The Border Crossed Us

The activist writer, April 25, 2011
THE FENCE THAT WENT UP ALONG THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER IN 2007
touches on more than immigration and politics. It also divides the Tohono O’odham nation in southern Arizona, the second largest Native American reservation in the United States.

The Border Crossed Us is a temporary public art installation which transplants the US-Mexico border fence in southern Arizona to the campus of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The Boston-based Institute for Infinitely Small Things, a group that stages public art and performance to investigate social justice issues, created the installation to highlight how this community is affected.

A blog about the project highlights performance video, images, and reflections by the student body on the meaning of the fence. The latest posting is a blessing sung by Ofelia Rivas of the Tohono O’odham over the sounds of helicopters and construction. It’s interesting to note the students’ reactions as they notice the singing on their way to-and-from class.

Find out more here.

http://theactivistwriter.com/2011/04/25/the-border-crossed-us/

Mexican Consulate in NYC Occupied

April 5, 2011

The Mexican Consulate in New York has been occupied by the Movimiento por Justicia en el Barrio in solidarity with five political prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas. On February 3, Chiapas state police raided the community and arrested 117 people. After worldwide protests erupted in response, the government released 112 of the prisoners. But five remain in jail, facing charges of murder or attempted murder.

The Bachajón Zapatista supporters are adherents to the Other Campaign, which was initiated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in order to form national and global alliances amongst leftist organizations and movements.

The arrests stem from a confrontation between rival indigenous groups that occurred the previous day in San Sebastian Bachajón, which is an ejido, or communally held lands. Marcos García Moreno, an ejido member who belonged to the faction that allied itself with the government, was shot and killed during the confrontation with ejido members who are Other Campaign adherents. The government accuses the Other Campaign adherents of murdering García Moreno and attempting to murder a second man who was shot during the confrontation. The Other Campaign adherents deny the charges. They say they were unarmed, and that the government-allied ejido members were shooting guns into the air during the confrontation.

The government has attempted to paint the conflict as a dispute between rival indigenous factions over control of a tollbooth that charges a fee to enter the Agua Azul waterfalls, one of Chiapas’ most popular tourist attractions. However, the Bachajón adherents and their lawyers at the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (“Frayba”) say that they have proof that the tollbooth confrontation was designed to provoke government intervention and police occupation of the region. The Bachajón adherents argue that the government orchestrated the confrontation at the tollbooth “as a pretext to take over the Agua Azul Waterfalls Ecotourism Center for its transnational interests and projects.” Continue reading

Farewell to the Utterly Unique John Ross

January 17, 2011

All the Right Enemies

By FRANK BARDACKE

John’s gone. John Ross. I doubt that we will ever see anyone remotely like him again.

The bare bones, as he would say, are remarkable enough. Born to show business Communists in New York City in 1938, he had minded Billie Holliday’s dog, sold dope to Dizzy Gillespie, and vigiled at the hour of the Rosenberg execution, all before he was sixteen years old. An aspiring beat poet, driven by D.H. Lawrence’s images of Mexico, he arrived at the Tarascan highlands of Michoacan at the age of twenty, returning to the U.S. six years later in 1964, there to be thrown in the Federal Penitentiary at San Pedro, for refusing induction into the army.

Back on the streets of San Francisco eighteen months later, he joined the Progressive Labor Movement, then a combination of old ex-CPers fleeing the debased party and young poets and artists looking for revolutionary action. For a few years he called the hip, crazy, Latino 24th and Mission  his “bio-region,” as he ran from the San Francisco police and threw dead rats at slumlords during street rallies of the once powerful Mission Coalition. Continue reading

Central America’s 60,000 missing migrants

Report reveals that from 1998 to 2008, 60,000 South and Central Americans went missing in Mexico on their way to the US

Emilio Godoy, al-Jazeera, 14 Nov 2010

Some 500,000 undocumented migrants from South and Central America cross Mexico every year [EPA]

The last time Estela Domínguez of Mexico saw her daughter Estela Paz was in April 2006, when the young woman left home with the goal of reaching Las Vegas, Nevada.

