Willful Disobedience vol. 3, number 3: Shorts and News
A COUPLE OF GOD’S GIFTS
According to the Bible, when Cain killed Abel, the lord punished him by sending him to the “Land of Nod”, a place of misery and loneliness. Why was the place considered to be so miserable? Because it was located in cold regions, much like Siberia. But god goes further; he specifies that Cain must stay in a separate habitation, disowned by everyone. In these punishments, one can see both banishment and prison.
REVOLT AND REPRESSION IN ARGENTINA
Demonstrations, protests, blockades and direct action seem to be almost daily occurrences in Argentina these days as the uprising that began in December continues. Considering that a quarter of the population is jobless and half live in poverty, the people there who have been in revolt since December certainly have no reason to heed president Duhalde’s threats. Even when he carries them out viciously as occurred on Wednesday, June 26.
On June 26, a mobilization of jobless protesters moved to block traffic into Buenos Aires. They gathered at various bridges and highways that provided access to the city, including the Pan-American Highway. They were met by heavily armed police and nation guard troops who used tear gas, rubber bullets and, as became clear later, lead bullets to disperse the protesters. The jobless, many of them masked, met the first assaults with rocks, some launched with slingshots. They also used home made clubs to smash shop windows and cars, and set a bus on fire (as a barricade?).
The saddest and most intense events occurred at Pueyrredan Bridge. Five thousand jobless protesters had gathered on the bridge. Police divided the group in two and indiscriminately attacked men, women and children. In the course of the events, they killed Dario Santillan and Maximiliano Costeki, two men who have been very active in the struggle of the jobless.
At all of the points where the jobless attempted to create blockeds, they experienced fierce repression. Many people were hospitalized, some with bullet wounds. Houses and the office of the United Left, where many protesters had gone to get out of the streets and await news of their arrested or hospitalized friends and comrades, were ransacked by police. In the raid on the United Left office, police entered with guns drawn, shooting.
The press showed its true colors by reporting unsubstantiated stories that some of the protesters had guns. The cops took immediate advantage of this by denying that any of the lead bullets shot were theirs. Journalists also tried to paint a picture of the “tragic piqueteros” (the Argentine term for the jobless protesters – literally “picketers”) seeking martyrs. One shithead who earns his keep from the rulers as a “local political analyst” claimed, “All these movements are greatly benefited by such deaths – they become instant martyrs” projecting his own and his masters’ callous utilitarianism onto the insurgents. Ultimately, despite such media manipulation, the evidence against the cops was so great that the state was forced to arrest two cops on murder charges and suspend a hundred more for misconduct in order to maintain its public image as a regime seeking to restore a peaceful democracy.
According to the anarchists of the Organizacion Socialista Libertaria, comrades “are in a state of permanent mobilization”. So it is clear that the daily activity of the struggle is their top priority. I would like to learn more about the daily practice of self-organization as it is occurring in the course of this uprising and read any anarchist or anti-state communist analyses of the situation. If anyone knows where I can find such descriptions and analyses let me know at email@example.com.
MARCO CAMENISCH EXTRADITED
After completing a 12-year prison sentence in Italy for anti-nuclear actions, Marco Camenisch was extradited to Switzerland where he is to serve the remainder of a 10-year sentence for similar activity there. The actions for which he has been imprisoned involve the use of explosives to destroy power lines which led to nuclear facilities. He is also due to stand trial for participation in a mass breakout from prison in which some prisoners hijacked a piece of heavy machinery and broke through a security wall. Marco is charged with murdering a guard during the escape, but denies this charge. His current address is:
BERLIN, GERMANY (May 1, 2002)—Masked young people associated with radical movements hurled cobblestone and bottles at cops during May Day demonstrations. Protesters also looted a supermarket for the second time in 24 hours. This was a continuation of activity from the night before when protesters attacked cops with rocks, set fires in the streets and made their first raid on the supermarket. Similar violent protests occurred in Hamburg as well.
BLOOMINGTON, IN (May 3, 2002)—Individuals involved in the Animal Liberation Front set fire to trucks belonging to the Sims Poultry Company as an act of “economic sabotage against an industry that tortures and kills animals.”
THERE ARE REASONS NOT TO TRUST EXPERTS
Of course, we should take the word of the experts. Aren’t they trained to know their specialty, to understand details beyond our comprehension?
