Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Violent Squat Eviction in St Petersburg: Three Activists Face 10 Years in Prison

On 4th February, at around 10pm local time, riot police brutally evicted a group of anarchists, community activists and local history enthusiasts who had been occupying a disused railway station, Warsaw station, in St Petersburg, Russia.
Hearing that the site would soon be demolished to make way for a multi-storey housing complex, the activists had turned one of the last warehouses attached to the historic train station into a community centre, hosting concerts, poetry readings and a photo-exhibition of the history of the station.
The neo-renaissance-style building was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, linking St Petersburg directly with Warsaw, then part of the Russian Empire. Closed as a station in 2001, it was briefly transformed into a train museum, before falling empty. Developers had submitted plans to develop the area in October, despite the fact that parts of the building are protected by conservation law. Furthermore, the city’s unique status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site means that the construction of buildings in the city centre that are out of keeping with the imperial style should be carefully monitored by the government.
In fact, the difficulties of the on-going preservation of historic buildings in St Petersburg became a focus for civic activism in 2006 when one of the country’s largest oil and gas companies, GazProm, announced plans to build a 395-metre skyscraper opposite the historic Smolny complex, once the first seat of the Bolshevik government. Demonstrations were held, a new grass-roots social movement was founded, ‘Living City’, public figures joined the campaign and, in 2010, the project was moved to a less controversial site. Protecting public space from the encroachment of capital runs deep in the veins of this city.
Warsaw Station lies on the edge of the historic city centre and its status as a site of historical and cultural significance had been labeled ‘disputed’ by the city administration. In 2007, however, this status was changed, enabling developers to submit proposals for the site. Currently the non-governmental organisation, the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture (VOOPiK) is investigating the historical value of the buildings. According to the group, 15 historic buildings have historic or cultural significance. However, many fear that the developers themselves could demolish the buildings before the examination is finished: an unexplained incidence of ‘arson’.
So, in early January, activists occupied the last surviving warehouse of the Warsaw station complex. At first its owner appeared not to mind their presence and did not switch off electricity and other amenities for more than a month. However, on the 4th February things changed: at around 4pm activists found security guards ordered by the warehouse owner were attempting to use a sledgehammer to break down the inner wall of the warehouse. A fight broke out between the activists and the guards who then called the police claiming that the activists had been threatening them. Upon the arrival of the police some activists barricaded themselves in the building while others organized a human chain around the building trying to block police access to the door. The final stand-off between squatters and police and riot police lasted more than 6 hours.
Nineteen activists were arrested, with several hospitalized for concussion. The police also sustained injuries during the eviction, with two needing medical treatment for lost teeth and a fractured skull. Sixteen squatters received fines of around €40, but the remaining three are being charged for violence against police officers, an offence which could see them jailed for up to ten years. In fact the speed with which this has been rushed to the courts speaks for the probability of the maximum sentence.
Solidarity with the arrested squatters! Please publicize their bravery as widely as possible! They urgently need funds for legal assistance: to enquire about making a donation or to help get a fundraising action together please e-mail
Finally, although it is unlikely that the penetration of Warsaw station by private capital will evoke such a huge public outcry as the GazProm project, the battle to save it has certainly put the site on the map. Videos, articles and photo reports of the eviction have flooded Russian media over the past day – both at local and national level – and, although the squat itself might be gone, the snug relationship between city capitalists and local government is once again in the spotlight. The developers will no doubt have a long, hard road in front of them. It is a crime that three individuals may have to pay such a high price for their defence of social justice.
Photo reportage of the eviction:
Squat blog (in Russian):
video (in Russian)

Who Firebombed London's Oldest Anarchist Bookshop?

From Vice
Staff at Freedom Press, London’s oldest anarchist publisher and bookshop, woke last Friday to the news that someone had tried to burn their shop down in the early hours of the morning.
Founded in 1886, Freedom has been at the heart of radical East London for over a century, featuring on walking tours and seemingly, from my time spent in the shop, serving as the first stop-off point for every European crusty looking for a squat to stay in or a protest to rage at.
The shop sits just off Whitechapel High Street, down Angel Alley—wedged between an art gallery and a KFC. If you need to pick up something by Bakunin, Chomsky or the utterly bonkers John Zerzan then this is where you go, past the linoprint heads of Emma Goldman and Peter Kropotkin and close the door after you because it’s always cold in there.
At around 5 AM Friday morning an arsonist entered Angel Alley, smashed a window, poured accelerant into the shop and sent the books, pamphlets, and irreplaceable archives of Freedom newspaper up in flames.
That night I went inside the building with one of the shop’s most dedicated activists, Andy. It smelled awful, there was soot across the roof and charred books sat in piles. There was no structural damage to the building but Freedom has no insurance and were already mired in the financial shit. Looking at the horrific mess, I thought the shop would have to close for months, but this morning they’re back open for business.
