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March of the sanguine

Today the Zapatistas marched on the Mexican capitol. Three weeks ago 3,000 police descended on San Salvador Atenco, a small town 15 miles northeast of Mexico City. The Chicago Tribune reports, "The riots erupted after local police tried to remove eight flower vendors from an Atenco street. The town's land-rights activists came to the vendors' defense, blocking roads. Then clashes broke out with the police, one of whom was kicked and beaten bloody while cameramen in helicopters broadcast live images to the nation. Other wounded officers were held hostage." The events in Atenco sent 200 to jail, sparked accusations of rape by police, and left one 14 year-old boy dead. (Read the incredible and moving account of a Chilean student who was beaten, arrested, molested and deported.) Rumors are circulating the internet that the event began when flower venders resisted eviction from the local market to make way for a Walmart. In the weeks since the attack, protests have been organized in Mexico and around the world (including Tucson) at local Mexican consulates and WalMart stores. Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos, who was wrapping up a six-month tour of Mexico timed to coincide with the presidential campaign season, vowed to remain in the capitol until all detainees from the conflict were freed. The entire incident has thrust him and the Zapatista's anti-neoliberal "Other Campaign" into the electoral spotlight, which he uses to roundly criticize all three candidates as "mediocre." The march today is a wise use by the Zapatistas of a political opportuntity. The impending elections, international attention generated by the Atenco disaster, and subsequent protests have forced divisions among political elites and make repression a costly option for the government. Don't forget, the Zapatistas are capitalizing on six months of careful and laborious mobilization. Expect their ranks to swell in the short-term and the speeches of candidates to re-frame the Zapatista "threat" to their respective advantages. International support for the movement has helped sustain it in the past and it's a damned shame we don't see more of it in this country. In solidarity...

“March of the sanguine”