By Scott Campbell
June 27, 2014
Upside Down World
Surveillance. It’s in the headlines and on the tips of tongues. As technology offers new possibilities for connection, it also offers new means to keep tabs on people. Surveillance has become seemingly ubiquitous, from the NSA reading emails to drones in the skies. As a nation that has for 66 years been ruling over an indigenous population by force, one of the main countries practicing surveillance is Israel. And it is the Israeli defense industry that has been reaping the profits off of the oppression and surveillance of the Palestinian people.
One of the top occupation profiteers in Israel is the defense firm Elbit Systems. The largest non-governmental defense company in the country, its revenue stood at $2.83 billion in 2010. Using knowledge and expertise gained from assisting in the occupation of Palestine, Elbit has made millions exporting surveillance and defense materiel worldwide – and increasingly so to Latin America. While Israel’s role in arming dictators and oppressive regimes in Latin America during the last century is well known, Elbit is at the forefront of a new wave of Israeli arms industry involvement in countries in the region. Elbit has a presence in at least five Latin American countries, as well as along the US-Mexico border. Far from being benign, the application of its technology should raise concern among those working for human rights in the area.
I'm sharing the below statement [in English and Spanish] from Movement for Justice in El Barrio as it's important and powerful, and also, more practically, as they don't have a website. It comes in the context of a national march against Mexican president Felipe Calderóns 'drug war' which will leave from Cuernavaca, Morelos today and arrive in the center of Mexico City on Sunday, May 8. Coinciding marches will be held in most states in Mexico and in cities around the world, including a protest in front of the Mexican Consulate in New York City, organized by Movement for Justice in El Barrio.
Since the launch of Calderón's U.S.-backed/instigated/directed war more than four years ago, almost 40,000 people have been killed. These upcoming marches, and those which have preceded them over the past month, represent the most consolidated and unified manifestations of opposition to the 'drug war' in Mexico. As Kristin Bricker's article explains, this growing movement emerged after the murder of the son of famous Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia on March 28. He wrote a powerful, widely-circulated open letter indicting the actions of both politicians and narcotraffickers, claiming Mexicans are hasta la madre with the violence, corruption and impunity which rule in Mexic0. The saying 'estamos hasta la madre' (roughly translated as we're fed up, we've had it up to here, or as MJB translates it, we're sick of this shit) has since become a rallying cry of the burgeoning movement.
AS IMMIGRANTS, WE ARE ALSO SICK OF THIS SHIT.
We are Movement for Justice in El Barrio, an organization of Mexican immigrants that fights for human dignity and against neoliberal displacement in East Harlem, New York. We fight for the liberation of women, people of color, lesbians, gays, the transgender community, and immigrants. We, too, as immigrants are sick of this shit (estamos hasta la madre)... as are all those from below in our beloved Mexico.
Our pain and solidarity indignation is with all the people who, due to the bad government’s war – deceitfully disguised as a “war against narco-trafficking”—, have lost their sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends.
As immigrants, we are also the targets of the bad government’s wars and we are being attacked from all sides. First, by the capitalist system and the political class of Mexico that, through the PAN, PRD, and PRI political parties, forms the bad government. They have launched a war against our Mexico. Like all our fellow Mexican immigrants who are here on the “other side,” we migrated for this very reason. It is a war against the poor caused by the multinational corporations and their political lackeys.
As immigrants, we are sick of this shit because the bad governments, from both sides of the border, and the transnational corporations are colluding in the destruction of our peoples and our lands by changing laws to allow the further exploitation and enslavement of humanity.
As immigrants, we are sick of this shit because unemployment and slavery jobs force us to leave our beloved people of Mexico.
As immigrants, we are sick of this shit because the bad government’s war is killing off our culture; they want to destroy every facet of us as a community and as human beings.
As immigrants, we are sick of this shit because the only option our country leaves for us is to risk our lives a thousand times over and leave everything behind in order to arrive in this country, the U.S., which plunders our natural resources and in this way enjoys a level of life infinitely higher than our country.
As immigrants, we are sick of this shit because it all occurs due to our corrupt governments, who are the lackeys of transnational corporations and who continue to kiss their feet so that they may get fat off of our poverty.
