Filed under: Community Organizing, Indigenous, Land, Southern Mexico
Reflections from the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Istmo in Defense of Land and Territory on violence during the recent elections, and a call out to expel political parties and struggle for self-determination and autonomy
The vote is not the remedy. The remedy is in our hands: conquer economic emancipation, free of bosses and foremen. We will be politically free because the foundation of political freedom is economic freedom. It is an illusion to imagine that the government represents the people. The government represents the capitalist class
-Ricardo Flores Magón
On Thursday, June 10, polling stations were closed following the electoral process which began on Sunday, June 6, in the region of the Istmo de Tehuantepec, and in different corners of Oaxaca and the country. These were elections which the different media outlets and voices expected to be the most important in history. And for which the current administration of the so-called fourth transformation called on the good citizens to come out and exercise their only right in democracy, to vote without fear, amidst the climate of violence and destabilization that this electoral circus has instigated for weeks.
The region of the Istmo de Tehuantepec closes this electoral process with one person dead in the community of Santiago Laollaga, due to a conflict for control of the polling stations between different political parties fighting over power in the community. In the community of Lagunas, an armed group shouting “Here the boss rules” entered the facilities where the polling stations were located, threatening the poll workers with firearms, and robbing the polling stations. In the municipality of Santa Maria Mixtequilla, people affiliated with different political parties burned 11 polling stations, showing as in other communities, that what is important in this electoral circus is political control, and not the interests of the people. In the community of Santa Maria Xadani, polling stations were seized by an armed and masked group, resulting in the burning of 11 polling stations and the arrest of 10 individuals. Likewise, the burning of polling stations was reported in the communities of Reforma de Pineda and Gertrudis Miramar. Furthermore, dispute for municipal control in Juchitán was easily placated by the Partido de Trabajo, who with its defenders and violent groups of the Frente Unido de Comunidades Oaxacaqueñas (FUCO), assured their reelection. This was shown in the press conference on June 9, with the participation of inhabitants of Álvaro Obregón. Also, in the community of Asunción Ixtaltepec, the presence of armed groups at polling stations was reported. These same groups continue patrolling the area up to this moment, with the intention of intimidating the population. These same groups are responsible for counting the ballots, and intend to continue maintaining themselves in power in the community.
It is evident that violence during the elections is not isolated among those fighting for state power, but that it transcends and affects civil society, who are victim of the electoral violence that divides and inflames the population. This was the case with the femicide of Guadalupe Abigaíl in the Port of Salina Cruz, and the femicide of Viridiana Martínez in the jurisdiction of Barrio de la Soledad. In both cases their family members carried out mobilizations seeking justice and the collective voice of #NiUnaMenos.
As the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Istmo in Defense of Land and Territory, we see that this election, and all electoral processes, have only one objective. Regardless of the political party and their discourse before and after their campaigns, political and economic control in the region is the objective, at the service of big business and organized crime groups. At this moment, that objective is framed within the imposition of the package of projects which are part of the so-called Interoceanic Corridor of the Istmo de Tehuantepec. This project seeks to dispossess and take lands and natural resources to complete the industrialization of the Istmo de Tehuantepec. It seeks to install 10 industrial parks from Salina Cruz to Coatzacoalcos, extend the four current railroad lines, open superhighways, install a series of gas pipelines, and militarize the region to finish the industrial, energy, commercial, and military corridor in benefit of major capitalists who want to process and transport their commodities through the Istmo de Tehuantepec.
The position and interests of the different political parties is clear. Their objectives are contrary to the objectives and necessities of the bulk of the population. Meanwhile, men and women from below live our days in misery, hunger, unemployment, insecurity, dispossession of our lands and resources, the incrementation of food prices and services like electricity. Every day we are another number in the statistics of femicides. They, those who dispute for power, only value their interests in pursuit of municipal control and administration, and the economic resources of the municipalities. They are the representatives and administrators of the interests of big businesses and organized crime groups. They do not represent us. They do not care about our interests, people, neighborhoods, and districts of the Istmo de Tehuantepec. Those who in recent days have begged for votes, will become the new lords and masters of our rights and freedoms.
This is why we tell people not to vote, not to wait for extraordinary elections, in other words, not to hand over your rights and freedoms. It is the moment to take control of our own collective interests and necessities, to be in charge of our own destiny. We make a call out to recuperate the experiences and forms which have been taken from us. We make a call out to retake control of the population by means of our maximum decision-making body, from which the minions of the political parties have dispossessed us, which are our general assemblies. We make a call out to expel all political parties and put into practice autonomy and free self-determination. As Indigenous peoples, we have been trampled for decades in this region, state, and country.
Our dreams do not fit in your ballot boxes, neither do our nightmares, nor our dead!
Other worlds are possible!