Originally written and published in Spanish by Mexican Anarchist-Communist comrades Antagonismo, here, on Sept. 26, 2017. Translated by Noche of Mas Ultra.
… Well then, why aren’t we going to rebuild in even better conditions to replace what has been destroyed? Because ruins do not trouble us. We know we are going to inherit nothing more than ruins, because the bourgeoisie will try to destroy this world during its last historical phase. But – I repeat – we are not troubled by ruins, because we carry in our hearts a new world.
September 7th. The arrival of Peña Nieto in Oaxaca, on the 7th and 8th of September, demonstrates how the government, armed forces and business interests work in conjunction to extract the highest level of economic benefit and profits at the expense of the territorial dispossession, exploitation and misery of working people, in this case of the Oaxacan worker.
On September 7th, preceded by 1,500 Federal Police officers, the [Mexican] President came to Oaxaca City to inaugurate the Cultural and Civic Center, on the occasion of the 24th Congress of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE), attended by Secretariats of the Economy, Social Development, businessmen, members of the WTO, ambassadors and representatives of national and international bourgeoisie. This visit did not go unnoticed by the Oaxacan proletariat, whom to the rhythm of blockades, barricades and clashes with the police welcomed the President.
There had took place just a few hours of this day of combat when an earthquake 8.2 on the Richter scale shook the central and south of the country. In Oaxaca, the greatest damages took place on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is squarely within one of the four Special Economic Zones in Mexico, which means it figured into infrastructural development plans to allow the distribution of commodities, as well as the construction of large wind farms to generate electricity. In accordance with energy reforms made, the production of energy can be made now be made by independent firms which is then sold to the CFE (state-owned electric utility of Mexico). These wind power generators are intended to expand into various townships in the Isthmus area of Tehuantepec, through deceptive contracts and on-the-cheap economic renumerations.
This area is characterized by poverty and marginalization. Those who do not migrate to other cities or countries so as to make remittances, are engaged in fishing or other agricultural activities on a smaller scale. This area is also made up mostly of the indigenous Ikoots.
The territory, for this population is more than a piece of land, it is their means of support and is conceived as part of their identity. Because of this, community assemblies have been organized and towns have been resisting this attempted land dispossession by wind power. The struggle against these projects has taken human lives but has also incited the self-organization of communities in conflict, where political parties have been expelled and barricades have been set up at the entrances of each village to prevent the passage of vehicles from wind business interests.
Just a few hours after the earthquake, under the Plan DNIII (series of measures protocolized and implemented primarily by bodies of the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense), thousands of soldiers entered the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Taking into control this conflict zone, opportunistically making use of the disaster to intervene in these areas and dismantle the highway barricades.
It is important to remain vigilant of the assemblies and their struggle for the land because the companies supported by the State are not hesitating for a moment to push forward their plans to in the Isthmus and the presence of the army cannot bring about any good for the proletariat there.
“No you little political lords, the people do not do this to feel heroic, they do so because they feel pain, they share in that pain, they live with that pain and, above all, because they do not trust you since your administration is but a ‘burrow of robbers’ as Flores Magón would say”
a comment made by a friend online
September 19th. Twelve days after the earthquake which affected regions in Oaxaca and Chiapas, another earthquake shakes Mexico City and the states of Puebla and Morelos. After the quake and when it was known which buildings had collapsed with people trapped, what came to the fore in Mexico city and other affected regions was human empathy, which in this capitalist city seemed to have been lost.
Thousands of people took to the streets with the sole objective of helping to save the lives of those trapped, without taking into consideration their own fear, tiredness, the smell of death, further building collapses or explosions caused by gas leaks; people kept on working to find living survivors.