Paz, who was 27 at the time, planned to cross the US border at the town of Altar in the northwestern state of Sonora. She was travelling without documents, and with her six-year-old son Emiliano. She was heading back to her job making bracelets. But she never made it.

“I talked to her on the phone just before she was to cross the border, but I never heard from her again,” Domínguez, a supermarket bagger in Córdoba, a city in the southeastern Mexican state of Veracruz, said. Continue reading

Mutiny, Firings Roil Mexico’s Federal Police

by John Burnett, NPR, September 10, 2010

On Aug. 7, federal police officers beat commander Salomon “The Shaman” Alarcon after accusing him of being linked to drug cartels and having participated in kidnappings, executions and extortion in Ciudad Juarez. About 250 federal police officers participated in the unprecedented protest against their commanders.

The Mexican federal police announced last week that it was firing 3,200 officers — or 10 percent of the national force — as unfit for duty as Mexico struggles to wage its war on drug cartels.

The violent border city of Juarez provides some insight into the troubles besetting the national police force. Recently, hundreds of federal cops took to the streets of Ciudad Juarez in an extraordinary demonstration to accuse their commanders of corruption and colluding with the criminals they are supposed to be fighting.

The images were striking, even in this embattled city of Mexico’s savage cartel war. On Aug. 7, some 250 irate blue-uniformed federal cops gathered in the parking lot of the hotel where they live and began punching their comandantes on live TV. Continue reading

Technology of Xenophobia: Entire US-Mexico border to be guarded by Predator drones

[US drones are more widely used every day, from Afghanistan to Arizona, for aerial surveillance and for attack. The technology does not create accurate intelligence or targets.  But it does generate profits for military contractors, it generates votes for demagogic politicians, and it generates victims.  This article from the Christian Science Monitor spreads  the government’s misleading justifications that criminalize migrants, and claims that “drones create safety.”–ed.]

The launch of a fourth Predator drone Wednesday will mean the entire US-Mexico border is now patrolled by the unmanned aircraft.

The border wall between Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico

August 31, 2010

The entire 2,000-mile US-Mexico border will be monitored by drones starting Wednesday when a new Predator drone begins flying from Corpus Christi, Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

There are already three drones operating along portions of the border. Aside from the new drone launched today, money for two more was included in $600 million legislation President Barack Obama signed earlier this month, which ramps up border security ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 2 and as Mexico’s heated drug war gains more attention. Meanwhile, Napolitano calls the border safer than ever.

With the deployment of the Predator in Texas, we will now be able to cover the southwest border from the El Centro sector in California all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, providing critical aerial surveillance assistance to personnel on the ground,” Napolitano said during a conference call, according to Reuters. Continue reading

O’odham to National Guard: ‘We do not want you on our land’

[The O’odham people’s lands are on both sides of the US-Mexico border.  Truly, they do not cross the border–the border crosses them.  They have resisted every violation of their people, from the horrific border wall to the ongoing degradation at the hands of the Border Patrol. Their struggle should be supported by all.-ed.]

August 29, 2010

Ofelia Rivas, traditional O’odham living on the border, released a statement to the National Guard, who are to arrive on the US/Mexico border in Arizona on Monday.

file photo

To the United States National Guard arriving in O’odham Lands,

We are not compliant people, we are people with great dignity and confidence. We are a people of endurance and have a long survival history. We are people that have lived here for thousands of years. We have our own language, we have our own culture and traditions.

You are coming to my land, you may find me walking on my land, sitting on my land and just going about my daily life. I might be sitting on the mountain top, do not disturb me, I am praying the way my ancestors did for thousands of years. I might be out collecting what may be strange to you but it might be food to me or medicine for me.

Sometimes I am going to the city to get a burger or watch a movie or just to resupply my kitchen and refrigerator. Some of us live very much like you do and some of us live very simple lives. Some of may not have computers or scanners or televisions or a vehicle but some of us do. Continue reading

New York Times: Massacre of Migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico

“We [the US] have delegated to drug lords the job of managing our immigrant supply, just as they manage our supply of narcotics.”

