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London says 'We are all Atenco!'

Ritu Sood | 11.05.2006 18:46 | Repression | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | London | World

Last week the town of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, suffered police brutalities as the government attempted to break the community and seize the land. Hundreds were attacked, some killed – the struggle continues. Around the World, people are joining in solidarity with this injustice. We report on London’s protests.

On the 10th May 2006, people gathered from all over the UK in solidarity with the people of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico. They demonstrated opposite the Mexican Embassy in London to voice their protests to the current police brutalities being carried out in Atenco. 'We are all Atenco' was the message of the critical mass. Despite interventions from British police, they made their voices heard to those inside the embassy and in the surrounding streets.

Last week residents of Atenco, a municipality near Mexico City, suffered massive police brutality and repression after local organisations helped 60 flower vendors, at Texcoco local market in the State of Mexico, to resist a state police blockade for setting up their stands.

The use of government force to take control of the situation was excessive – 3,000 police stormed into Atenco on one day. At the time of writing it has been reported that more than 400 people have been detained (of which the authorities have only recognised 109), 18 people have been disappeared, 5 women have been raped and 5 foreigners have been deported. Police forces attacked hundreds of people leaving them hospitalised, maimed and gravely wounded. One person has been comatised due to a cranial fracture and a 14-year-old boy has been shot dead - both police actions.

Atenco is famous across Mexico for its successful resistance to the forced displacement of their community to make way for a new Airport in 2002. Villagers, mostly farmers, formed the People's Front in Defence of Land (Frente del Pueblo en Defensa de La Tierra, FPDT) and, wielding their machetes (their tools of work), became a symbol of popular protest in Mexico. The intent of last weeks brutal attack in Atenco, as has been reported by the Mexican Newspaper ‘La Jornada’ was to break the Atenco community and the FPDT, as they have become a powerful force for social justice across the country. This community has been fighting for self- governance and making headway. The scale of this recent attack suggests just how threatened the Government are by this community.

Last Friday, Zapatista Insurgent “Subcomandante Marcos” of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, EZLN) urged civil society to take action to force the government to release all Atenco political prisoners. In Mexico, the USA, Italy, Spain, Greece and now the UK – over 15 countries, several groups and organisations have joined in solidarity with the people of Atenco to protest against this injustice.

This was the first event in solidarity with the struggle in Atenco to be held in London; more events are planned in the coming weeks. The next demonstration will be held on the 19th May at 12.30pm (details on the Indymedia events calender)

Ritu Sood