Undoubtedly, even for those most blindly devoted to Capital, it was an incontrovertible fact that the first search brigades were made up of neighbors, people who left school and work, indigent people, migrants, etc. They overwhelmed in number, logistics and will both the army and the police. Human chains were formed to remove rubble, neighbors and people from all parts close to the city came with shovels, medicine, food, hands and strength. Hours later, when the authorities arrived, the first thing they did was to cordon off disasters areas, assembled fences made up of grenadiers and come with military personnel. Most of what these forces did was carry their weapons and start to implement the MX Plan (which are made up of the following plans: Plan DNIII, the Navy Plan and and the Support Plan for the Civil Population by the Federal Police), basically consisting of restricting solidarity among the people, causing confusion and disorganization. In some places there were clashes.
As the hours passed, the State only showed its haste to introduce heavy machinery for the removal of debris, to normalize capitalist daily life, so that people would return to centers of exploitation, so that the normal flow of commodities returned, so that people would lose or keep to themselves their remnants of community and solidarity. In spite of these efforts, it has not been easy for them to run off people from helping or stop the searches for life under the rubble; counter to their machines, people keep using their own limbs, their own hearts, their manual labor, stone by stone. In the State of Morelos, the governor intercepted and hoarded provisions coming in from all over the Mexican Republic so as to manage their distribution. Then the people self-organized and raided the depots, took supplies and distributed them themselves. People organized brigades to take food to the most remove villages of Puebla, Morelos and the State of Mexico; and even during the previous earthquake in Oaxaca, people had organized supply drives and took those supplies to these affected areas where since September 7th people had been sleeping outside because of lack of housing.
Against these signs of community and disinterest for capitalist daily life, against this small revolt against the capitalist valorization of human beings, the State and Capital launched its most common and current offensive, but one which has nevertheless not worked.
Discourses around [Mexican] unity have started, capitalist mass media disseminates images of proletarians acting in solidarity with the slogan “Fuerza Mexico”; values of the family exalted; we are spoken to about the patriotic homeland; we are called to join in the chorus of the aberrant national anthem; on celebrity TV shows we hear talk of being brothers, of uniting behind a flag not of solidarity, but of charity and pity. Businessmen, public figures, political parties take advantage of their aide campaign drives to tax us and to gain votes in the next election.
The field is being laid for the destruction of community, to let us know that it’s all over, that we aren’t necessary anymore, because now the army and the police are in control of the situation. The media calls for a return to normalcy, calls for prudence and civic modesty: “if you want to help, then donate”; they begin to commodify humanity; they begin to show us that the State works, that it works better than our bonds of solidarity. In a few days we will forget about it all and we will return to being atomized, absorbed in our own survival.
The spaces affected by the earthquake will be recommodified by real estate companies; and if the reconstruction goes well, the State will likely get a percentage off of the reconstruction and the rest will be paid by those who can afford to pay, the rest will have to look for a new home, or will have to take on superhuman efforts to rebuild rooms so that they no longer have to sleep out in the open. The city will be reconfigured not in accordance to the needs of the people but rather the needs imposed by Capital.
Donate/Help. But these last days have not been all milk and honey, despite the beautiful tide of solidarity and community, it must be noted and critiqued that for millions of impetuous people wanting to help, their greatest act of solidarity was by of consumption and charity, by way of money; there was no lack of aide because businesses donated their products, but rather profits were intensified for petrol, bottled water, pharmaceutical and canned food businesses.
Governments, along with political parties also saw themselves benefit from these philanthropic and acritical donations, by appropriating and managing the tons of donations and millions of dollars donated to be used as they see fit which are obviously are not determined by needs of those affected. All this left intact the pockets of politicians, governors, judges and other bureaucratic parasites. The need for certain things and food for the survival of those in distress, however, limiting solidarity to the purchase/donation of food can be criticized when it reinforces commodity exchange instead of expropriation and attacks against those owners and sellers of our needs.
Reconstruction. Hundreds of people went out in brigades to the states of Puebla and Morelos in order to bring food and supplies, but also to help rebuild homes or remove debris. It is not our aim to create controversy around this…but we wondered and asked ourselves: what if instead of setting up temporary camps on the asphalt outside, we were to take abandoned buildings, government palaces, institutional headquarters…what would have happened?
