Shorts and News
IN SOUTH AMERICA
The latest capitalist strategies for intensifying exploitation and solidifying its world-wide domination – those policies commonly referred to as “neo-liberalism” and “globalization” – have had devastating effects through out the world. By pulling the safety nets out from under the poorest and most exploited, and increasing the precariousness of existence on all levels for every one of the exploited, it has created a situation that becomes increasingly unbearably, where every crisis is a catastrophe … or an opportunity for revolt.
The exploited people of Bolivia – from the cocaleros to poor urban workers to the unemployed and so on – have been in active revolt, often as much against the official opposition as against the ruling class, for a few years now. In Peru, poor and indigenous groups (often independent of the various armed leftist parties) have taken direct action against various projects of capital. In Argentina, when the economy collapsed last December, people rose up in what proved to be not just a riot, but a true insurrection in which the exploration of new ways of relating and creating life were, and apparently still are being, tentatively experimented with.
The revolt is spreading, as the exploited of other nations in this region find the will not to put up with the increasing misery that is being imposed upon them. On July 15, the president of Paraguay declared a state of emergency when large numbers of people blockaded roads and bridges throughout the country and hundreds demonstrated in Ascuncion, the country’s capital. A massive police and military force was sent to protect the legislature, and police went to violently break up the blockade. At Puente de la Amistad bridge which connects Paraguay and Brazil, cops shot four protesters. Two were killed during the protests and 239 were arrested. The next day people went out again to block the highways. Police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the blockaders, causing four injuries. Thousands of rifle-toting cops patrolled Ascuncion to keep the streets clear.
There has been a movement of landless people in Brazil for some time and both symbolic and permanent squats have been among its tactics. So the squatting of a 600 square meter plot of land by 400 families in the area of Sao Paolo called Osasco on July 27 can be seen as part of an ongoing struggle. Within a week, the number of families on the squatted land had risen to 4000 and at last report there were 6000 families living there. The land, owned by Count Rafael Leonartti of the Matarazzo family, has been abandoned for fifty years. Since the squat began a variety of self-organized ways of dealing with daily needs, such as a communal kitchen, have developed (along with a few more institutionalized and bureaucratic sounding projects). There have been two attempts by cops to evict the squatters. Both have been successfully defeated. The second involved about a thousand cops. The squat is supported by other homeless groups, by striking university students and by anarchists all of whom participated in a large supportive demonstration.
Uruguay has quickly rising unemployment that is heading toward the figures of Argentina, and many who work are in precarious and low-paying jobs with no guarantees. The rumblings of rebellion broke out on July 31 as poor people, literally suffering from hunger, looted a store near the congress in Montevideo. A four-hour general strike took place the next day and almost everyone stopped work as a huge demo marched between the congress and the presidential palace. In a poor district north of the city, three stores were looted. On August 2, hundreds of people took to the streets of Montevideo, successfully looting sixteen supermarkets and attempting to loot fourteen others without success. Police were sent out shooting and brandishing their clubs. Along with the prisoners taken, there were several wounded including one 15-year-old who was in serious condition from the injuries. The authorities saw the lootings as coordinated efforts, and not wanting to accept the idea that people may be capable of organizing their own activities, looked for a scapegoat. They laid the blame on anarchists and started investigations against neighborhood community radio stations in El Cerro and La Teja two poor, working class neighborhoods, attempting to force the stations off the air. They raided one station, “El Quijote”, but their attempt to raid another was stopped by the presence of a large number of supportive people. A total of six stations are targeted for investigation. The struggle is recognized as part of the large struggle going on through out South America and seems for now to be going down the path of self-organization and direct action.
The continuing spirit of revolt in Argentine manifested itself in the response to the discovery, in mid-August, of the corpse of Diego Peralta who was kidnapped and murdered by police. His family, friends and relatives initiated a march from the Siglo Veinte district to the police station of El Jaguel. The entire district came out to join the march as it went by. When the first group of police came to block the way to the police station, it was met with a hail of stones making three patrol cars unusable. When demonstrators who had stayed on side streets saw smoke coming from the block where the police station wa they joined the rest. Cops took a beating and began to fire rubber bullets, injuring some people. Fire trucks arrived followed by the infantry. The infuriated demonstration demanded the head of the official of Gimenez street, known for his harshness, his expensive gold jewelry and watches. They didn’t burn his house down only because his friends were guarding it. The crowd did not let the ambulances that were going to help the cops get through, but people living in the area did open their doors to care for wounded demonstrators and give shelter to those being pursued. At one point some kids spread out and looted businesses along the way. Their mothers urged them on to take everything so that they could guarantee having enough to eat. In the ongoing uprising in Argentina, the rage of the exploited continues to find its methods.