Before you joke about anarchists owning a building, or organising a cleanup, read up on the rich history of working class self-organisation the movement draws on. At its height in 1930s Spain, anarchists ran collectivized hospitals and operated Spain’s most popular daily newspaper.
Freedom volunteer Rob Ray explained how he felt when he heard about the attempt to burn the building down: “It's a really weird set of feelings—sick to the stomach hoping no one had been hurt, relief that the place was empty of people that night—it's often not—and that the fire didn't go any further than it did. Then sickness again, when you realise how bad the damage is."
“My first political education came through the pages of Mutual Aid, Anarchy in Action and Freedom newspaper, those piles of ash and soot-stained jumbles of letters represent the opening of new worlds to me. Almost every book that didn't burn got covered in a layer of hot ash. Sorting through them yesterday it was a wrench every time one had to be thrown on the 'no' pile.”
The building is not just home to a bookshop; upstairs, London Coalition Against Poverty, the Advisory Service for Squatters, Solidarity Federation and Corporate Watch all share offices. There’s even a functioning toilet.
Obviously high on the agenda for the anarchists is figuring out who wants to firebomb them. Combat 18 carried out a similar attack on the shop 20 years ago. At the time, in March '93, C18 were the violent wing of the (already quite violent) BNP, formed to defend the fascists from Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), a group who were beating the far-right out of their strongholds across London.
The consensus now is that the arsonists are almost definitely from the far right, either looking for a soft target or hoping to settle old scores. Nearby Brick Lane was dominated by neo-Nazis in the late 70s and 80s, with regular BNP and National Front paper sales. AFA took the fight to the streets in the early 90s, taking back Islington before moving east across London. The BNP were forced to fight to defend their pitch, and lost.
Lying among the charred books strewn across the floor were a number of copies of Beating The Fascists, a history of AFA recently published by Freedom Press. The book is an uncomfortably violent read, detailing how half-bricks were used to convince young BNP members to pack it in.
The last time I stopped by the shop they had just been posted a copy of an ultra-nationalist magazine reviewing the book. Its admission of the ruthless tactics used to defeat the right had clearly touched some nerves. Embarrassed has-beens from Combat 18 could have come back to settle old scores, just last week they hosted a secret gig in London.
Speaking to anarchists in a nearby pub, many feared the arsonists could be linked to the fantasist group England’s Golden Dawn, a new far-right splinter group making big noises on Facebook, made up of the usual EDL rejects. No groups have acknowledged the attack took place, although one Casuals United organizer did post to her Facebook about the attack, stating “what goes around comes around."
Less likely possibilities include some of the more fringe wings of the anarchist movement. One post on Indymedia tried to claim Freedom were “cop collaborators” as a justification for the attack. The collective have made efforts in recent years to sideline anti-social elements within the anarchist scene.
Insurrectionary anarchists have been waging a war of words online, and even setting things on fire in Bristol, but Freedom was where I first bought Alfredo Bonanno’s insurrectionist bible From Riot to Insurrection, it seems unlikely even the most disgruntled radicals would shit on their own doorstep like this.
Speaking to Andy at the shop, he insists that it must have been the far right and says there could have been any number of motivations. The CCTV at the entrance to the alley may reveal more, although understandably the anarchists don’t have much faith in the police to solve this case.
Hanging around in the dark alley beside the shop on Friday night, a well-dressed elderly man comes to inspect the damage, telling me he draws cartoons for Freedom newspaper. Minutes later, a local woman comes to ask how she could help. Shopkeepers come out to sympathize with Andy and the art gallery next door assures me that the anarchists make brilliant neighbors.
The next day almost 100 people cram into the tiny lane to clean books, scrub walls, and get the shop back in shape. Melted clocks and charred books, initially upsetting sights for supporters, are now being sold off as souvenirs. People across the world have offered their support and promised donations as solidarity messages pour in. The arsonists not only failed to destroy the shop—they have made it more popular than ever.
The shop is now taking donations of books and money, or you can pop down to browse the remaining stock.
(link to article contains pictures and videos)

Zapatistas announce major restructuring of efforts

Parts 4 and 5 of the latest communiques from the EZLN. These portions are the most likely to appeal to anarchists and their kin.
Them and Us Part IV:
The Pains of Those Below
January of 2013.
“How many times have the police stopped us in the street for the crime of “carrying a face”[i] that looks suspicious, or a mohawk, and after beating and extorting us, they let us go?”
“Repression y Criminalization,” Cruz Negra Anarquista-Mexico. January 2013
“And the young person that now sees you as a hero and an example of someone who has been unjustly treated by a repressive system?” “Hero, no. A hero is each of those young people that go outside everyday to organize themselves to change this unjust society and this economic and political system. And they do organize, they defend themselves… They shouldn’t be afraid, because fear is about to change direction.