The hordes that rushed out of their cities with the intention of helping, apparently did not question that rebuilding their small huts, to help some through these bad times, has the sole end of aiding the return to our daily disaster, capitalist normalcy. The earthquake did not displace remote and marginalized communities, and when, with all that good effort, the houses are rebuilt, this time replacing adobe with cement, these communities will still remain in poverty.
Disaster. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural phenomena are unpredictable and of enormous strength. However, the disaster which arises from these phenomena are determined by the form in which the society is organized. The poor and proletarian are always among the dead.
In capitalist society, everything is determined, maintained and destroyed so as to conserve and increase the rate of profit; the cycle of the reproduction of capital, people, animals and nature only have value as commodities; life is undervalued by value.
Space is organized according to the needs of distribution, storage and exchange of commodities, not human needs. An example of this are all the resources used in the construction of “communication routes” (intercontinental highways, sea and air routes) to speed up distribution, exchange and free trade. Just as the persistent overcrowding in the cities is a response to the inequality, poverty and marginalization which the capitalist system imposes on the countryside. And need we mention the badly-built houses, real estate speculation, corruption in the oversight bodies intended to regulate safety and appropriateness of constructions.
Spectacle. The idiocy of the media, this time, did not belittle the informal organization of people in their climatic moments; though people resisted until their last breath the police, the army, the heavy machinery, their becoming prey. Nonetheless, today if you turn on your television or radio you will notice that the clowns of Capital are already forgetting all the catastrophe and misfortune of the recent past, forgetting the over 300 dead due to the earthquake, a hard fact on the monograph of proletarian life. Superficiality, leadership, self-complacency, busybodiness and mediocore humanism has re-taken its place. In a city which saw the fantastic spark of solidarity, there is nothing left, we return to the common; those of us who went out into the streets, now return to the routine; we did our part; now our conscience is clear. We uncritically reinforced an immediatism. We lifted the rubble looking for lives buried under the concrete, we found a few as we donned the role of the citizen. We are rubble. We continue to be nothing to them; just numbers, ratings, news, oblivion. The media erase us from the news, as they erased and forgot about the people of the Isthumus [of Tehuantepec], we too will go out of style. To help just to help without propaganda, without critique, without a position, is not a revolutionary act; on the contrary, it reinforces the discourses of bourgeois charity, religious sensitivity, the good citizen, good countryman and good Mexican.
We have to find answers to many questions, tell ourselves many hard truths, like for example, with the Sept. 19th earthquake; answer why with the first earthquake, the one on Sept. 7th on the Isthmus, why the reactions in the cities were not the same as for the Sept. 19th quake; people did not crowd the bus terminals, nor got in their cars to help with those communities, but yes food was collected, but in all cases the reaction was small. What motivated the people of the city to leave immediately their own geographic region and not so for another region in their own country? Does it only have to do with proximity or is it that solidarity among chilangos [Mexico City residents] is not a written word? Whatever the answer may be the point is to reflect on human reactions and not only remain with point of views that fall into an absurd and pathetic positivism.
On the other hand, there’s the romantic side, where a breath of love for life and for each other was really necessary in this city. The brigadiers and volunteers showed us that community is possible, they went out into the streets, without bosses or titles, without banners or shields, having only their pain and love for other human beings; and even though this was all quickly transformed into patriotism, religiosity and capitalist ideologies; in our defeatist times where disillusion and despair reigns, we were in need of remembering that despite the catastrophe that we must continue on, raise our guard, head out and connect when it is necessary. We are ruins that are trying to lift ourselves up, an extraordinary feat, which only living matter can do.
Our misfortunes will crumble when we shake Capital, when we raise stones to throw it at them instead of rebuilding.
Warm embraces from Mexa lands.
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