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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 149, Friday 9th January 1997
"To National and International Civil Society, Brothers and Sisters: Why?
How many more? Until when?"
The starving indigenous people of Mexico, who began an armed uprising four years ago under the name of Zapatistas (EZLN), were this week surrounded by the federal army and calling for international solidarity to save their lives.
At least 45 Zapatista supporters were massacred by paramilitary gunmen in Chiapas, Mexico, on Dec 22nd in the violent continuation of the `low intensity war' which is being waged by the government against the rebel army.
The massacre happened in the mountain town of Acteal in the municipality of Chenalho. Reports say that 60 men with automatic weapons opened fire during a religious ceremony, killing 21 women, nine men, 14 children and a baby. Father Gonzalo Ituarte, secretary of the church-led mediation commission for Chiapas, said the paramilitaries who profess allegiance to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had announced the attack, but the state government had done nothing to prevent it.
Hundreds more of the village community have had to flee their homes. The killing started at 11am during a religious festival and went on for five hours, with victims shot and beaten to death. Spanish radio said that security forces who were present in the area stood by while the killing went on. This is the most horrifying of a sequence of attacks, murders and evictions of Indian people in Chiapas, whose demands for indigenous rights and land have been widely supported in Mexico and abroad. A mass funeral was held on Xmas Day. The EZLN said that President Zedillo had sent them the threat: "I prefer to go into history as a repressor before implementing the agreements with the EZLN".
Then last week, on Jan 2nd - the 4th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising - the Mexican Army invaded La Realidad, the HQ of the EZLN. But the villagers have decided to remain. "The soldiers have never come so close. They drive through town but they never stop," said Ramon Gutierrez, a 45-year-old farmer. "We had a meeting this afternoon because we think the army wants to take the town but we have decided to stay. If thatís what they want they can finish us all off."
SchNEWS received this message from Chris, a sympathiser in Mexico: "Consider this a call for immediate and effective international solidarity actions. The survival of the Zapatistas and their vision is at stake here"
On Monday, Jan 5th, protesters blocked access to the Mexican stock market and occupied two radio stations in the Mexican capital. The demonstrators threw red paint at the outside walls of the stock exchange and delaying trading on the floor for 45 minutes. They placed coffins in the street to symbolize the deaths of 45 Indians massacred by paramilitaries. Dozens of other protesters wearing trade-mark black ski masks occupied two Mexico City radio stations and demanded they broadcast a taped message from the Zapatistas.
Spontaneous international solidarity actions have been taking place at embassies across the US, Canada and Europe. The rebels have succeeded in opening an unparalleled world-wide dialogue between all resistance struggles, organised largely via the internet. Four thousand activists met in Spain this summer at the second Zapatisata conferenece, the `Encuentro' (see SchNEWS 128). There, on Aug 5th 1997 they announced a desire for negotiating "a lasting peace", despite the government's broken promises from previous talks.
So what's a little war in Latin America got to do with the price of fish? Nothing. It has to do with the price of everything. Two things happened on the 1st Jan 1994. First, the relaxing of trade borders came with the introduction of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Association. Second, thousands of secretly-organised armed peasants came out of the jungle and down from the mountains to take control of six towns in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Fed up with exporting home-grown wealth to the global markets yet subsisting to the point where 80% suffer malnutrition, the popular uprising shouted `Ya Basta!' (`Enough Is Enough') and new movement was born.
"There are those with white skin and a dark sorrow. Our struggle walks with
these skins. There are those who have dark skins and a white arrogance; against
them is our fire. Our armed path is not against a skin color, but against the
color of money"
Riot police broke up a New Year rave in Brighton after they were pelted with bottles, rocks, nuclear weapons and the chewed-up limbs of human babies, slain by the party-goers.
A small, hardline group of a few thousand troublemakers came in from outside the area to ruin things for everyone else by trying to organise no less than three free New Year parties in Brighton, and crack teams of riot police sprung into action.