Alfonso Fernández, held in prison since N14,[ii] in Spain,
interviewed by Shangay Lily, on Kaos en la Red. January 2013.
We need an enemy to give a people hope. […] But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred,
on hatred for those who are not the same. Hatred has to be cultivated as a civic passion. The enemy is the friend of the people. You always want someone to hate in order to feel justified in your own misery. Always. Hatred is the true primordial passion.
Umberto Eco. El Cementerio de Praga (The Prague Cemetery).
When and where did the violence start?
Let’s see.
In front of a mirror, on whatever calendar, in whatever geography…
Imagine you are different from most people.
Imagine you are something very different.
Imagine you have a particular color skin or hair.
Imagine that you are disrespected, humiliated, pursued, incarcerated, or killed for this, for being different.
Imagine that since you were born, the entire system tells you over and over that you are something odd, abnormal, sick, that you should repent from what you are, chalk it up to bad luck and/or divine justice, and do everything possible to modify this “manufacturing defect.”
And of course for you, precisely, we have this product that is simply m-a-r-v-e-l-o-u-s for genetic defects. This type of thinking will relieve you of rebellion and that bothersome habit of complaining about everything all the time. This cream will change your skin color. This dye will give your hair a fashionable tint. This class on “how to make friends and be popular in the network” will give you everything necessary to be a modern individual. This treatment will give you your youth back. This DVD will show you how to behave at the table, in the street, at work, in bed, in illegal assaults (by thieves), in legal assaults (by banks, government, elections, and legally established businesses), in social gatherings… what? Oh, they don’t invite you to social gatherings?… ok, well it will also tell you what to do so that you get invited. Anyway, here you will learn the secret of how to triumph in life. Leave Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber behind in your number of twitter followers! Include a mask of your choice. We have everything! We even have that of CSG…[iii] Okay, okay, okay, that was a bad example, but we do have something for every need. Let them no longer look on you with disgust! Let them not call you trash, indian, prole, Black, region 4,[iv] zombie, Zapatista-lover!
Imagine that you, despite all of your best efforts and intentions, don’t manage to hide the color of your skin or your hair.
Now imagine that a campaign is launched to eliminate everyone who is like you.
It’s not that there’s an event to inaugurate the campaign, or a law to establish it, but you realize that the system in its entirely has begun to work against you, and those who are like you. The entire society has become a machine whose principal purpose is to annihilate you.
First there are disapproving glances, disgust, contempt. Later there are insults, aggressions. After that come detentions, deportations, imprisonment. Later deaths here and there, legally and illegally. Finally, a true campaign, the machine at full force, to disappear you and all those who are like you. The identity of those who make up society is affirmed by the hate directed against you. Your sin? Being different.
You still don’t see it?
Okay, imagine then that you are… (insert masculine, feminine, or other pronoun, whatever the case may be):
An Indigenous person in a country dominated by foreigners. A fleet of military helicopters is heading toward your lands. The press will say that the occupation of the wind power plant impeded the reduction in contamination, or that the jungle was being destroyed. “Eviction was necessary in order to reduce planetary global warming,” —Secretary of State
A Black person in a nation dominated by whites. A WASP [White Anglo Saxon Protestant] judge is about to sentence you. The jury has declared you guilty. Among the evidence presented by the district attorney is an analysis of your skin pigmentation.
A Jew in Nazi Germany. The Gestapo official stares at you steadily. The next day the report will say that they have purified the human race.
A Palestinian in today’s Palestine. An Israeli army missile is aimed at your school, hospital, neighborhood, home. Tomorrow the press will say that they took out military targets.
An immigrant on the other side of whatever border. An immigration patrol approaches you. The next day nothing will appear in the press.
A priest, a monk, or a layman that has opted [to advocate] for the poor, in the midst of the opulence of the Vatican. The Cardinal’s sermon is directed against those who interfere in earthly matters.
A street vendor in an exclusive commercial mall in an exclusive residential district. A truck full of riot police pulls up. “We must defend free trade,” the government representative will declare.
A woman alone, night or day, on some form of public transport full of men. A small increase in rates of “gender violence.” The police officer will say: “you know how some women are asking for it.”
A gay person alone, night or day, on public transportation full of machos. A minimal increase in rates of “homophobic violence.”
A sexworker on a strange street on an unfamiliar corner… the police pull up. “The government efficiently combats sex trafficking” the press will say.
A punk, a Rastafarian, a skater, a cholo, a metalhead, on the street, at night… another police patrol pulls up. “We are preventing vandalism and antisocial behavior” —Head of Government
A graffiti artist “tagging” the World Trade Center… another police patrol pulls up. “We will do everything necessary to make our city beautiful and attractive for tourism,” —any government official
A communist in a meeting of the fascist right-wing party. “We are against the totalitarianism that has done so much damage in the world,” —Party President.
