of Digna Rabia, Mexico, January 3 - translated by Frances Miriam Kreimer of the Boston Interpreters Collective)

Some four decades ago, there emerged a new generation of movements, very different from what had been hegemonic in Latin America until that moment. This set of movements, born in the early 1970s and during the 1980s and very active in the 1990s, challenged neoliberalism and occupied the place left vacant by the leftist parties, which became supporters of the neoliberal models, and unions, which did more or less the same (with a few honorable exceptions).

These movements changed the face of the continent; delegitimizing the neoliberal model, or at least the most blatant problematic elements of the model, installed a new balance of power and changed the political map. Despite their differences, they have some features in common.

They turned the struggle for land (rural and urban) into the fight for territories or areas where people (indigenous people, peasants, urban popular sectors) live their daily lives and transform survival initiatives into modes and forms of resistance to the system.

They proclaim themselves independent from political parties, churches, trade unions and the state. But such autonomy embodied in physical territory goes hand in hand with the creation of new ways of living and of exercising power, that is, of self-governance.

These are community-based movements in the broad sense of the term. Unlike previous movements, membership is not individual but familial, and the social base of these movements involves the collective organization of the community structure.

These are not strictly social movements; they are political movements, or political-social, if you will. The division between the social and the political set up by the social sciences and the traditional left is not useful for understanding this new generation of movements.

It is not possible to understand these movements from the outside, or with a focus on the visible structures, those that capture the attention of the media, academia, and the institutional left. Rather, it takes an inside perspective, capable of capturing the underground and invisible processes, which can only be done in a long process of engagement with the movements, not only with their leaders. The concept of "field work" is limited, since it does not consider either living or affective attachment with the oppressed.

They are bearers of the new world because both families and communities establish their lives based on relations of reciprocity and mutual aid -- not to accumulate capital or power, but rather to grow and strengthen themselves as communities and movements. In this respect, I believe that in the movements’ territories, non-capitalist relations predominate, certainly not in a pure and uncontaminated form, but rather in a permanent struggle against the state and the capital that seek to destroy them. In other words, the material and symbolic production of values of use has taken the place of the production of values of exchange, not forever, not absolutely, but with steady progress.

We can see this in many initiatives, from those begun in cities such as El Alto and Plan 3000 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to the Piquetero neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, where people built houses, public facilities, streets, water, health and education. Thousands of gardens, in urban as well as rural areas, thousands of productive enterprises, hundreds of restored factories -- we are talking not only about rural areas but also in peripheral urban areas there is an enormous capacity to produce without bosses, without supervisors, and without a hierarchical division of labor.

In these worlds different kinds of thoughts arise. No longer are the academies and the system’s parties thinking about the oppressed, but rather we, ourselves, are doing the thinking. Not in order to produce a theory or a thesis, but in order to strengthen the movement, in order to defend it better, in order to expand it and share it with others. So no theory is produced, but simply ideas and strength to keep going.

This other world cannot be represented in the formal world of State and capital. Moreover, it cannot be represented because only that which is absent can be represented. I also believe that participating in the state weakens and diverts them from their main task, which is "to strengthen that which is ours." However, there are many movements that are still combative and fighting for real changes that maintain relations with states. This is a debate that will be with us for a long time and we have no alternative but to face it in the most united way possible, that it should always be a debate “among ourselves”.

Finally, in these areas in resistance, there exist worlds that are different than the world of capital and the state. Of course, they have their forms of power, with greater or lesser degrees of development. The assembly is the common form of collective decision. A world without power does not seem possible. But the facts show that there can be non-state powers, i.e., non-hierarchial and decentralized powers; rotating shifts, so that everyone can learn to give orders collectively and obey collectively. In each place and in each country people adopt different approaches, but these worlds exist, they have life, and they have not become involved with the State as the unions have.

How does it triumph, this world of values of use, this world that is feminist, communitarian, self-focused and self-directed, able to produce and reproduce life? We do not know. What we see is that it grows by expansion, extension, diffusion, contagion, radiation, resonance It does not grow alone, nor in a form symmetrical to capital and the State -- killing, destroying, imposing, digesting and directing. We cannot impose this other world because we would be negating it, but we may breathe life into it, acting as a ferment and yeast, in the belief that the movements and the other worlds are the only thing that can save us from the catastrophe that the upper classes are preparing.