Well, the word of the experts has finally come in on the killing of Carlo Giuliani. Here is their tale: It seems that the carabinieri – the Italian special police – are not to blame for his death. Instead, these well-meaning, good-hearted upholders of the social order merely shot into the air, but it was raining stones and molotovs, and the experts tell us that the bullet that killed Carlo was deflected off of something thrown by a demonstrator. So now it is official: the demonstrators, not the cops, killed Carlo Giuliani.
I guess that I would have to agree that experts are trained to know their specialty – the specialty of serving those who pay them, of making sure that the only “facts” they see are those that serve their masters’ ends. And if the details they understand are not precisely beyond our comprehension, they are certainly beyond are knowledge – details like precisely how much they are being paid to tell their lies. Yes, my friends, there are reasons not to trust experts.
CRESTWOOD, MO (May 29, 2002)—Two shoplifters who were seen by a lackey employee on a security camera managed to get to their car before the off-duty cop who was moonlighting as a security guard for the department store tried to stop them. When he ordered them to stop the car, they instead hit him, carrying him seventy-five feet before the car threw him. The cop fired one shot at them as they fled, but they apparently got away unharmed.
On Tuesday, May 7, a rebellion broke out at the Massari prison in Genoa. The immediate spark was the report of a suicide, the second in three days, that occurred in the diagnostic therapy center of the prison. The victim was a former psychiatric patient who had been imprisoned without any help.
The climate in the prison, however, was already heavy due to the harsh conditions to which the prisoners are subjected. The prison is severely overcrowded, holding more than twice the number of prisoners for which it was intended. Many of the prisoners are elderly and/or terminally ill and have no alternatives to assist them with these conditions. And recently, the prison administration decided to suspend every form of medical assistance, including giving medications, even the most basic “life-savers”.
So that evening the rage exploded. Sheets burned; objects were thrown out of windows at the guards; bottles of gas for camping stoves were set on fire and thrown, one hitting a jeep that was parked in the courtyard and setting it ablaze. This revolt ended when guards intervened with hydrants, charging into the cells.
On May 11, a group of comrades were present at the entrance as the hourly visits were going on, leafleting and showing their solidarity. On speaking with the relatives of prisoners, it became clear that there is a heavy atmosphere of intimidation in the prison that leads the prisoners to keep silent about the events.
After the revolt on May 7, news was spread that the administration would have about seventy prisoners transferred. This led to a new outbreak of rage on May 11. Again there were fires and a guard’s car that was parked in the courtyard burned.
FREE FOR NOW
Silvia Gurini, who has been under house arrest since last October, accused of involvement in an incendiary attack against a transmitting tower that occurred last year in early July, was sentenced on June 3 in the court at Bergamo, Italy. Though the prosecutor asked for a sentence of four years and four months, she was only given three years. In addition, she has been set free from the restrictions of house arrest until her appeal trial occurs. If the sentence is upheld, she will not go to prison, but will be placed under the supervision of a social assistant for the two years and four months remaining of her sentence (the eight months of house arrest counting as time served).
RIOTS AGAINST PRIVATIZATION IN PERU
Starting on Thursday, June 13and continuing for several days, demonstrators in two cities rioted after Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo confirmed his plans to privatize two state-run electricity companies by selling them to the Belgian firm, Tractebel. In Tacna, hundreds of protesters destroyed phone booths and smashed the windows of banks and office buildings and also forced the airport to close down for a short time. Police used tear gas in an attempt to quell the riot and arrested thirty people. Two cops were injured.
In Arequipa, thousands participated in rioting, building barricades and attacking and practically destroying several government buildings and the property of companies associated with multinational capital. Some of the protesters attacked the airport, smashing landing lights and stealing equipment. All flights were cancelled and the airport was closed down. On Sunday, Toledo declared a month-long state of emergency in the region, and on Monday morning,and sent 5000 soldiers to quell the uprising. In the course of the days of rioting, two people were killed, one due to injuries sustained when he was hit by a tear gas canister, and at least hundred people were injured including at least twenty-four cops.