An anarchist in a meeting of the Communist Party. “We are against those petit-bourgeois deviationists that have done so much damage to world revolution,” —Secretary General of the Party.
A “31 Minutes” news show on the CNN ticker. Tulio Triviño and Juan Carlos Bodoque look at each other, disconcerted, but don’t say anything.[v]
An alternative music group trying to sell their CD at a concert featuring Lady Gaga, Madonna, Justin Bieber, or whoever will follow them. The police come up. The fans scream like mad.
An artist dancing outside a great cultural center where the Bolshoi Ballet is performing (yes-it’s-a-gala-invitation-only-we’re-sorry-miss-you’re-in-the-way-here). Security proceeds to reestablish order.
An elderly person at a meeting presided over by the Japanese Minister of Finance Taró Asó (he studied at Stanford and recently asked elderly people “to hurry up and die” because their lives are getting very expensive). Social spending is cut further.
An Anonymous criticizing “copyright” in a meeting of Microsoft-Apple shareholders. “A dangerous hacker behind bars,” the press will say.
A young Mapuche who, in Chile, reclaims the land of his/her ancestors while watching the approach of the tanks and the offensive green of the soldiers. The bullet that mortally injures him/her will go unpunished.
A young person and/or student or unemployed person at an army-police-civil guard-carabineer checkpoint. The last they hear? “Shoot!”
A Nahua commoner in the offices of a transnational mining company. Uniformed men kidnap him. “We’re investigating,” —respective governments.
A dissident facing gray, raised metal walls, while on the other side, the Mexican political class swallows the bitter pill of yet another imposition. You are hit with the blow of a rubber bullet that takes out your eye or breaks your skull. “Calls for unity for the good of the country. Time to leave bickering behind,” —News headlines
A peasant facing an army of lawyers and police, hearing that the land where you work, where your parents were born and raised, as well as your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and so on back to where time becomes blurry, is now the property of a real estate developer and that you are robbing the poor businessmen of something that legally belongs to them. Jail.
An opponent of electoral fraud who sees the forty thieves[vi] and their boot-lickers exonerated. The mockery: “one must turn the page and look ahead.”
A man or a woman who comes to see what all the racket is about, and is suddenly “kettled” by the forces of order. While they push, hit, and kick him or her in taking them to the patrol, you can see the cameras from a well-known television channel pointing the other way.
An indigenous Zapatista who has been in a prison of the bad government (PRI-PAN-PRD-PT-MC) for many years. You read in the newspaper: “Why has the EZLN reappeared now that the PRI has returned to power? Very Suspicious.”
Do you follow?
Do you feel convinced that you are out of place?
Do you feel the fear of being ignored, insulted, beaten, mocked, humiliated, raped, incarcerated, or murdered, simply for being who you are?
Do you feel the impotence of not being able to do anything to avoid it, to defend yourself, to be heard?
Do you curse the moment that you came to this place, the day that you were born, the hour that you began to read this text?
Many of the examples above have a name, a calendar, and a geography:
Juan Francisco Kuykendall Leal. Compa Kuy, adherent of the Sixth Declaration, professor, playwright, theater director. Skull broken on December 1, 2012 by a bullet from the “forces of order.” He was planning to do a play about Enrique Peña Nieto.
José Uriel Sandoval Díaz. Young student from the Autonomous University of Mexico City, part of the Student Council of Struggle. He lost an eye in the repression of December 1, 2012 following the attack by the “forces of order.” He was planning resist the imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto.
Celedonio Prudencio Monroy. Indigenous Nahua. Kidnapped on October 23, 2012 by the “forces of order.” He was planning to resist the taking of Nahua lands by miners and loggers.
Adrián Javier González Villarreal. Young student at the School of Mechanical and Electric Engineering at the Autonomous University in Nuevo León, Mexico, murdered in January 2013 by the “forces of order.” He was planning to graduate and be a successful professional.
Cruz Morales Calderón and Juvencio Lascurain. Peasant farmers taken prisoner in Veracruz, 2010-2011, by the “forces of order”. They planned to resist the taking of their lands by real estate developers.
Matías Valentín Catrileo Quezada. Young indigenous Mapuche, assassinated on January 3, 2008, in Chile, Latin America, by the “forces of order.” He was planning to resist the taking of Mapuche land by the government, large landowners, and transnational businesses.
Francisco Sántiz López, indigenous Zapatista, taken prisoner unjustly by the “forces of order.” He planned to resist the governmental counterinsurgencies of Juan Sabines Guerrero and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
Now…don’t despair, we are just about finished…
Now imagine you that you aren’t scared, or that yes, you are, but you can control it.
Imagine that you go and, in front of the mirror, not only do you not hide nor cover up your difference, but you highlight it.
Imagine that you make of your difference a shield or a weapon, you defend yourself, meet others like you, organize, resist, fight, and without even noticing, you move from “I am different” to “we are different”.
