From Contra Info
Translated by It’s Going Down
Rebellious Youth: The Anti-Prison Path of Fernando Bárcenas
On December 13th, 2013, Mexico City was shaken by the consumerism generated from the Christmas season and also by street protests over rising fares on the Collective Transport Metro System. Since the city government announced the increase weeks before, various protests ranging from the pacifist, reformist and citizens groups, to even the most rebellious and violent, were planned. The struggle against the metro fare hike was also influenced by a series of struggles that crystallized after the presidential election of Peña Nieto.
On the 13th of December, as the march passed between Reforma and Insurgentes Avenues, some protesters ran in terror while others jumped in happiness as smoke and flames appeared. A Christmas tree that had been placed on the street by Coca-Cola started to burn after being hit with a molotov cocktail. Surveillance cameras quickly turned their eyes towards a group of hooded youths who broke into a run as police gave chase. Three were arrested, two of them minors, the other being Fernando Bárcenas, who soon faced down in court with representatives of the State and said: “I am an anarchist.”
Once behind bars and in the hands of the judges, the young children were sentenced to one year and 22 days ‘treatment’ in a care center for juvenile delinquents and Fernando to 5 years 9 months in prison on December 10, 2014 being held at the North Male Preventive Prison, and have appealed their judgement.
Since entering prison, Fernando has continued the anarchist struggle and as such, he began to organize with other prisoners. He began to generate written updates on his case and give theoretical contributions to the wider conflict and the prospects of struggle and of course, came face to face daily with the enemy within their extermination centers.
First Hunger Strike of Anarchist Prisoners
It is in this context of confinement that Fernando began to develop communication with other anarchist prisoners. This included Mario Gonzales (who was detained and was in recovery at the medical tower of Tepepan for conducting a hunger strike for freedom that lasted 56 days), Abraham Cortez (held in the Northern Prison), and detained for participation in militant protests in response to the slaughter at Tlatelolco on October 2nd and charged with attacking public peace and attempted murder respectively, Carlos Lopez, located in the Eastern Prison and lastly, the Canadians Amelie Pelletier and Fallon (Women’s Prison in Santa Marta Acatitla) who were arrested on January 5, 2014.
On October 1st, in coordination never before seen in the anarchist environment, amid preparations for a violent commemoration of October 2nd, some counter-information outlets circulated a statement signed by Carlos, Abraham, Mario and Fernando in which they declared a hunger strike stating:
We declare this hunger strike, without any request or demand. We do not seek improvements in prison or in our conditions, we do this simply to ignore its role in our lives, and are acting in coordination and solidarity … We reject the alleged reintegration that prison can bring to our lives. Not only do we not consider it useful, but widely damaging. That is why we have decided to continue our struggles to destroy it, starting with small actions of denial and indignation of their influence on our lives.– Excerpt from statement issued October 1, 2014
This act was one of rupture and negation of prison and its world, outside of the typical demands from the reformists and the victimizing of innocence, human rights, and reconciliation with the authorities.
That same day, the morning of October 1st, anonymous anarchists claimed an action with guns and Molotov cocktails, in solidarity with anarchist prisoners.
Riots on October 2nd kept a spirit of resistance and fighting solidarity between prisoners and those who were in the streets alive. Then, on the evening of Friday, October 3rd, graffiti statements appeared in the Women’s Prison Santa Marta, which read:
All authorities are shit … fucking pigs. Fire to the prisons … Solidarity with the hunger strike of the political prisoners in rupture against domination.
The painting is claimed by Amellie and Fallon who had decided not to participate in the strike, but maintain a position of solidarity and combat. Anarchist Black Cross (CNA) and related individuals reported the progress of the strike and the state of health of the compas, updating those on the outside regularly. Likewise, solidarity actions from compas continued to be reported.
On October 17th, the hunger strike ended.
On October 30th, Mario Gonzales was acquitted of the charges and was released.
On March 13th, 2015 Carlos, Amellie and Fallon were released from prison on bail and the Canadians are returned to their country while meanwhile Carlos made a public statement about the decision to go underground on April 5, 2015.
In a statement released on October 31, 2014 on the site Contra-Info, Grupos Autónomos Armados-Guerrillas Negras expressed their solidarity with the 6 anarchists in a call for an anarchic offensive. Beyond the borders imposed on us by capital, in Chile la Manada de Choque Anárquica Heriberto Salazar claimed the October 29 molotov attack on the investigation police. La Célula Urbana de Ataque Inmediato “Iknoyotl” carried out an explosive attack against a Banamex bank branch at dawn on March 6th in Ecatepec, Mexico. These attacks were claimed in solidarity with the 6 arrested anarchists in Mexico and greeted other prisoners around the world.
The Second Hunger Strike, the CIPRE, and El Canero
Those who were imprisoned after the first hunger strike were Fernando Bárcenas and Abraham Lopez. These prisoners shared a cell and gave continuity to the struggle in Northern Prison and started to talk to other prisoners and worked to instill a spirit of organization and combativeness within those around them, as the strike had made them visible to other prisoners.
On November 15th, 2014 Bryan Reyes and Jaqueline Santana were arrested after being intercepted by police who threatened them at gunpoint, did not produce a warrant or show proper ID, and attempted to make them disappear. As it turned out, the kidnappers were undercover federal agents that had to invent a robbery charge so police could send them directly to prison. Bryan is sent to Northern Prison, and Jacqueline to women’s prison in Santa Martha Acatitla. Bryan had been imprisoned there for a month before after the riots on December 1st 2012, and under the same conditions he meets Fernando Bárcenas.
