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Zapatistas vs Walmart!

The fight against the environmental and social destruction promoted by Walmart is not just in the United States! The events of this week, a violent police crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in the heart of the country, have electrified people throughout Mexico. A Zapatista solidarity call for the people of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco should resonate loudly with the people of Portland.
Going back to the time of the Aztecs, when Mexico City (then called Tenochtitlan) was a city surrounded by lakes, small collective farmers grew flowers in the enchanting "floating gardens" (chinampas) of Xochimilco. Today, this historic district of lakes and canals east of the great Mexican capital is a shadow of its former self. Tourists still visit it, but ill considered drainage projects, pollution, rampant and misguided urban development and industrialization have taken a devastating toll.

Yet even today, the latter day heirs of the ancient Aztec flower growers, the collective flower growers of neighboring San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco, continue to sell flowers in the public marketplace. In 2001, they fought off a terrible threat: the government of Vicente Fox wanted to build a new international airport that would have paved over and destroyed huge swathes of the area and displaced all the small collective farmers. But the farmers fought the government off, and, despite police violence, won the fight to remain on their lands.

Today, the biggest threat faced by these farmers comes from the north, in the form of the giant goliath Walmart, which wants to build a supercenter in the same area, with the support of the government. And once again the farmers are ready for battle to defend their livelihood and way of life. They have formed a group called "Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra" (Peoples Front in Defense of the Earth), and have announced their support for the Zapatista "Other Campaign" announced late last year by Zapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos.

Yesterday, just as Marcos and the Other Campaign found themselves in Mexico City as part of a whirlwind tour of the country, the crisis between Walmart, supported by the government, and the farmers of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco boiled over. Police fired into a crowd of people supporting the farmers and one young boy was killed. The focus of people around the country is now rivetted on the unfolding situation, as Marcos has announced that the Other Campaign is on hold indefinitely and will devote all its energies to supporting the struggles of the people of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco until the confrontation is resolved.

The Zapatistas have requested support from people of conscience everywhere, to help them oppose this government repression, stop the aggressions of Walmart, and assist the people of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco, small collective flower growers and sellers, and other local people, organized in the Peoples Front in Defense of the Earth, to defend the historic, ecological and cultural legacy they have inherited.

I hope that this struggle will resonate with people here in Portland and the surrounding region, where we are engaged in our own fights with Walmart, to preserve the economic and cultural vitality of our region, to prevent the worsening of urban sprawl and blight, to promote local, ecologically sound, and sustainable economies.

The Zapatistas have called for demonstrations in front of Mexican embassies and consulates around the world. The Mexican consulate here in Portland is located at 1234 SW MORRISON ST.

Alerta Roja General por represión en Atenco:  http://mexico.indymedia.org/tiki-index.php
Mexico: The Conflict in San Salvador Atenco:  http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=2182
Rebellion in San Salvador Atenco: One, Two, Many Chiapases:  http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/comment/airportAUG02.html