Imagine that you don’t hide behind “maturity” and “good judgment,” behind the “now is not the time,” or “there aren’t the appropriate conditions,” “we must wait,” “it is useless,” “ there is no solution.”
Imagine that you don’t sell out, don’t give in, and don’t give up.
Could you imagine it?
Ok, well although neither you nor we know it yet, we are part of a “we” that is even larger and yet to be built.
(to be continued…)
From whatever corner, in whichever world.
Planet Earth.
January 2013.
See and listen to the video that accompanies this text.
M.I.A. “Born Free”
“Born Free” performed by M.I.A. (Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam). Video. Director: Romain Gavras (Son of Costa Gavras). Photography: André Chemetoff. Production: Mourad Belkeddar. Executive Production: Gaetan Rousseau / Paradoxal. This video was censured by YouTube due to its content.
Bob Marley, “Burnin’ and Lootin’”
“Burnin´ and Lootin´” by Bob Marley. Video from the beginning of “La Haine” (“Hate”), written and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995. Subtitles in Spanish.
[i] “Carrying a face” [portación de cara] is used here as a substitute for the usual Mexican legal phrase “carrying a weapon” [portación de arma] and is used in Mexico much the same way as the crimes of “Driving while Black” or “Flying while Arab” are used in the United States.
[ii] November 14, 2012 was the day of a massive general strike in Spain and Portugal, as well as other strikes across Europe, especially in Greece and Italy.
[iii] Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
[iv] Region 4 refers to Latin America on DVD coding. Referring to someone as “región 4” is a putdown, something like saying “oh, you’re so third world.”
[v] “31 Minutos” is a Chilean television show that parodies television newscast. Tulio Triviño and Juan Carlos Bodoque are both puppet characters who parody real life figures.
[vi] “40 thieves” (as in Ali Baba and his 40 thieves) refers to the 30 governors and presidential cabinet members that assisted the launching of the “National Crusade Against Hunger” by Enrique Peña Nieto in Las Margaritas, Chiapas (a zone of heavy Zapatista influence), but is also used by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and the Zapatistas as a way to refer to the Mexican political class in general.
Protected (full text):
Them and Us, Part V. The Sixth.
(The Enlace Zapatista website made the password public for the hidden text: marichiweu)
January 2013
To: The compañer@s adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle across the world.
From: The Zapatista men and women of Chiapas, México.
Compañeras, compañeros, y compañeroas:
Compas of the Red contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad (Network against Repression and for Solidarity):
Receive greetings from the smallest of your compañeros, the women, men, children, and elderly of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
We have decided that the first of our words directed specifically to our compañer@s of the Sixth Declaration be released in a space of struggle, a space like the Red contra la Represión y por La Solidaridad. But the words, thoughts, and feelings outlined here are also meant for those who are not present…especially for them.
We are grateful for the support that you have given our communities, our Zapatista bases of support, and to the adherents to the Sixth who are prisoners in Chiapas, during this entire time.
In our hearts we carry your words of encouragement and the collective hand that reached for ours.
We are sure that one of the points you will address in your meeting will be, or has already been, a great campaign of support for our compañero Kuy, to denounce the aggression which he suffered, to demand justice for him and for all of those injured on that day, and to demand absolute exoneration for all of those detained in Mexico City and in Guadalajara during the protests against the imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto as head of the federal executive branch.
And not only that, but it is also important that this campaign take into account the need to raise funds to support the compañero Kuy with the costs of his hospitalization and his subsequent recovery, a recovery that the Zapatista men and women hope will be a quick one.
To support this fundraising campaign, we are sending a small amount of money, in cash. We ask that, although it is small, you add it to whatever you are compiling for our compañero in struggle. When we can get together more, we will send it to whomever you designate for that job.
We wanted to take the opportunity of your scheduled meeting not only to acknowledge your own persistence, but also and above all to acknowledge, through you, all of the compas in Mexico and in the world who have remained firm in this bond that ties us together and that we call the Sixth.
We want you to know that it has been an honor for us to have you as compañeroas.
We know that this may look like a farewell, but it is not. It only means that we have ended one phase in the path that we call the Sixth, and that we think that we must now take another step.
We have suffered more than a few setbacks along the way, sometimes together, sometimes each of us in our own geography.
Now we would like to communicate and explain to you some of the changes that we will make on our path. On this path, if you agree and accompany us, we will take up once again, but in another form, the extended recounting of pain and hope that before was called the Other Campaign in Mexico and the Zezta Internazional in the world, and that now will simply be known as The Sixth. Now we will continue further, up to…
The Time of the No, the time of the Yes
Compañeras, compañeros:
Having defined who we are, our past and present story, our place and the enemy that we face, as laid out in the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, what is left pending is to further define why we fight.
We defined the “no,” we still haven’t fully delineated the “yes”
This isn’t the only thing, as we also need more answers to the “how,” “when,” “with whom.”