Following an attempted party in Harry Potters, above Somerfields on London Road, Brighton's ace public order officer, Chief Inspacktor Gary Keating, told the Anus, "Obviously our main concern was the safety of the people attending these events, and to keep the peace. That's why we put on riot gear, threatened party goers with police dogs and attacked people with our sexy black extendable batons." A second party was planned at the derelict bus depot on Freshfield Road, but officers told organisers they would confiscate equipment if the event went ahead, and thus skillfully defused a potentially enjoyable situation.
Meanwhile, in the centre of town a huge party erupted in the old Gala Bingo Hall on Grand Parade, put on by cheeky Brighton sound system Innerfield. This despite eagle-eyed officers overseeing the removal of all the sound equipment some days earlier. As surprised police outside heard the music start up on New Year's Eve one party-goer was reported to have said, "You should have seen the looks on their Mr.Magoo faces!"
"Most of the self-styled party-goers were pissed up and drunk on booze; many were attempting to get off their mash by snorting ecstasy pipes." One of the party-goers left claiming there had been no shortage of cannabis at the venue, as some of Jack Straw's offspring were around to "sort people out". She continued, "Grandad Straw had brought a load of pills in from Prague, and Great Auntie Straw was giving out free crack." Wayne Rideout, assistant manager of Gala Bingo Halls Ltd, tried to claim the party as their own, saying "This was another top event from Gala, Europe's premier entertainment experience." The Anus tried to interview one of the party organisers, but our reporter couldn't hear him above the sickening noise of the soundsystem, and everything he said was probably rubbish.
Police are on the alert again tonight and have cordoned off a man in Preston Circus. He is alleged to have listened to some music in the last few hours and could begin dancing at any moment. Dunstable Keating remarked, "This town must be shielded from the sclerosis of cultural hedonism. How dare people be free enough just to begin dancing whenever they want, outside the proper arena of a £30-a- ticket dance floor!"
At the party above Somerfield's on London Road, the aptly-named riot police busted the do at 1am and then baton charged people outside, making 27 arrests. Eight people have been charged with offences, including one poor bloke who was grabbed by police while cycling back from a nearby gig with mates. That'll teach him to go to the pub on hogmanay!
If we're not all to be herded into pricey clubs, party-goers everywhere will have to become more robust in their determination to celebrate on their own terms, to create their own free spaces in which to dance.
- Invite from the Gala Bingo Hall
The free party scene is about people getting off their bums and putting on their own entertainment away from dumb-shit bouncers and money-mad promoters. In Brighton people have been putting on these events in empty buildings for years. But recently the authorities have been clamping down and been getting heavy handed. But baton charging people for trying to have a party on New Year's Eve? Really!
But it's not just about preventing a New Year's Eve party, there's more at stake. Legislation and licences are a way of disempowering us, but the free party in an empty building shows the world that you can party without ripping people off, with a fingers up to the authorities who want to control our every actions. To the police and the general authorities, the idea of having a party that is FREE is inconceivable, asking questions like ` So where has the money come from? Someone must be making money somewhere along the line!"
Have they never heard of a collective, or the idea of people volunteering their services for the sake of having a party and not a pocketful of cash. As Stevie T who was involved in the abandoned Freshfield party, told the Anus, "A lot of people put a lot of effort in. It wasn't going to be a massive fundraiser, we just wanted to give people who can't afford £30 entrance fee a good night out. We had security, the fire exits sorted, we were generally a well organised outfit." But still the police moved in preventing the party from even starting.
If you would like to support those poor souls whose had their soundsystem and records confiscated, get along to Four Aces, Dalston Lane,Dalston, London on Friday 9th January for a party by Innerfield, Planet Yes, Reality, HeadSpace and Bovinyl. Its from 10 - 6 am - and it's FREE. Nice one!
Last updated 29 January 1997
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