Anarchists have been active in the struggles in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay (possibly in other countries as well). From what I’ve read, they have not attempted to lead the struggles or use them as a means for winning people to their side, but have rather participated as equals, encouraging direct action and self-organization and exposing the manipulative scams of “oppositional” politicians and union leaders. The insurgent people, particularly in Bolivia and Argentina, and, as far as I can tell, in Uruguay as well have shown a great deal of suspicion toward the manipulators in any case, and a preference for their own self-organized projects, evidence of the claim that insurrection makes people more aware, clearer of what their real desires are.
Our own response to these struggles and uprisings can certainly not be one of meaningless feelings of “inspiration” at revolt happening safely far away. Nor is it worthwhile to fall into that relationship of uncritical support that more often than not stems from guilt feelings about our supposed “first world privilege” – feelings that indicate that we identify more with our rulers than with the other exploited of the world. Instead we need to develop a practice of real revolutionary solidarity expressed in acts of revolt against our own exploitation here that take into conscious account what is going on there. This requires a deep and conscious recognition that we are exploited and dispossessed and have more in common with all the other dispossessed people of this planet than with the rulers of this world. Only such an awareness can free our activity of guilt and condescension and make our solidarity an act of complicity, a conspiracy of equals against the rulers of this world.
GEORGE KARAKASIAN SENTENCED
Yesterday, September 4, anarchist comrade, George Karakasian was sentenced by the main court of Nicosia, Cyprus, to 7 months in prison for “assaulting a police officer” on the demonstration outside the Israeli ambassador’s home on the occasion of a party to celebrate the anniversary of the Israeli State on 18 April 2002. He was also fined 120 pounds for “possession of an explosive device” – an old bullet which was found when his house was raided following the demo. George had declared in court that he did not intend to apologize, and that he did not feel guilty for his actions because the cop is the henchman of authority and Zionism, and declared he was not asking for leniency from the court. He did not mention the fact that he had been severely beaten following his arrest and taken to the hospital to have his wounds treated, and that the next day his medical case notes “disappeared” from the hospital records.
The judge announced that George supported an “ideology of violence”, that the “crimes” he had committed were “extremely serious”, and that he had no other option but to send him to jail. This is the first time an anarchist has been on trial in this island, and it is clear that this is the real reason that the judge had to keep him in prison.
We have no doubt who the real criminals are: judges like Michael Papamichael who dish out years in prison as though they were sweets; the guard dogs of capital like those on the demo who unleashed their psychotic violence on those who were present to express their indignation and disgust at this outrageous feast of death; the screws and all those involved in the construction and management of prisons; the media who distort reality, supplying prefabricated opinions to maintain passivity and resignation; the soldiers who obey orders and massacre defenseless men, women and children…
The list is endless.
The most beautiful moment is when the clash against all things that oppress us expresses our passion for equality and solidarity. This passion cannot be destroyed. The insurrectional flame, the will for life, will pass through the rubble of prisons and courts… Because they can’t capture a free man because they put him in a cell. Even the most inhuman power of authority is not enough to erase what we have in us. It cannot crush what we are fighting for, what pushes us and what we are pushing for, all of us: the social revolution, when the free expression of human nature won’t just be an abstract concept, but will take life from the same passion that fires us to fight.
Freedom for George Karakasian!
Solidarity with anarchist comrade Sotiris Marangos, due to go on trial for the same demo with similar charges on September 19!
Destroy all prisons!
Comrades of the anarchist group of Cyprus
George is being held in the Central Prison of Cyprus, Saint Pauls, Nicosia, Cyprus. A solidarity account for George and Sotiris has been opened at the National Bank of Greece in Cyprus, Limassol agency (540), Account number: 540547441.
AND VILE SLAVES
There is no life left, no risk, no threats, no danger, and no death except the slow daily death of a million pin pricks administered by nameless, faceless petite tyrants. Dreams vanquished, a vile slave’s life, not that of a man. The days of battles won and lost mere painful memories of lost freedom, more painful than lost limbs of the amputee. Lack of intensity, the cold coals of survival. The battle lost, but the war continues. Taste it again, feel it again, embrace the fury, own again!! —B.