All of you know that it is not our intention to build a great big organization with a central governing body, a centralized command, or a boss, be it individual or a particular group.
Our analysis of the functioning, strengths, and weaknesses of the dominant system has led us to believe and to emphasize that unified action is possible if we respect what we call the “modos” [manner, way of doing things] of each of us.
And these things we call “modos” are nothing but the knowledges that each of us, individual or collective, have of our own geography and calendar. That is, of our pains and our struggles.
We are convinced that any attempt at homogeneity is no more than a fascist effort at domination, regardless of whether it is hidden in revolutionary, esoteric, religious, or any other language.
When one speaks of “unity” they elide the fact that such “unity” occurs under the leadership of someone or something, be it individual or collective.
On the false altar of “unity,” not only are differences sacrificed, but the survival of all of the small worlds under the tyranny and injustice they suffer is obscured.
In our history, this lesson is repeated time and again. And every time the world turns, our place is always that of the oppressed, the disdained, the exploited, the dispossessed.
What we call the “four wheels of capitalism”: exploitation, displacement, repression, and disdain, have been repeated throughout our history, with different names up above, but we are always the same ones below.
But the current system has gotten to a state of extreme madness. Its predatory ambition, its absolute disrespect for life, its delight in death and destruction, and its effort to impose apartheid on all of those who are different, that is, all of those below, is taking humanity to the point of disappearance as a form of life on the planet.
We could, as someone might advise, wait patiently for those above to destroy themselves, without acknowledging that their insane arrogance and pride will destroy everything.
In their drive to be higher and higher above, they dynamite the floors below, the foundations. The building—the world—will ultimately collapse and there won’t be anyone to hold responsible.
We think that yes, something is wrong, very wrong. But that if in order to save humanity and the badly damaged house it inhabits someone has to go, then it should be, it must be, those above.
And we aren’t referring here to banishing those above. We’re talking about destroying the social relations that make it possible for someone to be above at the cost of someone else being below.
The Zapatistas know that this great line we have drawn across the world geography is not a conventional understanding. We know that this model of “above” and “below” bothers, irritates, and disturbs some. This is not the only thing that irritates them, we know, but for now, we are referring specifically to this discomfort.
We could be mistaken. Quite likely we are. The thought police and knowledge inspectors will surely appear in order to judge, condemn, and execute us… hopefully only in their flamboyant writing and not hiding their vocation as executioners behind that of judges.
But this is how the Zapatistas see the world and its modos:
There is machismo, patriarchy, misogyny, or whatever one may call it, but it’s one thing to be a woman above and something completely different to be one below.
There is homophobia, yes, but it’s one thing to be a homosexual above and something very different to be one below.
There is disdain for those who are different, yes, but it’s one thing to be different above and quite another to be so below.
There is a left that is an alterative to the right, but it is one thing is to be on the left above and it is something completely different (we would say opposite) to be on the left below.
Place your own identities within the parameters we are laying out and you will see what we are saying.
The most deceitful identity, fashionalbe every time the modern state goes into crisis, is that of “citizenship.”
The “citizen” above and the “citizen” below have nothing in common; they are opposite and contradictory.
Differences are chased, cornered, ignored, disdained, repressed, displaced, and exploited, yes.
But we see a greater difference that crosses all of these differences: that of above and below, the haves and the have-nots.
And we see that there is something fundamental to this great difference: the above is above on the backs of those below; the “haves” have because they dispossess those who don’t.
We think that being above or below determines our gaze, our words, what we hear, our steps, our pains, and our struggles.
Perhaps there will be another opportunity to explain more of our thinking on this. For now we will just say that the gazes, words, ears, and steps of those above tend to conserve this division. This does not, of course, imply immobility. Conservatism seems to be very far from a system that discovers more and better forms of imposing the four wounds that the world below suffers. But this “modernization” or “progress” has no other objective than to maintain above those who are above in the only way it is possible for them to be there, that is, on the backs of those below.
In our thinking, the gaze, words, ears, and steps of those below are determined by the line of questioning: Why this way? Why them? Why us?
In order to impose answers to such questions on us, or in order to avoid our asking them in the first place, gigantic cathedrals of ideas have been built, more or less well thought out, usually so grotesque that not only is it amazing that someone has developed them and someone believes them, but also that they have also constructed universities and centers for research and analysis based on them.
But there is always a party pooper who ruins the festivities at the end of history.
And that stick-in-the-mud responds to these questions with another: “could it be another way?”
This question could be the one that sparks rebellion and its broader acceptance. And this could be because there is a “no” that has birthed it: it doesn’t have to be this way.
Forgive us if this confusing detour has irritated you. Chalk it up to our modo, our ways and customs.
What we want to say, compañeras, compañeros, compañeroas, is that what convoked us all in the Sixth was this rebellious, heretic, rude, irreverent, bothersome, uncomfortable “no.”