Picking up Amexica: War Along the Borderline by journalist Ed Vulliamy, I was initially excited, thinking here might be an accessible book by a veteran journalist capable of explaining to the English-speaking public just what is going on in Mexico and why. Naïve, I know. My suspicions were raised as early as the second paragraph when the author mistranslated the extremely common Spanish-language sign-off Atte: as Look out. Atte: is actually an abbreviation of Atentamente, simply meaning Sincerely. Get something that basic that wrong that early in the book, and I knew I was in for a ride - downhill.
In short, Amexica is part travelogue, part sympathetic recounting of the devastation of the militarization of the war on drugs, and part “look at what daring stuff this white guy did.” Vulliamy gets some things right - pointing out the fact that the drug trade is just another form of transnational capitalism; examining the U.S. role in arming the cartels and laundering their money; describing the toll neoliberalism has taken on Mexico in terms of migration and maquiladoras; and putting names and faces on some the 35,000+ dead in Felipe Calderón’s disastrous so-called fight against organized crime. The main problem is that all of this is carried out superficially and with a lack of historical context and political analysis, along with omissions and errors. As such, if you want to know how things are right now in the borderlands, reading this book might be somewhat useful. If you want to know why things are they way they are right now, this book will not help you.
In glossing over the past to get to the juicy, bloody present, Vulliamy does his readers a disservice. There is no discussion of how the war on drugs as a concept emerged in the Nixon-era and developed as a strategy of population containment and oppression, a politically expedient and enormously profitable endeavor that since 2001 has coalesced well with the rhetoric of the war on terror and Bush and Obama’s war on migrants. The end of 70 years of PRI rule in Mexico on the federal level, dismantling the pre-existing arrangements with the drug cartels just as they were getting more powerful due to the collapse of the Colombian cartels, goes nearly unexamined. Similarly ignored is the role that Calderón’s legitimacy played in the launching of a military offensive inside of Mexico. As he fraudulently arrived at the presidency, the drug war was a means of instilling his regime with legitimacy. Scant attention is paid to the Mérida Initiative, the U.S.’s billion dollar military aid package to Mexico, nor to how the same police and military forces receiving the aid and executing the “drug war” are also involved in large scale human rights violations, massive corruption, and the severe repression of Mexico’s social movements - all with impunity. Linking these factors to the current events that this book covers is essential for any understanding of the situation.
Adding to the contextual shortcomings of the book are the various errors and poor translations. It’s stunning his editors either in the U.K. or U.S. did not hire a translator to verify his Spanish - or at least open a Spanish-English dictionary. Some of the more humorous examples: He translates gabacho as someone from Europe and gringo as someone from the U.S. (Both mean someone from the U.S., Vulliamy would simply be a güero); and translating fresa - in reference to someone who dresses or acts bourgeois - literally as strawberry. Regarding the facts, some examples of errors: The claim that Carlos Salinas privatized communally-held land in the 1980s. (He only arrived at the presidency in December of 1988, privatization did not begin until after the 1992 reform of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution in preparation for NAFTA.) Vulliamy’s statement that the Arrellano Félix Organization intentionally killed Cardinal Posadas Ocampo in 1993 in order to target the Catholic Church. (Initial investigations showed they confused Posadas’ convoy with that of a rival cartel leader. More recent investigations indicate the assassination was likely state-sponsored.) Or also his writing that “the only investigation of its kind” into Los Zetas penetration into Monterrey was carried out by a Los Angeles Times reporter, ignoring those done by Mexican journalists or Kristin Bricker for Narco News.
In sum, Vulliamy’s book leaves much to be desired and that which is present should be cautiously digested. Even if it took a bit longer to put out, a more thoroughly-considered and better edited version of this book would have made a much more useful contribution to this politically-manufactured crisis facing Mexico and increasingly the U.S.
Friday, April 8th – Sunday, April 10th, 2011
Minatitlán, Veracruz, México
Linking the struggles of the peoples against domination
For the compañeros and compañeras in the struggle for a world free of domination, and for those who have been assassinated by the repressive state forces and oligarchies of our lands.