New York Times Editorial, August 29, 2010

The full story of the massacre in Tamaulipas, in northeast Mexico, awaits telling by its one survivor. The early news accounts are horrifying: 72 people, said to be migrants from Central and South America on their way to the United States, are waylaid and imprisoned by drug smugglers on a ranch 100 miles south of Texas. They refuse to pay extortion fees and are executed. The survivor, shot in the neck, hears their screams for mercy as he flees. After a gun battle with the authorities, the killers escape in S.U.V.’s. The dead, 58 men and 14 women, are found piled in a room, discarded contraband.

The temptation may be to write this atrocity off as another ugly footnote in Mexico’s vicious drug war. But such things do not exist in isolation. Mexico’s drug cartels are nourished from outside, by American cash, heavy weapons and addiction; the northward pull of immigrants is fueled by our demand for low-wage labor. Continue reading

Mexico: 72 migrants killed on US border


[Criminal drug cartels that prey on migrants–people who are vulnerable and criminalized–have attacked again.  The failures of the Mexican state to provide any basic services or protections for the poor, and the gauntlet of the US’ militarized border and War on Drugs which migrants face in their struggle for life and work, are the setting for this massacre.  This horrific act highlights the need for a revolutionary movement to champion the migrants and all oppressed, against the Mexican capitalist state, the predatory cartels, and the militarized xenophobia of  US imperialism.  See the two news articles, followed by the statement from the National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, below.-ed.]

Brunei News.Net
Wednesday 25th August, 2010

Police in Mexico have found a migrant link in an incident in which 72 people were found murdered at a ranch in Tamaulipas state.

Government security agents have said the 58 men and 14 women who were murdered had come from South and Central America in an effort to reach the United States.

Their bodies were found on Tuesday, after a shoot-out between suspected drug traffickers and security forces.

A surviving member of the group told police they had all been kidnapped by an armed gang that had insisted they become drug mules.

Authorities only became involved when the surviving man managed to escape and alerted marines at a nearby checkpoint. Continue reading

United Steel Workers (US) and Mineros (Mexico) Explore Merger

[The world-wide economic crisis continues to bring into conflict all the relations of the imperialist system.  Class struggles in every country and the building of genuine international solidarity and joint actions on a regional or global scale are critical challenges of our time.  Many activists and revolutionaries are struggling to address this challenge and to bring new forces of struggle, from reformist to revolutionary, into being.  This article from a trade union activist describes new developments in the unity of workers in North America.  The article traces an important, and generally unknown, history.-ed]

Dan La Botz

July, 2010

http://www.ueinternational.org/Mexico_info/mlna_articles.php?id=172#1146

The merger would create an international union of one million metal workers and miners. The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 850,000 workers in Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States, and the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers (SNTMMSRM), known as the Mineros, which represents 180,000 workers in Mexico, have announced plans to explore uniting into one international union. The agreement to begin exploration of a merger was signed on June 21.

This new step in the creation of a global union — as opposed to a global federation of unions — represents a significant new development for labor in the Americas with implications for workers around the world.

Continue reading

FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN and OLIVIA TORRES, Associated Press Writers
Wed Jun 9, 7:59 pm ET

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Pointing their rifles, Mexican security forces chased away U.S. authorities investigating the shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the banks of the Rio Grande, the FBI and witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The killing of the Mexican by U.S. authorities — the second in less than two weeks — has exposed the distrust between the two countries that lies just below the surface, and has enraged Mexicans who see the death of the boy on Mexican soil as an act of murder.

Mexico’s government says the number of Mexicans injured by U.S. immigration authorities has increased this year.

Shortly after the boy was shot, Mexican soldiers arrived at the scene and pointed their guns at the Border Patrol agents across the riverbank while bystanders screamed insults and hurled rocks and firecrackers, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said. She said the agents were forced to withdraw.

“It pretty quickly got very intense over on the Mexican side,” she said, adding that FBI agents showed up later and resumed the investigation, even as Mexican authorities pointed guns at them from across the river.

A relative of the dead boy who had been playing with him told the AP that the Mexicans — who he described as federal police, not soldiers — pointed their guns only when the Americans waded into the mud in an apparent attempt to cross into Mexico. Continue reading