We have gotten to this point because our realities, histories, and rebellions have brought us to this “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
This and also because, intuitively or by design, we have answered “yes” to the question, “could it be another way?”
We still need to respond to the questions we encounter after that “yes.”
What is that other way, that other world, that other society that we imagine, that we want, that we need?
What do we have to do?
With whom?
If we don’t know the answers to those questions we have to look for them. And if we have them, we have to make them known among ourselves.
In this new step, but on the same path of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, as Zapatistas we have tried to apply some of what we have learned in these 7 years. We will make changes in the rhythm and speed of our step, but also in its company.
You all know that one of the many and great defects we have as Zapatistas is memory. We remember who was present when and where, what they said, what they did, what they didn’t say, what they undid, what they wrote, what they erased. We remember the calendars and geographies.
Don’t misinterpret us. We don’t judge anyone, everyone constructs their alibis as they can for what they do or don’t do. The stubborn advance of history will tell if they were correct or erroneous.
For our part, we have seen, listened to, and learned from everyone.
We saw who came around only to take political advantage of the Other Campaign, who jumped from one mobilization to another, seduced by the masses, and thus revealing their incapacity to generate anything themselves. One day they are anti-electoral, another day they hang their flags in whichever mobilization is in style; one day they are teachers, the next students; one day they are indigenists, the next they are allied with landowners and paramilitaries. They clamor for the avenging fire of the masses, and disappear when the antiriot tanks arrive with water cannons.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw who appears when there are stages, dialogues, good press, and attention, and who disappears when it is time for the work that is silent but necessary, as the majority of those who are hearing or reading this letter know. All this time our gaze and our ear were not directed toward those on the stage, but rather toward those who built it, who made the food, swept the floors, tended to things, drove, flyered, stuck it out, as they say. We also saw and heard those who climbed over everyone else.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw who the professionals of the assemblies are, with their techniques and tactics for driving meetings into the ground so that only they, and their followers, are left to approve their own proposals. They distribute defeat wherever they appear, facilitating roundtables, sidelining the “yuppie” and “petit-bourgeoisie” who don’t understand that at stake in the day’s agenda is the future of world revolution. Those who think poorly of any movement that doesn’t end in an assembly that they themselves run.
We will not walk again with them.
We saw those who present themselves as struggling for the freedom of the political prisoners during events and campaigns, but who insisted that we abandon the prisoners of Atenco and continue the journey of the Other Campaign because they had their strategy ready and their events programmed.
We will not walk again with them.
The Sixth was convoked by the Zapatistas. To convoke is not to unite. We don’t intend to unite under a single leadership, be it Zapatista or any other. We do not seek to coopt, recruit, supplant, impersonate, simulate, trick, subordinate, or use anybody. Our destiny is the same, but the richness of the Sixth is its difference, its heterogeneity, the autonomy of distinct modes of walking, this is its strength. We offer and will continue to offer respect, and we demand and will continue to demand the same. The only requirement to adhere to the Sixth is the “no” that convokes us and the commitment to construct the “yeses” that are necessary.
Compañeroas, compañeros, compañeras:
On behalf of the EZLN we say:
1.- For the EZLN, there will no longer be a national Other Campaign and a Zezta Internazional. From now on we will walk together with those we have invited and who accept us as compas, whether they are on the coast of Chiapas or that of New Zealand.
In this sense, our territory for our work is now clearly delimited: the planet called “Earth,” located in that which is called the Solar System.
We will now be what we are in fact already: “The Sixth.”
2.- For the EZLN, to be in the Sixth does not require affiliation, membership fee, registration list, original and/or copy of an official ID, or account statement; one does not have to be judge, or jury, or defendant, or executioner. There are no flags. There are commitments and consequences to these commitments. The “no” convokes us, the construction of the “yes” mobilizes us.
2.- Those who, with the resurgence of the EZLN, hope for a new epoch of big stages and large gatherings, with the masses peering in to see the future being made, and the equivalent of assaults on the winter palace will be disappointed. It is best they leave now. Don’t waste your time, and don’t make us waste ours. The walk of the Sixth is a long one, not meant for mental midgets. For “historical” and “conjunctural” actions, there are other spaces where you will surely find your place. Here we don’t want only to change the government, we want to change the world.
3.- We confirm that as the EZLN, we will not ally ourselves with any electoral movement in Mexico. Our conception about this in the Sixth has been clear and has not varied. We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to transform things from above without becoming one more of those above. Hopefully the coming consecutive disappointments do not turn them into that which they fight against.
4.- When we propose organizational, political, and dissemination initiatives, our word will be EXCLUSIVELY for those who request it and whom we accept, and sent from our website email to the addresses that we have. They will also appear on the website of Enlace Zapatista, but their full content will only be accessible with a password that will continually change. We will get you this password somehow, but it will be easy to deduce by those who read carefully what they do see and for those who have learned to decipher the feelings that become letters in our words.
