Mexico: Some Disruptive Reflections on the Murder of Compa Salvador Olmos
Filed under: Anarchist Movement, Critique, Mexico, Southern Mexico
Filed under: Anarchist Movement, Critique, Mexico, Southern Mexico
We write this after reading the “Statement from the Huajuapan Libertarian Bloc on the police murder of compañero Salvador Olmos ‘Chava’” [more on Chava in English] as we believe given the escalation of the war and advancing repression on anarchist/libertarian settings it is necessary to clarify our positions in the interest of identifying the enemy’s multiple forms, as they are often reduced to criticisms of “government injustices” or simply “to believe that evil is embodied in a person or politician” and not the reality that it is the entire system of rulers and ruled who together actively participate in the maintenance of the capitalist social order.
Let it be clear! The following words are in no way aimed at tarnishing the memory of compañero Chava or to start polemical bickering, nor to cause fighting amongst ourselves, this is above all a reflection from compañeros for compañeros and we hope it is taken as such.
We know that Chava participated in social projects (the Pitaya Negra program on the Tu’un Ñuu Savi community radio station, marches, awareness-raising projects, etc.), we know that social evolution was the main goal of these actions; however, we want to analyze if in truth acts such as the one he died doing are consistent with the ethical principles raised by anarchy; if it is worthwhile to have prisoners, disappeared, and dead for the actions that we carry out; and, with that in mind we will analyze this case from our perspective in order to clarify the objectives and strategies that we choose as adherents to the anarchist struggle.
Oaxaca is living in a climate of tension among various social and indigenous sectors, with neighborhood and territorial problems, struggles against megaprojects, rural organization struggles, various anarchist and leftist sectors, among others, but the largest impact – as always – has been caused by the teachers’ movement with its opposition to the educational reform, as well as the mythic quality of its “revolutionary past” and as the quantitative talisman of the revolution. Therefore we can say that the situation with Salvador is an extension of the generalized repressive measures taken to maintain the system’s order and governability. The death of the compañero can be contextualized more specifically within Huajuapan de León, with its problems around public works, as noted by his compañeros in the statement mentioned above: “The brother expressed his disagreement with a work by the city of Huajuapan de León, called the ‘Hemiciclo a Juárez’, the building of which involved irregularities,” later it continues to list all the irregularities and corruption that obviously occurred and stating the Chava had painted, “We want public works, not remodeling of façades.” We all know what happened after that, the vile arrest, torture and murder of Salvador by the hands of our daily armed enemies: the police.
We’ll stop here to begin the analysis.
The graffiti done by the compañero and the arguments sustained in the statement we mentioned reveal a lack of analysis and depth within settings identified as anarchist. Even knowing that different tendencies exist within anarchism – many of them questionable – we will not stop saying what we think, as there are very few who raise their voices and this hinders the possibilities of anarchist tendencies in Mexico.
As other compañeros have mentioned – and we also argue – anarchism in Mexico has been dragging the burden of leftism inherited from the popular struggle and from its rapprochement with reformist anti-capitalist factions (armed or not), mixing our ideas with their statist, democratic and citizenist perspectives.
For us, it’s absolutely reprehensible to request, through acts of dissent, that the state do its job. If we lay claim to the old slogan “Death to the State,” why are we asking it to do its job well? Or if the state did its job well, if it gave us “security,” if the police were honest and only arrested the “real criminals,” if it looked after our access to healthcare and food with ever-increasing social welfare programs, if the governors were honest and fulfilled their campaign promises, if they created all possibilities to meet the demand for employment and the smooth flow of the economy, with good salaries, well-built recreational spaces, if they filled the potholes or paved a road, would we be moving towards fulfilling the slogan of “Death to the State”?
Please, let’s start leaving naïveté behind. We ask those who are unclear to browse a PRD, MORENA, PRI or PAN pamphlet and realize that save for some ideological nuances, the demands are the same. We assert that if we attach our struggle onto these types of demands, our anti-statism would not be as such and would lead us to the dead end of social-democratic reformism.