C O N S I D E R I N G
That capitalism and its prevailing neoliberal model in the Mesoamerican region has imposed free trade agreements with the United States, Commercial Partnership Agreements with Europe, and that these predatory politics of imperialist countries have only brought more misery to our people.
That for ten years, transnational corporations with the complicity of the region’s oligarchies have launched a major offensive to appropriate and privatize our natural (biodiversity, arable land, water, forests) and strategic resources (minerals, various energy/fuel sources) of our rural communities, metropolitan populations, and the garífuna and indigenous peoples through Plan Puebla Panamá – now called the Mesoamerican Integration Project - as a strategy to undermine what little sovereignty the people have, with the collaboration of their rulers.
Therefore, the organizational and political advancement of our peoples has become an urgent necessity given the repressive politics of regional and U.S. oligarchs. We must better prepare ourselves to confront the criminalization of popular movements and the militarization of our lands.
The history of Mesoamerica can be characterized by the plunder, injustice and violence that has weighed on our original peoples since the European invasion more than 500 years ago and has repeated itself up until the Honduran military coup in 2009. Since that time, this history, which is ours, has been marked by the struggle of the peoples. Today, we continue struggling against the capitalist projects of death put forward by the great imperialist powers.
THE PEOPLES, COMMUNITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT STRUGGLE, RESIST AND CONSTRUCT ALTERNATIVES
8th MESOAMERICAN FORUM OF THE PEOPLES
Friday, April 8th – Sunday, April 10th, 2011
Minatitlán, Veracruz, Mexico
Address: School of Social Work at the Universidad Veracruzana, Minatitlan campus, located on calle Managua (without number), colonia: Nueva Minatitlan, Minatitlan, Veracruz, Mexico
The “low-intensity war” against autonomy (Part Two)
By Daniel Arellano Chávez, Neri Martinez Hernandez and Ricardo Trujillo Gonzalez
December 2, 2010
Translated by Scott Campbell
From the Hawks and the White Brigade to the Caravan of Death, Peace and Justice, and UBISORT
The 1960s and 70s in Mexico were full of popular uprisings, peaceful or armed, which refused to submit to the regime that emerged following the 1910 Revolution, a regime that came about by eliminating the ambitions of the masses and the indigenous, assassinating the revolutionaries who had been demanding a profound transformation in the country; Villa, Zapata, Magón, killed along with one million others, so that the triumphant “revolutionary family”(civilian and military members of the Porfiriato, the liberal bourgeoisie, landowners, and defeated revolutionaries, together with U.S. interests) could impose their authoritarianism and remain in power.
The extermination of insurgents in the mountains of Guerrero
Genaro Vásquez Rojas and Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, rural teachers, active participants in their communities’ protests, persecuted, witnesses to and survivors of massacres against their peoples, rise up in arms; their demands range from the struggle against local strongmen to the transformation of the country. Resisting from the mountains, their National Revolutionary Civic Association (ACNR) and the Party of the Poor’s (PDLP) Execution Brigade cause the Mexican army’s largest losses since the Revolution. The powerful don’t forgive their impudence.
“Fourteen military campaigns are carried out to annihilate both subversive organizations. Baloy Mayo amply documents them in his book La guerilla de Genaro y de Lucio. For the first campaign, after which Lucio goes underground as a result of the Atoyac massacre in 1967, the army carried out “peaceful” patrols in the Atoyac mountains, where, under the guise of medical or sports programs, they tried to win the confidence of the inhabitants. For the second, after the Tlatelolco Massacre, when Genaro and Lucio begin to act, the army turns to paramilitary groups organized by the strongmen’s “white guards” and start to undertake violent incursions into the mountain towns.” 
“It was during the second campaign that the actions of the army, who accompanied the paramilitaries, took a radical turn. This occurred approximately in 1968-1969. From then on, not only would they seek out direct clashes with the rebel groups, but the most brutal persecution took place in the taking over entire towns, to raid the homes of peasants in a true ‘witch hunt,’ unjustified detentions, torture and disappearances of men and women became routine. Not giving a second thought to the type and means of persecution, the government had no problem deploying groups of gunmen to join up with the police and the army in all their military maneuvers, starting with the second anti-guerilla campaign.” 