CARLO TESSERI SENTENCED
Italian anarchist Carlo Tesseri, who was arrested last December with anarchist Horst Fantazzini who died in police custody, has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison for attempted bank robbery. He has already served 6 months while waiting for trial. His current address is:
Via del Gomito 2
A DEMOCRATIC REMEDY
Electronic bracelets have been used for several years a means for monitoring individuals placed under house arrest or granted limited parole. They are generally attached to the ankle. This monitoring device is applied to prisoners who can then complete their sentence outside the prison walls while remaining under control through the monitors of the central office of the police that are connected to the device. A democratic solution that satisfies everyone: those prisoners who were sentenced for minor crimes and instead of rotting in the crowded prisons of the homeland can do so in their own house; the citizens who no longer read about robberies carried out by prisoners released at the end of their sentence or into house arrest in the police reports in the daily papers; the state that solves the problem of prisoner control and the overcrowding of prisons. To the humanitarian sensibility of anyone who fears that this measure could pave the road toward a future in which the individual would no longer have any value except as mechanical appendages constantly monitored by power, we respond that the democratic project of ratification and control is before the eyes of all. Free citizens certainly don’t escape control when they use credit cards or ATM’s, when they telephone from home or a phone booth, when they travel with the cell phone, when they watch television or connect with the internet. So the prisoners have a more annoying, more distinctive piece of tinsel work, but nothing so exclusive. This is the greatness of democracy. Forming replicants from differentiated circuits. Creating the maladies of living and finding the remedies through sweet death.
One of the greatest constraints of this world, of course, is money. A mediation that is not a bridge, but rather a fence between us and what we need to create our lives. It is money that compels us to work (or else to depend on the work of others) and so to sacrifice our lives for survival. The real attack on money must necessarily be an attack on work – that is on the society of work and commodity exchange. This attack starts with a decision to live on one’s own terms. Now once this decision is made (and preferably with a few good friends) the first task is to gather resources, to bring together the tools that are necessary for projecting one’s life as one sees fit. Here there can be no moralizing, no external rules for acceptable methods for gathering tools; there is only the principle of autonomy, of self-determination. The gathering of theoretical and material tools, along with the development of relationships of affinity, provides the basis for the creation of projected lives, and once these tools are gathered, who knows where a small group dedicated to living out their lives in revolt could go? And who knows how widely such passionate fire could spread?
NOT THE STATE’S REASON
On August 5, 2001, a man who was allegedly angry about having his car towed attacked the police headquarters in San Diego, California. He caused $15,000 in damages to the building itself when he smashed windows and glass doors with a sledgehammer and a crowbar. He also flattened the tires and broke the windshields of three patrol cars and is suspected of damaging about a hundred civilian cars in the police impound yard, causing a total of $100,000 in damages.
Brian Parks was arrested after he drove away from the police station. What happened after his arrest makes it clear that the reasons of individuals are not the reason of the state. There are always good reasons for rage against the police, and it is certainly more reasonable to take this rage out against them than to bottle it up until it explodes against some hapless victim – such as one’s children or spouse. But this is not the reasoning of the state, and therefore the state assumed that Brian was bereft of reason and the judge sent him to a mental hospital where he was to stay until the doctors believed that he understood the charges he’s facing. So he spent nearly a year incarcerated without trial, undergoing whatever therapies the doctors deemed necessary, simply because his reasons were his own, not those of the state.
Recently, Brian was returned to jail, and he may go to trial soon. He faces several felony and misdemeanor charges and will probably be sent to state prison. The reason of the state allows it to order its functionaries to lie, steal (someone’s car, for example), hold hostage (in mental hospitals and prisons) and kill, but it does not allow individuals to rebel against this. When they do, it must be madness or crime,… or maybe a bit of both.
Brian can currently be reached at:
Brian Parks #1177525
P.O. Box 122952
San Diego, CA 92112-2952
UPDATE ON ATENCO
The Mexican farmers who have been protesting against the construction of a major airport that would destroy their fields since last October have one a real victory through direct action and uncompromising resistance. Assisted by anarchists and by radicals from the university in Mexico City, the farmers have held the town of San Salvador Atenco since the protests began. Though it is true that the Mexican government had offered the farmers a merely nominal amount of money for the land, most of the farmers agree that it is not the amount of money that they were protesting, but the forced uprooting from the way of life they had known for hundreds of years – in other words the capitalist project of the expropriation and enclosure of resources, the dispossession of those without power and wealth.
Things came to a head in the middle of July. On July 11, hundreds of farmers blocked all the roads leading to the town. The first confrontation began shortly after noon, when dozens of farmers wielding machetes arrived in a caravan of trucks and blocked a large portion of highway near Santa Caterina, north east of Mexico City. When cops arrived in riot gear, the farmers threw rocks at them and attacked them with machetes, metal poles and sticks. Six cops were injured including one who was knifed in the thorax. At least ten protesters were injured and between fifteen and thirty were arrested.