We also believe that any construction project, be it a facade or a public work, serves order and development as promoted by the state/capital to the detriment of nature and the ways of life that existed previously. We could ask for more paved roads and we would then be demanding the destruction of nature and the advance of this ill-fated civilization, a civilization that contains this state and government, and that actions and ideas such as the ones we alluded to above vainly try to combat. We categorically assert that the advance of cities destroys the possibilities of autonomy; in order to make this increasingly palpable and profound, a reconnection with the knowledge and dynamics of the earth becomes necessary.
We believe that today, in the 21st century, anarchy has to overcome, both ideologically and in practice, the old paradigms sustained by the old revolutionaries of the 19th and much of the 20th century, most clinging to an industrialist vision that currently translates as insipid development of social well-being under slavery, or progress and artificiality and ever more control over every aspect of our lives. If we are sure of anything, it is that the technological and industrial system strengthens all aspects of power, all the oppressions, all the systems of domination we are subjected to. So in any case, the vision of struggle we want to express contains a disrespect, a contempt and a disregard for struggles about “public works,” salaries, social welfare, etc. Why? Because once these struggles are won or lost, everything returns to normal.
Now we also want to address the victimization with which the compa’s situation is being handled. We do not believe that in order for our struggle to be valid we need to make martyrs out of compañeros who have been repressed, jailed or murdered by the state. We do not believe that it is necessary to say, for example, that our compas are white doves and were involved in this or that project, or boasting about this or that thing they were linked to. Make no mistake, we’re not saying it’s wrong to remember their motivations, their struggles or their feelings, the problem here arises when this is done in order to gain acceptance among reformist sectors, the “lights”, those who have the “weight” and the “means” and to acquire “support” from the masses and social movements by generating compassionate and altruistic feelings towards us and ours. This victimhood and sentimentality conceals the real reasons which anarchist solidarity stem from: that we are against the total or partial power of the state to jail, judge, manipulate, control, govern, or legally or illegally murder those who pose an obstacle to their interests.
Sentimentality can comfort us with pats on the back and acts of “support”, but a support that does not clearly see the reality of things, or if it sees it, it is not willing to leave behind the comforts that the system provides them.
That which we anarchists should aspire to is a comprehensive understanding of solidarity and attack on the structures of power and those most responsible for the current subjugation. That will allow us to leave behind the recuperative and reformist dynamics of the system and to assume that cases like that of Salvador can and will happen. The state knows this is a war and that it is the owner of the pieces and chess board of social domination. For how long are we going to keep playing their game?
In closing, it’s more than obvious that the “justice” the state distributes is to pacify us and maintain the current order of things. Surely the relatives and those close to Salvador will be subjected to the same ruses as ever; according to reports there have already been arrests of some police “allegedly responsible”, surely his relatives will be dizzied by legal defenses, bureaucratic paperwork, human rights, etc. In the end it will be the same empty promises as always. We say this with respect for the families and friends, but it is the truth, there is not just one officer or a group of police who are responsible, the one responsible is the state and the state is the entire cast of characters who participate in its functioning (from the lowest ranking cop to the president of the republic) and the servile and uncritical attitude of society. That’s why the only justice to be had is to continue the compañero’s struggle, the only true justice is that which comes from our own hands. The rest, that which comes from the state, will be an attempt to assuage feelings with legal arguments, an illusion. Because of that, and though many don’t like to hear it, the struggle should be blow for blow.
As we said above, we make this reflection public not to generate a string of statements and counter statements – though each can do what they want – nor to fight amongst ourselves, but to contribute to making the struggle increasingly aware and accurate. So that the life, struggle and memory of our fallen compañeros are not embellished and recuperated for the benefit of the system.
In memory and in combat: Salvador Olmos Presente!
Punk Doesn’t Die!
That the state doesn’t fool us with its solutions and its justice!
For the destruction of prisons and the society that sustains them!
To rid ourselves of reformism and to practice anarchy conscious of its consequences!
That fear changes sides!
For support and assistance to those affected by repression!
For solidarity with our allies!
Long live direct action against those responsible!
Vengeance will be anonymous and will come from all sides!
In collusion with those who make the most of, who attack, who build barricades and autonomous and self-managed projects amidst the fervor generated by the teachers’ movement in Oaxaca. To create distance and space from the teachers union and their reformist visions and projects.
Sincerely: A fistful of eco-anarchists in Mexico
End of July 2016
"Insumisión" is a featured column from Scott Campbell that brings you news and analysis from social movements and struggles in the territory referred to as Mexico.