In the “summer of 1973 there was a shakeup at the highest levels of the military. Brigadier General Alberto Sánchez López (a participant in Operation Galeana, the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968) became Chief of the General Staff, the ‘top technical operative body’ of the Department of National Defense; Colonel Jaime Contreras Guerrero (a graduate of the Inter-American Defense College in the United States) became head of military intelligence, and Lieutenant Colonel Mario Renán Castillo Fernández (who studied at Fort Bragg, North Carolina) became head of General Staff operations. In Guerrero, Brigadier General Eliseo Jiménez Ruiz was named commander of the 35th Military Zone, based in Chilpancingo, assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Enrique Cervantes Aguirre as his Chief of the General Staff. General Salvador Rangel Medina is posted to the 27th Military Zone based in Acapulco. The last two generals are responsible for putting into motion Operation Firefly, which sought to tighten the siege around the guerillas.”
But the persistence of the rebellious Guerrerans was enormous. Genaro and Lucio were visible actors in the rebellion, however the sustenance of the guerillas was above all found in their deep roots in the community, shown by the number of military campaigns launched against them, which they repelled, as well as the constant changes in military command:
Las Abejas [The Bees] Civil Society Organization
Sacred Land of the Acteal Martyrs, Chiapas, Mexico
June 23, 2009
Translated by Scott Campbell
[Previous CODEP statement]
To Fernando Gómez Mont
Secretary of the Interior
It is publicly known that Oaxaca finds itself in an ungovernable situation since the imposition of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz as governor of the state; as no other governor has had to call off proceedings in municipalities and communities in the face of repudiation by their inhabitants, add to this his political inability to resolve the large number of conflicts that arise in a state of extreme poverty and marginalization, where the neoliberal politics of the last 25 years have destroyed the traditional possibilities of survival of the people in the state.
It is also known that Ulises Ruiz has been able to stay in government thanks to the unrestrained support that the Mexican federal government has shown him, and to the politics of state terrorism that he has been implementing, in detriment to democracy, constitutional guarantees and fundamental human rights.
To ensure the politics of terror, he has fostered, like never before, paramilitary groups and “know nothings” from whom he is taking resources in order to sustain the group, but it is known that the operator of these politics of terror is the sadly “celebrated” Jorge Franco Vargas, directly responsible for the 2006 conflict and current Secretary of the State Committee of the PRI [the ruling party in Oaxaca], a position which allows him to enjoy complete impunity alongside the state government.
In this context, the persecution and selective assassination of social activists and human rights defenders has intensified on part of the government of Ulises Ruiz, manipulating the laws freely to invent any crime imaginable and in this way issue arrest warrants right and left against his opposition, and thereby keep them under fierce prosecution, covered by a supposedly “legal” mantle, which, without a doubt, has resulted in destroying the possibility of reaching justice and legality in the state of Oaxaca.
One of the most recent examples of the above is the assassination of Sergio Martínez Vásquez, a member of the State Council of the Committee in Defense of the Rights of the People, which occurred this past June 7, in the district of Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca, where the evidence collected as of now points to the paramilitary groups that Ulises Ruiz maintains in this region as the executors of this crime.
It is worrying that as of now the investigations into this cunning murder have not moved forward, but it is more serious that given the prevailing impunity in Oaxaca, other members of CODEP continue to be threatened with death, without the existence of any authority that can stop this orgy of violence against human rights defenders.
Given the above, the below signers demand:
1. Immediate clarification regarding the assassination of Sergio Martínez Vásquez
2. A stop to the aggression and harassment unleashed against the Committee in Defense of the Rights of the People (CODEP) and human rights defenders.
3. An investigation and punishment of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and Jorge Franco Vargas for the crimes committed against the people of Oaxaca.
We hold Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and Jorge Franco Vargas responsible for the physical and psychological integrity of the members of CODEP.
We repudiate the defamation and harassment against CODEP, as with such a campaign they are trying to justify the aggressions and attacks against this organization.