Every individual, group, collective, organization or however each refers to themselves, has the right and the liberty to share this information with whomever they see fit. All of the adherents to the Sixth will have the power to open the window of our word and of our reality to whomever they desire. The window, not the door.
5.- The EZLN asks your patience while we make public the initiatives that, over 7 years, we have developed, and whose principal objective will be to put you in direct contact with the Zapatista bases of support in what is, in my humble opinion and long experience, the best way possible: that is to say, as students.
6.- For now we’d just like to let you know that those who can and want to, and who are explicitly invited by the Sixth-EZLN, should start getting together the bread, the dough, the money, or whatever it’s called in whatever part of the planet, in order to be able to travel to Zapatista lands on dates yet to be decided. Later we will give you more details.
To conclude this letter (which, as is evident, has the disadvantage of lacking a video or soundtrack to accompany and complete the spoken version [the version to be read at the Red’s meeting]), we would like to send the best of our embraces (and we only have one best) to the men, women, children, elderly, groups, organizations, movements, or however each might refers to themselves, that all this time have not let their hearts grow distant from us, who have continued to resist and who have supported us as the compañeras, compañeros y compañeroas that we are.
We are the Sixth.
It will take a lot.
Opening ourselves to those throughout the world who have pain will not lessen our own. The path will be even more treacherous.
We will battle.
We will resist.
We will struggle.
We may die.
But one, ten, a hundred, a thousand times, we will always win always.
For the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee—General Command of the
Zapatista Army for National Liberation
The Sixth-EZLN
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Chiapas, Mexico, Planet Earth.
January 2013.
P.D.- For example, the password to see this text on the webpage is, as is evident, “marichiweu,” just like that, without caps (letters “below”) and starting from the left.
See and listen to the videos that accompany this text:
“Cumbia Zapatista,” by the group “Sonido Psicotropical.” Part of the album “Rola la lucha Zapatista.” Move your behind to the rhythm of the cumbiaaaaa!
“Nadie mira,” by the group “RABIA.” With Iker Moranchel, guitar and vocals. Alejandro Franco, drums and vocals. Manco, Bass. Camera, Sara Heredia. Editing, Eduardo Vargus. Recorded and edited in Gekko Audiolab, Mexico City, July 2012. Also from the disk “Rola la lucha Zapastista.” Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrock!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in back wages

By Ylan Q. Mui, Published: May 1

The Labor Department on Tuesday ordered Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in back wages and damages to thousands of employees who were denied overtime charges, the latest in a string of embarrassments for the company over its business practices.
The department said its decision affects roughly 4,500 vision-center managers and asset-protection coordinators who worked at Wal-Mart between 2004 and 2007. Wal-Mart had considered those employees exempt from federal regulations requiring overtime pay but reclassified them in 2007. The government and the retailer have been negotiating the amount owed since then.
“When the issues resolved today were initially raised, we took them seriously and fully cooperated with the Department of Labor to make sure they were corrected,” Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter said.
The company said asset-protection coordinators are entitled to receive an average of $290 under the agreement, while the average for vision center managers is $2,300. Wal-Mart was also fined $464,000 in civil penalties.
“Let this be a signal to other companies that when violations are found, the Labor Department will take appropriate action to ensure that workers receive the wages they have earned,” Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said.
The decision comes as Wal-Mart faces investigations into its Mexican operations after the New York Times reported that company executives turned a blind eye while employees allegedly bribed local officials to approve new stores.
The Justice Department has been conducting a criminal probe of the company since December to determine whether it violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Meanwhile, two Democratic lawmakers are looking into Wal-Mart’s lobbying efforts. The Post has reported that Wal-Mart executives sat on the boards of trade organizations that have sought to amend the FCPA. The company has said it did not directly lobby on the issue.
But the reports have rattled investors and reinvigorated Wal-Mart’s critics. New York City’s pension fund, which holds a significant stake in the company, plans to oppose the nomination of several directors to the company’s board. Meanwhile, union and activist groups recently protested the retailer’s efforts to expand in New York.
On Tuesday, Making Change at Walmart, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said the Labor Department decision represented a troubling philosophy among company officials.
“The fines Walmart must pay for its overtime violations are just another side effect of the company’s growth at any cost strategy,” the group said in a statement. “Walmart’s top executives and the Walton heirs who own a majority of the company have shown they are willing to break the law and harm workers in the name of more profits.”
This was not the first time Wal-Mart has run afoul of federal overtime laws. In 2007, the Labor Department ordered it to pay nearly $34 million in back wages to 87,000 workers — some of whom were owed more than $10,000 each.

Stop WalMart's Sneaky Invasion
Let's make it REALLY hard for WalMart to want to be here!!!  If anyone is interested in leafletting and picketing at the WalMart recruitment center in Eureka, please reply.