On Wednesday night, in an agreement with local authorities facilitated by the city’s Archbishop Fernando Vargas Ruiz de Somocurcio, the national government agreed to “suspend” the privatization of the electrical facilities until a tribunal rules on an appeal presented by regional authorities against the sale and to suspend the state of emergency and take measures to compensate for the insults against the local population by the Ministers of Justice and of Legal Affairs. If this agreement on the one hand is indicative of the fear the Peruvian government has of popular insurgence, on the other hand it is an agreement between different levels of authority reestablishing the control of those in power over the region and over the decision with regard to the privatization of the electrical facilities. As such, from an anarchist perspective it cannot be considered a victory, but rather a reestablishment of social peace through negotiation. As such, it is fitting that an archbishop should preside over the establishment of such an agreement. I point this out not as a criticism of the people who rose up in Arequipa and Tacna (I certainly don’t know enough about the situation to know what was possible), but as reminder to anarchist revolutionaries not to mistake the recuperative strategies of those in power for an insurgent victory. These are moments neither to glorify nor to regret, but to learn from.
ATHENS, GREECE (June 14, 2002)—Fire bomb blasts damaged three vehicles belonging to the Greek public work ministry sout of the city center and a branch of the Alpha Bank in the eastern suburb of Kessariani. Three bombs made from propane gas canisters exploded under the ministry’s vehicles at about 5 a.m. and a half hour later, a firebomb was thrown at the entrance of the bank, causing minor damage. There were no injuries.
MARNE-LA-VALLEE, FRANCE (June 18, 2002)—Masked robbers robbed a currency exchange in the Disney theme park here, crashing their car into the office and exchanging fire with police as they fled with an undisclosed sum of money. At least three officers were injured. This is apparently the latest in a series of robberies of jewelers, armored cars and money exchanges around France.
UPDATE ON THE USAK CASE
On May 24, the five anarchists of Usak, Turkey who were arrested for distributing flyers at a trade union demonstration on December 1 went through another appearance at the Izmir State Security Court. They were released in their previous court appearance. It seems that now the prosecutor has changed his story and is charging the anarchists in accordance with a different law. The Anarchist Black Crescent of Ankara feel that the court is trying to observe the “attitude” of Turkish anarchists. They are calling for an international solidarity campaign. The next trial date is July 25.
AGAINST CAPITALIST SCHEMES
IN ATENCO, MEXICO
Last October, a very large piece of land in the city of Texcoco, east of Mexico City, was sold in order to build a large airport there. The town president made this agreement with the national government without informing the people who lived in the area that is known as San Salvador Atenco.
The airport is part of the Plan Puebla Panama, a capitalist strategy for expropriating more land and resources in Latin America while dispossessing and thereby proletarianizing increasing numbers of people to maintain and expand a cheap labor force. Of course, the airport would also require new highways, the expansion of metro lines, the construction of hotels and restaurants and the creation of huge new industrial zones which would not only displace people, but also destroy a large part of the natural environment which is home to several endangered species and thirty different types of birds.
But the people of Atenco have not simply accepted their fate. Armed with nothing but their determination and the machetes the use daily in creating their lives, they drove out the town president and government and also the police. Whenever they get word of police hanging around the gates of the town, they go and chase them away, sometimes forcing them to walk home after having confiscated their shoes, clothes and other useful items.
The government has used a combined strategy of promises and repression in an attempt to break the struggle. The promises – which include things like drinkable tap water – are an attempt to cause division among the people in struggle. The repression seems to be an attempt to frighten supportive outsiders sharing in the struggle. Those involved in this revolt have held several marches, and during the May 1 march, participating foreigners were photographed and eighteen people were quickly deported back to the US since the march was illegal. On May 9, Cayo Vicente, a comrade in the struggle, was harassed by police as he waited for a bus back to the city. Police also target the vehicles of those who participate in the marches. And at universities (which in Mexico are often hotbeds of radical activity), campus security often deny the people of Atenco entrance when students invite them to conferences. The state and its guard dogs are clearly out to impede active solidarity by every means possible.
The building of this airport and Plan Pueblo Panama in its entirety constitute a capitalist strategy to expand the wealth and power of the ruling class. The struggle of the people of Atenco – up to now an autonomous struggle based on direct action – thus coincides with the struggle of all who detest the rule of the state and capital, all who desire full and unhindered self-determination of their own lives. Each of us can express our solidarity as we see fit, in terms of our lives and struggles. The authorities may deport us, harass and try to block our paths, but if we develop our own ongoing revolt and practice of solidarity on our own terms wherever we are, they cannot break the complicity of our defiance.
Those in struggle in Atenco can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org (write in Spanish).