Several hours later, after the police restored order on the highway near Santa Caterina, more protesters blocked the highways around SanSalvador Atenco with huge piles of burning tires and trailers, backing up traffic all around Mexico City. The protesters fought state forces that came to suppress their revolt and took several police officers and court officials hostage, holding them in the municipal building in the town square. They also torched six police cruisers and several commercial trucks. The farmers demanded that the government release their imprisoned comrades in exchange for the hostages, threatening to kill them if the state did not do so. On July 15, the state freed the imprisoned protesters and the protesters released the hostages.
But in early August, the real victory took place, when the federal government of Mexico backed down on its plans to build the airport that would have displaced 14 peasant communities. While certain members of the local bourgeoisie, like hotel owner Antonio Nieto whose pocketbook would have been fattened by the airport, complain about the “criminal” acts of the protesting farmers, poor peasants and indigenous people all over Mexico are taking inspiration from the practice of the Atenco farmers. In addition, the farmers, used to more then ten months of autonomous self-organization plan to permanently make Atenco an autonomous town, the first outside of Chiapas, refusing to recognize state and federal government. In addition, the protesters do not see this victory as the end of the struggle, but plan to go on struggling against the Plan Pueblo-Panama that calls for massive development of new highways, airports, train lines and power plants throughout Mexico and Central America, certain to uproot he numbers of people from their traditional ways of life. Already, Atenco protesters are helping poor farmers in a land protest near Acapulco who have occupied land taken from them with only nominal compensation to build tourist facilities in the Diamond Point region. And the farmers of Atenco are encouraging other peasants to follow their example in their struggles.
The official press argues over whether this was “a victory for democracy” or “a victory for mob rule”. In fact, it was neither, but rather a victory for direct action and self-organized ongoing resistance, which still continues. Where this will lead, what level of awareness will be achieved by those in struggle, whether this movement will end up being hijacked by one or another of the various “radical” left groups ready to ride to power on the back of popular resistance or will itself choose a more decentralized path that nonethe less does not question capital and the state at their core, cannot be predicted. For now, let’s seek ways of expressing solidarity in our struggles against our own dispossession and exploitation, not the methods of uncritical support, but ways that express our recognition of our own dispossession and our desire to take back our lives and of the common enemy we share with the exploited people of Mexico and of the world.
Excerpt from FAWDA
Let’s admit it. Upon hearing the news that comes out of the Palestinian territories, the word that continually comes out of our mouth is not the same one that first comes to our mind. At most, our tongues say extermination – ruthless and sometimes methodical destruction and suppression of a large number of people – while our brain thinks genocide – the methodical destruction of an ethnic, racial or religious group, carried out through the extermination of individuals and the annihilation of cultural values. Genocide is much more than extermination. But this is a term that we somehow refuse to use, because its use in such a context would undermine the foundations of many of the certainties on which we have built our world, its tranquility and its prosperity.
How can we call that which the Sharon government has undertaken genocide after being told over and over again so many times that genocide is an atrocity of the past, fruit of the worst obscurantism, that could not find legitimacy in a Western democracy (as, in conclusion, Israel is)? And then, having been victims of the genocide carried out by the Nazis, having suffered infamous persecution, how could Jews today, who recognize themselves in Israel, wear the butcher’s apron and do to others what they were forced to suffer in the past? All this comes into conflict with our security, with our need for order, with our cogent bookkeeper’s logic that determines our quiet bookkeeper’s existence. The tranquility of our sleep and of our affairs requires it, state propaganda confirms it: there is no genocide under way in Palestinian territories, there is only a hunt without quarter in the face of cruel terrorists that, due to circumstances that are as tragic as they are fatal, is having harsh repercussions for the civilian population as well. But if this is how things are, what can be said about the numbers tattooed on Palestinian prisoners, a chilling reiteration of one of the most nauseating Nazi practices? What can be said of the destruction of houses and entire villages, again something that was practiced against the Jews (specifically, by English soldiers)? What can be said about all the dead – women, children, old people – that could surely not be included in the media stereotype of the fanatical terrorist extolling holy war?
As is clear, there are not many alternatives in the face of the massacre that is going on: either the silence of consent, which is at the same time the result and the guarantee of social peace, or the questioning that springs from dissent. But, if it is carried to its conclusion, to its extreme consequences, what will this questioning leave us? Will we be able to listen to the answers?