Copy to Dr. José Luis Soberanes, President of the National Human Rights Commission.
Copy to Patricia Mejía Guerrero, President of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
Copy to Antoine Bernard, Executive Director of the International Federation for Human Rights.
Copy to Dr. Adrian Ramírez, President of the Mexican Human Rights Defense League
1. Enrique González Ruiz
2. Coordinación Nacional del Poder Popular
3. Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de la UAM (SITUAM)
4. Foro Social Mundial (FSM)
5. Unión Popular Revolucionaria Emiliano Zapata (UPREZ)
6. Movimiento Urbano Popular – Convención Nacional Democrática (MUP-CND)
7. Organización Nacional del Poder Popular (ONPP)
8. Comité de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEP)
9. Izquierda Social (IS)
10. Frente Amplio Popular – Michoacán (FAP)
12. Alianza Internacional de Habitantes (VERACRUZ)
13. Central Unitaria de Trabajadores CUT – MUP – CND
14. Asamblea de Barrios (AB)
15. Comité de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEP M33 morelos)
16. Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de México (APPM)
19. Móv. Socialismo Nuevo (MSN)
20. Bloque de Organizaciones Sociales (BOS)
21. Mujeres Solidarias (MS)
22. Fuerza Popular Javier Acuña (FPJA)
23. Civiles en Marcha (CM)
24. Convención Nacional Democrática (CND)
25. BARZON – DF
27. CUTAC (Tlaxcala)
28. Círculos de Estudio (CE)
29. Instituto Politécnico Nacional-Escuela Superior de Economía (IPN-ESE)
30. Brigada en Defensa del Petróleo Poder Popular (BDPPP)
31. Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM)
32. UPREZ – DF
33. Comitán – Chiapas
35. UCISN – VER
36. Grupo Cultural Alternativa – UAEMEX
37. Taller de Salud y Naturaleza
38. ONPP – ZONA NORTE
41. Sección XVIII de Michoacán
42. Comité Lucha Popular (CLP)
43. MLP – MUP
44. BARZON-Mujeres Solidarias
45. Espacio de Todos
46. Frente Amplio Juvenil (FAJ)
47. Mujeres Solidarias – Acapulco
48. Pueblo Digno – MOSE
49. FEJ – MORELIA
51. CDA YAXKIN
55. Colectivo Emiliano Zapata (CEZ)
56. Coordinadora de Organizaciones Sociales (COS)
57. Frente Democrático Nacional de Organizaciones Sociales y Productivas (FDNOSP)
58. Coordinadora Promotora del Poder Popular de Michoacán
60. Central de Abastos
61. Vendedores de Jamaiquita
62. Cooperativa ALFA
63. Frente Democrático Sección X
64. Asamblea Estatal de Trabajadores de La Educación de Querétaro
65. Democracia Directa- Movimiento de Transformación Social.
66. Alianza Única del Valle
68. Frente Popular Francisco Villa
Obama's efforts to scold Israel into stopping its illegal settlements in the West Bank seems to be yielding fruit. In the opposite direction of course. Maan News reports that:
Given Obama's speech yesterday where he merely called for current settlement construction to stop - saying nothing about the almost 500,000 Israeli colonists already living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem* - this is the type of progress we can expect from Barack "More of the Same" Obama. Which itself is all that can be expected.
* Or apartheid, or the nakba, or Jim Crow laws inside Israel, or Israel's nuclear weapons, or international law, or the massacre in Gaza, or the continuing murders of non-violent anti-wall protesters etc., etc., etc.
Today around the world Palestinians commemorate the nakba (catastrophe) of the 1948 establishment of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of 75% of the indigenous Palestinian population from their lands and homes.
Sixty-one years later the Palestinian population is dispersed around the globe, forbidden by Israel to return to their homes. Millions live in the refugee camps of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Millions more live in camps or homes under occupation in the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And more than a million live as third-class citizens under an openly racist, apartheid regime in the land they were born - now called Israel.
While Hamas and Fatah squabble over who gets to be the Palestinian facilitator of Israel's occupation, dictatorial Arab regimes count their U.S. dollars, and Israel continues the nakba backed by the U.S. and Europe.