It is in this way that again, the fight inside the jail brought together “political prisoners” and “common criminals,” not only in the Northern facility, but also through the forging of common struggles between various penitentiaries. This gave rise to the creation of the publication “El Canero,” an independent newspaper written from inside prison, with four issues published to date. It included subversive, anti-prison, and anarchist texts, as well as complaints from prisoners, poems, drawings, etc. It worked to break down the barriers to communication imposed by prison and generated discussion both inside and outside the walls. This activity gave rise to the formation of the Informal Coordination of Prisoners in Resistance (CIPRE), raising the slogan, “Solidarity among prisoners beyond the written word.”
On June 9th, 2015, Fernando called for a rally in solidarity with his trial hearing. Actions are carried out including marches and graffiti slogans.
Starting June 27th, a hunger strike is carried out by CIPRE in different prisons within Mexico City, producing the following list of demands:
1) Cease the abuse and torture in all prisons either by word or deed.
2) End of repression exercised by the institution in collaboration with the CDHDF (Human Rights Commission of the Federal District).
3) Fire jailers and/or officials who have been denounced for mistreatment.
4) End to austerity measures.
5) Application of torture Istanbul Protocol to all inmates.
6) Withdrawal of anti-prisoner legislation.
7) More access of prisoners families to their loved ones.
8) No more illegal extortion of prisoners.
9) No more illicit enrichment of officials based on sexual exploitation.
10) End of complicity between the administration and the unit health ward; no more neglect and inhuman treatment.
11) Open more opportunities for recreation and cultural and artistic expression.
12) Eliminate corruption and authoritarianism of management and custody.
13) No repression of prisoners for participation in resistance activities.
14) No more violations of personal data and correspondence purposes of extortion, kidnapping, intimidation and forfeiture of informational materials.
Likewise we denounce the isolation and denial of communication against compa Jessi Alejandro Montaño, who is engaged in carrying out acts of struggle and resistance. Side by side with our brothers and sisters – face to face with the enemy!
A statement distributed by CNA-Mexico says: “Beyond the differences in methods and strategies (for us prison should not be improved or reformed, but must be destroyed), we call upon all organizations, groups and related individuals to express their solidarity,” giving strength to the anti-prison critique and pushing for anarchic revolt against prisons and the society that sustains them. We must encounter other tensions and miseries to generate a precise critique of the entire capitalist system and power, maintaining the anarchist position that seeks to extend the anti-systemic revolt.
On March 27th, in Puebla, the headquarters of the National Electoral Institute was attacked with a homemade explosive. On April 9th, burning barricades were erected in Azcapotzalco, April 12th saw the arson of a Santander Bank branch in Oaxaca along with an attack on a PRI headquarters. On May 11th, barricades outside the CCH-Vallejo were put up, and on June 10th the burning and destruction of the offices of the Federal Ministry of Development (SEDESOL) happened in Xalapa, Veracruz. All of these acts were claimed in solidarity with Fernando Barcenas, Abraham Reyes, Fernando Sotelo and other anarchist prisoners and rebels in Mexico and the world and some attached their claims to the anti-election “Black June” campaign.
During the progression of the CIPRE strike, people took credit for the sabotage of a railway line and the Hellenic Association in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in solidarity with anarchist prisoners in Greece. On June 16th, the CNA reported that there are threats of punishment against Fernando Bárcenas, for allegedly stealing money from a custodian, for showing solidarity with other abused prisoners, and the continued release of El Canero. Bárcenas ran the risk of being punished in isolation for 20 or 30 days. A call is put up for solidarity events on June 24th. Fernando is not placed in isolation.
During the course of the latest hunger strike several prisoners of CIPRE were threatened with violence or given bribes, and several gave up on the strike. Some prisoners were released, including Bryan and Jaqueline Reyes Santana. Bárcenas continues to denounce the complicity of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City with the penal system and writes in El Canero:
Human rights are a hegemonic concept of peace, with a strictly Western perspective, imposed through violence, that there exists the Human Right to be granted that “guarantees freedom.” But the “Right” as an absolute concept only the State owns and this concept is fundamentally only two principles: prohibition and permission.
Sunday, July 26th, a package explodes in a Banamex bank on Revolution Avenue, in Mixcoac and is carried out in solidarity with the CIPRE. After 52 days of strike (June 27th to August 18th), doctors and prison authorities attempt to sabotage the strike, refusing to let the strikers eat sugar or other glucose, and the decision is made to end the hunger strike, but instead prepare for further action.
Third Hunger Strike
While Fernando was recovering from the strike, the guards badly beat him for refusing to be transferred from the prison hospital back into general population. The beating resulted in a fractured lower jaw, but also lead to the restarting of the hunger strike with another prisoner of the CIPRE, Jose Hernandez. Jose was also beaten, seemingly for demanding to be allowed to be able to recover from their injuries. While in the 3rd hunger strike, Fernando Bárcenas’ health became critical, as malnourishment set in, he lost muscle mass and weight, and had horrible headaches. In the last hunger strike he had lost over twenty pounds.
After 22 days on the 3rd hunger strike, he made the decision to end it after the prison concedes to allow him medical access in order to recover.
2016: Nothing is Over
The latest information we have about the comrade Fernando, is that in early January 2016 he underwent surgery to recover from the fracture. His current sentence is 6 years imprisonment and those responsible for his imprisonment are still acting up. In closure, as prisoners who are out of jail but still within the prison that is this society that oppresses us, “Solidarity with prisoners is not only in the written word.”
Mexico, January 21, 2016