* Raúl Zibechi is an international analyst for Brecha of Montevideo, Uruguay, lecturer and researcher on social movements at the Multiversidad Franciscana de América Latina, and adviser to several social movements. He writes the monthly "Zibechi Report" for the Americas Program.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Freedom & Justice for Atenco!

Please join the campaign and get the word out about this incredibly important initiative launched by the Peoples' Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT)... for those who are new to the FPDT, check out this extensive coverage of their heroic resistance to displacement in 2002 and the government attack on their community in 2006.

A big thank you to Frances Miriam Kreimer of the
Boston Interpreters Collective for translating this very important announcement --> hopefully the first of many collaborations between the BIC and!

National and international campaign

The People's Front in Defense of the Land-ATENCO

México, Distrito Federal, February 17, 2009.

Today, the 17th of February, we begin the national and international campaign "Liberty and Justice for Atenco," with the participation of our brothers and sisters -- artists and intellectuals, as well as several civic organizations that make up the Committee that will strive to achieve freedom for our colleagues: Pedro Reyes Flores, Alejandro Pilón Zacate, Jorge Alberto Romero Ordóñez, Adán Ordóñez Romero Román, Juan Carlos Estrada Cruces, Julio Cesar Espinosa Ramos, Inés Rodolfo Cuellar Rivera, Edgar Eduardo Morales Reyes, Oscar Hernández Pacheco, Narciso Arellano Hernandez incarcerated in the Molino de Flores prison, in Texcoco, sentenced to 31 years, 10 months and 15 days of imprisonment; Felipe Álvarez, Héctor Galindo, and Ignacio Del Valle Medina incarcerated in the El Altiplano prison in Almoloya de Juarez, sentenced to 67 and a half years and 112 and a half years in prison; our three persecuted compañeros, America Del Valle, Bernardino Cruz and Adán Espinosa; and for justice in Atenco.

In the repression ordered by Enrique Peña Nieto and Vicente Fox on May 3 and 4, 2006 in Atenco and Texcoco, our human rights were violated by the incursion of the federal police and the police of the State of Mexico, who had orders to subdue our communities through a comprehensive action called "population control", whose purpose was to exterminate the social movement of Atenco, to make an example out of Atenco, and to teach a lesson against any social protest. The action consisted of raids without search warrants, arbitrary arrests, physical and psychological torture, rape of our female comrades, and the murders of Javier Cortés and Alexis Benhumea, in addition to a tortuous legal process fraught with violations of legal protections, due process, personal freedom and access to justice.

Since then we have appealed to all levels of administration and enforcement of justice in our country, and we have always received a negative answer to our demands for freedom for our comrades, unjustly accused by the same people who gave orders for the violence of the Mexican State. The decision last February 12, in which SCJN dealt a blow to the people of Mexico, exonerating Enrique Peña Nieto, Eduardo Medina Mora, and Miguel Angel Yunes, among others, also represented an act of cowardice of the Federal Judiciary, as its ministers did not dare to implicate the interests of the ruling class, but acted as accessories to authoritarianism and repression in our country. With this, it is engraved in the collective memory of the public and in history that not only were we victims of repression by governments but now we are victims of the SCJN, who has denied us the right to justice.

Having navigated the institutional labyrinths and almost exhausted all legal remedies, as the People's Front in Defense of the Land we appeal to national and international solidarity, taking intellectuals and artists up on their promise to collaborate with the Committee for Freedom and Justice Atenco. We deeply appreciate their support. We believe that, through their art, writing and singing, their voice will be heard by other large sectors of the society that suffer the political, economic and social consequences of bad governments, raising consciousness about our demand, and opening a new door of hope for our 13 imprisoned comrades, 3 politically persecuted comrades, and all our people who dream of liberty and justice for Mexico.

From this day on, our people, our persecuted and imprisoned brothers, our families and our hearts are no longer alone. Justice has another face for us, universal and very human, with creative hands that work together to construct a fraternal and unprejudiced support, that which we call the solidarity of brothers and sisters. Starting today, the intention is born to walk together, the People's Front and the Committee, until we achieve the desired freedom for the last prisoner and the last persecuted person of Atenco.

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